Picturesque, historic, full of relaxed charm, Tavira is commonly regarded as the most attractive town in the Algarve. Spanning the Gilão river near where its estuary joins sheltered waters behind a long lagoon island, the town centre still retains its historic character, where both elegant and quaint buildings mingle along its cobbled streets.
On either side of the river, spanned by a stone bridge of Roman origin and two of more modern times, welcoming cafés and restaurants offer an opportunity to take in the scene and sample the local fare. Seafood is the speciality, as Tavira has an important tradition as a fishing port, notably for tuna. Today, the old riverside fishmarket building has been converted into a roofed plaza with cafes, shops and galleries; but fishing activities continue and the market has moved to a new site on the towns’ outskirts.
Fishing apart, Tavira has a long and notable history. Under Arab rule for five hundred years until the Christian reconquest in 1242, the town has numerous ancient churches reflecting its religious heritage. Overlooking the town across crumbling fortress walls, the church of Santa Maria do Castelo was built on the site of a Moorish mosque.
A kilometre or so from town is Quatros Aguas, where the river reaches the sea and a clutch of seafood restaurants overlook the marina. From here a ferry shuttles to and fro across to Tavira Island where eleven kilometres of pristine sands face the Atalantic, and there’s a campsite and several beach bars.
About five kilometres to the east, Cabanas is a wonderfully laid back small resort, also where sheltered waters face a beach island reach by shuttle boat. From here to the Spanish border, the east Algarve coast offers several laid back resorts with their own superb sandy beaches: Manta Rota, Altura, Praia Verde and Monte Gordo plus numerous delightful beauty spots.
Despite its proximity to Spain; the border is only twenty minutes from Tavira away and Seville can be reached in under two hours, the east Algarve had long been a backwater for foreign visitors. Several key developments in recent times have changed that, and many are being attracted to this area for its gentle, unspoiled charms. With amenities such as Tavira’s new modern Gran Plaza shopping and cinema complex, plus several top quality golf courses: Benamor, Quinta da Ria, Quinta da Cima, Castro Marim and most recently Monte Rei with its luxury villa developments, the region is attracting a pleasant level of tourism plus a growing influx of foreign property owners.