Author Archives: lynn
The main beach is located on Ilha de Tavira, a twenty six mile long sandy island. The blue flag beach has been listed in the top ten family friendly beaches in the Lonely Planet Guide. It is reached by a short ferry boat from Quatros Aguas or, during the summer months, an additional boat service operates frequently from the town on the west side of the river past the old market on Rua Doctor Jose Pires Padinha. There are a number of cafes, bars, restaurants and beach shops located on Tavira Island. There is also an ATM facility.
An alternative beach is Barril Beach which is accessed from Pedros del Re some five kilometres west of Tavira. A small train takes passengers through the Ria Formosa to the beach facilities which include cafes and bars. It is possible to walk from Barril Beach to Tavira Island beach, a distance of some 4 miles taking approximately one and a half hours, returning to Tavira by the beach ferry.
Bus transport in the Algarve is mainly provided by EVA Transport. The main bus station in Tavira is located on Rua dos Pelames, on the west bank of the river.
There is a frequent service to Faro town and Vila Real de San’Antonio. The bus does not take the direct route and whilst it provides an interesting view of some of the smaller towns, it is quicker and cheaper to travel by train.
It is also possible to travel from Tavira bus station to both Lisbon and Seville twice a day – check at either the Tourist Office or bus station for up to date timetable information.
Other than chilling out and enjoying Tavira’s atmosphere, cafe, restaurants and of course the beach and the various golf courses, there are a number of other activities to enjoy.
There is a local tourist train which operates hourly every day except Wednesday. It departs from the east side of the river close to the Roman Bridge and takes visitors on a tour of the town including many of the narrow traditional streets.
There are day bus trips to Seville, Loule and Faro and details are available from a number of outlets in the town. The Tourist Information Office, situated in the main square, should be able to assist.
Boat tours to the Ria Formosa national park are available from the riverside.
River cruises along the River Guadiana, including lunch, operate from Vila Real de San’Antonio on a daily basis. Inclusive tours including bus uplift from Tavira are available from local agents in the town.
It is possible to hire cycles from several outlets in Tavira at a cost of about six euros a day. There are a lot of interesting and level routes to explore round and about the town and further afield.
If you have hired a car, there are many interesting local villages and roads to explore. We would recommend Cachopo which has a lovely small museum showing old Algarvian lifestyle, Alcoutim which sits on the river Guadiana and has a small selection of bars, cafes and a pedestrian ferry across to Spain and closer to Tavira, the small coastal village of Cacela Velha which has cliff top views and a pleasant restaurant.
Evora: If you feel like going further afield, it is worth considering a trip to Evora which is roughly a three hour road trip through the attractive rural and agricultural Lower Alentejo region. Evora is a Unesco World Heritage site with many examples of fine Roman architecture including a fabulous Cathedral and Roman Aqueduct. There are a good selection of reasonably priced hotels within easy walking distance of the town centre.
The following are readily accessible by motorway – travel times are approximate:
- Seville 2 hours 15 minutes
- Lisbon 3 hours
- Jerez 3 hours
- Cadiz 3 hours 15 minutes
- Gibraltar 3 hours 45 minutes (Be aware of potential delays crossing the border!)
- Cordoba 3 hours 45 minutes
- Malaga 4 hours
It is not necessary to hire a car to enjoy a holiday in Tavira as all facilities are within easy walking distance of the apartment.
The town is served by two railway stations for trains to Faro or Vila Real de San Antonio. Porta Nova is approximately one third of a mile from the apartment, and Tavira Town is approximately one mile from the apartment. The bus station is located approximately half a mile from the apartment with buses serving Faro and most major towns in the Algarve, and Seville.
Local taxis are readily available and are generally more reasonably priced than in the UK.
Faro Airport is roughly thirty five minutes away and provides services to most of continental Europe including a daily Ryanair service to Porto in northern Portugal giving the opportunity to spend a short break in this interesting and attractive Portuguese city.
The Algarve has always been associated with excellent golf courses. There are five courses within a half hour drive and green fees range from €40 upwards.
- Benamor is the closest course located come 4km east of Tavira. The course was designed by Sir Henry Cotton and the 15th tee has great views over Tavira Island. Full details at www.benamorgolf.com
- Quinta de Cima is slightly further east than Benamor. It was designed by William “Rocky” Roquemore and has hosted the Ladies Portuguese Open. Full details at www.quintadariagolf.com
- Quinta da Ria is a sister course to Quinta de Cima. Full details at www.quintadariagolf.com
- Monte Rei is a Jack Nicklaus designed course approximately 12km east of Tavira. Details by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Colina Verde lies some 8km west of Tavira and is a nine hole par 3 course ideal for less formal golfing. No handicap is required. Full details at www.golfcolinaverde.com
The town provides many and varied restaurants and cafes to suit all budgets. The restaurants in the main serve Portuguese food with particular emphasis on locally caught fish, shellfish together with local fruit and vegetables. There are also French, Italian, Indian, and Chinese/sushi restaurants. In all restaurants, you will have a choice of local Portuguese wines such as Dao, Mateus and Vinho Verde all at prices considerably less than you would pay in a UK restaurant. During the warmer months of April to October, many of the restaurants provide outdoor dining which adds to the overall relaxed atmosphere. You should be aware that many restaurants do not accept credit cards so make sure you have your euros to hand to avoid embarrassement!
Whilst everyone will have their own favourites, the following have been used on numerous occasions by the owners and their friends and we believe are worthy of your consideration.
A Tasca: This small restaurant (indoor dining only) can be found just off Praca Dr Padinha (locally known as Bishop’s Square) on the East side of the river. The restaurant specialises in chicken, pork, steaks – all with a variety of different sauces. They also offer “cook your own steak” on a hot stone if you are feeling adventurous! Prices are reasonable but vary depending on your choice.
Abstracta: This typical Portuguese restaurant is situated on Rua Dr Antonio Cabreira and serves a variety of meat and fish dishes all at reasonable prices. We would recommend the special which is a fish and rice dish for two – which easily serves three!
Belmar: Indoor dining only and don’t be put off by the exterior appearance as Belmar must be one of the best for value, good quality food and typical Portuguese atmosphere. It is an easy walk from the apartment and is located on Rua Almirante Candido dos Reis.
Bica: You will find reference to Bica in the Lonely Planet Guide. It is located almost next door to Belmar and it does have outside space during the warmer months. Once again, a typical Portuguese restaurant with a very varied menu and reasonable prices.
Brisa do Rio: This restaurant has been relocated to Rua Jaoa Vaz Corte Real 38 which is close to the Black Anchor Irish Bar. It is popular with both locals and visitors alike. It is possible to sit in or eat out on the large terrace during the summer months. The restaurant has a wide range of starters, fish and meat dishes and a three course meal with wine should cost in the region of €20 per person. This restaurant is closed on Wednesdays. It is advisable to book a table in advance, telephone 00351 966 947 912
O Patio: This popular restaurant is located on Rua Dr Antonio Cabreira – not far from Brisa do Rio. The restaurant has three levels including al fresco on street level and the roof terrace patio which gives the restaurant its name. The comprehensive menu specialised in Portuguese dishes and the cataplana is highly recommended. This restaurant is closed on a Sunday and if you wish to eat on the patio terrace, it is advisable to book in high season or arrive before 19:30. A three course meal with wine should cost in the region of €20 – 25 per head. Tel: 281.323.008
Passeo: This pavement cafe is located on the east side of the river midway between the Roman bridge and Engineer’s bridge. This is a super riverside location and is sheltered from any northerly or easterly breeze whilst forming a perfect sun trip all year round.
The menu provides toasties, freshly made quicke and tapas together with coffee,wines, beers all at reasonable prices and friendly staff.
Ponto de Encontro: Located on the corner of Praca Doctor Padinha, the name means “Meeting Point”. This long established Portuguese style restaurant offers an extensive menu and has both indoor and outdoor seating. Prices are very reasonable and there is a good selection of local wines. Having used the restaurant on many occasions, we could heartily recommend the swordfish steak.
Rive Gauche: As the name suggests, this restaurant has a French influence and serves a variety of good food and a range of French wines. It is located on Rua Dr Augusto da Silva Carvalho and you can eat al fresco on warm evenings. Tel: 917 043.274
Tavira Lounge: This bistro/bar is located on the west bank of the river and can be found by turning right immediately past the Economica shoe shop. It has a lovely friendly atmosphere, you can dine or have a drink outside and there are views over the river from the inside of the lounge. Internet access is available for patrons.
Venezuela Cafe Bar: The Venezuela is located on Rua Alvaro de Campos close to Porta Nova station and is a typical Taviran cafe bar serving a wide range of snacks, pastries and delicious cakes. It is frequented mainly by locals and the staff are extremely friendly. Prices are very reasonable both for food and drinks. It is open from 0800 to 2300 every day.
On the West side of the River,close to the Castle walls there is an ongoing archaeological dig which is exposing various items and structures of Portuguese,Islamic and Phoenician history.This is indeed is a work in progress and well worth a visit.
Roman Bridge: This refers to the main pedestrian bridge which crosses the River Gilao. There has been a bridge in this location since Roman times and until fairly recent times it used to carry road vehicles. The bridge was badly damaged during a flood and was then reconstructed and pedestrianised.
Tavira is one of a few towns in Europe which has joined the “Slow Cities” movement with a view to maintaining a more relaxed approach to life taking advantage of the kind climate and local café culture. Tavira has the ability to cast its spell and convert the busy visitor to a more relaxed pace of life.
Throughout the year, there are a number of festivals, craft fairs and markets and you will usually find that there is some event taking place which will give you a flavour of the unspoilt Algarve. Details of such events can be obtained locally or from the free local papers, East Algarve magazine(monthly) and Portugal News (weekly) copies usually available on arrival at Faro Airport.
The edge of town shopping mall – Grand Plaza – within walking distance of the historic town centre and the apartment, was opened in 2009 and this provides multi-screen cinema with English language films, a large supermarket – Continente – and a number of Portuguese and Spanish stores. It also includes an old British favourite, C & A! The mall is open from 1000 until 2100 seven days a week with the multiplex cinema open until the small hours.
Tavira town centre provides a variety of attractive and interesting independent shops and may be seen as unique for a town of its size in that there are no multi-national outlets. Further details and local information can be obtained from the Tourist Information office situated in the town.