20 Best Things to Do in Tavira Portugal

The beautiful Tavira is a hidden gem nestled in the eastern Algarve region of Portugal.

It’s got captivating charm and unspoiled beauty, and this picturesque town offers an array of activities and attractions that will enchant you, for that I’m certain of.

Want to know the best things to do in Tavira Portugal?

From exploring ancient Moorish architecture to relaxing on pristine beaches, there are endless Tavira things to do.

In this article, I will share my favourite things to see in Tavira and what to do in Tavira Portugal.

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Summary List: Things to See in Tavira + What to Do in Tavira Portugal

bridge with white buildings in tavira things to do

Things to See in Tavira

  • Tavira Castle
  • Roman bridge
  • Santa Maria do Castelo church
  • Misericórdia church
  • Santiago church
  • Praça da República
  • Coreto Garden
  • Camera Obscura
  • Pego do Inferno Waterfall
  • Vila Real de Santo Santo António Natural Reserve
  • Ria Formosa Natural Park

Things to Do in Tavira

  • Go to Tavira Island
  • Explore the historic city centre
  • Relax on Tavira beach
  • Visit the Municipal Museum in Tavira
  • Visit the Nucleo Islamico Museum
  • Take a day trip to nearby villages
  • Shop at Mercado da Ribeira market
  • Taste the local cuisine
  • Check out the artisan shops

As you can see at a glance, there are a lot of Tavira Portugal things to do. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of these, and hopefully, I will convince you that going to the Algarve is more than just a day trip from Lisbon.

Best Things to Do in Tavira Portugal

1. Republic Square (Praça da República)

stairs leading to white buildings in what to do 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 I dined al fresco in the evenings and enjoyed a coffee by day.

Tucked beside this row is a Moorish horseshoe arch, once part of the castle defences.

2. Coreto Garden (Jardim do Coreto)

archway of flowers in things to see in Tavira Portugal

Connecting Republic Square to Tavirva’s riverfront is this beautiful garden.

This is where I grabbed a gelato and took a stroll through its well-manicured lawns, vibrant flowerbeds, and charming bandstand.

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

The seven-arched Roman bridge called Ponte Antiga Sobre o Rio Gilão spans the slow-flowing river of Gilão River or Ria Gilão. It’s thought to be from Moorish times in the 1100s. However, 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.  

I fell for this bridge because of its vibe. An old man was playing the accordion and singing sad Portuguese love songs, and the river and city views were amazing.

4. Tavira Old Town

cobblestone steps leading up to town in what to do in tavira portugal

Tavira is best explored by walking and wandering 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. Tavira Castle and Gardens (Castelo de Tavira)

stone wall and view of the city as best things to do in tavira portugal

The ruined castle called Castelo de Tavira dates back to the Moorish era. Most of what now stands is a 16th-century reconstruction.

I walked along the fortified wall to a watchtower where you have 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. Church of Santa Maria (Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo)

white stone church as things to see in tavira portugal

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 those beautiful city views.

7. Church of Mercy (Igreja da Misericórdia)

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.

Another church in Tavira that I visited was Santiago Church (Igreja de Santiago) to admire its impressive architecture and religious art.

8. Tavira Municipal Museum (Museu Municipal de Tavira)

white stone building with windows as tavira portugal things to do

I was immediately drawn to this building, known as Palácio da Galeria, which now houses Tavira’s Municipal Museum. It highlights the town’s history, heritage, and also contemporary art.

But it was the palace I was most enamoured by, dating back to at least the 16th century, showcasing Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque elements. It has a courtyard with a viewpoint that overlooks the city which is a must-see even if you have no interest in going to visit the museum.

rooftops with laundry and buildings in best things to do in tavira portugal

9. Nucleo Islamico Museum

yellow building in best things to do in tavira portugal

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.

10. Tavira Artisan Shops

store front with art at doorway in tavira portugal things to do

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!

I brought back a silk scarf that was made by one of the local artists.

11. Street Signs

street sign with tile in tavira things to do

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 lead you to a historic landmark. They are especially helpful as you are aimlessly wandering through the old city.  

12. Camera Obscura

rooftops with tower in best things to do in tavira portugal

Check out the inside of the fascinating Camera Obscura!

It 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. Barril Beach (Praia do Barril)

long beach with sea on things to do tavira portugal

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. Tavira Island Beach (Praia da Ilha de Tavira)

old wooden boat on tavira island as things to do tavira portugal

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 €2-5 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

boat on salt panes in tavira portugal things to do

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. They can be found in Salinas de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António Natural Reserve.

Take a guided tour 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

path with tree on things to do tavira portugal

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 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.

My recommendation is to go as the sun is setting, it is especially beautiful.

17. Pego do Inferno Waterfall

Located just outside Tavira, you’ll find a hidden gem that offers a refreshing oasis with cascading waterfalls surrounded by lush greenery—a perfect spot for picnicking or swimming during warmer months.

I didn’t visit here. Locals told me that due to a dry winter, the waterfall had dried up at the time of visiting.

Before you go, I recommend finding out whether the waterfall will be flowing with water and worth the trek, or based on the time of year, is dried up.

18. Tuk-Tuk Tours

clock tower in tavira things to do

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.
  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.
  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.

19. Take a Day Trip from Tavira

Many fantastic day trips 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. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Olhão: Known for its bustling fish market, Moorish-inspired architecture, and scenic waterfront, Olhão offers a beautiful blend of traditional Portuguese culture and a laid-back seaside vibe (30 km).
  4. Faro – Just a short car or train ride from Tavira (35 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.
  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!

20. Dine at Some of the Best Tavira Restaurants

Lastly, you can’t visit Tavira without sampling some of the local cuisine. I stayed just outside of Tavira, and I made trips to Tavira just for the amazing restaurants.

The traditional Algarvian dishes include cataplana (seafood stew), grilled sardines, or arroz de marisco (seafood rice). Being a vegetarian, I did find it hard to find something on the menu, but I was always accommodated. But if you love seafood, you’re going to feel right at home in Tavira.

What I recommend you do is to visit the local market – Mercado da Ribeira. Here you can browse through stalls selling fresh produce, local crafts, and traditional Portuguese products. I picked up some wonderful regional products like honey and figs.

Here are the best restaurants in Tavira I recommend:

  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 kindly accommodated me as a vegetarian). 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.

FAQ: Tavira Things to Do

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.

As a Holidaymaker

Many ask whether Tavira is worth visiting, and you can see from this list I have a lot of love for Tavira. It’s such a wonderful historic city that is the jewel of the Algarve.

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To access the full list of articles and know more about insightful tips about visiting Portugal, visit my Travel Guide page.