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Can you imagine the Algarve as it was before it became easy to access? Before the resorts and golf courses? Well that's what Tavira is like. Tavira has more churches than hotels. The best places to stay in Tavira are guesthouses rather than resort complexes. it boasts a port crowded with fishing boats rather than day cruisers. An old Roman bridge and the ruins of a castle rather than themed pubs. Tavira is Portugal at its prettiest and most charming. Somewhere that feels a beautiful world away from modern life.
Tavira is colourful and small, so perfect for a winter city break. Walls are bright white and roofs are bright red - and the sky is impressively bright blue most days. Tavira is also the perfect size for exploring on foot.
The cobbled maze is dotted with pretty squares and gardens to discover. Along with the 20+ churches, including some impressive Renaissance era beauties and some with lovely Baroque touches.
The castle was last rebuilt in the 13th Century, but was ruined in an 18th Century earthquake. It's still worth visiting though, the ruins are covered with the colourful, creeping blooms of a beautiful garden.
Tavira's other main historic building is the Palacio de Galera, now a gallery. But the churches around the Palacio are very close thirds and fourths etc.. There's a huge clock tower, a grand Gothic portico, medieval facades and elaborate interiors.
The town was once the Algarve's main port, but the earthquake silted up the river. The town still has a fishing port and market, but 3kms from the coast, and the beautiful eight mile long stretch of golden beaches of the Ilha de Tavira.
Tavira is built on both sides the river, which then sprawls into a biologically diverse lagoon reserve, the Ria Formosa, as it meets the coastline. If you come at the right time of year you'll see flocks of flamingoes taking a break here on their migration route. Kingfishers and storks also use the Ria Formosa.
What not to miss:
- Bask on the wide swathe of white sands that is Praia do Barril.
- Discover Tavira Castle, the best remnant from the town’s Moorish era.
- Stop by the pretty Igreja da Misericórdia (mid-16th century church).
- Stroll over the Ponte Antiga Sobre o Rio Gilão, a bridge thought to be from Moorish times (in the 1100s).
The best places in Tavira get booked up quickly during the summer months so be sure to plan ahead.
The best places to stay in Tavira
For a central location
- One of the best places to stay in Tavira if you want a central location is the Convento de Graca. In the 16th Century, when this canary yellow building was built, it was a convent. Now Renaissance cloisters and meditation gardens are part of this hotel's peaceful grounds which add to the atmosphere. Plus the restaurant serves excellent regional cuisine.
- Fazenda Nova is a good bet if you're looking for a modern nest for a couples break. This quiet, stylish hideaway of suites, apartments and penthouses has been converted from a traditional Portuguese villa.
- The beautifully restored 19th-century Casa Beleza do Sol offer stylish suites and self-catering apartments that have been designed by the architect owner. Original mosaic floors and features have been left intact and find shady roof terraces with panoramic views.
- Pousada Convento Tavira is a beautifully restored 16th Century convent on Tavira’s castle hill. With Renaissance cloisters, courtyard pool and central garden. Pretty rooms with splashes of bright colour and private balconies.
For a Beach Break
- Quinta de Colina is the property to book if you're looking for an apartment or villa. This traditional Algarvian manor has been tastefully converted into B&B accommodation, plus there's self catering options in a separate cottage, house and apartment. Only six minutes from Tavira and even closer to the nearest beach, this is a great choice if you want to explore both the town and the local beaches.
- The Vila Campina is one of the best places to stay in Tavira if you're looking for a chic guesthouse for you and your family. Whitewashed and square, with tranquil gardens, the architecture feels Moorish. A feel which continues into the lavender groves and olive trees around the swimming pool.
- For those looking for resort type facilities try Vila Monte. It's Moorish in style with rooms separated into riads. A Kasbah spa offers Arab baths and hammams alongside more western treatments. The terrace has sea views, once you look beyond the orange groves. The driving range and pitch and putt course are a bonus for those wanting to improve their swing!
For an apartment or villa
- If you're travelling with family or a group of friends it may be a better option to book a villa or apartment. For a wide range of properties for all tastes and budgets we recommend you visit our online partner Booking.com.
- Fly to Faro Airport located 40km from the town and offering flights across both Portugal and Europe.
- Travel between the months of May - September for beach weather. July is the hottest month in Tavira with an average temperature of 24°C.
- If you plan to hire a car, we recommend you visit our online partner Holiday Autos.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Tavira
Quinta da Colina 3 rooms from $87Conceição, Algarve
Traditional Algarvian manor which has been tastefully converted to provide B&B accommodation plus cottages and an apartment for self catering. Set amid 6 hectares filled with olive, orange and carob trees. A quieter, truly relaxing spot from which to enjoy the pleasures of the real Algarve.Swimming Pool - Created from the old irrigation tank with original well and water wheel feature on the terrace.Full of character - Retaining original features giving a true taste of Algarvian style.Sights nearby - Only 6 minutes by car from TaviraSailing - Can be booked nearby.Recommended by - Sawdays
Casa Beleza do Sul 4 rooms from $97Tavira
Beautifully restored 19th-century house in the unspoilt, delightful town of Tavira in the Algarve. Stylish suites and self-catering apartments have been designed by the architect owner. Original mosaic floors and features have been left intact. Shady roof terraces with panoramic views. A gem.Self catering - Self-catering studio and apartments have well-equipped kitchenettes, terraces with tables and sun loungersTown - Tavira is a charming and unspoilt old town, pretty squares and gardens, fishermen at work on their netsGolf - The Algarve is famous for its golf courses and some of the best are close to TaviraBeach nearby - Beautiful sandy beach close byRecommended by - Sawdays
Vila Monte Farm House 53 rooms from $130Moncarapacho, Algarve
A refreshing Moorish style retreat, nestled in orange groves and organic gardens. Light, airy and effortlessly stylish rooms offer seclusion, comfort and private terraces. Gourmet farm to fork cuisine served in a relaxed atmosphere. Two pools, tennis courts, and open air cinema seal the deal. Bliss!Romantic Break - A sophisticated couples paradise- with secluded rooms, private terraces, couples massages and romantic picnics on the beach.Foodies - The wholesome delicious cuisine never dissapoints- perhaps because it comes straight from the garden or local organic farms.Cooking classes - The chef happily takes tours to the local markets such as Olhao's big fish market.Sights nearby - Ruins of Milreu in Estoi.Recommended by - Tablet, Relais & Chateaux, Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape
Vila Campina 9 rooms from $189Tavira, Algarve
Bright white beacon of slick sophistication amidst rural farmland. A Moorish style guesthouse with modern white on white bedrooms, tranquil gardens, a stunning swimming pool, and nearby beach. Ideal for completely unwinding.Beach Life - Set next to some of Algarve’s unspoilt beaches, enjoy long walks, boats trips, swimming and fishing.Birdwatching - The B&B sits in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, wander around its famed island lagoons and try and spot the local birdlife.Local markets - A must for all foodies is the Olhão farmer's market every Saturday.Swimming Pool - Lovely salt water poolRecommended by - I Escape
Pousada Convento Tavira 36 rooms from $223Tavira, Algarve
A beautifully restored 16th Century convent on Tavira’s castle hill. With Renaissance cloisters, courtyard pool and central garden. Pretty rooms with splashes of bright colour and private balconies. Enjoy the traditional regional cuisine and wide range of Portuguese wines.Value chic - Reasonably priced charming Baroque and Renaissance Pousadas steeped in history with, plush rooms and pretty courtyard garden.Sights nearby - Within walking distance of the town’s great sites, such as the 16th-century Igreja da Misericórdia.Great walks - With wonderful walking around the hilly countryside and through the historic town.Swimming Pool - Outdoor pool
Fazenda Nova 10 rooms from $238Santo Estevao, Algarve
This traditional Portuegese villa cum modern sanctuary sits in the rolling hills of the Algarve. Private suites with their modernist luxury are perfect nests for a couples hideaway. The sporting scenery of the beach and hills around make it a fun spot too.Garden - Each apartment has its private garden and the property sits in 10 acres of land.Hideaway - A luxury country retreat ideal for couples.Suites - Suites, apartments, and penthouses.Romantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - I Escape, Sawdays, Mr & Mrs Smith