By Darren Griffiths

Best Things to do in Tavira, Portugal

10th February 2023

Tavira is a former port city along the Atlantic coast of Portugal that has transformed into a favorite destination for tourists. There are many things to do in Tavira, in and around the city boundaries. Tourists frequent the city to discover beautiful landscapes, pristine beaches, and taste exotic cuisine native to the region.

You’ll discover lots of history throughout Tavira, seen in the architecture and way of life of the locals. Top things to do in Tavira include venturing through the city streets or trekking through the mountains to one of the nearby remote villages. Tavira will be one of your top destinations to visit in Portugal. These are the best things to do in Tavira.

Related reading:
Check out the best areas and hotels to stay in Tavira!
See all the best things to do across the Algarve region
And this list of the best towns and places to stay in the Algarve

1 – Events at the Praça da República

The Praça da República is in the center of Tavira and a hub of activity in the city. Many tours and excursions begin at this town square, where you’ll find the Tavira tourism office. Bordering the square is the Town Hall and many restaurants, bars, and shops. There are plenty of things to do in Tavira at Praça da República.

Praça da República is a meeting place for many public gatherings and events. Designed with an amphitheater and fountains, many people hang around the square to enjoy the live music and performers showcasing their talents.

2 – Views from the Tavira Castle

Tavira is a city rooted in history, with sites such as the Tavira Castle highlighting the city’s past. The Tavira Castle was initially built in the 12th century, during the Moorish era. Renovations have been made to the castle over the years, but many of the original features have remained intact over time. The castle is a perfect example of Moorish architecture.

Entry costs nothing for tourists so is one of the top free things to do in Tavira. Climb to the top of the Albarrana Tower for panoramic views of Tavira, and make your way down to the inner patio to see the beautiful castle gardens and the bougainvillea flowers.

3 – Algarve Zoomarine Amusement Park

The Algarve Zoomarine Amusement Park is one of those most exciting things to do in Tavira for families. Adults and kids alike will have a fun time at the various experiences the park offers. 

You’ll have the rare chance to get up close to marine animals, including sea lions, seals, or even catch a dolphin presentation to see the mammals in action. Next, take a walk through the enchanted forest to catch a glimpse of the wide variety of birds flying overhead. 

Experience the thrill of the park on the Rapid River Rafts or cool off at the Zoomarine Beach water park.

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4 – Explore the Ria Formosa Natural Park

Nature enthusiasts have many things to do in Tavira, including exploring the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The natural reserve turned park attraction was established in 1987 to protect the unique ecosystem, and wildlife found here.

Visit during the migratory season to see the park teeming with birds from other regions, and keep watch for the water-dogs – a native species once endangered but now protected by the park. 

You’ll have more than 17,000 hectares of the landscape to explore, featuring exotic terrains such as dry or marshy soil. To learn more about what’s on offer at the park, visit the Environmental Education Centre of Karim. 

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5 – Take a Day Tour to Olhão

Some of the best things to do in Tavira aren’t only in the city itself. A popular day tour from Tavira is to the city of Olhão. Head south along the coast to discover the historic fishing port town. Olhão is referred to as the “cubist” city, known for its distinctive white cube architecture. Many attractions await you in the city, from day time sights to nightlife entertainment.

The waterfront along the Ria Formosa has many restaurants, cafes, and terraces overlooking gardens. You can shop at the Olhão Municipal Market to find locally-made handicrafts and souvenirs. Enjoy the sights of the marina filled with fishing boat masts delivering fresh catch of the day.

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6 – Enjoy Attractions of the Cabanas de Tavira

The Cabanas de Tavira is a popular destination for tourists, attracting thousands of visitors annually. Fishing used to be the primary economic driver of the Cabanas, but the support of tourism rapidly grew in importance.

There are many things to do in Cabanas de Tavira. Try taking a cruise along the Ria Formosa on one of the boat tours; there’s a high probability of spotting dolphins here as you head along the river into the Atlantic Ocean. You can also take a water taxi over to the Ilha de Cabanas and relax on Cabanas Beach.

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7 – Relax at the Praia do Barril

Praia do Barril is considered to be the best beach in Algarve. Located on the Ilha de Tavira, just off the coast of Tavira, the clean beach is a family-friendly destination, known for its soft, white sand. The shoreline extends several kilometers, so there’s plenty of space to stretch out and enjoy.

Take a dip in the clear blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean; the beach is an excellent place for swimming or just lounging around in the sun. Walk along the beach, and you’ll run into the Anchor Cemetery attraction, featuring over 100 rusted anchors – evidence of the former tuna fishing industry.

8 – Ride Along a Tavira City Tuk-tuk Tour

What better way to experience the city of Tavira than by tuk-tuk? Jump in a tuk-tuk, and your guide will take you around the three hills of Tavira – Santa Maria, Santa Ana, and São Bras. The tour is a great way to sightsee around the city. City sights include the São Sebastião chapel and other famous churches. You’ll also ride past traditional fishermen’s houses.

The tour also includes nature sightseeing along the Ria Formosa. You’ll see local activities, including clam harvesting and oyster farming. Your driver will stop by the salt pans, where you can learn about sea salt extraction and production in Tavira.

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9 – Walk the Farms and Watermills Trail

Exhausted all the things to do in Tavira? Take a trip to the Santa Catarina Village, located just outside of Tavira in the countryside. Locals and tourists alike enjoy taking a stroll along the trail which laps around a few of the region’s farms and watermills. The walking path extends for nine kilometers, taking you on a journey through the scenic landscapes of the area.

Farms, streams, and the well known Arab’s Watermill are a few of the notable sights along the trail. You’ll see farmers planting or harvesting at certain times of the year. 

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10 – Admire the Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo

The Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo is one of Tavira’s national monuments. The landmark is a significant tourist attraction, drawing visitors to admire its unique architecture. The original church was constructed in the 13th century and is rumored to be on the site of a former mosque.

The architecture is a blend of styles – from the original gothic to elements of baroque. Enter the church to admire the decorated walls of the interior and the artwork on display. The conqueror of Tavira – D. Paio Peres Correia – is buried in the main chapel along with knights killed in battle.

11 – Take an Olive Oil Tour

Olive Oil is one of the main products produced in this region. In Tavira, you can take an olive oil tour to learn all about the history and process of olive oil and how it became a staple to the Tavira region.

You’ll have the opportunity to tour a local farm to see the process of making olive oil from start to finish. You’ll begin at the olive groves, extending over 20 hectares. A local farmer will accompany you on tour to discuss the history, equipment, and detail the production process.

To end the tour, you’ll taste a variety of olive oil produced right from the farm.

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12 – Cruise the Algarve Islands Tour

You’ll find several islands off the coast of Tavira; no trip to Tavira is complete without visiting the iconic islands. Head down to the Cabanas de Tavira, where your Algarve Islands tour starts the moment you step foot on the water taxi. 

The boat will guide you on a journey to the islands – Barra de Tavira, Quatro Aquas, Santa Luzia, and Terra Esteita. You’ll have a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture and taste authentic dishes such as octopus. The island’s sights and attractions are among visitor’s favorite things to do in Tavira.

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13 – Views from the Roman Bridge of Tavira

The Roman Bridge of Tavira is an iconic structure in Tavira, linking two sides of the city over the River Gilão. The bridge was initially used as a medieval defense for the city. After being destroyed several times due to natural causes, it was rebuilt to its current design in the 17th century.

The Roman Bridge is for pedestrians only, making it an excellent place for people watching. Several benches line the bridge, so you can cit and watching the cityscape. It provides fantastic views of the riverside mansions and Praça da República.

14 – Explore Villages of Caldeirão Mountains

The Caldeirão Mountains run adjacent to Tavira and are very welcoming for tourists. Explore the small villages tucked in the hills of the picturesque mountains. The villages are frequented by tourists, who want to view the traditional architecture and see how the locals live. Spend some time chatting with the locals to learn more about the village history, culture and maybe more things to do in Tavira!

The Caldeirão Mountain peaks provide great views overlooking the valleys and coast. There are plenty of walking trails to hike the slopes of the mountain amongst the vegetation and flora – you may even see the rare Bonelli Eagle soaring above.

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15 – Discover Local Art at Palácio da Galeria

The Palácio da Galeria is home to the Tavira Municipal Museum, hosted in this palace built over 2,500 years ago. The white-washed exterior is a standout building near the city center, and the interior is just as impressive thanks to the exhibits displayed here.

The museum features many temporary displays covering a variety of topics about Tavira. You can learn about local Tavira art – past and present – the city’s culture, history, and even favorite cuisine. Artifacts, photos, and other media are used to showcase the themes throughout the museum.

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Tavira offers many activities for those looking for anything from excitement to chill. We’ve listed 15 best things to do in Tavira, Portugal, to cover all needs!

Tavira offers many activities for those looking for anything from excitement to chill. We’ve listed 15 best things to do in Tavira, Portugal, to cover all needs!