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Tavira Portugal Guide - Fully Updated for 2019!

Tavira is one of the most charming towns of the Algarve, and is a great destination for your holiday.
The town extends along the banks of the Gilão River and is a delightful mix of traditional Portuguese architecture with deep-rooted Moorish influences. Tavira is a joy to explore with its plethora of historic buildings and decorative churches, all of which are set around charming plazas and pretty cobbled streets.

Tavira is a wonderful destination for a beach holiday as to the south of the town are the pristine beaches of the Ilha de Tavira. These beaches are some of the least developed of the Algarve, being protected by the Ria Formosa Nature Park.

Tavira’s relaxed and unhurried ambience makes it ideal for families or more mature visitors seeking a calm holiday destination. For the more active visitor, there are numerous cycling paths, long hiking routes, excellent golf courses and kilometres of waterways waiting to be discovered by kayak.



There is a lot to love about Tavira, making it the ideal holiday destination for those tourists who want to combine beautiful beaches with an immersion in Portuguese culture. This guide will provide an introduction to Tavira, which is one of our favourite towns in southern Portugal.

What are the Highlights of Tavira?



Tavira’s setting

Tavira is located on the eastern side of the Algarve, approximately 30 km east of Faro and 25km west of the Spanish border. This region of the Algarve attracts fewer tourists than the central or western Algarve, and provides a more peaceful and calm holiday destination.

Flowing through the centre of Tavira is the Gilao River, which meanders into the shallow waterways and mudflats of the Ria Formosa Nature Park; a haven for migratory birds and sea life. Beyond the Ria Formosa lagoons is the Ilha de Tavira, a sandbar island which is the location of Tavira’s beautiful beaches.

How long to spend in Tavira?

Tavira is ideal for a 1-week holiday. A week in Tavira could combine time on the beaches with excursions to the towns of Olhão, Faro and Vila Real de Santo António. As Tavira is a large town, there is a wide selection of restaurants and bars, and it is easily possible to eat (and drink!) somewhere completely different every day.

If you are touring southern Portugal, you should plan to spend at least two days in Tavira. The first day would explore the historic sights of the town and the second day would visit the Santa Luzia and the beautiful beaches on the Ilha de Tavira. Alternatively, Tavira could be used as a base from which to explore the eastern Algarve.
Related articles: 2 days in Tavira1 week in Tavira

Who should visit Tavira Portugal?

Tavira is a mature and unhurried destination, which combines an authentic Portuguese experience with modern tourist facilities and services. A holiday here is great if you wish to discover traditional Portugal, explore the region or simple seek a peaceful location. The region offers much more than just beautiful beaches and glorious weather.

Tavira is far removed from the hecticness of the western Algarve, with its mega-hotels, adrenaline-inducing water-parks and party focused nightlife. It is not a holiday destination for groups looking for banging nightlife and a loud drinking scene; for this head to Albufeira or Praia da Rocha.

Tavira as a day trip?

Tavira is one of the most popular day trips of the eastern Algarve. Tavira is a joy to explore with its plethora of historic buildings and ornate churches, all of which are set around charming plazas and pretty cobbled streets. There is good public transport connecting Tavira to the surrounding region, and the town is easy to explore on foot and independently. If you get a chance to visit Tavira, then you should.

Tavira for families and teenagers?

Tavira is well suited for families with younger children, and the Portuguese are very welcoming and supportive of families. Tavira is a long way from the Algarve’s theme and water parks, and teenagers may prefer to be closer to the hecticness of the western Algarve.
Note: Tavira’s beaches are calm and safe, but none within walking distance of the town centre. To travel to the beaches a ferry must be caught.

Tavira for 2019

The Algarve and Tavira are experiencing massive growth within tourism; the low-cost airlines are adding new routes to Faro airport, new businesses are opening, and the peak season is extending. This increased popularity is great for the economy of southern Portugal, but it does mean demand for certain tourist services, especially accommodation, outstrips availability.

Our advice to you is, if you are seriously considering a holiday to Tavira, book your flights and accommodation now, as prices will rise and then sell out. The map below shows the location of hotels and rental rooms in Tavira, and by altering the date to your holiday, the map will display current availability and prices:
When to visit Tavira?

The height of the tourist season is from June until the end of August, but the weather is suitable for spending time on the beaches from early May until the end of September. Spring and autumn are great seasons to visit the region, with long bright days but without the intense summer sun or summertime crowds.

Tavira Weather

The average weather of Tavira

The weather in the winter is unpredictable, but there tend to be more sunny days than cloudy wet days. The low season (November- March) is a great time for a touring, hiking or cycling holiday. As Tavira is a major town with a large permanent population, all restaurants, cafes and bars remain open year-round.

Does Tavira have good beaches?

The beaches in this region are quite simply stunning and, with 7km of pristine sandy shoreline to choose from, which never gets overcrowded. The main beach is the Praia de Tavira, which is at the western edge of the Ilha de Tavira, and is connected to the town by an inexpensive ferry service.

Further along the Ilha de Tavira are the beaches of Praia do Barril and the Praia de Terra Estreita which are much more peaceful. The Praia do Barril is the most picturesque beach of the region, the beach was a former tuna fishing community and today the huts have been transformed into restaurants and cafes while the anchors that held the complex series of nets have been placed in the sand dunes as a permanent memorial.
Related articles: Tavira beach guide - Praia do Barril

What could be seen in a week’s holiday to Tavira?

Tavira is more than just a simple beach holiday destination; there is a varied selection of sights and activities within the eastern Algarve region to fill a 1-week holiday.

An extended holiday could include the many interesting day trips to the surrounding region, while for the more adventurous, bikes could be hired for cycling along the coastal cycle path or a round of golf could be played at one of Southern Portugal’s wonderful golf courses. Ideas for a week’s holiday could include:
• Visit the small octopus fishing village of Santa Luzia, where traditional methods are still used to catch the octopus, which is cooked to perfection in the harbour front restaurants.
• Have a beach day at the Praia do Barril, the setting for the strangest memorial of the Algarve, the Anchor Cemetery, and discover the heritage of the region.
• A day trip to the peaceful town of Cabanas
• Have a day trip to Faro, with its historic walled centre, pleasant shopping streets and the fascinating but creepy bone chapel.
• Visit the town of Vila Real, which was constructed with a grandeur that does not befit its size or status.
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Faro Airport and airport transfers

The nearest airport to Tavira is Faro airport, 35 km to the west. Faro airport has connections to the whole of Europe, and all of the low-cost airlines have regular services. For onward transfer from the airport to Tavira either pre-book a transfer or take public transport.

Never just hire a taxi from the airport as this will be very expensive. The most reliable and highest regarded private transfer company in the Algarve is Yellow Fish Transfers, and the price of a transfer to Tavira is €44/88 (transfer/return), click here to visit their website and to book a transfer. (The link opens new window)

To travel from the airport to Tavira by public transport requires a bus from the airport to Faro train (or bus) station and then a train (or intercity bus) from Faro to Tavira. Public transport in the Algarve does not continue late into the night so if arrive late pre-book a transfer or consider spending a night in Faro before heading to Tavira. Faro is a surprisingly enjoyable city for a short stay.
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The Best Guide to Tavira