The six best things to do in Tavira, Algarve!

We spend six days in beautiful Tavira in the Algarve. In this blog, we tell you everything about this beautiful city in Portugal near the Spanish border. Here you will find the six best activities in Tavira and the surrounding area. And read on to find out more about good restaurants and hotspots in Tavira.

Tavira in the Algarve

Tavira is an ancient city in the east of the Algarve. This place was already inhabited in the Bronze Age and then the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, and Spaniards came and inhabited this area. Tavira became one of the most important port cities of the Algarve.

Today it is a cozy city full of beautiful buildings on the Gilao River. You are just a few kilometers from the sea and a half-hour drive from Faro. Due to the Gilao River that meanders through the center, Tavira is also called the Venice of Portugal.

How many days do you need for Tavira.

If you want to hit all the sights and things to do in and around Tavira, we recommend you to stay for at least two to three full days. Since we are traveling with our one-and-a-half-year-old son and therefore have a slower pace, we stay in Tavira for six days.

Tip: for our road trip through the Algarve we rented a car via Sunny Cars. This means we are fully insured, we can change everything right in advance and we have 24/7 support. Click here for more information about renting a car in Portugal.

Will you visit the western part of the Algarve? Be sure to read our Lagos Algarve blog, with the best sights in and around Lagos!

Six of the best things to do in Tavira and the surrounding area!

From relaxing on a beach bed to shopping. There is more than enough to do in Tavira. Below we list the six best things to do in Tavira or the surrounding area.

1. Stroll through the old town of Tavira

Tavira itself is beautiful! The old center is built around the Gilao River that flows into the sea. In addition to the well-known Portuguese tiled buildings, you will find several cozy squares, nice boutiques, and nice terraces on the water. Tavira is good for shopping, so we bought a large ceramic bowl here. The center of Tavira is not big and you can see it in 2-3 hours. But it’s worth staying here for more than just a few hours.

In the evening, the narrow streets are transformed into romantically lit terraces where you can enjoy a delicious meal.

The famous Roman bridge, with its seven arches, is characteristic of Tavira. At low tide, the piers are almost completely dry. But at high tide, we even saw people swimming in the river.

On Saturdays it is nice to walk to the market hall just outside the center. Here you will find all kinds of fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and meat. Outside the hall, you will find terraces where the residents of Tavira exchange the latest news.

Extra Tavira tip: in the narrow streets of the center you have to park almost everywhere. However, you will find several free parking spaces within a 3-minute walk from the center. Click here for the location where you can park for free in Tavira.

2. Visit Castelo de Tavira: ruins with a beautiful courtyard

At a slightly higher point, right in the center of Tavira, are the ruins of an old castle, built by the Moors. A few towers and castle walls can still be walked and provide a beautiful view of the city center. But what is perhaps even more beautiful here is the courtyard full of flowers and fragrant shrubs.

Both the castle and the courtyard are free. You’ll have seen them in half an hour, but it’s definitely worth visiting this hotspot in Tavira. Click here for the location of Castelo de Tavira.

Extra Tavira tip: not far from Castelo de Tavira you will find Camera Obscura in an old water tower. We have not been here because it is not recommended to do this with children below four, but we were recommended it by several people.

Tavira 48

3. Go to Tavira beach

Tavira itself is not on the beach but a few kilometers inland. The Gilao River is connected to the sea, but the real beach is a little further away, on a beautiful island called Ilha de Tavira. Praia de Ilha de Tavira is a wonderfully extensive sandy beach, with fine sand and azure blue seawater. There are various facilities such as beach beds & parasols, beach clubs, and surfboards that you can rent here. We have enjoyed this nice place several times, where it is still nice and quiet in May.

You can reach Tavira Beach via a short ferry ride. Several times a day the boat goes from the center of Tavira to the island. You partly pass through the Rio Formosa nature park (see the next point) and we were lucky enough to spot flamingos during our first trip! This is the location where the ferry departs, check the departure times in advance, because in May the ferry only departs a few times a day. A ticket costs €2.50 return.

In addition to Praia de Ilha de Tavira, there are many more beautiful beaches. We describe these in our blog with the most beautiful beaches around Tavira.

Be sure to read our blog with the 10 most beautiful beaches of the Algarve and Vicentine Coast!

4. Take a boat trip through the Ria Formosa nature park and spot the flamingos

The coast in front of Tavira belongs to the Ria Formosa Natural Park. This nature park is a lagoon of more than 60 kilometers long that consists of a tangle of islands, sandbanks and dunes. During high tide, it fills up completely, and at low tide you can walk on the seabed in some parts. 

With a boat trip it is possible to discover parts of this nature reserve. Along the way, you can see various animals such as flamingos, dolphins, and freshwater turtles and you will find the largest population of seahorses in the world. You can also visit several beautiful beaches on the islands.Tavira 25

Because we are traveling through Portugal with our toddler, we unfortunately decided against such a boat trip because it would take a little too long for him. Here you will find an overview of various boat trips offered by this nature park. You can also go to the village of Fuseta where you will see a glass building on the boulevard. You can book tours through Ria Formosa directly here.

Extra Tavira tip: near Tavira, you can also visit the salt fields. Some are colored pink, copper, or light blue. Special to see, and sometimes the flamingos are here too. The fields are most beautiful from above (with a drone). We stopped here for the photo below.

Tavira 6

5. Wine tasting and a visit to Loulé, a beautiful village near Tavira

Do you love wine as much as we do? Then a visit to a winery is of course part of your holiday. Not a lot of wine is grown in the Algarve, but there are certainly wineries. And now we found a gem!

Quinta da Tôr Winery

Drive inland from Tavira for more than half an hour and you will arrive at Quinta da Tôr winery. This small wine estate is known for its tastings, which you do at the edge of a large cooling swimming pool. Yes, you read this correctly, while wine tasting you can just take a dip, or even better, your children can have fun while you enjoy wine and tapas.

The wines that Quinta da Tôr produces are often red and on the fruity side. This is due to the amount of sunshine the grapes receive. We do a tasting of four wines. A tropical white wine that smells somewhat like Chardonnay but has an aftertaste of pineapple. Followed by a heavy rosé (with a high alcohol percentage) and then two different Shirah blends. Quite honestly, the wines are not the highlight here. So what is? Well, the relaxed atmosphere, the beautiful swimming pool, the snacks, and the entire ambiance. Perfect for a nice trip. Oh, and a wine tasting includes a free 30-40 minute tour of the winery. Click here for more information about this winery near Tavira!Tavira 17

Visit Loulé, one of the most beautiful villages in the Algarve

A visit to the Quinta da Tôr winery can be perfectly combined with the beautiful village of Loulé since it is close by. Loulé is not large but very beautiful, with a large market hall, a castle and beautiful Portuguese buildings. You will find several nice restaurants and a few cute boutiques here. A tip: don’t go on Saturday afternoon or Sunday, because then everything is closed in Loulé.

Read all about Southwest Alentejo & Vicentine Coast Nature Park & ​​Aljezur in our blog!

6. Visit the village of Santa Luzia & Praia do Barril

A ten-minute drive from Tavira you will find the tiny village of Santa Luzia. This sleepy fishing village is known for its squid. Yes, you can eat this sea creature in every restaurant here, but unfortunately, Ries and I are both no fans of squid. Nevertheless, it is a nice place to see, with the old fishing barracks and the small boulevard full of restaurants offering seafood.

Tavira 37

Praia do Barril

Another highlight nearby is Praia do Barril beach. This is also located on the island of Tavira but on the other side. You reach the beach with a small train (€4 for a return ticket) that goes from the mainland to the island every few minutes. Praia do Barril is a beautiful sandy beach with a few restaurants (Museo do Atum is quite nice, but a bit pricey) that are housed in the old fishing barracks. In addition, this beach is characterized by hundreds of anchors that together form an anchor cemetery. These are the anchors of the former tuna fishermen who used to live here.

The beach of Praia do Barril is very nice, with sunbeds and decking that leads you along the dunes. A nice place to enjoy the sun for a few hours!

The best hotspots and restaurants in Tavira

Tavira is not large but has more than enough good restaurants. Since you are close to the sea, you can eat good fish and seafood almost everywhere. Below you will find our favorite Tavira hotspots and restaurants.

Bossa Rio Tavira: The best wine bar in Tavira

We drank the most delicious wines in the sun overlooking the river at this great wine bar. The owner comes to talk passionately about the wines and they also serve delicious snacks! Go for the tuna tartare here, it’s amazing. Just like the Cichetti, Italian pinches, sandwiches. Click here for the location of this hotspot in Tavira.

Pousada Convento Tavira: drinks and luxury dining

Near the castle ruins in an ocher yellow old monastery, is the chic hotel Pousada Convento Tavira. Here you sleep in beautiful rooms full of luxury. But you can also have a good dinner here or have a drink in the courtyard. The latter in particular is highly recommended and the prices are not ridiculously high at all. Here you can drink a cocktail for €9 and a glass of wine for €5.50. Click here for the location of this hotspot in Tavira and here you will find more information about the hotel.

Zeca da Bica: simple but good food in Tavira

Zeca de Bica is a simple restaurant where you can eat both in the afternoon and in the evening. The portions are large, the quality is good and the prices are low! Perfect on holiday. We enjoy the sole in orange sauce and tuna steak. Click here for the location of this restaurant in Tavira.

O Tonel: fine dining in the cozy streets of Tavira

O Tonel borders Zeca da Bica and has the best location in all of Tavira. When it starts to get dark in the evening, candles and lights come on and you sit between the old buildings with flowers all around you, beautiful. In addition, the food is also great! The cheese is recommended, it is so tasty! Prices are a bit higher, but more than worth it. Reservations are absolutely necessary here. Click here for the location of this restaurant in Tavira.

O Noel: the best clams in all of Tavira!

We eat the very best at the simplest restaurant in Tavira. A little outside the center, in a shabby street you will find restaurant O Noel. The lovely owners make the best fish dishes. And if you like them, definitely go for the clams because oh wow, they are really amazing. This restaurant is known among locals for its shells, they prepare the very best in all of Tavira. Click here for the location of this restaurant in Tavira.

La Baguette Artisan Boulanger Francais: French bakery in Tavira

If you are a regular reader of our website then you already know this, I love French food! And especially pastries, croissants and baguettes. By chance, we came across this small French bakery where you can buy delicious madeleines, baguettes, and croissants. Highly recommended if you are tired of pastel de nata. Click here for the location of this hotspot in Tavira.

The nicest hotels & B&Bs in the Tavira area

You will find numerous hotels and B&Bs in the Tavira area. If you stay in the center, we recommend an apartment or hotel with a roof terrace or balcony so that you can view all the hustle and bustle of the town from above in the evening. If you go a little outside the center or have a larger budget, choose a location with a swimming pool to cool off in. Click here for an overview of all hotels in Tavira and the surrounding area.

Appartementos do Rio €

Appartementos Rio

These nice apartments are located right in the center of Tavira. They are not huge but have air conditioning, a kitchen and are newly furnished. The apartment overlooking the river is the most beautiful. Starting from €130 per night.

Click here

Pessoa/Rico €€


This spacious apartment is located right in the center. We stayed here with our son for 6 nights and enjoyed the roof terrace, the spacious rooms, and the kitchen. Quite noisy (but so are most hotels in the center). From €164 per night.

Click here

Pousada Convento €€€

Pousada Convento de Tavira

You will sleep wonderfully in the beautiful rooms of the old monastery. No spartan scenes in this monastery, but luxurious beds and 2 swimming pools with a view of the entire city. Stay here from €200 per night including breakfast.

Click here

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