Portugal City Travel Guide: Tavira
Tavira, in the Algarve, 30km east of Faro, is an attractive resort town popular with mostly the older set of holiday-makers.
Tavira sits on both banks of the pretty Rio Gilao crossed by two bridges one of Roman origin. The nearest beach to the town is the Ilha de Tavira, which can be reached by ferry year round.
Tavira is an ancient settlement dating back to 400 BC and built on trade with North Africa and tuna fishing until the silting up of the port. The devastating earthquake of 1755 destroyed most of the town and the present historical buildings date from the mid 18th century.
The Placa da Republica is the center of town and the Turismo is just off the square at Rua de Galeria, 9. From here it is a short walk up hill to the old town. Sights in the old town include the Igreja da Misericordia (Church of Mercy), which retains a faded, carved doorway from 1541 and azulejos and gilded woodwork in the church's interior.
The Castelo dos Mouros is now in ruins except for its walls, which enclose a lovely garden of plants and trees. There are great views over the town from the ramparts. The Torre de Tavira is the town's old water tower, now superceded by a rather ugly modern replacement. The Torre de Tavira has now been converted to house a camera obscura.
Also within the Cidade Velha is the Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo (Church of Saint Maria of the Castle) standing on the ruins of a former mosque. The chapel contains the tombs of seven Christian knights killed by the Moors in the 13th century, an act which prompted the reconquest of Tavira from the Moslems by Dom Paio Peres Correia, whose tomb is also in the church.
Other attractions in this area include the Palacio da Galeria which holds temporary exhibitions. The Igreja de Santiago dates from the 17th century and was probably constructed on the site of a former mosque. The Convento da Nossa Senhora da Graça dates originally to the 16th century and is now a beautifully restored pousada.
On this side of the river are some ornamental gardens leading to the souvenir shops and cafes of the Mercado Velho (Old Market).
Across the arched bridge leads to the pavement cafes and restaurants lining Praca Dr Padinha, these include a Chinese restaurant and two Indian eateries including Kohinoor on Rua Joao Vaz Corte Real. North of here is the Egreja de Sao Paulo.
The riverside Rua Jacques Pessoa is lined with pavement cafes and bars, where residents and vacationers flock to catch the sunset and watch the trackless toy train pass by.
Tavira's streets are lovely to wander in the cool of the evening and there are a number of interesting stores for shopping for local handicrafts. Tavira's main festival is the Festa de Cidade held on 23-24 June, when the town is decorated with paper flowers and there is dancing and free sardines.
Tavira Tourist Office
Rua da Galeria 9 (Tel: 281 322 511)
Places to see around Tavira
Buses from Tavira bus station run out to the ferry port of Quatro Aguas to Ilha de Tavira with its lovely beach including a nudist section, water sports, cafes and camp site. take either the regular ferry (5 minutes) or a six-seater water taxi. Cacela Velha is a small seaside village 12km east of Tavira. Vila Real de Santo Antonio near the border with Spain was rebuilt in 1774 by Marques de Pompal with the same grid pattern as the Baixa district of Lisbon. Highlights are the Praca do Marques de Pompal with its black and white pavements and handsome mansions. North of here is the sleepy village of Alcoutim right on the Spanish border. Castro Marim is north west of Vila Real de Santo Antonio and known for its 13th century castle built by King Afonso III, of which only a few walls survived the 1755 earthquake. Monte Gordo is a modern resort town west of Vila Real de Santo Antonio famous for its warm waters, large hotels and a casino.
Getting to Tavira
There are abundant scheduled, charter and no-frills flights to Faro from all over Europe. Faro is the nearest airport to Tavira. Portugalia and TAP Fly from both Porto (via Lisbon) and Lisbon. There are TAP flights to Lisbon and Frankfurt and Easy Jet flights to multiple destinations throughout Europe.
Tavira Station is about one kilometer west of the town center and is a pretty place with a bar/cafe right on the platform. There are local trains west to Albufeira, Almancil, Loule, Lagos and Portimão via a change in Faro (40 minutes). Trains from Tavira also run to Conceiçao, Fuseta, Monte Gordo and Vila Real de Santo Antonio (30 minutes).
From the west, take Route 125. From Spain, get onto N125 going west.
There are buses to Tavira from Lisbon and Sevilla in Spain. The bus to Faro passes through Olhao. The EVA bus service to Sevilla passes through Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Ayamonte and Huelva. There are presently three buses a day leaving from Tavira's bus station at 9.05am, 2.25pm and 5.50pm arriving at Sevilla's main bus station at 1pm, 5.45pm and 10.15pm respectively.
Quinta do Caracol
Restored apartments located on an olive farm in Tavira, just 200 m from Tavira Station. Quinta do Caracol has an outdoor pool and free Wi-Fi.
Book Hotel Accommodation in Tavira
Kohinoor Indian Tandoori Restaurant
Rua Joao Vaz Corte Real, 1
Tel: 281 326 814
Restaurante Lagôas Bica
Rua Almirante Cândido dos Reis, 24
Tel: 281 323 843
There are many bars along Rua Jacques Pessoa by the river including the pleasant Pastelaria Anazu at number 11-13. The roof top bar of the Hotel Porta Nova had great views but the hotel was closed in October 2015.
List your restaurant/bar/hotel contact Advertising
List your internet cafe here.
The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
Get more weather information for Portugal