Situated 30km east of Faro, TAVIRA is one of the most beautiful towns in the Algarve and a clear winner if you are looking for a base on the eastern stretch. It’s sited on both sides of the broad Rio Gilão, which is overlooked by balconied houses and straddled by low bridges, one of Roman origin. Many visitors stay longer than planned – particularly after a visit to the superb island beach of the Ilha de Tavira, which lies within easy reach of the town by year-round ferry. There are also several quieter spots in the area, such as the holiday village of Pedras d’el Rei and nearby beach at Barril and, for some excellent seafood, the tiny fishing village of Santa Luzia.
Founded as long ago as 400 BC, Tavira was an important port trading with North Africa until the river began to silt up in the seventeenth century. Following the Great Earthquake of 1755, the town was largely rebuilt with the graceful eighteenth-century town houses and mansions that you see today. The old bridge was mostly built in 1667 on the foundations of a Roman structure; the other central bridge was put up by the army in 1989 as a temporary structure, but has held firm ever since. In the old-town streets on both sides of the river, numerous houses retain fine old doorways with traditional knockers in the shape of hands.Read More
Ilha de Tavira
Ilha de Tavira
The ILHA DE TAVIRA stretches southwest from Tavira almost as far as Fuzeta, some 14km away, and the beach is enormous, the best in the Eastern Algarve, backed by tufted dunes. In summer you can catch ferries direct from the riverfront in town. Otherwise, you get there by ferry from the jetty at Quatro Águas, 2km east of town.
The main path on the island runs from the jetty through a small chalet settlement to the beach, where there are umbrellas and pedaloes for rent, and half a dozen bar-restaurants. In high summer this part of the beach is packed, though you only have to walk fifteen minutes or so to be clear of the crowds, and out of season you’ll probably have the place entirely to yourself.