1st day – Historic center of Tavira
On the first day, explore the center of Tavira. Discover its historic past, the castle, the beautiful churches, the Moorish influence still present in the architecture, the parks and the bridges.
You will quickly realize that Tavira is a city divided into two banks by the river Gilão and connected by several bridges, the most picturesque being Roman bridge (which in fact is not Roman and only got that name, they say, for its location on an ancient Roman road that passed through the city).
It is a pedestrian-only bridge and the perfect spot to take beautiful pictures of the river, especially at sunset.
THE Republic square it is the main and one of the most beautiful squares in the city. Any tour of Tavira usually starts here.
O Bandstand Garden is the green space that joins Praça da República to the riverfront.
It is the oldest public park in the city and the octagonal bandstand in wrought iron that gives it its name, was designed in Porto in 1890 and later brought to Tavira by boat.
O Ribeira Market and its terraces invite you to sit down and try the local cuisine before setting off to discover the Castle — the main vestige of the Moorish period in the city.
O Tavira Castle It is an extraordinary building that still preserves walls dating back to the 11th century, when the Almoravid dynasty dominated the territory.
It is still possible to climb the “albarrana tower” – a signature of Moorish fortresses, to admire the panoramic views of the city and then rest in the beautiful garden of the castle where a century-old bougainvillea, when in bloom, perfumes the air with sweet aromas.
Anyone who wants to know more about the Moorish presence in Tavira cannot fail to visit the Islamic Museum Nucleus which brings together a set of artefacts excavated in various places in the city, such as the Convent of Grace it’s the Gallery Palace (Municipal Museum).
The outstanding piece is the Vaso de Tavira, which has clay figures of men on horseback and musicians on the rim.
Next to the Castle, another point of interest — the Church of Santa Mariabuilt between the 13th and 14th centuries, on the same spot where the city’s mosque used to be.
The building stood firm for 500 years until the 1755 earthquake toppled it. It was rebuilt with a Baroque design, but the Gothic portal is medieval and dates from 1300.
THE Church of Mercy is another one of the monuments worth visiting in Tavira. It is distinguished by its Renaissance façade and the image of Mary as “Our Lady of Mercy”, flanked by high reliefs of São Pedro and São Paulo.
2nd and 3rd days – Beaches
THE Cabanas Island, with a stretch of sand of 7 km, it is also accessible by boat when the tide does not allow the crossing on foot. They are beaches with warm water, with the nature of the Ria Formosa right next door and with restaurants and bars.
The main attraction of Cabanas is the atmosphere, which is even more relaxed and calm than Tavira. Cabanas is located on the Algarve bike path, the same route that connects Pedras D’el Rei, but towards the east.
4th day – Ria Formosa
THE Ria Formosa is a natural park of wetlands that extends for about 60 km along the coast, but protected from the sea, in the area of Tavira, by the Island of Tavira.
It is an extensive network of wetlands, marshes and canals where we can take boat trips and observe the wildlife that gathers here. It is perfect for anyone who likes to photograph, is interested in nature or enjoys bird watching.
5th day – Serra
In the opposite direction to the sea, in the mountains of Tavira, there are also many places to discover. One of the most sought after is the Pego do Inferno waterfall, in Santo Estêvão (10 km from Tavira). In summer, it is possible that the water flow is not so abundant, but the clear waters of the lagoon formed by the waterfall are a good alternative to a day at the beach.
Other ways to discover the interior of Tavira include renting a bicycle or exploring the various trails available, such as the Hills Routewhich explores the banks of the Séqua River or the Mountain Range Routewhich crosses typical villages in the interior of the municipality of Tavira – Casas Baixas, Alcarias Baixas and Amoreira – and offers panoramic views over the Caldeirão mountains.
6th day- Santa Luzia and Cacela Velha
Santa Luzia is a small fishing village specializing in catching octopus. The fishing fleet returns early in the morning and this is the ideal time to visit, to watch the unloading and marketing of the octopus and then have lunch in the restaurants that line the harbor front.
Cacela Velhaa village located 5 km from Manta Rota and 10 km from Cabanas, is also worth a visit for anyone who spends their holidays in Tavira.
It is in front of the Ria Formosa and between the sea and the Ria there is a spit of sand – The Factory Beach — perfect for a magnificent afternoon of sunbathing. The waters here are usually one of the warmest in the Algarve and access to the beach is made by small fishing boats at Sítio da Fábrica.
Fishing was Cacela’s main source of wealth for a long time, but in recent decades tourism has taken over. In the small village it’s a pleasure to walk through the streets of the historic centre; will see Mother Church; the Fortaleza dos Cavaleiros de Cacela (or Forte de Cacela Velha) and the Islamic Quarter and Christian Necropolis.
Archaeological excavations (carried out in 2007) determined that Cacela Velha was home to the Medina of Qast’alla Daraj, an Islamic center of the 10th century Gharb al-Andalus — which proves the historic importance of this village.
see here where they can stay in Tavira.
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Article originally published on the blog The Travellight World