Tavira Travel Guide
Tavira's bridge © David Boocock
The holiday resort destination of Tavira, to the east of Faro in the south-east corner of Portugal, is one of the most photogenic towns along the Algarve coast, sporting white-washed houses topped with decorative chimneys and pyramid shaped Roman-tiled roofs, set among orange, fig and almond trees. The charming town, on the Gilao River, dates back to around 2,000 BC, and also boasts a Moorish Castle, with some splendid views from the ramparts.
There are some attractive churches (37 of them to be exact) to see on holiday in Tavira, including the Church of the Misericordia with a beautiful Renaissance door and carved high altar. Not many of the buildings pre-date the devastating earthquake of 1755, which destroyed much of the Algarve, but the town was painstakingly rebuilt with many fine 18th century buildings.
Tavira flanks both banks of the river, which are linked by a Roman bridge. Along the coast and on an island opposite the town (reached by ferry) are some beautiful isolated sandy beaches, well worth visiting while on holiday in the area.
Tavira is well equipped with utilitarian supermarkets for self-caterers on holiday, and many souvenir shops selling cork items, lace, embroidered goods and shell art. There is an upmarket handcraft shopping centre called "Old Market" for discerning shoppers. The town has a fresh produce market daily.
Like most of the holiday resort towns on the Algarve, Tavira is a food-lovers haven, especially for those who enjoy seafood. There are numerous restaurants along the quayside and riverbank, serving excellent cuisine at reasonable prices. Recommendations for shellfish and fish dishes are Nora Velha, Marisqueira 4 Aguas, Portas do Mar and O Pátio. Alternatively, Vela 2 and Micromania are popular with locals.
There are bars and cafés aplenty in Tavira, though the town is not famous for its nightlife. Docas, near the central market, has number of lively bars. Arco Bar mixes up some great cocktails, or for a more chilled out evening The Poet, in the middle of town, always attracts a good crowd. Patrick's is popular with expats, and UBI is a sleek bar located in a former tuna factory.
Hunt for seashells on a Tavira Island holiday, and enjoy a variety of watersports, explore the quaint town itself, or play golf at the nearby Benamor Course. It is a good idea to hire a car and explore into Spain to the East (Tavira is close to the border) and along the rest of the Algarve to the West.