Tavira: A Visual Introduction

Near the far Eastern end of the Algarve is the beautifully unique town of Tavira. Exuding charm, history and character, glimpses of its Moorish history and role as a trading port can be found everywhere. Today, tourism is the major industry however you could easily become lost in time along the banks of the tranquil Gilão River, in its many (21+) churches or just admiring the unique architectural features of the colourful Portuguese houses on its narrow cobbled streets.

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We have heard such good things about this town that we had to see for ourselves. So along with friends we drove the approximately 120 km from one end of the Algarve to the other.  It was a beautiful sunny October day (like most here this year) and as soon as we wriggled into a parking spot along the river we knew that we would enjoy this town.

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Many small restaurants surround Praca Dr. Antonio Padinha

The streets and alleys of the old town were inviting and we explored a few before stopping for lunch in a small sunlit square. We had passed a mix of Indian, Portuguese and Italian restaurants offering inviting pratos do dia (plate of the day) and the smell of curry, grilled sardines and piri-piri chicken wafting through the air called to our empty stomachs.

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These “tourist trains” are ubiquitous throughout the Algarve

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The “Roman Bridge” is more likely Moorish in origin

Tavira’s origins date back to the Phoenicians who created a large urban settlement here in 800 BC. The Moorish occupation of Tavira began in the 8th Century and continued until 1242 during the Reconquista. Salt, dried fish and wine were important exports from the town as it became a major trading port. Like most of the Algarve, Tavira was decimated by the earthquake in 1755 when most of its buildings were destroyed or severely damaged.

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Looking upriver from the Ponte Romana

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Anne and Dick cooling off in the shade

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A beautifully restored facade glows in the sunlight

An architectural feature unique to Faro and Tavira are the four-sided hipped roofs which show an Oriental influence. The scissor-shaped design allows for more airflow in the rooms making them cooler in the summer and warmer in winter. These can be seen in many of the photos from around the town.

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Four-sided hipped roofs

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Fishing boats on the riverside

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There are live performances at this small Fado Museum

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Newsstand in the Public Gardens along the river

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There were few people around on this late October day

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Little Egret fishing the tidal waters of the river

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The beautiful Policia Maritima building

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A colourful memorial

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One of many churches below the walls of the old fortress

We were only in Tavira for lunch and a few hours of sightseeing but it was plenty to whet our appetite for more of this beautiful town. Like so many of the other towns and cities in the Algarve, Tavira offers much more than beaches, holiday rentals and golf courses (not that there is anything wrong with those).

About Tim & Anne Hall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we could. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe, and are now living happily in the Portuguese Algarve, Portimao to be specific. We are gradually chnging the focus of our site to feature images of Portugal. Stay tuned - its a work in progress.
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7 Responses to Tavira: A Visual Introduction

  1. We fell in love with Tavira on our first visit there and each visit since only shows us that our first impressions were indeed correct. Lovely photos, Tim and Anne, of a wonderful day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is the first time I am hearing about Tavira and I realized I’ve been missing so much. A truly charming place, Tim and Anne Hall. When’s the best time of the year to explore Tavira?

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Hi Agness. This was our first (but won’t be the last) visit to Tavira. As for the best time of year to visit, like the rest of the Algarve it depends on what you’re looking for. After November a lot of the smaller towns almost close down so they are very quiet which can be good or bad. So a lot of restaurants, cafes, shops, tourist sites etc. will be closed. The summers are very busy and prices are much higher but everything is open and there’s a busier vibe. Living here now we prefer the off season which has cool nights and mostly sunny days. Spring and fall are always a good choice as more is open but it isn’t as busy – the weather is wonderful then! Hope that helps and thanks for stopping by. Tim & Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Joe says:

    Thank you for introducing me to another lovely Argarve adventure. The Phoenician history is particularly interesting, and the varied architecture of this river town is especially beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Hi Joe. We’re are starting to learn and understand more of the history and cultural influences here and it is quite fascinating. Tavira has retained a lot and was quite different from some of the other towns and villages we have visited. Very enjoyable. All the best to you both.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. BeckyB says:

    We think it is the best town in Tavira, well almost the best as have to admit we also love Olhão da Restauração. The latter is not as pretty but it is less touristy and has so much character as well as the best farmer’s market!

    Liked by 1 person

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