Tavira City Guide

Nestled where the Gilão River meets the Atlantic Ocean, Tavira is a beautiful fishing town in the east of the Algarve. The Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island), with its impressive 14 km of beach and delightful historic town, is a true highlight of the Algarve.


Tavira's history dates back to the first Phoenician occupation of Iberia, which lasted around 500 years from the 8th Century. This Moorish occupation of Tavira can still be seen in the whitewashed houses with their ornate and stylish doors. This was a period of steep economic growth for Tavira when it became an important port for sailors.

The city was then conquered by Dom Paio Peres Correia in the 13th Century, ending Moorish control. The city soon became a specialist in shipping salt, dried fish and wine.

Unfortunately, most of the original buildings were destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 but archeologists have been identifying the origins of some historic landmarks and rebuilding according to the original designs.

Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island Beach)

You can reach the Ilha de Tavira via ferry across the Natural Reserve Ria Formosa, which leave from the town centre or from nearby Quatro Águas. This beautiful beach provides more than just sun, sea and sand. There are plenty of restaurants, cafés and beachside bars to keep you refreshed.

Praia do Barril

To the west of Tavira Island lies Praia do Barril, one of the cleanest beaches of the southern coast of the Algarve. It is accessible all year round by a bridge that crosses the Ria Formosa. In the summer the crossing can also made by miniature train, a facility that originally served tune industry now turned to tourism.

Cabanas Island Beach

The Beach of Cabanas Island is also reachable by ferry across the lagoon of Ria Formosa. This is a more isolated, cleaner, less crowded beach that offers beautiful views over the ocean.

Ponte Romana (Roman Bridge)

Roman bridge is a 17th Century bridge that has its origins back during the Roman occupation, which links the two parts of Tavira across the River Gilão. It is a seven-arched pedestrian crossing and the place to go for a coffee.

Castelo de Tavira and Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo

The 13th century castle, Castelo de Tavira, is not only a grand and glorious, historic building in its own right, but also provides fantastic views across Tavira. In the adjacent Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo, built on the site of a Moorish mosque, you’ll find another remarkable building, which also holds the tombs of Dom Paio Peres Correia and his knights.

Food and Drinks

The Mercado do Ribeiro on the riverfront is one of the best locations in town for cafés and restaurants. Around the Praça da República, with its narrow cobbled streets, nice gardens and tiled houses, you can find shops, more restaurants, and delectable ice-cream places. Tavira also has a lively nightlife, with plenty of bars and nightclubs to pick from.

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