Tavira is very seductive, and from the streets along the River Gilão to the castle walls from which you have the best view over the town, it makes you want to discover its hidden corners and unlock its secrets. In addition, there is a certain oriental charm in this town, in its “scissor” truss or hipped roofs, which are outlined against the sky in a unique way, and its latticed timber doors that shelter homes while still letting air and sound in, a heritage from the Arabs who inhabited the region.
Tavira straddles both river banks in an intricate design of narrow streets and white houses that call for an unhurried stroll. The Jardim do Coreto (Bandstand Garden) is the liveliest area. People wander around savoring ice cream and the fresh air, especially at night when shows and other events bring additional life to the site. Here you will find the Mercado da Ribeira which is now devoted to entertainment and leisure after its original function as a market finished.
There are 11 kilometers of beaches here, including the beaches of Tavira Island, Terra Estreita, Barril, and Homem Nu, where you can rest after this packed tour. Discover the best beaches in Tavira, Algarve, south of Portugal.
1. Praia de Cabanas
The unspoiled island beach in Cabanas, Ilha de Cabanas-Mar (or ‘Praia de Cabanas’ or ‘Ilha de Cabanas’..or simply, ‘Cabanas Beach’!) is 7 kilometers long, boasting beautiful white sand and perfect tranquility for sunbathers.
Boats to the island run throughout the day from April to October, with tickets costing as little as €1 return per person. Ilha de Cabanas-Mar has its café-bar, showers and toilet facilities, sunshades to rent, and water sports such as windsurfing, sailing, and jet-skiing. It is a supervised beach during the season.
2. Praia do Barril
The beach is located in the center of the island of Tavira, characterized by a delicate white sand tongue. From this beach, you might observe the beautiful landscape of Caldeirão, the marshes, Ria Formosa saltworks, and even the Tavira dunes. To get to this beach, you should catch the touristic train and then follow a pathway which will take you to the Praia do Barril beach.
This is one of the calmest beaches in the Algarve, and its waters are clear and offer perfect conditions for bathing. Therefore, this beach is usually sought by the nudist community, and the westernmost part of the beach is considered one of the few legal nudist beaches in Portugal.
3. Praia da Ilha de Tavira
Located on the eastern side of Tavira Island, next to Barra do Cochicho, this beach is right in front of the town of Tavira, in Algarve. The access to this beach is by boat, from the Quatro Águas Dock, but as it is a short trip, some people prefer to do it swimming. The dock is on the Gilão River, and here, you’ll be able to find an artisanal fishing fleet.
This side of the island has more population than the rest, and it is possible to find some summer cottages, camping, tourist facilities, and bars in the sandy area. It also has local infrastructures to practice water sports and cruises to the Ría Formosa Estuary. The warm, quiet waters of the estuary side are of good quality, so they are perfect for children to play with.
4. Praia da Terra Estreita
The Praia da Terra Estreita Beach, well-known also like Praia de Santa Luzia Beach, is located on the east side of the island of Tavira. It is a sand strip less than 50 meters in width with easy access by boat. This short trip will be able to see the fishing creels to fish octopus and numerous artisanal fishing boats.
Its sandy area is more quiet and more desert than the neighboring beaches of Barril and Tavira Island, so you will have the chance to enjoy relaxing moments here. You will also be able to contemplate pleasing spikenard tuberoses and enjoy warm baths on the sea. On your way back to Santa Luzia, you’ll find a coastal avenue with many restaurants and pubs where you can enjoy delicious seafood and yummy fish plates, like the estupeta de atum (tuna salad).
5. Praia do Lacém
This small lagoon beach is surrounded by farmland, amongst allotments, vineyards, and dryland orchards. The beach is reached by a small cross-country footpath that accompanies an occasional stream, along which some thick riverside vegetation grows, with reed beds and lots of brambles. The beach is relatively narrow with low-lying dunes; the main plant is European beachgrass. The predominant habitat is, in fact, the salt marsh, and the smell of the sea and the mudflats is intense.
Beyond the narrow branch of Ria Formosa, you will find Cabanas Island, very thin and low in this area and only covered with small grasses (sea couch), not offering any significant resistance to the sea advances. Here you can observe various shorebirds calmly scouring the mud with their long beaks in search of food. If you have a private boat, you can cross over the branch of the Ria Formosa and reach the sand barriers of Cabanas or Cacela.
6. Praia do Homem Nu
Known locally as Praia do Homem Nú, “Naked Man Beach”, this sea beach is known for the practice of nudism and naturism. It occupies the western end of the Island of Tavira, between the official naturist area Barril beach and Fuzeta boat canal, a distance of more than 4 kilometers. In the mid-eighties, this beach had high demand from naturist and nudist lovers, mainly British, German, and Dutch.
In the nineties, regular attendance was consolidated, and the beach began to appear also in national and international LGBT guides. However, during the last decade, the coast gradually lost popularity to Cacela Velha Beach and even the Spanish neighbor Nueva Umbria in Lepe. One of the determining factors for this change of habits is the problematic access to the beach, which is made from Barril Beach, walking towards the island’s west end.
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