Tavira is quite different from one’s image of the Algarve. It is an unspoilt town on a river between Faro and the Spanish border. We stayed at the beautiful Porta Nova, which was well-situated approximately 10 minutes walk from the town centre.
We were a full group of 23 walkers met by leader Mark at the airport and whisked to Tavira within an hour. The hotel was quite modern and comfortable, boasting outdoor and indoor swimming pools and a gym, etc. However, its most notable feature was the rooftop bar, with spectacular views at night.
View from the Porta Nova rooftop bar
The walking on this trip was quite varied; we walked by salt pans and along the coast, strolled along one of top ten beaches in the world and then walked inland in rolling pleasant countryside. Much of the coastal walking was along a pleasant eco trail. It was interesting to see how the salt pans were harvested and it was also great for bird-watchers as they are home to flamingos, spoonbills and various others.
Walking by the salt pans
Filling the bags of salt
A pleasant valley on one of the inland walks
A particularly good feature of this trip is that evening meals are taken out at local restaurants. We certainly ate like kings! Many adventurous choices were available and during the week I feasted on: Barbecued chicken, razor fish rice, cockerel, quail, fresh local fish, octopus stew and wild boar! Every evening there was a good choice of fish and meat dishes and everyone found something to their taste. Of course, we also enjoyed testing out the local wines, which we found to be most palatable.
On the day off there were a number of options. Some chose to go to Faro while others decided to relax in Tavira exploring the churches, visiting the camera obscurer, admiring the public gardens and taking advantage of the pavement cafes.
A few of us even went to Spain! It was an easy train ride, (€2.45) to Vila Real, which is the border where we then caught the ferry to take us to Ayamonde, (€1.70).
Also, look out for posters in Tavira for fado music concerts. We were lucky that this one was on during our last evening. With a start time of 10pm it made an ideal place to go onto after our evening meal.
Our leader on this trip, Mark, was an excellent organiser and pleasant company. I returned home feeling that I’d had a relaxing but stimulating holiday with friendly companions that I had really enjoyed, (but also I felt a few kg heavier!)