Visit TAVIRA and CACELA VELHA -Algarve’s best kept secret?

What to visit, see and do

If you want to go on vacation to the Algarve, know that visiting Tavira and Cacela Velha is one of the most beautiful places to go. The picturesque village of Tavira, far from mass tourism, and the modest Cacela Velha, are one of the best kept secrets in the Algarve. There are many Algarves in the Algarve but there will be no more beautiful Algarve than the Cacela Velha area and the Tavira islands, Cabanas de Tavira, and Cacela Peninsula. This area of Tavira and the Ria Formosa is one of the most beautiful in Portugal and the most beautiful in Europe. That is why you will not regret it when you visit Tavira and Cacela Velha.

by Filipe Pereira

Portuguese Local Guide

Since an early age, Algarve has been a mandatory stop for me at least twice per year. Get to know this region through insider tips, and discover it like a local!


Tavira is 2h45 from Lisbon following the A2 and about 5h by car from Porto following the A1 and A2. The best way to get there is by car, however, you can also travel by train to Faro, then on a regional train between Faro and Vila Real de Santo António and leave at Porta Nova station (Tavira).


Once in Tavira you can reach Cacela Velha by bus, taxi, bicycle, motorcycle, or car. It is best to have your vehicle explore the Tavira region. In Cacela Velha there is a lot of space to park but in summer there is also a lot of demand.


Visiting Tavira and Cacela Velha is good at any time of the year, however, from April to October will be the best option. Summer in Tavira is an excellent option for holidays but remember that the heat in this area is a lot and you will have to share the space with more people. In winter, Tavira is an excellent option to spend New Year’s Eve in the Algarve with friends (and you can still take your first swim of the year) or enjoy a long weekend in Tavira.


1. Visit Tavira

Visiting the village of Tavira can be an authentic discovery tour in the Algarve. Away from the crowds, Tavira is a beautiful whitewashed village, full of interesting places to see and explore. When visiting Tavira do not miss the opportunity to:
  • Getting to know the castle of Tavira
  • Visit the church of Misericórdia de Tavira
  • Visit the Municipal Museum of Tavira
  • Visit the Islamic Museum of Tavira
  • Strolling in the public garden of Tavira
  • Enchant yourself with the Roman Bridge of Tavira
  • Visit the Church of Santa Maria do Castelo de Tavira
  • Strolling along Borda d`Água da Asseca street in Tavira
  • Eat a typical sweet at the Porta Nova Bakery in Tavira
  • Climbing to the Chapel of Santa Ana de Tavira at night
  • Sitting on a terrace in Praça da República in Tavira
EXTRA TIP TO VISIT TAVIRA – If you are visiting Tavira and Cacela Velha check the website of the City Council of Tavira for the program cultural. There are often good music festivals, concerts, and exhibitions in the village.

2. Explore Salinas de Tavira

The Salinas de Tavira is an excellent place for a beautiful tour of the historical and cultural heritage of this Algarve city. The work of salt in these parts is ancestral and the landscape does not leave us indifferent to the work of man to dominate nature in Tavira.

3. Cross by boat and enjoy the beach on the island of Tavira

The island of Tavira is magnificent for beach making but there is also a small trail to discover the barrier island around the campsite in Tavira. It is an excellent program to combine a day at the beach on the island of Tavira.

4. Take the Barril beach trail (or ride the train) when visiting Tavira

The Barril beach trail is an excellent walking route (or tourist train) to discover the traditional art of tuna fishing in the Algarve and the municipality of Tavira.

5. Discover the tradition of Torre d’Aires

The village of Torre d’Aires, in Tavira, has a series of Islamic defense structures to protect the Algarve coast. There are several interesting places to visit, but the best is the alignment of watchtowers along the marginal road parallel to the Ria Formosa in Tavira. It is worth a visit if you are in Tavira.

6. “Praia do Homem Nu” beach

When low tide is possible, walk from Torre d’Aires or Luz to Homem Nu beach, an almost deserted naturalist beach on the island of Tavira, between Tavira and Fuzeta.

8. Visit the island of Cabanas

The island of Cabanas is one of the barrier islands of the Ria Formosa and one of the least visited. To reach the island of Cabanas, the ideal is to go to Cabanas de Tavira and take a boat to the island. Boats leave at all times from sunrise to sunset so there is no problem. The island’s beaches are wonderful and worth visiting and a good swim.

9. Enjoy the day at Praia da Fábrica

Praia da Fábrica, right in front of the Cacela Velha Peninsula is a beautiful beach to enjoy the sea and the estuary near Tavira. It is an excellent place to spend holidays and enjoy the beach with family and friends.

10. Eating oysters in Cacela Velha

Cacela Velha is one of the most wonderful places in our Algarve. It is one of the most beautiful areas of the beach but also of “Movida”. And if you want to do something in vogue in the Algarve, go eat oysters in Cacela Velha! In addition to being wonderful, at the end of the day, the atmosphere is fabulous. But, get ready! The restaurant does not accept reservations and so you will have to take a glass and wait (a long time) in turn to sit and eat.

11. Drink a cocktail at sunset in Cacela Velha

Since you will have to wait for your place by the oysters, enjoy it, order a cocktail and go to the first line of the viewpoint over the Ria Formosa in the church of Cacela Velha. The atmosphere is wonderful, the view even better and the sunset unforgettable. Summer memories in Tavira …

12. Cacela Velha beach

Cacela Velha beach is one of our favorite beaches in the Algarve. To get there just take a boat. The boat leaves the estuary, which is reached at the bottom of a trail to the right of the church of Cacela Velha. The ticket costs € 1.5 / per person. If the tide is low you can return or go on foot. Boats often run until 9 pm if the tide permits.

13. Take a dip in the warmest waters of the Algarve on Manta Rota

Very close to Cacela Velha is one of the beaches with the warmest water in the Algarve. It is common in this area for seawater to reach around 26ºC or 27ºC in the summer months and this attracts immense families. Manta Rota generally has warmer waters but the whole area has very warm waters to enjoy summer in Portugal.

14. Visit Vila Real de Santo António

The village of Vila Real de Santo António is the “last” Portuguese settlement before reaching Spain. After crossing the bridge we are in the neighboring country. Vila Real de Santo António has excellent restaurants for eating fresh fish and is worth peeking at. The city, in an orthogonal plan, typical of the cities designed by Marques de Pombal is very interesting.

16. Visit Castro Marim when visiting Tavira

The historic village of Castro Marim is wonderful, with a very well preserved historic center with a castle and fortress. It is a beautiful place to stroll or visit in the late summer afternoon, after which you stay for dinner with an almost medieval atmosphere.

17. Have the best views of the Ria Formosa in the Church of Cacela Velha

Even if you don’t go for a drink, eat oysters or seafood or even go to the beach, it is worth going to the Church of Cacela Velha to see only the view. The panoramic view of Cacela Velha is the best view of the Ria Formosa and there is no doubt about that.


Where to sleep in Tavira

In Tavira, you can stay in some excellent places, in different areas. You can choose to stay:

Where to sleep in Cacela Velha

If you want to sleep and stay in glamor then it is best to stay in Cacela Velha, near Tavira. Some excellent options are Casa Castor, the Robinson Club Quinta Da Ria, the Casa de Cacela, o Fabrica Beach Apartments, and o MY CHOICE – Sun House.

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