Travel: 48 hours in Tavira, Portugal

Ponta de Romana over Gilao river in Tavira
Ponta de Romana over Gilao river in Tavira
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ROBIN McKelvie spends a weekend in Tavira, Portugal

Friday, midday

Check into Villa Gomes (week from £495, www.vintagetravel.co.uk), just a 20 minute drive from Faro airport. Take a dip in the large pool before setting out to explore.

2pm

Peri peri chicken deliciously grilled is an Algarvian speciality. Either dine in or enjoy a takeaway from Tavira’s Churrasqueira O Manel (tel: 281-323343).

3pm

From the ramparts of Tavira Castle, which is free to enter, peer over a charming town that out of season seems to have as many churches as residents.

5pm

Wander through the heart of sleepy Tavira. Cross the Rio Gilao on the old Roman Bridge and imagine the Roman and Moorish ships that once patrolled the local waters.

8pm

Restaurante Avenida (tel: 281-321113) is an authentic Algarvian restaurant unlike some of the eateries along the riverside. Their star dish, pork with clams, is from the Alentejo though.

Saturday, 10am

Time now to venture across to the Ilha de Tavira, the glorious sand bar island that is Tavira’s best beach. Catch the five minute ferry over from Quatro Aguas, a few miles south of town.

Midday

There are a gaggle of bar restaurants on the ilha itself. If you fancy more sophisticated seafood, catch the ferry back across to Quatro Aguas, where a brace of restaurants await.

3pm

Back in Tavira town it is time for ice cream. Not just any ice cream, but the delicious homemade efforts from Tavira Romana (Praca da Republica). Recline on their terrace or sit in the shade in the leafy park opposite.

8pm

If you’ve had your fill of typically generous Algarvian fish and meat dishes, opt for lighter tapas in the relaxed surrounds of Tavira Lounge

(www.taviralounge.com) by the river.

Sunday, 9am

Take it easy at your villa or slip into the town centre for a relaxed Sunday morning. The shops may be closed, but church bells are chiming, families relaxing and a sprinkling of cafes tempt.

• easyJet (www.easyjet.com) fly from Edinburgh to nearby Faro with return fares from £61.98. Lonely Planet’s Portugal guide includes a section on Tavira. For tourist information, see www.visitalgarve.pt