While in Algarve for a week, we decided to base ourselves in 2 areas: The Eastern & Western part of Algarve. This turned out really great for us as we were able to really explore each end without too much driving and really having the time to enjoy all the places we were visiting. We chose Tavira as a base on the Eastern side of Algarve as it’s a small town that has kept it’s traditional charm. It really is one of the cutest towns in Algarve and I highly recommend basing yourself here to explore the Eastern side. For a small charming town, it has a lot of restaurants to choose from which is a priority for me. It’s always nice to experience staying in a small town vs just passing by for a quick visit as you get to slow down and really feel the surroundings. Tavira also has some of the finest churches in the Algarve and there’s about 20 of them in a small town. You’ll also see a lot of typical Portuguese homes with tiled fronts along narrow cobbled streets.
While in Tavira, we stayed at the beautiful Tavira House Hotel and I highly recommend it. It’s a little boutique hotel nestled in the middle of the town. It doesn’t have it’s own parking but we always managed to find free parking right in front of the hotel. But pay parking spots are extremely cheap if free parking is not available. The hotel has a beautiful grand living room, a nice rooftop patio, outdoor courtyard surrounded by orange potted trees where you can have your morning breakfast and a soaker pool on the lower courtyard level. It offers free breakfast every morning which consists of cured meats, variety of cheese, espresso, teas, orange juice, rolls and jams. And on some evenings, they offer a complementary Portuguese wine tasting to their hotel guests. We didn’t make it to this as it started late afternoon and we were out but heard from other guests that it was a great experience. Ivana, one of the staff even gave Luna a bag full of chocolates on our last evening. The bag was handmade by her grandma. I can’t express enough how much we really enjoyed our stay at Tavira House Hotel. It’s also very rare to find a hotel in Europe with a King size bed!
Tavira has it’s own beach called Ilha de Tavira. It’s an Island beach where you have to take a short ferry ride from Tavira town. The beach is really nice but it didn’t have conveniences like washroom facilities at the beach which can be hard if you have a 4 year old in tow. Though, there are restaurants as you enter the Island where you can probably sneak in and use their washrooms. We did eat lunch at one of the restaurants and enjoyed a pot of octopus rice and a big plate of fresh oysters. Delicious!
In Algarve, all you want to eat is seafood. They’re so fresh and so delicious. One of our favorites was Cataplana. It’s their native dish. Think bouillabaisse. It’s really a pot full of seafood goodness. You can’t leave Algarve without having this. We also had a lot of grilled sardines.
We were also lucky to have experienced Holy Week in Tavira. The week before, we were in Spain and experience daily processions in Seville and Granada. But experiencing it in a small town is really different as they just do things differently. It’s not as big and grand. It’s smaller and more intimate but seemed more magical. Apparently, this particular procession is really a big deal for the church brotherhoods and they look forward to this all year. During the day, the roads were covered with fresh lavender as it would be the path for the evenings procession. Imagine seeing the streets of a small town covered in lavender? It was amazing and smelled so good. The procession started at 9pm. People held lit up candles and as the procession started, the lights in the town were turned off and the town glowed in the dark. It was so beautiful. Come in April to experience this. It’s a magical experience and you really feel like you’re a part of it.