Hanging Out In Tavira - 13 Places To Visit In the City
The eastern Algarve area is the place to find the quieter and calmer beaches and villages. This area is filled with extensive sand plains, picturesque villages and beaches reachable by boat only. Within this area, a small town named Tavira stands out, especially because of its long history and well-preserved center. But also because of all the cultural variety it offers. It is surrounded by the Gilão River and located in Ria Formosa. We listed above 13 mandatory places to visit in Tavira, which will introduce you to the greatness of such a traditional town.
1. Tavira Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge is perhaps the actual symbol of the city. That’s why we’re putting it first. It is located right in the center, crossing the Gilão River, and mandatory for all visitors. It is said that in this very same location there was a roman bridge from the III century which was then rebuilt in the medieval time. It has suffered many changes throughout the centuries and acquired the actual look in the XVII century. In 1989, it became pedestrian-only.
2. Tavira Castle
The walls of Tavira’s Castle have a long history, former to the Christian reconquest. During the kingdom of D. Dinis, the Moorish castle was restored and granted a defensive tower. Today, it is possible to visit the old castle walls and appreciate the magnificent view they offer, both from the city, the river and the salt mines. Within the central square there is also a small garden. The admission to the castle is free and available until 7:30 pm in the summer and 5:00 pm in the winter.
3. Tavira Tower
The old water reservoir turned itself into the Tower of Tavira. Even though the building is not that interesting from the outside, inside you will find an amazing mechanism, the Camera Obscura. This is an optical effect that allows to enjoy a 360º panoramic view over the city. It is the ideal completion to the view from Tavira’s Castle, especially for those who have kids, since the visit is quite didactic. The Tower is available for visits until 6:00 pm from October to April, and until 8:00 pm from May to September. The visit lasts about 30 minutes and costs 4 euros.
4. Tavira Churches
Tavira has a long catholic tradition, typical from a city conquered to the moors, and it has many churches. Over 30, to be exact! Taking an afternoon to discover all of them and appreciate their façades would be an excellent ride. A special mention to the Church of Maria do Castelo, with a peculiar watch in the tower, and also to the charming Church of Misericórdia, both classified as National Monuments.
5. Tavira Ribeira Market and Bandstand Garden
Right next to the Roman Bridge and the Republic Square, you will find the Bandstand Garden. It has a whole new life in the summer, when it holds a small market for regional products. You can find several things in it, such as brandy with medronhos and pepper, a typical beverage from the area. At the bottom of the garden you can find the Ribeira Market. Originally built in the XIX century, it was renovated a few years ago and hosts now several modern stores and restaurants.
6. Tavira Andrade House of Photography
Three generations of photographers helped building this house. The photography studio of the Andrade family portraited moments from the everyday life in the area during all of the XX century, marking their presence in all historic moments and social evolutions of the society. If everything goes as planned, soon all that material – some of it dated back from 1900 – will be exhibited in the Andrade House of Photography, along with all photographic material used: cameras, magnifiers, guillotines, etc. The opening date is still yet to be established, but even so this is worth mentioning because it will become the place to go for those who are interested in getting to know the city’s background a little better, going back up to 120 years ago.
7. Tavira Island Beach
What is the thing you must visit in Tavira during summertime? The beach, of course! The Tavira Island holds the nearest beach from the city and is very well-demanded. With good seaside resorts, a big sand plain and calm waters, it is definitely one of the favorite places of the city. There are two ways to reach the beach: from the city center, next to the Ribeira Market, where you can catch a ferry that takes about 20 minutes to get to the island, or in an area called Quatro Águas, next to river Gilão’s mouth. You can also catch a ferry there and arrive in 10 minutes to the island. The schedule of the ferries is constantly updated. You can check this website to find out some more.
For those who want to really enjoy the island, there is a campsite available (this is all you get if you want to stay in the island). There is room for tents and there are also some bungalows. The island also has a small supermarket for campers and a few restaurants and bars.
8. Tavira - Santa Luzia (and Terra Estreia beach)
Three km west from the center of Tavira city there is a small fishermen’s village, Santa Luzia. Known as the “octopus capital”, it has a pedestrian sidewalk by the river where you can see the fishermen’s boats docking. During summertime, Santa Luzia holds the Fishermen’s Fest, a very traditional party, very similar to a Portuguese fair.
In Santa Luzia you can also catch the ferry to visit the quieter part of all the city: Terra Estreita beach (still belonging to the Tavira Island). See the schedule of the ferries here.
9. Tavira Barril Beach
The Barril beach is next to Santa Luzia, also in the island. You can access it though a pedestrian bridge in Pedras d’el Rei. After crossing the bridge there is a small traditional train you can ride to go to the beach (about 1 km, 3 euros each round-trip). Other than its long sand plain and turquoise water, the beach also has an Anchor Cemetery. The old anchors were disposed in the beach in the 60’s, representing the decline of tuna fishing, which is no longer done in Algarve.
10. Cabanas de Tavira Becah
Six km from the center of the city, the Cabanas de Tavira beach is another favorite of the tourists. To access the beach, all you have to do is a short boat ride going from the fishermen’s village.
The crossing takes about 2 minutes. There isn’t a schedule available, the boat leaves every time it is full.
11. Tavira’s Salt mines
The salt mines are located in Ria Formosa’s Natural Park. This is a beautiful ride, especially by the end of the day, where you can enjoy the sunset. Among the white mountains, filled with flor de sal, there are always flightless birds, flamingos and many other birds.
12. Fort of Santo António de Tavira
Also known as Fort do Rato, it is located in river Gilão’s mouth. It was built in the XVI century by D. Sebastião, and remained active until 1840. Today, its ruins can be visited and offer a great view over Ria Formosa.
13. Pego do Inferno in Tavira
Algarve has more than salt water! Around Tavira, there is a small waterfall which forms a small fresh water lake, very popular in the Summer.
The Pego do Inferno was available for visitation until 2012, when a terrible fire affected the area. After that, it was unavailable for a few years and it has, since, recovered its old natural splendor. The Tavira City Hall is now trying to re-naturalize the space, returning it to the nature, so there are no stairs or access signs available. It has become a good option if you’re looking for a little adventure, but people must be careful enough to preserve the space and temper with it a little as possible.
14. Play Golf in Tavira
Playing Golf while enjoying the view
There are several 18-hole golf courses in Tavira with magnificent views over beaches, the marsh, the orange trees or the curvy mountains of the hills of Algarve. If you enjoy golfing, this is definitely THE destination for fans.
Benamor Golf Course – In this golf course, the nearest to Tavira city, you can play golf while watching the hills and the sea. Designed by Henry Cotton, Benamor golf course was inspired by the old chapel near the Club House. It is ideal for holiday golf and even though it is quite short, it is also a very interesting golf course, demanding players lots of technical skill.
Quinta da Ria and Quinta de Cima – These two golf courses were designed by architect Rocky Rocquemore, with a panoramic sight over the ria, for Quinta da Ria golf course and also Parkland for Quinta de Cima golf course. Both golf courses and Robinson Club Hotel are located still in Ria Formosa’s Natural Park area, they preserve its natural habitat and allow users to appreciate the magnificent Cacela Velha’s landscape, deemed one of the most beautiful in the region by many golfers. It holds a driving range and a golf academy.
Monte Rei Golf & Country Club – Simply the best golf course in Portugal and one of the best in Europe, designed by Jack Nicklaus, it offers and incredible golfing experience, never neglecting the fine details. Poked to the Serra do Caldeirão and with a magnificent view over the ocean, this course is well-embedded in the landscape and its ecosystem, with water mirrors all over. For beginners, Monte Rey Golf offers a very well-structured academy with worldwide reputation. Monte Rei Golf & Country Club offers stunning Villas and golf packages
Castro Marim Golf & Country Club – This golf course offers 27 holes embedded within the landscape of the Guadiana river and the Atlantic Ocean, is a design of Terry Murray. Located near Castro Marim’s city historic center, the course crosses the curvy hills filled with pine trees, with a marvelous sight over the river and neighbor country, Spain. In an additional 9-hole golf course, the Grouse, often wild life ends up distracting even the more focused golf players. Castro Marim Village Houses offers perfect accommodation and golf packages, on detached Villas
Quinta do Vale do Golf – Design by Seve Bellesteros, it was built to be adequate to all players in any level. It offers a beautiful view over the Guadiana river, taking maximum advantages over its privileged conditions.
There are more 18-hole golf courses available right next door, in Andaluzia. Isla Canela and Costa Esuri stand out because they are indeed marvelously embedded in Guadiana’s mouth, about 40 minutes from the Golden Club Cabanas.
Faro International Airport is only 31km away, so you can reach easily Tavira by car or using public transports. Unlike many other cities in Algarve, Tavira has great accesses with public transportation, such as train (CP-Comboios de Portugal) and bus (Rede de Expressos). If you’re staying in the city, you will be able to visit most places without the need of a car.
Staying in Tavira
When it comes to accommodations, we offer Hotels Ozadi Tavira Hotel, Maria Nova Lounge Hotel, Vila Galé Tavira and Vila Galé Albacora Hotels, Pousada de Tavira, historic monument turned in a 5 star hotel, and 2 resorts just outside the City Pedras d’el Rei and Pedras da Rainha. Booking in advance is advised.
There are other options, near Tavira , like the Eurotel Altura , in Altura village, with direct access to a unspoiled with sandy beach, to make you feel the paradise.
Eating in Tavira
This is an absolute most of the city. Like in many other cities in Algarve, in Tavira you must enjoy their good fish and shellfish. There are also traditional foods like flor de sal, the strudels and the sweets made with almond and locust. Brandy with medronho is the drink you should take.