Tavira is a sleepy town on the Eastern side of the Algarve (the less busy side).
It was recommended to me as a nice place in Portugal to visit with kids by my friend and ex-work colleague who lived there a few years ago.
I wanted to go somewhere not too touristy where we could spend time relaxing as well as having things to do (without worrying about losing our child in a crowd).
Tavira with kids
Tavira is a beautiful little town with a slow pace of life. It’s small, mainly pedestrianised and there aren’t too many cars noticeably around.
It’s also really easy to walk around. There are cobbled streets adding to Tavira’s charms. However, they’re easily manageable with a buggy.
What to do in Tavira with kids
The Roman Bridge
The town is separated by a river and a Roman Bridge. This is one of the most picturesque spots in Tavira and the scene of many a photoshoot.
I can’t say your little darlings will wow at the view or have a moment of reflection thinking life doesn’t get much better than this.. However, it’s buggy friendly and my son enjoyed running from side to side.
There’s also a great ice cream shop over the bridge with lots of choice including fig, the local flavour.
Terrapins in the band stand
We got a great tip about taking our son to look at the terrapins and koi carp in the pond which surrounds the band stand.
My son is a big animal fan and he absolutely loved seeing the terrapins swimming around.
It’s a completely free activity to do in Tavira with kids and offers a bit of shade away from the midday sun. Win. Win.
Tavira castle is uphill along cobbled streets. We (ok, my husband…) managed to push our sleeping toddler and make it there. It’s well worth it for the incredible views.
There are also steps leading up to the castle in the town by the Islamic museum, which offers a much quicker route.
Tavira is also famous for its 21 churches. I would check opening times in advance before you visit as they’re not always open.
This is why we only managed to see one..
Tavira island is 11 kilometres of white sandy beaches. It is stunning, trust me.
You need to take a ferry, which in the summer months runs from the river side. It costs 2 Euro for an adult return and takes about 20 minutes.
We didn’t take a buggy but I did see people who had so I think Tavira Island is doable with kids of all ages. There’s also a boardwalk once you get to the Island.
Where to eat in Tavira?
Pausa is a delicious tapas bar on the edge of town just behind the river. I spotted it after seeing some French people had reserved a table thinking the French are never wrong about food.
Turns out my stereotyping of an entire nation was correct. The food was utterly delicious and although not cheap compared to other places, still worth it. The portion sizes are also massive.
I ate the most delicious grilled sea bass at Os Arcoz down by the river. The food was great and the location even better.
We also ate at a local’s place down by the river at the less touristy end near the Tavira island ferry terminal and next to a boat shop. Yes, I do realise how ridiculous these instructions sound (Michael Palin I am not) but I’m still dreaming about the stuffed pork cheeks now.
There are obviously 100s of patal de nata spots. We liked Veneza near the Roman Bridge where I’m reliably informed a glass of wine costs 2 euro (aka my kind of place..).
Where to stay in Tavira?
Usually we stay in an Airbnb but this time I wanted something really simple and not have to worry about finding keys and buying food.
We stayed in the Vila Gale, which was in a great location close to the town and near the ferries to Tavira Island during the summer months.
The rooms were great, staff super helpful and the breakfast was incredible with nice touches such as fruit grown on their own farm. There’s also a decent pool area with sun beds and towels.
I also saw a sign for Bea’s bed & breakfast and while I can’t vouch for the rooms, it was in a good location overlooking the river.
What to buy?
Tavira has some really beautiful shops selling handicrafts and pottery.
I really loved a shop called Kozii, a textile shops which sells clothes, accessories and home furnishings. Yes, I did treat myself to a scarf and earrings – well I was on my ‘olidays..
Getting there and away
We flew into Faro and took a taxi to the station (costs 10-12 euro). We then took a train to Tavira (3.20 euro), which takes 45 minutes and has beautiful views of salt flats and the coastline, followed by a taxi to our hotel (3 euro).
It sounds more complicated than it actually was and its a journey I’ll definitely do again.