"Tavira: Pretty Town With Fascinating Urban Core" Top 5 Page for this destination Tavira by TooTallFinn24

Tavira Travel Guide: 210 reviews and 434 photos

Tavira: Rooftop Gardens & Enchanting Roman Bridges

Tavira was the first town we visited in Portugal. It remains to this day relatively unchanged compared to its neighbors close by in the Algarve.

What we enjoyed about it was its charm, relative quietness and great architecture. Walking on the narrow cobblestones streets was a joy even if did allow for a few surprises from motor bikes and cars that had a much better sense of the town that we did.

From a setting standpoint Tavira is like going back in time several hundred years. The scale of the town is so pedestrian. Buildings along the water are never over four stories high.

On a Sunday afternoon after stopping in noisy and very touristy Albufiera, Portugal, it was a joy to return to quiet and relaxed Tavira an hour later. The change both in scenery and pace of life between the two cities is remarkable even though they are relatively few kilometers apart.

We spent two days in May, 2012. The nights were spent at a small bed and breakfast in the old part of town. Great place and including breakfast on their rooftop terrace only 42 euros a night! Yes this is not a misprint and just under half of the price we stayed at the most expensive place on our three week trip. Of course finding the place coming in on the N125 as opposed to the A 22 was definitely difficult. Yes not a misprint.

One of Tavira's many great assets is its friendly residents. While my portugese was limited to a few words residents were more than helpful to direct us to places of interest and always with big genuine smiles.

Unlike many other VT members, we did not go to the marvelous beach which can only be reached by a water taxi or a hired boat. Our days in Tavira were spent walking around noticing interesting architectural details and exploring small businesses in the City.

Brief History of Tavira

Historically Tavira was first settled during the Bronze Age. Recalling from required college history classes this was the age before Christ when metal including copper was first used. Tavira was settled around 8 BC by the Phoenicians who were expanding into the Iberian Peninsula. The city was first called Ball Saphon after the Phoenician Thunder and Sea god. When the name was changed to present day is not clear.

The Moors occupied Tavira beginning in the 8th century AD. The City became an important agricultural and fishing center in the Algarve. Evidence of this Moorish influence is apparent in the city's many buildings with white washed walls, Moorish doors and terraces.

Fast forward to the 18th century five centuries past the time that Dom Paio Peres Correia and his knights took the city from the Moors. In 1755 Tavira along with a large portion of Portugal was nearly completely destroyed by the great Lisbon earthquake.

The city chose to rebuild many of its buildings during that century in the style that reflected its historical past. That trend continued throughout the years and helped make Tavira more reflective of its past than other Algarve cities. The city has also been relatively firm in avoiding the pressure from other western influences in developing its historical center and beaches at the expense of great buildings. For that we were grateful and enjoyed the beauty of this southeastern Algarve town.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful City Center with Great Architectural Detail
  • Cons:Easy to Get Lost. Hey maybe this could be a pro!
  • In a nutshell:Southeast Portugal Town Worthy of Your Time
  • Last visit to Tavira: May 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (10)

Comments (3)

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Mar 17, 2013 at 3:56 AM

    Hello Steven. Just had to stop by and comment on your Tavira page. Hans and I visited here a few years ago and really loved this charming town. Hans' sister & hubby used to own a home there, that's how much they liked it there.

    • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
      Mar 17, 2013 at 11:10 PM

      Thanks again Lori for stopping by. I have to agree Tavira is very special and not filled with European tourists like the rest of Algarve.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Mar 2, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Hi Steven, interesting tips here. Fifty years ago today I rode my bicycle from Huelva (Spain) to Tavira (Portugal).

    • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
      Mar 2, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      That must have been quite a schlep Don. Lots of hills coming into Tavira. Ty for your look and reviews.

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    May 18, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Steven, lovely little page with brilliant photos of this gem of the Algarve. Yoru Bed & Breakfast accommodation really seems to be a great find.


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