Tavira, Portugal

October 2019

The Algarve of Portugal, the southernmost region, is best known for its beaches, and spectacular they truly are.

Impressive cliffs Algarve
The magnificent cliffs and expansive beaches of the Algarve, Portugal

However, there is a wealth of interest inland too, with small villages in the foothills and spread along rivers, all linked together with expanses of citrus orchards and olive groves, random whitewashed properties with terracotta rooves, and a not inconsiderable bus / road / rail network making touring a manageble and enjoyable experience.

Winding roads and scrubland of inland Portugal, Algarve
The typical whitewashed villas of the hills of inland Portugal, near Tavira

Getting there

I arrived in Faro (capital of the Algarve) by bus from Seville (and before that from the north of Spain). The bus (Terminal Rodovario) and train (trem) stations are a few minutes walk away from each other so I was able to amble from one to the other to comare prices.

Paper map of Faro, Portugal
Map of Faro

Tavira, to the east, was my first stop and you can get there by both modes of transport: train is quicker (30 minutes), but more expensive, and buses (taking 1 hour) seem to be more often. This website is an excellent source of information.

Town buildings of Tavira with Roman Bridge (Ponte Romana) across the river Gilao
Ponte Romana (Roman bridge) de Tavira, River Gilao, Portugal

There are two bus stops in Tavira: Porta Nova and Tavira, but you must stipulate which destination when buying your ticket (always buy in advance), as they are slightly different prices.

High rise apartments in Tavira, Portugal
The apartments of Tavira, Portugal


There seem to be two sides to Tavira: the old town and the newer developments (above) where lots of the ex-pats live. Most people I speak to really like this place and there is not only a lot to see, but good beaches and good countryside restaurants nearby as well if you have a car, so no wonder it is popular. For cyclists and walkers, it is a great setting-off point – there is a network of cycle routes and you can now walk from Tavira to Santiago de Compostella. The locals are geared up to having vistors around all the time and are courteous and understanding, speaking excellent English.

Church of our Lafy of Learning or Saint Paul, in leafy square with statue, Tavira, Portugal
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Ajuda ou de Sao Paulo (Church of Saint Paul), and the Jardim (Garden) da Alagoa, with statue of Dom Marcelino Franco, Bispo (Bishop) of the Algarve 1920, in the Praca (Square) Dr Antonio Padinha, Tavira, Portugal

This beautiful square has lots of cafes and restaurants where you can sit outside and enjoy the leafy view.

web link church Igreja of the da Misericordia, Tavira, Portugal
Tracy and the Igreja da Misericordia
Building in Tavira showing the blue and white decoration, balustrades and tiled exterior, Portugal
Typical Portuguese blue and white decoratedhouse, Tavira, Portugal
Decorated exterior of building with blue and white tiles in Tavira, Poetugal
Tiled exterior of Tavira architecture, Portugal
Tavira riverscape
The River Gilao, Tavira, Portugal
decorated floor market Tavira
Mercado (market), Tavira, Portugal
baskets Tavira
Basket stall, market, Tavira, Portugal
unknown fruit
Cherimoya, custard apple native to the mountains of Equador and Peru
Fish on market stall Tavira
Fish stall, market, Tavira, Portugal
overhead view gardens Castelo do Tavira
The gardens of the Castelo (castle), Tavira, Portugal
Castelo do Tavira ramparts
Tracy on the ramparts of the Castelo do Tavira, Portugal
The blue potato bush or Paraguayan nightshade (Lycianthes rantonnetii (previously Solanum rantonnetii). Poisonous, evergreem lightly fragrant flowers followed by red berries
english and latin name of plant
California or Arizona Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
palm tree hibiscus
Date palm and hibiscus, Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

Pedras del Rei

The Tavira area was the first place I ever went abroad when I was a young teenager with my parents. It was memorable for a number of reasons, not least the trip to the beach which was reached by a little train and boat. When I accepted Tracy’s kind invitation, I had no (conscious) idea that her new place was near this early holiday destination, so you can imagine my pleasure when I was taken for a late afternoon walk only to be faced with a sign saying Pedras del Reí. The memories came flooding back!

passenger train to beach Tavira
Train to the Praia do Barril beach, Pedras del Rei, Tavira, Portugal
train engine Tavira
Train engine, Pedras del Rei, Tavira, Portugal
path in woods Praia do Barril beach
Walking along the boardwalk towards Praia do Barril, Tavira

Praia do Barril

anchors in the sand Praia do barril beach
The beach is stunning and memorable for its anchor graveyard and ex-tuna fishing buildings
Praia do Barril beach, Tavira, Portugal
Praia do Barril beach – kilometer upon kilometer of golden sand
Sunset marshes Barril
Back across the marshes to Tavira from Praia do barril beach
The evening light turned the saltmarsh cordgrass (correct me if I am wrong) golden


I also visited the beach across from Fábrica and the small village of Cacela Velha, both located in the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Like much of the coast in this area, the beach is situated on a spit of land which is separated from the mainland by a strip of water, so we took a boat across.

boat to Casela Velha beach
Taking the boat across from Fabrica to Casela Velha beach
Fabrica Tavira
Looking back towards Fabrica where there is a smart restaurant and a small cafe

Casela Velha – beach and village

sand and sea Casela Velha Portugal
Cacela Velha beach

Cacela Velha is a small village in the parish of Vila Nova da Cacela on a hillside next to the Ria Formosa, between Tavira and the town of Monte Gordo.

village scene Casela Velha
The popular outdoor market at Casela Velha
web link church entrance Casela Velha
The Parish Church of Casela Velha
view of lagoon from Casela Velha
The easternmost lagoon of the Ria (river) Formosa
main door Casela Velha church
Parish Church of Casela Velha, Portugal
Village scene Casela Velha
Just before it rained! the village of Casela Velha in the hills outside Tavira, Portugal

From there I returned by car to Faro airport (thanks to Tracy and David, wonderful hosts), and took a bus to Albufeira. The posters at the bus stop do not all contain truthful information as far as I could tell, so careful!

Many thanks to the folk on the houzz.com plant forum for help with plant identification

Lagoa, Algarve

Lagoa (not to be confused with Lagos) in the west of the Algarve of Portugal. November 2019

Igreja Matriz de Lagoa, Portugal with Neoclassical influences on the facade
Igreja Matriz de Lagoa. Mid 16th century but affected by the 1755 earthquake (as so much of the region was) with a Baroque belltower
Detail from the side of the Church of Our Lady of the Light (see above)
Convento de Sao Jose (Saint Joseph) 18th century, Lagoa

The Convento de Sao Jose (Saint Joseph) was built to shelter women and children who were looked after by an order of mendicant nuns. After the extinction of the religious orders, it was taken over by Benedictine nuns. There is more to see inside including a cloiser, but it was shut because it was a Monday. It is usually open between 9-12.30 and 1400-17.30 Tuesday to Saturday.

Palacete Cor-de-Rosa (The Pink Palace). Originally the Palacio da Independencia. It has a neoclassical interior
War memorial, Lagoa
Lagoa boasts a radio station 
Lagoa, Portugal
All over this part of the Algarve you will find original artwork covering the municipal electrical boxes by ‘Bamby’ from Style Spectrum (#stylespectrum_unlocked)
Town Hall, originally Ermida de Nossa Senora do Pe da Cruz (the Hermitage of our Lady of the Foot of the Cross) from 14th century dating back to a time of pilgrimage. There are only a few parts remaining from those days. It was used as a prison at another time in its history

The Lady in Red (LiR) Modern Art Gallery is in a winery (reputedly it smells of the vine) and it was also closed when I was there, but it opens 10-12 and 14-18 Tuesday to Saturday and costs 2euros entrance. According to a Trip Advisor contributor it is better than the Tallin Modern Art Gallery. Address: Rua 25 Abril 55, Edificio Adega Cooperativa do Lagoa 8400-343 opposite the bus station which has buses to and from many places you will want to visit in the area. Pay on the bus – very cheap fares.


Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer, the first Count of Vidigueira. He was the first European to reach India by sea.

I recommend the Algarve Blog