What a gem! Tavira definitely qualifies as one of the cutest towns of the Algarve, if not the whole of Portugal! As we were traveling with our self-converted campervan, we were driving in the area when I read about Tavira in the Lonely Planet. Beautiful old town, not as crazy as Lisbon and Sintra and a waterfall!! I really had to go here and check out the things to do in Tavira:-)
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The Algarve Region
Located in the most southern part of Portugal is the Algarve region. This area is one of the most well-known and popular tourist destinations in Portugal and for good reason! It’s absolutely beautiful, produces lots of delicious foods and, of course, has lovely weather! Studies have also shown that it’s one of the best places in the world to retire. Known for it’s stunning beaches, golf courses, weather and cuisine there are lots of gorgeous places to explore and things to do. Such as visiting some of the small and pretty villages in the region! If you’re only visiting Lisbon and surrounding areas, the Algarve is a bit out of the way. But I would definitely say the Algarve and visiting Tavira should be part of any Portugal itinerary!
One of the prettiest towns in the Algarve region is Tavira. Located right on the southern coast of Portugal it is very pretty with hilltop castle ruins, a Roman bridge and other historic buildings. Like most cities in the region Tavira has a mix of Roman, Arabic and Christian heritage. Built along both sides of the river Gilão Tavira is a bit less crowded than some of the more popular parts of the Algarve. Perfect if you want to enjoy everything the town has to offer without crowds of people! Located 3km from the coast, it’s also easy to get to the nearby beaches, islands and salt pans if you want to explore nature nearby. Tavira is full of charming cobblestone streets, beautiful churches and interesting things to see and do!
Top 3 Things to do in Tavira
Some of the fun and interesting things you can do in the town of Tavira (and nearby) include:
One of the main things you notice in Tavira are the castle ruins on the hill overlooking the town. It was once used to guard the town from raiders and pirates. The castle is free to visit, has stunning gardens and is an interesting place to learn about Tavira’s history; and look at the stunning views of the town!
Ria Formosa Natural Park
Tavira is one of the closest towns to the Ria Formosa Natural Park; an area of lagoons, inlets and barrier islands. You can see many different types of wildlife here, especially birds such as flamingoes, the Purple Gallinule and Purple Swamphen. The Nature Park is also home to chameleons, otters, badgers and foxes. As well as being a nature sanctuary the Ria Formosa is also where locals farm fish and shellfish such as oysters and clams.
Waterfall Pego de Inferno
One of the most interesting places to visit nearby to Tavira is the Waterfall Pego de Inferno. It is located about 7km out of Tavira. The waterfall was names ‘Hell’s Pool/Pit of Hell’ after a local legend. The legend says that a carriage once fell into the pool and was never found again!
The waterfall was once more of a secret spot, but it became more famous and tourist facilities were built nearby. In 2012 most of these facilities were destroyed by a fire, and it has never been rebuilt. So now it is more of an offbeat and secret-feeling spot to visit! You can find the wide green lagoon and pretty waterfall by a pathway and wooden stairway from the car-park.
When we visited in March, it was very quiet. There were only 2 more people there, even thought there were quite some motorhomes parked in the carpark. Good thing – I could skinny dip in the freezing water 😉
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When was the last time you felt truly alive? Even when you live like I do, you have days on which you let things get to you. When stuff goes wrong, when you have to deal with stuff you would rather ignore, your business is not moving.. it can make you feel stresed or annoyed. One of the most important things I learned during travelling is that you have a choice. Do you let it get to you? Or do you jump into the ocean, swim under a waterfall or go for a run and smell the fresh air? I try to do the latter, even though sometimes it is easier to be grumpy and netflix 😁 * This is our second day in Portugal! We visited the super cute town of Tavira in the Algarve. We bought the cd of a local musician playing in the castle and he told us to go visit this waterfall. Even though it looks tropical, it was freezing 😂 * * * * * #algarve #tavira #waterfall #swimmingunderwaterfalls #vanlife #outdoorliving #ambition #travelblogger #portugal #travelportland #portugaltourism #vanlifeportugal #vanlifeeurope
Other Things to do in Tavira
- Beaches – If you want to relax on a beautiful Portugese beach then there is plenty of pristine coastline to choose from. There are a number of sandbar islands on the southern side of the Ria Formusa National Park where you can relax. And there won’t be as many tourists as other places!
- History – Tavira has a very beautiful historic centre if you like to explore Moorish, Gothic and/or Renaissance buildings! There are more than 36 churches in Tavira, as well as ancient monasteries, the castle ruins and 18th century mansions.
- Food – Because of Tavira’s location near the ocean and the Natural Park, it’s also a fantastic place to eat fresh local seafood! You might like to try Cataplana: a traditional cuisine of the Algarve region. Cataplana is a delicious hearty stew of rice and seafood. Along with the cheap and good wine you can also find lots of fresh and local produce in the area!
- Market – Along with restaurants and cafes you might also like to visit the local market for fresh food and gifts. In the early mornings it is busy with a fresh seafood market. Later in the day it’s the perfect spot for fresh local produce and edible gifts. You might like to take some speciality Marzipan home with you!
- Camera Obscura – You can also find a very unique attraction in Tavira inside the old water tower. You can go inside and see a ‘camera obscura’: a camera that projects views of the city onto the inside of the tower! Its definitely a unique and fun thing to see!
- Ponte de Roman – The main bridge in Tavira is called the Roman bridge, even though it was built before the Romans came along. It’s another great spot to relax and look out over the town and maybe even take some nice photos!
Getting to Tavira
The town of Tavira is fairly small, so it’s easy to get around by walking, or perhaps you would like to explore by Tuk Tuk! To get to Tavira you can catch a train from Faro or Lagos, and you can use the Portugal train system website to check times and prices here. If you are flying into the region the closest international airports to Tavira are located in Faro and Seville (Spain). And, of course, you can always drive to Tavira on the main highways!
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