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Tavira in 1 Week, a 7 Day Holiday Itinerary and Tour

Tavira is an idyllic holiday destination, perfectly suited for tourists wishing to discover authentic southern Portugal. The town has a charming city centre, while the coastline surrounding Tavira is lined with beautiful golden sandy beaches. The eastern Algarve offers a variety of interesting day trips, and a one week holiday provides enough time to explore this fascinating region. This guide will provide a suggested 1-week itinerary for a holiday to Tavira.

1 Week suggested Itinerary

The following is our suggested Itinerary for a one-week holiday to Tavira:

• Day One – Praia de Tavira beach

• Day Two – Explore the historic centre of Tavira

• Day Three – Day trip to Vila Real de Santo Antonio

• Day Four - Praia do Barril – relaxing beach day

• Day Five – Santa Luzia (possible hike or cycle there)

• Day Six - Day trip to Faro

• Day Seven - Day trip to Olhao or beach day to Cabanas

Note: A rental car is not needed to explore the eastern Algarve as there is regular and inexpensive public transport that connects all of the major towns of the region.

The following section will detail each of these days in more depth and provide links to further information.

Day 1 – Praia de Tavira, a Beach Day

The suggestion for the first day is a relaxing day on the beach, and the finest beach close to Tavira is the Praia de Tavira. The beach provides soft golden sands, crystal clear sea waters and has a beautiful natural setting of sand dunes. This gorgeous beach is located at the eastern end of the Ilha do Tavira island and is reached via a regular ferry from Tavira.

 Ilha de Tavira beach

Deserted beach are just a short walk from Praia de Tavira

The Praia de Tavira is very popular with Portuguese tourists, who flock here during their summer holidays. Even at the height of the summer, it is possible to find quieter sections of the beach, as the Ilha do Tavira sandy coastline extends for over 12km. For a guide to the Praia de Tavira, including ferry details, please click here.

Day 2 - The Historic Centre of Tavira

Tavira is a delightful maze of cobbled streets and small plazas that wind up from the slow flowing waters of the Gilão River. Nowadays Tavira may appear as just a sleepy resort town, but it has an illustrious past and discovering the remnants of these glorious times can easily fill an enjoyable day of sightseeing.

Tavira

The peacefull Tavira water front

During the Moorish era (10-12th century) Tavira was an important defensive and fortified town, and the castle and ancient city walls date from this period. Later, in the 17th century Tavira was the largest port of the Algarve and grand mansions, funded by the trade wealth, were constructed close to the river.

Along with all of the historic buildings, there are over 36 churches, a series of scenic viewpoints and a lively daily market. Tavira may be relatively small, but it is full of character and is a pleasure to explore.

Day Three - Day Trip to Vila Real de Santo Antonio

Vila Real de Santo Antonio is at the very eastern edge of the Algarve, on the banks of the Guadiana River, the natural border with Spain. Amazingly the entire town was constructed in less than two years, during the great building era of Portugal, which followed the earthquake of 1755.

Vila Real portugal

The central square of Vila Real

Vila Real was originally an industrial fishing centre, and whilst the principal industry has evaporated, the elegance of the town’s architecture boasts grandeur beyond its size or status. Set out in a grid structure, the straight roads and impressive plazas are a tourist delight and give a real contrast to Tavira. Vila Real is connected to Tavira by train, with a journey time of around 30 minutes.

ferry Vila Real

The ferry from Vila Real to Spain

Day Four - Praia do Barril – relaxing beach day

The Praia do Barril is another stunning beach of the Tavira coastline. The beach is also the setting for one of the most unique monuments of the Algarve, the Anchor Cemetery. This memorial comprises of over one hundred rusting anchors aligned in the sand dunes and remembers the former tuna fishing which was based on the beach.

The Anchor cemetery

The Anchor cemetery

The fishing community of Barril was abandoned in the 1960s due to depletion of fish stocks, but today the small fishermen’s houses have been converted into a pleasant selection of beach cafes and shops. The beach of Praia do Barril is very similar to the Praia de Tavira and a great location for a relaxing day on the beach, after the previous days sightseeing. For a guide to Barril beach please click here.

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Day 5 Santa Luzia

Santa Luzia is a small fishing village, which specialises in the fishing of octopus, while the restaurants that line the harbour have perfected the cooking of this tricky dish. The octopus are caught using traditional fishing techniques, which involves the use of clay pots, and during the day these pots can be seen drying on the harbour front. For a guide to Santa Luzia, please click here.

fishing boats Santa Luzia

Departing from the harbour of Santa Luzia is a ferry to the Praia da Terra Estreita, one of the quietest beaches of the region. Santa Luzia is situated on the Algarve Cycle Path and it can be easily included as part of a bike ride or short hike for those wishing a more active day.

Day 6 Day trip to Faro

Faro is often overlooked, but the city contains a pretty historic centre, pleasant shopping streets and is the gateway to the Rio Formosa National Park. The historic centre is encircled by ancient city walls and inside cobbled streets lead up to the Gothic Se Cathedral. From the roof of the cathedral are wonderful panoramic views over the city and Rio Formosa. The shopping streets of Faro have a calm and unhurried atmosphere.

Faro

Faro is the most popular location from which to explore the Rio Formosa Nature Park and there are numerous daily boat tours of the saltwater lagoons and waterways of the fragile ecosystem. Departing from Faro are ferries to the sandbar islands at the edge of the Rio Formosa Nature Park and include the fishing community of Ilha da Culatra or the completely deserted island of Ilha Deserta.

A day trip to Faro is typically divided between exploring the city and the Rio Formosa (either tour or island visit). For a guide to Faro, please click here.

Day Seven: Olhao or Cabanas beach

Olhao is a busy semi-industrial town with a major harbour and a rugged working class atmosphere. Olhao is very different to the other towns visited, as, while the whole of the eastern Algarve appears to be relaxing, Olhao seems hard at work. The main industry is fishing, and this is all funnelled through the chaotic and lively market, which is best visited in the morning. Olhao has a charming harbour front promenade and a pretty historic section comprising of former fishermen’s houses.

Olhao market

The main market in Olhao

For those visitors preferring a relaxing day for their final day of their holiday could visit the low-key resort town of Cabanas, 7km along the coast from Tavira. Cabanas beach is on the next sandbar island to the east of Tavira, on the opposite side of the Gilão River Estuary.

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