The town of Tavira, along with Lagos, is the most beautiful in terms of architecture in the whole of the Algarve. About 30 kilometres from Faro airport it is now becoming a tourist destination despite remaining largely rural. Dating back to around 2,000 BC Tavira is an historically significant place, first seeing the settlement of the Phoenicians, then the Tartessians, and then the Romans, until it was held by the Moors between the 8th and 13th centuries and later re-conquered by the Portuguese in 1242.
Moorish influence is still evident in most of the structures even if the town was mostly re-built after the destructive earthquake of 1755. The whitewashed houses and buildings are designed with Moorish roofing and doors which make the town a very charming sight even as you approach it.
One of the main landmarks of Tavira is the so-called “Roman” bridge which is actually really Moorish in design and origin. This bridge connects the two sides of the city over the Gilão River which cuts across Tavira on its way to meet the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Tavira has many other beautiful landmarks which make it perfect for day excursions if you are staying anywhere on the Algarve. These include Palácio da Galeria which serves as a cultural centre and a total of 37 churches which were all built in the 18th century. Most notable amongst them are the Misericórdia, which is the town’s main church, and Santa Maria do Castelo. This particular church is located on the site of a former mosque and is famous for housing the tombs of Dom Paio Peres Correia and his seven knights.
The Gilão port was of great importance back in the 17th century as it supported the shipping of dried fish, salt and wine in those days. Now the area has sprouted a number of restaurants. Shops can also be found on both sides of the river selling mostly rustic items like baskets, wrought iron work, pottery and other handicrafts plus of course local produce such as fruit, vegetables and fresh fish.
Tavira’s economy used to revolve mainly around fishing but since the migration patterns of tuna have changed livelihoods have shifted to servicing a military base in the locality. Tourism is also growing, especially since three golf courses have opened nearby.
Visitors find the Tavira beach very attractive with a 7-kilometre long stretch of soft sand that is ideal for sunbathers. The beach is located on its own island called Ilha de Tavira and is accessible only by ferryboat. Some bars and restaurants are also found here. This beach is generally a much quieter alternative, especiallyin the peak season, than the more popular Algarve beaches.
You will find that Tavira also has some fun to offer after sundown. You can go down to places like Bubi Bar, Moto Clube and Discoteca UBI to mingle with both locals and tourists. There’s also live music at Tavira Gardens on Saturdays.
There is a lot to experience in Tavira so you might as well book for accommodations here. Pousada Tavira built from the former Graça Convent is the best option. The villas of nearby Quinta Velha Village also offer fine lodging.