The Only One Day in Tavira Itinerary You’ll Ever Need

Planning one day in Tavira and not sure what to add to your itinerary? Tavira is a lovely town with plenty to see and do, so you want to plan it well to get the most out of your visit. But fret not.

I’ve spent considerable time in Tavira over the years and I’m here to help you plan your one day in Tavira itinerary so you don’t miss out on any of the best things to see and do.

You will get to explore Tavira Old Town and even take a trip to Tavira Island to enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in Algarve during your day trip. But first, I’ll go through all the practicals from how to get there, where to stay, and how to get around.

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How to get to Tavira

Tavira is easily accessible by public transport and by car. If you come directly from Faro Airport, read my complete guide on how to get from Faro to Tavira.

Tavira Bus Station is centrally located and within a few minute’s walking distance from the old town. The train station is set a little bit outside the old town, but you get to Tavira Old Town in about a 10 minutes walk.

Arriving by car is also easy, I’ve even come by van several times and found no difficulties with narrow streets being too small to pass.

If you drive a larger motorhome, you might find some streets narrow, but a good tip is to use the parking app Park4Night as they have reviews of the parking so if it’s hard for larger vehicles someone has usually mentioned it.

Tavira Bus Station.
Tavira Bus Station

Where to park

There are plenty of free parking around Tavira. I’ve always found free parking in a small parking lot behind the bus station (drive into the bus station and follow the narrow, cobbled road around the corner.)

But there is also a large parking spot on the opposite side of the river you can look for space. In the streets it’s paid parking which I find a bit of a pain in the butt in Portugal, so would avoid it if I were you.

A vast parking space to park in one day in Tavira.
Parking lot next to Tavira Bus Station

How to get around

Once you arrive in Tavira, the town is very walkable so there isn’t any need for public transport. That said, you can join this guided tuk-tuk tour to see the highlight of Tavira, or the hop-on-hop-off train.

Getting to Tavira Island is easy by boat from the riverfront. Only if you want to reach Barril Beach and the anchor Cemetery, you need to go to Santa Luzia which is a 10-minute drive away.

You can get on bus 105 (Tavira-Santa Luzia-Pedras d’El Rei) and I recommend getting off at Pedras d’El Rei to walk across to Barril Beach. If you want to take the boat to Terra Estreita Beach, get off in Santa Luzia and take the boat from there.

Boat from Tavira to Tavira Island.
Boat from Tavira to Tavira Island

Where to stay

If you have one night in Tavira, here are my top hotel picks for different budgets.

LUXURY – Vila Gale Albacora – Great hotel by Ria Formosa Natural Park with free parking, outdoor and indoors pools, and a spa and wellness center.

MID-RANGE – OZADI Tavira Hotel – Fantastic hotel with outdoor pool, free parking, restaurants, and bar.

BUDGET – Residencial Mares – Set along the Gilão River not far from the boat port to Tavira Island, this is a nice and clean hotel with free parking.

Me looking at Praca de la Republica on a Tavira day trip.

One day in Tavira itinerary

With only one day in Tavira, I suggest dividing the day in two. First, visit Tavira Island to take in some of the best beaches in Tavira, and after lunch, you can stroll around Tavira town.

Feel free to swap around your activities before and after lunch if it suits you better. Either way, you’re best off starting early to avoid stressing through the day.

colorful house with a giant pink Rhododendron covering the walls.

Head to Tavira Island

If you travel by public transport, take the ferry directly from Tavira to Tavira Beach. In the off season, you’ll have to go to Cais das Quatro Águas pier to get the year-round ferry.

Once you arrive, you have to walk 350 meters across the island to get to the beach. There, you can go for a swim or rent a paddleboard in the summer, but even if you travel off-season, it’s beautiful to take a stroll along the beach and grab a drink or a snack in the restaurant.

If you visit Tavira on an Algarve road trip, you have the option of visiting Terra Estreita Beach or Barril Beach (including the Anchor cemetery.) I highly recommend Barril Beach, because the Anchor Cemetery is such a cool place. There is plenty of information about the tuna fishing history of Tavira Island there.

You can also take a cute little tourist train that takes you across the island. The same train lines were used to transport fishing gear and tuna back in the days when tuna fishing was thriving.

Me strolling along Barril Beach in Tavira Portugal.
Barril Beach

Lunch

You can either grab lunch on Tavira Island or make your way back to Tavira to enjoy lunch at any of the restaurants there. Along the river, you’ll find plenty of options (where the boat to Tavira Island runs in the summer.)

But also on the Praça da República by the Roman Bridge, there are a few nice cafés where I’ve enjoyed good lunch several times.

Cafés in Tavira's Praca de la Republica.

Snap a picture of the Roman Bridge

Before you explore the town, make sure you snap a picture of the Roman Bridge which crosses the Gilão River and connects the two parts of town.

It is actually not Roman, but according to history, it seems like there has been a bridge there before that could have been Roman, but different sources say different things, so I don’t even know what to think anymore. Nonetheless, the name is stuck and we can all agree that it has been rebuilt with Roman-looking arches.

Roman Bridge in Tavira.

Explore the city through the Camera Obscura

Note that Camera Obscura is closed on the weekends and closes at 15:00 Monday-Friday, so if you take a late lunch you might not catch it.

The Camera Obscura, also known as Tavira EYE, is a fabulous way to see the city through a giant, live camera lens. If you haven’t experienced a Camera Obscura before, I highly recommend it, so make sure you finish lunch early!

Walk the walls of Tavira Castle

The remains of Tavira Castle offer a lovely space with a colorful flower garden within the castle walls. You can walk along the castle walls on two different stretches and enjoy sweeping views of Tavira.

The 11th-century castle ruins are humble but well-maintained and it’s completely free to enter. Just be prepared for very steep steps up to the walls.

There are toilets and a drinking fountain within the castle walls, but I recommend bringing your own toilet paper and either soap or disinfectant as there has never been any when I’ve visited (hopefully you’re luckier than me!)

Me enjoying the views of Tavira town from Tavira Castle.
Views from Tavira Castle

Stroll through the old town

Tavira Old Town is full of charm. I love walking through the old streets even though I’ve done it a dozen times before.

There is so much to take note of like narrow alleys, old doors and windows with colorful flowers, and not to mention all the tiled walls you encounter in the old fisherman’s district.

Besides, there are also a whole lot of churches. I often find them closed, so haven’t been inside more than a couple, among them the Santa Maria do Castelo Church next to Tavira Castle (open in the afternoon Monday-Friday 14:00-17:00.)

Me strolling through a narrow alley with stairs in Tavira Old Town which is one of the best things to do in on any Tavira itinerary.

Grab dinner before you go

For dinner, cross the Roman Bridge to the other side of town where you’ll find a lot of nice restaurants. I love the narrow alley straight ahead of the Roman Bridge, it’s especially charming at night. But you can also head to Praça Dr. António Padinha.

Reflections on a day in Tavira

Summing up a visit to Tavira in one day, it is a lovely day trip where you can fit in a bit of nature and a bit of history and culture.

While I highly recommend the anchor Cemetery at Barril Beach for your beach escapade, you won’t regret either of the other alternatives as Tavira Island is a little piece of magic no matter where you go.

Altogether, Tavira offers a tranquil visit and is without a doubt one of the best towns in Algarve to visit.

Happy travels!