A guide to Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

Stretching for 100 miles along the southern fringe of Portugal, the resorts of the Algarve have a universal appeal, attracting people with a wide range of tastes to their historic attractions, great beaches and sporting activities. Holidays in the Algarve have been ticking all the boxes for decades, and looking at the fantastic climate and top range of hotels and self catering accommodation on offer, it’s easy to understand why. Few places in Europe offer such a wide variety of destinations stretching over such a wide area, and leave every type of visitor yearning to come back for more.

Tavira holidays
The Algarve is perhaps better known for the more developed resorts in the west stretching from the airport at Faro over to Cape St Vincent, the most south-westerly point of Europe. But the smaller, less developed settlements east of Faro give a gentler side of the Algarve and perhaps a more authentic feel of Portugal. The town of Tavira, clustered around the mouth of the river Gilao, is one of the most attractive fishing towns in the area with a historic harbour supplying all the local restaurants with freshly caught fish and seafood. This is a historic town of ancient walls and narrow cobbled streets and alleys interspersed with no less than 37 Churches.

Much of the appeal of Tavira holidays lies in the lively atmosphere around the main square and along the riverside, lined with majestic palm trees and cafe bars. The old mansions here are adorned with baroque windows and decorative wrought iron balconies. The character of these older buildings sits comfortably beside the town’s stylish cafes and shops.

People who enjoy shopping will love Tavira holidays for the monthly market and the colourful array of galleries offering local craft items. But Tavira holidays are just as much about kicking back and relaxing on fabulous sandy beaches and the local area has them in abundance around Ilha Tavira, reached via a tranquil path lined with almond, carob and fig trees. These are the fringes of the Rio Formosa Nature Reserve and you may even be lucky enough to spot a few examples of rare migrating birds along the way.

A history that has shaped Tavira
Tavira is a rich tapestry of architectural styles that tell a story of a town with a rich and colourful past. The town originally rose to prominence during the Moorish occupation of Portugal beginning in the 8th century thanks to its safe harbour and its historic castle, thought to have been largely constructed by the Moors. After the town returned to Portuguese rule 500 years later, Tavira became an important port for trading with its colonies on the African mainland and the Cape Verde Islands in the 15th century and the wealth generated from this trade was used to fund the construction of many of Tavira’s churches.

Although prosperity continued for some time, hard times were to hit the town when the harbour silted up and much of the town was destroyed by the great earthquake of 1755, which had its epicentre in Lisbon. Tavira played a key role in the tuna fishing industry in the 20th century but stocks eventually dwindled. The only remaining legacy today is the town’s small tuna fish museum. Tavira now relies on its strength as a tourist resort to move forward into the future, but the historic attractions and endearing feel of Tavira holidays have visitors coming back again and again.

Ways to enjoy Tavira holidays
In keeping with the relaxed atmosphere in Tavira, visitors can enjoy leisurely tours of the town by horse-drawn carriage and take in the sights in true style. Tavira’s idyllic location on the edge of the Rio Formosa Nature Reserve is a beautiful rural setting which is perfect to discover on foot or explore further on a customised boat tour, which depart from the riverside and offer bird-watching and lagoon fishing. Cheap holidays in Tavira allow you to get to know another side to the Algarve, to roam off the beaten track and discover the beauty of hidden gems such as the waterfalls close to Cachopo and the emerald rock pools at Pego do Inferno, which are perfect for a spot of swimming after sunbathing on the rocks.

Traditional fishing villages like Cacela la Velha give visitors a real flavour of the unspoilt side of Portugal, with its endearing old houses and fortress walls. Cheap holidays in Tavira also offer you the chance to make day trips to Spain, with the border town of Ayamonte lying just a few miles away. At the same time it is certainly worth venturing a little further east and visiting the beautiful Spanish cities of Huelva and Seville for a truly memorable excursion.

Further Tavira Holidays Information

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