Tavira old roman bridge

17 Things to Do in Tavira – the Hidden Gem of the Algarve

Welcome to Tavira, a charming Portuguese town located in the heart of the Algarve region!

Are you wondering what are all the amazing things to do in Tavira? Hang tight, I’m about to share them with you!

As a travel enthusiast and wanderlust soul, I have explored many destinations around the world, but none quite like Tavira. This hidden gem offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that will make your visit an unforgettable experience.

I will share with you some of the best things to do in Tavira based on my personal experiences. Some of those things to do in Tavira Portugal will include visiting 13th-century castle ruins, a Roman Bridge and an impressive church also dating back to the 13th century.

Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation or just want to soak up the local vibe, there is something here for everyone. So pack your bags and prepare yourself for an amazing journey through one of Portugal’s most beautiful towns!

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Is Tavirva Worth Visiting?

cobblestone street in tavira

If you’re looking for a charming, authentic Portuguese town to visit, let me tell you why Tavira should be at the top of your list. Wonder no longer, Tavira is worth visiting!

First off, the town is situated on the banks of the Gilão River, with picturesque bridges and boats bobbing along. The winding cobbled streets are lined with colourful houses adorned with wrought-iron balconies and flower-filled windowsills. It’s like stepping back in time to a simpler era.

Secondly, Tavira has some of the most stunning beaches in Portugal. The Praia do Barril is a must-visit spot, where you can walk through an old fishing village to reach miles of golden sand dunes and crystal-clear waters.

But that’s not all – Tavira also boasts some incredible historical landmarks and interesting history. Tavira history dates back to the Phoenician times. Over the centuries, the town has been occupied by the Romans, Moors, and Portuguese, each leaving their mark on Tavira’s architecture, culture, and traditions.

And last but not least, Tavira is known for its delicious cuisine. From fresh seafood dishes to traditional Algarvian desserts like figs stuffed with almonds and honey – your taste buds will thank you for visiting this foodie haven.

17 Things to Do in Tavira

1. Praça da República (Republic Square)

large square in tavira

This large impressive open square looks new and modern. The Tavira tourist office can be found here and it’s a great starting point to explore the city.

On one side is the town hall and on the other, there’s a string of bar and restaurant terraces where you can dine alfresco in the evenings or enjoy a coffee by day. Tucked beside this row is a Moorish horseshoe arch, once part of the castle defences.

2. Jardim do Coreto (Coreto Garden)

Connecting Republic Square to Tavirva’s riverfront is this beautiful garden. With its well-manicured lawns, vibrant flowerbeds, and charming bandstand, Jardim do Coreto is the perfect place to relax, unwind, and soak up the Portuguese sunshine (with a gelato in hand!).

3. Ponte Romana de Tavira (Old Roman Bridge in Tavira)

Tavira old roman bridge

The seven-arched Roman bridge called Ponte Antiga Sobre o Rio Gilão spans the slow-flowing river of Gilao River or Ria Gilão. It’s thought to be from Moorish times in the 1100s. Although most of the structure had to be reconstructed in 1667.

It’s a pedestrian-only crossing bridge that offers benches in small cut-out niches making it a perfect spot to take in the city’s historic streetscape.  

4. Tavira Old Town

Tavira is best explored by simply walking and wandering aimlessly through its pretty streets and alleyways in the old town.

You’ll instantly be mesmerized by its charm and beauty. From the latticework doors with door knockers in the shape of hands (a Moorish influence) to the Azulejo tiles. Almost all the buildings are whitewashed and feature bright yellow details.

What to do in Tavira is simple – let your feet lead the way – this is one Instagrammable place in Portugal!

5. Castelo de Tavira (Tavira Castle and Gardens)

rooftop view of tavira

The ruined castle called Castelo de Tavira dates back to the Moorish era. Most of what now stands is a 16th-century reconstruction. You can walk along the fortified wall to a watchtower. This offers a complete panorama view of the waves of triangular orange rooftops with white chimney stacks and an old Tavira water tower.

The interior contains a beautiful botanical garden featuring a lovely bougainvillea in the centre. Of all the Tavira things to do, this is one not to be missed.

6. Nucleo Islamico Museum

This fascinating museum is dedicated to the region’s Islamic past and offers a unique insight into Tavira’s rich cultural heritage. With its impressive collection of artifacts, informative exhibits, and knowledgeable guides, the Nucleo Islamico Museum is the perfect place to learn about the town’s Islamic history and heritage.

7. Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo (Church of Santa Maria)

white church in Tavira

A 13th-century church originally built in the Gothic style was severely damaged by the 1755 earthquake and needed to be rebuilt. The original elements are the doorway and clock tower, the rest was reconstructed in the 18th century.

Be sure to climb the bell tower of the Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo for city views.

8. Igreja da Misericórdia (Church of Mercy)

church in tavira

If you’re exploring Tavira’s old town, you simply can’t miss Igreja da Misericórdia. This beautiful church, built in the 16th century, is a stunning example of Manueline architecture, with its intricate stonework and ornate carvings.

Inside, you can admire the beautiful vaulted ceilings, azulejo walls and Baroque altar, making it a must-see for anyone interested in art and architecture. With its rich history and stunning beauty, Igreja da Misericórdia is a true gem of Tavira’s cultural heritage.

9. Tavira Artisan Shops

painted tiles in shop as one of the best things to do in Tavira

If you’re looking for some unique souvenirs to take home from Tavira, you simply have to check out the artisan shops in the old town.

Casa das Portas and Armazem are two must-visit stores, offering a wonderful selection of handmade crafts, traditional Portuguese ceramics, and beautiful textiles. Whether you’re looking for a special gift or just want to treat yourself, these artisan shops are the perfect place to find something truly unique and special. So, make sure you leave some space in your suitcase!

10. Street Signs

Tavira, Portugal street sign

Everything is a little more special and authentic in Tavira. Even the town’s street signs are charming, aren’t they?

Once you come upon them, they usually led you to a historic landmark. They are especially helpful as you are aimlessly wandering through the old city.  

11. Palácio da Galeria

rooftops in tavira

The main venue for Tavira’s Municipal Museum is a Baroque palace on a site going back to Phoenician times, around 2,600 years ago. Excavations revealed ritualistic wells dedicated to Baal, their god of storms. These lie preserved in the basement, along with a small assortment of artifacts in cases around the walls.

The open square in front of this museum also makes for a good viewpoint for Tavira rooftops like this one.

12. Torre de Tavira (Tower of Tavira) 

city rooftops from Tavira tower

The former water tower, now called Tavira Camera Obscura, is a fantastic attraction for anyone visiting the town. This historic tower dates back to the 17th century and offers stunning panoramic views of Tavira and the surrounding area.

Check out the inside of the fascinating Camera Obscura! If uses a series of mirrors to project a live image of the town onto a concave surface, offering a unique and immersive way to explore Tavira’s history and heritage. So, make sure to add Torre de Tavira to your itinerary for a unique experience!

13. Praia do Barril (Barril Beach)

beach with anchors in tavira

On the Ilha de Tavira barrier island is a world-class beach. It has a long and wide belt of white sand, with rows of parasols and sun loungers and a dune system behind. For families, a fun thing to do for kids is to board the miniature train that takes you from the parking lot to the shore.

This route crosses sand dunes and creeks until you arrive at the remnants of an old tuna-fishing community. Their huts and homes are now a beach restaurant and mini-museum. The old fishing fleet’s anchors have been planted in the dunes and now act like an anchor cemetery.

14. Praia da Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island Beach)

For fun in the sun head to the stunning island, located just off the coast of Tavira. Tavira Island boasts miles of pristine sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking views. To reach it, take the ferry across for about €2 and shuttles back and forth all day long.

With its laid-back atmosphere and excellent facilities, Ilha de Tavira is the perfect place to soak up the sun, take a refreshing swim, or indulge in some delicious seafood at one of the island’s restaurants.

15. Salt Pans

For a unique and memorable experience, don’t miss the salt pans in Tavira. These traditional salt flats have been in use for centuries and offer a fascinating insight into the region’s history and culture.

Take a guided tour (see #17 Tuk Tuk for more info) to learn about the salt-making process, see the workers in action, and even taste some of the delicious local salt. With its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, the salt pans in Tavira are a true hidden gem.

16. Ria Formosa Natural Park

boat on inlet with sunset one of the things to do in Tavira

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts won’t want to miss Ria Formosa Natural Park during their visit to Tavira. This stunning park, located just a short distance from the town, is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including rare bird species and marine life, including seeing pink flamingos.

You can explore the park’s trails on foot or bike, take a boat tour, or simply relax and take in the stunning views. With its natural beauty and ecological importance, Ria Formosa Natural Park is a true highlight of any trip to Tavira.

17. Tuk-Tuk Tours

A fun way to see some hidden gems in Tavira is to take a Tuk-Tuk tour to zip you around. Here are 3 top-rated tours you might be interested in.

  1. Tuk-Tuk City Tour. Enjoy a 1-hour tuk-tuk tour around Tavira and see the main historical monuments, the main square, and salt pans. Check prices and reserve your spot (up to 3 people per group)
  2. Santa Luzia & Ria Formosa Tuk Tuk Tour. Enjoy a tuk-tuk tour through the fishing village of Santa Luzia, known for octopus fishing, the real highlight includes the salt pans and Ria Formosa. Check prices and reserve your spot (up to 3 people per group)
  3. Tuk-Tuk City Tour and Camera Obscura. Take a private tour of the city on a tuk-tuk and visit the Camera Obscura one of the top things to do in Tavira. Check the prices and reserve your spot (up to 3 people per group)

Best Tavira Restaurants

There are many fantastic restaurants in Tavira, offering a variety of delicious local cuisine. Here are just a few recommendations:

  1. O Tonel – This charming restaurant is known for its fresh seafood and traditional Portuguese dishes, all served in a cozy and welcoming atmosphere.
  2. Rota Dos Sabores – For a truly authentic taste of Tavira, head to this charming restaurant known for its fresh seafood (but also accommodated for vegetarians). The welcoming service makes you feel like a local or extended family member.
  3. Ti Maria – This tapas bar is worth the walk a little outside the city centre. You can’t go wrong with the food and friendly atmosphere.
  4. Pausa – This trendy and modern restaurant serves up a fusion of international flavours and local specialties, with a focus on fresh and healthy ingredients.
  5. Pousada de Tavira – With its stunning location in a former convent with a view to the garden and a delicious Mediterranean-inspired menu, Pousada is the perfect place to enjoy a romantic dinner or casual drinks with friends.

Day Trips from Tavira

There are many fantastic day trips that can be taken from Tavira! I found that there are so many beautiful villages and Portugal’s hidden gems nearby that don’t take long to explore, but were a highlight of my trip. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Faro – Just a short car or train ride from Tavira (38 km), the city of Faro is a must-visit destination. Explore the historic old town, sample some delicious seafood, and soak up the city’s vibrant cultural scene.
  2. Cacela Velha – This charming fishing village is located just outside of Tavira (10 km) and is a hidden gem with stunning views of the coastline.
  3. Vila Real de Santo António – Located on the banks of the Guadiana River, this picturesque town is known for its elegant architecture and lively cultural scene and is just a short drive from Tavira (20 km).
  4. Castro Marim – Explore the ancient castle and medieval town of Castro Marim (35 km) and the stunning views over the Guadiana River and the surrounding countryside. This is considered another one of the hidden gems in Algarve.
  5. Algarve Beaches – Discover some of the best hidden gems Algarve has to offer – its beaches! The best Algarve beaches extend the entire coastline of the Algarve – from east to west!

Where to Stay in Tavira

pool, patio, sun umbrella in things to do in tavira

The best way to experience Tavira is to stay in an apartment or villa. With the amount of amazing, affordable vacation rental properties it’s a far better experience to enjoy the relaxing, resort vibes that this city is all about.

Here are my top 3 recommendations:

  1. Uma Casa Portuguesa: a 2-bed boho-chic apartment full of natural textures and neutral tones is a comfy space. Large balcony to enjoy your morning coffee and cool off with a dip in the large communal pool.
  2. The Olive Oyl: a three-storey townhouse that’s a perfect choice for friends or extended family sharing, each of the 2 bedrooms sits on its own floor with an en-suite bathroom. Offers a private courtyard with steps to a shared terrace for a dip in the pool.
  3. An Infinite Horizon: a 3-bedroom “penthouse” apartment with a large outdoor private terrace that includes an outdoor kitchen, lounging and hot tub with views of the nearby Old Town.


Where is Tavira located?

Tavira is a town located in the eastern Algarve region of Portugal. It is situated along the Gilão River and is known for its historic charm and beautiful coastline.

What is Tavira known for?

Tavira is known for its charming historic centre with its top attractions of the Roman bridge, Tavira castle, and Igreja da Misericórdia. As well as its close proximity to Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Is Tavira worth visiting?

Yes, Tavira is worth visiting for its charm, history, beautiful beaches, relaxing atmosphere and proximity to the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

When is the best time to go to Tavira?

The best time to visit Tavira is during the shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) when the weather is pleasant, crowds are smaller, and prices are lower.

How to get to Tavira?

Tavira can be easily reached by plane, train, or car. The nearest airport is Faro Airport, just 30 km away. Driving is a great option, with good road connections from the rest of the Algarve and Lisbon.

Can you walk to the beach from Tavira?

Tavira is not located directly on the coast, the closest beach is Praia do Tavira, which is accessible by a short ferry ride to the Ilha de Tavira.

What to do in Tavira at night?

Tavira at night is magical! Enjoy a drink at a rooftop bar while taking in the sunset, followed by dinner and enjoying a live Fado music performance or simply walking the charming streets.

Are there any traditional festivals in Tavira?

Yes, Tavira hosts several traditional festivals throughout the year. The Tavira Carnival, held in February, Festas de São João, celebrated in June, and the Feira da Tavira, a traditional fair, takes place in September and features local handicrafts, food, and entertainment.

Are there hiking or biking trails near Tavira?

Yes, there are hiking and biking trails near Tavira. The Ria Formosa Natural Park has designated paths for walking and cycling, allowing you to explore the coastal lagoons, salt pans, and diverse flora and fauna of the area.

Portugal Travel Resources

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As a Holidaymaker

Tavira Portugal is an absolute gem of the Algarve! Overall, Tavira offers a perfect blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and culinary delights. Of all the hidden gems Tavira has to offer be sure to venture to the Ria Formosa Natural Park, there’s nothing quite like it!

With its authentic charm, relaxed atmosphere, and beautiful surroundings, it’s no wonder that Tavira Portugal is becoming an increasingly popular destination among travellers.

So pack your bags and come experience this hidden gem for yourself!

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