All about Tavira

Useful information about Tavira

Tavira is a beautifully elegant town and almost surreal in aspects.


Visitors can be forgiven for forgetting where they are, or even what year it is, as they step into this unique Algarve fishing town.  


Between the 8th and 13th centuries Tavira was under Arab rule until its conquest by the Knights of the Order of Santiago in 1242.It was elevated to a city in 1520 by King Manuel I and was the main trading port in the Algarve during the 16th to 18th centuries.


Today it has still managed to stave off the influence of tourism to hold on to its unique tradition and handsome character. The seven arch bridge, over the river Gilão, is reputedly Roman in origin, although its present appearance was acquired in the 17th century. Since severe floods affected the bridge in 1989 it has only been open to pedestrians. The market hall on the river front was re-vamped a few years ago and now is 'home' to several shops, cafes and restaurants around the edge with the central space available for exhibitions and special events.

The stretch of river front along the Gilão River is a great place to sit at one of the cafes and enjoy the very picturesque setting. The Roman bridge, Ponte Romana, spans the river with low arches and creates gentle reflections on the water and at low tide there are normally people wading in the river - presumably after clams.

Walk up the side of the church and then turn left and you will arrive at the 13th century Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo which is next to the castle. Santa Maria is famed for holding the tombs of the seven Christian knights of the Order of St. James who were killed by the Moors.The gardens near the bridge offer a pleasant shadey place to sit and, more often than not, somewhere for the older men to sit and chat and while away the day with a game or two of dominoes!

Getting around

Getting around couldn't be easier - the main roads (the EN 125 and the A22)

run East to West with feeder roads to all the resorts

to the South and inland to the North.


A few of the highlights of Tavira Town


Tavira is a really attractive town with some lovely, quite grand, buildings reflecting it's wealthy past particularly around the Praça da República area and

then typical rows of portuguese 'town' houses with tiled fronts along narrow cobbled streets; shops to browse in; pretty gardens and squares to sit in and,

of course, plenty of restaurants and cafes for refreshments!


Some points about Tavira


Tavira arguably has some of the finest churches in the Algarve and they are plentiful too, in fact there are more than 20 in and around the town!

The 16th century Igreja da Misericórdia is often cited as one of the finest churches in Tavira, with its blue and white azuejos, magnificent carvings and scenes from the life of Christ.

Beach Life

The beach at Tavira is a fabulous island beach, Ilha de Tavira, a 14km long offshore sandspit. Ferries cross from the town centre throughout the summer and all year round from nearby Quatro Águas.

There are lots of delightful places to explore around Tavira starting with the pretty town of Cabanas just to the east.

Typical Algarve

A short distance to the east of Cabanas is another picturesque spot - the tiny village of Cacela Velha. It is just a handful of typically Algarvean whitewashed houses, a church and a fort around a cobbled square and situated on the waterfront just before Manta Rota (it is signposted from the N125).