Holidays to Tavira line up some of the most impressive beaches in Portugal, and heaps of Algarvian charm. How they’ve managed to stay under the radar is something of a mystery.
Tavira is an old-school Algarve town straddling both banks of the River Gilão. It wears its Moorish influences on its sleeve. Whitewashed buildings line the pretty cobbled streets, and the so-called Roman Bridge – Moorish, in fact – stretches across the water. When you factor in 37 churches, family-run restaurants, and empty expanses of beach, it’s easy to see why travel critics can only talk about this place in superlatives.
Ilha de Tavira
The town’s beaches are all on Ilha de Tavira – or Tavira Island – a thin finger of land blanketed with 7 kilometres of golden sand. Ferries dock here regularly from the town centre, or you can cross via the footbridge. Ilha de Tavira Beach is the busiest spot, with plenty of restaurants, beach clubs and watersports, plus a campsite. The more remote stretches like Terra Estreita Beach and Barril Beach have a lower people count – perfect for a romantic tête-a-tête.
The charmed life
For a small town, there’s plenty to do in Tavira. Shopaholics have a food market, a craft market and a shopping centre. There are churches like the 13th-century Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo, as well as a Moorish castle and a Camera Obscura. And when your legs can’t go any further, you can unwind in pretty Praca Dr Padinha, where old senhors play dominos over a round of Super Bock.
Tavira is fast becoming a golfer’s paradise, thanks to its 3 courses. The one that grabs the headlines is the 18-hole Benamor Golf Course, designed by Sir Henry Cotton, a 10-minute drive east of Tavira. But don’t overlook Quinta da Ria, part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, or Quinta de Cima that sweeps along the oceanfront, either.
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