How to Spend a Day in Cabanas de Tavira Portugal

Cabanas de Tavira is a charming fisherman’s village outside Tavira in the eastern Algarve. As one of the gateways to Ria Formosa Natural Park, it’s beautifully set across Cabanas Island.

It is the perfect place to spend the day or a few calm days if you need to recharge your batteries after a hefty work period or intense travel.

Cabanas is one of the best day trips from Tavira and I love that you can get so easily across to the beach. We recently spent a couple of days there before continuing west and enjoyed every second.

Here I’ll share what to do in Cabanas de Tavira but also necessary travel tips so you can go on a day trip to Cabanas Portugal from Tavira or Faro.

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Streets inthe old town of Cabanas de Tavira Portugal with colorful, tiled houses.

Cabanas de Tavira Portugal history

In the early 18th century, tuna fishing started to grow in Tavira and fishermen built a small cluster of cabins where they stored their fishing tools.

The place took its name after these small cabins, Cabanas means cabins in Portuguese.

The tuna fishing industry slowly grew bigger and more and more fishermen built their permanent homes around the cabins until Cabanas de Tavira village was formed.

Tuna fishing seased and the charming fisherman’s village has turned into a vibrant tourist town in the summer months. But even so, fishermen still live there and we saw fishing boats set out at 3-4 AM in the morning.

Cabanas is set right at Ria Formosa Natural Park overlooking Cabanas Island, one of the barrier islands protecting the nature reserve from the ocean.

Fishing boats in Cabanas Portugal.

Things to do in Cabanas de Tavira in a day

Stroll along the boardwalk

Cabanas de Tavira is lined with a beautiful boardwalk along the saltwater lagoon of Ria Formosa. I love how you see the tides go up and down during the day, especially one boat immersed in water in the mornings, while it was on dry land in the evenings caught my eye.

Along the boardwalk, there are benches to sit down to enjoy the view, some of them even with shade which is a fabulous detail on hot summer days.

Walking along a wooden promenade which is one of the top things to do in Cabanas de Tavira Algarve.

Take the boat to Cabanas Island

Taking the boat to Cabanas Island is the best thing to do in Cabanas de Tavira. There are three places you can take the boat along the promenade and they leave regularly. On my last trip in May 2024, it was 1.50 Euros return that you pay cash to the driver.

The transfer is only a couple of minutes and there is a few minutes walk to the other side of the island to reach the white powdered sand beach.

There, you’ll find a restaurant and bar, sunbeds and shade for rent, and lifeguards in the summer months. There are plenty of rubbish bins with recycling too which is one of the things I love the most about how the Portuguese look after the barrier islands.

Sunbeds and parasols on Cabanas Beach.

Take a boat trip of Ria Formosa Natural Park

Besides going to Cabanas Island, there are plenty of Ria Formosa boat tours you can take. Whether you go bird watching, snorkeling, or dolphin watching, there are wonderful boat trips available from the promenade. I highly recommend this dolphin-watching tour.

These are only available in the summer months and were not yet open when I last visited at the beginning of May.

Boat to Cabanas Island

Have lunch along the promenade

There are plenty of restaurants and bars in Cabanas, and I found some nice ones along the street lining the promenade boardwalk.

We really enjoyed Serafim Gastrobar, they had chill music and the staff was amazing and dog friendly. They loved cuddling Atlas.

For a drink later, there is a cute terrace bar that overlooks the lagoon and Cabanas Island which also had a relaxed vibe.

Bar in Cabanas Tavira with views of the Ria Formosa salt water lagoon.

Go shopping

After lunch, stroll around the old town and browse the shops. Especially along the promenade, you’ll find different boutique shops and tourist stores.

You can find anything from clothes to handmade accessories. I really enjoyed walking around and even the shops boast a laidback vibe.

A woman is shopping for clothes in Cabanas Algarve.

Walk around the old town

Make some time to walk around the old town. It’s not that big, but in the back streets you’ll come across some really cute houses with tiled walls and others that are painted in vivid colors.

Also make your way down to the traditional fisherman’s huts that are still in use today. I love how they’re still in use and fishermen organize their stuff to get ready for the next morning.

Cabanas de Tavira fishermans huts.

Watch the sunset from the promenade

Make sure you don’t miss out on the sunset from the promenade. It’s absolutely stunning as the sun sets. Definitely a good use of the benches unless you prefer walking while you take it all in!

Sunset in Cabanas de Tavira.

How to get to Cabanas de Tavira

From Tavira

Cabanas de Tavira is only a 6-minute drive from Tavira. There are also several buses a day that take about 15 minutes. Take bus number 41 (Vamus Bus) from Tavira (Terminal Rodoviário). See the route here.

From Faro

From Faro, it takes about 40 minutes to drive to Cabanas de Tavira. There are buses from Faro (Terminal Rodoviario) to Conceição (rotunda N125).

From Faro Airport I recommend taking a private shuttle as it’s not so far. You can book it here.

Parking in Cabanas de Tavira

There is plenty of parking along the road along the promenade when you enter the village and a couple of parking areas too. We parked by the old fisherman shacks overlooking the lagoon. We also stayed the night there.

However, there is a caravan park in the center that we found on the Park4Night app, it looks ok, but some reviews said that the neighbors weren’t happy with the caravans blocking their view. I don’t know what that view would be, because the only view there is for those houses is the dirt parking which is marked public parking.

Parking in Cabanas in front of the natural park.

Where to stay in Cabanas de Tavira

There are a few nice places to stay in Cabanas de Tavira. Here are my top picks.

Golden Club Cabanas – a fabulous hotel with several swimming pools and a spa. Restaurant and bar is on-site too so you can just relax and enjoy your vacation.

AP Cabanas Beach & Nature – right in front of Ria Formosa Natural Park, this is a great hotel with a spa, 3 swimming pools, and restaurants. Make sure you book a room with a view of the saltwater lagoons!

Best time to go to Cabanas de Tavira

Cabanas de Tavira is definitely a summer destination. But even the shoulder seasons are nice because the boats to Cabanas Island run regularly and you can enjoy near-empty beaches.

Even if you go in summer though , Cabanas is way more relaxed than other places in the Algarve and you can find empty spots on the beach if you’re willing to walk a bit.

Reflections on a day trip to Cabanas de Tavira

Summing up, going on a day trip to Cabanas de Tavira is well worth it. Especially for visiting Cabanas Island, but also because it’s a super cute place. Even though it has turned into a popular tourist resort in summer, it has kept its authentic feel.

Happy travels!