Getting Around Guide to Tavira

tavira map
click or tap for a more detailed map

We depart for Tavira, Portugal on September 17th, and will be staying a month.
It is claimed in popular etymology that the word “Tavira” comes from the Arabic word طبيرة — pronounced TABIRA, as there is no “v” sound in Arabic — which supposedly means “the hidden.”
However you will find no such Arabic word in any online dictionary, and I am personally unfamiliar with that word — though I confess that my knowledge of Arabic is largely limited to Egyptian vernacular.
I also searched for it in a modern Arabic quamous, or dictionary, that I own, but didn’t find TABIRA there either.

I had more success with Lane for the word in its consonant root form طبر or T-B-R.  According to this source, Lane registers the root sound T-B-R as being associated with the concepts of hindering, or banishment, or keeping away  — which are of course connected to the notion of being hidden in some fashion.
Thus it appears that popular etymology may not be off in this regard, though I intend to pursue this linguistic inquiry with more semantic rigor at a later date. Also a friend of mine in New York who has been to this charming Umayyad outpost town informed me recently that the Portugese pronounce it “Ta-ver-a” — which I shall also be verifying.

While not playing language detective, here are some other things one might be interested in doing there.


SUP board rental
Kitesurf Eolis
8 C.C. Avenida Ria Formosa
Shop 34, Cabanas de Tavira, Tavira 8800-591

Something to keep in mind: the water/ocean is bone-chilling cold.  But bringing my wet SCUBA dive suit from the 90s would hardly work unless I lose A LOT more weight, and suddenly have the gism, or body, I did in my 40s — er, fat chance. Average water temps are 59-68F, between mid Sept and mid October.  Brrrrrrr…..


gouna tennis 1
My wife playing tennis this past Jan during our ziyyara to the Red Sea in El Gouna.

They have hard courts, if my wife is in the mood for a little tennish, while in Tavira… Nice change from the red clay of Gouna (see pic, above), which meant the balls did not bounce right for her (compared to the  tournament quality Har-Tru courts at her club in Florida, which are really well maintained), which threw her off her normal game.


Where to buy supplies near our rental flat (more expensive than main market but convenient)
LIDL supermarket
Largo Sto Amaro – Armazém Quimigal
+351 800 025 025

Couple of clicks walk back, up a hill, to our digs.  This will have a wondrous effect on our secret weight loss / getting in shape again plans!


Now this is what I call bread!

Pão alentejano and other delicacies


I wonder if we can find Portugese Castelbel soap in Tavira, which is in, um, Portugal?

This search is probably going to turn into an obsessive fixation that is going to take over our days in Tavira — my wife will not rest until she finds a box of this brand of soap.


Tavira Moorish Castle
Largo Abu-Otmane, 8800-306 Tavira

Largo has multiple meanings in Portuguese. Not knowing the language, my guess is that in this context it means square.  “Abu-Otmane” is probably this guy.


Halal side trips to Moorish Spain


bus / train rihla to Cordoba’s mosque (Mezquita)

a similarly “short” journey  to the magnificent Alhambra is also a must!

Note, there are no mosques in Tavira itself, although this church was built at the site of one of the largest Moorish masjids in the Algarve.


Source: Dear Kitty WP blog. Please visit that great blog by clicking on this pic!

Tavira architecture… especially if you are fascinated by roofs, and like excellent travel writing and super pics, there’s this and also that



a non touristy paper about Tavira’s coastline, referred to as Cell 8


great American expat meetup join in Tavira?

Casa Simao

Rua Joao Vaz Corte Real 10Tavira 8800-351, Portugal
+351 281 321 647


Best overall Tavira restaurant?  Not in our experience!


best chicken piri piri?
Cantinho do Emigrante
Praca Doutor Antonio Padinha 27, Tavira 8800-
637, Portugal +351 281 323 696

Touristy Restaurant – but decent food —
order simple meal and pay attention to bill when paying at the end
Churrasqueira O Manel
Rua Doutor Antonio Cabreira 39, Tavira 8800-

Another good restaurant / cafe
authentic Portugese food at reasonable prices

Zeca da Bica
Rua Almirante Candido dos Reis 28, Tavira
8800-318, Portugal




Mercado municipal
early morning fish market
flowers and fresh vegetables
Marzipan sweets
local honey
better prices
go early 7am

info about other markets


Biblioteca Municipal Álvaro de Campos
Rua da Comunidade Lusíada, 21 8800-397 Tavira


Cineclube de Tavira

at the Cine-Teatro AntónioPinheiro
R. Dr. Marcelino Franco 22, 8800-345 Tavira,

bicycle rental short or long term
R. João Vaz Corte Real 23A, 8800-351 Tavira

It’s flatter terrain in the Eastern Algarve, but the ride up the backcountry hills is strictly for rail-thin insect heads decked out in personalized, high visibility racing outfits. Don’t forget the narrow winding roads, the dangerous drivers who may be tipsy or going too fast or driving on the wrong side of the road, and, lastly the (many) blind curves where you won’t see the Portuguese lorry coming straight at you until the last minute. I’m planning to stay in town, and use a bicycle for shopping, unless the ride up the hill back to the apartment would require me to take mega steroid shots. In which case, it’s either hoofing the 2 miles, or tuk-tuking it, just like in Gouna, except at 20+ times the price (20 euros or so vs less than 1€ in Egypt). 


gouna tuk tuk
The blight of Gouna: loud, dangerous, and the drivers all smoke

Tuk Tuk Tavira
R. Alm. Cândido dos Reis 43, 8800-318 Tavira

Black Anchor – Irish Pub
free wifi
Guiness on draft
great fish and chips
football matches
nice river view
This is a popular haunt allegedly favored by Malāmatiyya posing as regular Brits, that is to say, Moslem mystical heretics in Union Jack disguises who invariably say “jolly good!” and “brilliant!” while pretending to watch whatever Premier League footie match’s on TV, as they slyly down 6-8 pints per game.
Rua Borda d’Agua de Asseca
Tavira 8800 – 325


faro airport transfer
private car to airbnb rental apt
pay upon arrival


get 200 euro from atm machine at faro or amsterdam airport
then find money changer / cambios in tavira


Tavira train station

Might turn out to be essential, should my wife and I end up traveling to El Andalus for a few days. I would like to revisit Algeciras and Gabal Tarek, which I have not seen since the early 70s.

Then again, we could always just bring this interesting sounding paperback along, hang out on the balcony of our flat with regrettably far-off Tavira rooftops views, and read it.

But given why I really am going to Tavira, such time might be better spent finishing reading at last Goytisolo’s Count Julian.  I  bought the original US 1974 Viking edition (see below) when it came out, but parted ways with it during one of my many impecunious peregrinations.  But I was a young man then, and though by literary instinct attracted to the right books, that is to say, novels about the dispossessed and broken and those who lived in a state of exilic hell, could not quite get past what I then thought was the showily if not self-indulgent run-on style Goytisolo employed in Count Julian, a book whose theme would suddenly become immensely important to me many decades later, though I was to never forget its opening line gambit:

“Harsh homeland, the falsest, most miserable imaginable, I shall never return to you… .”

update:  My wife bought Night Train to Lisbon.  I am reading Disquiet, a library copy, prior to leaving and bringing these paperbacks with me.

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walking tours

I’m not one for guided group activities, which I can’t stand, but this sort of thing might be a necessary evil, as I do not plan to rent a car but do wish to at least attempt moderate hikes in the back country. There are many useful links on various Algarve/Tavira-related blogs as to where to find good hiking trails in the area. Serious hiking seems to be a popular activity here. Perhaps that is because it’s where the best hikayat are born.


Friends of Bill
Ginasio Clube Tavira
Largo Dr. Jose Pieres Padinha 10
88000-022 Tavira
Thursday 7:30pm

This, of course, is where the Malāmatiyya repair to confess and repent, at the risk of being shunned in the Arab quarter by the judgemental Mudéjar.

leaving america


2 thoughts on “Getting Around Guide to Tavira

  1. You actually make it seem really easy with your presentation however I find this matter to be actually something that
    I think I would never understand. It sort of feels too complicated
    and extremely huge for me. I’m having a look forward to
    your subsequent put up, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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