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Tavira is a good-looking little town with superb island beaches in easy reach, yet despite ever-increasing visitors it continues to make its living as a tuna-fishing port. Buses pull up at the new terminal by the river, a two-minute walk from the central square, the Praça da Republica. The train station is 1km from the center of town, straight up the Rua da Liberdade. Boats cross from Quatro Aguas, 2km east of town, to the eastern end of the Ilha de Tavira, which stretches west almost as far as Fuzeta, some 14km away. The beach is enormous, backed by dunes, and despite increasing development – a small chalet settlement, watersports, beach umbrellas and half a dozen bar/restaurants facing the sea – it’s a great place to hang out. Tavira has some of the best areas for scuba diving in Portugal, check out the diving school at Pedras Del Rei (telephone 281 793 495).

There’s a campsite just a minute away from the beaches (telephone 281 323 505). A succession of bars and restaurants line the gardens along the bank of the River Gilao, which flows through the center of town. Probably the best of the restaurants here is the Imperial, which serves some of the finest seafood in the Algarve at reasonable prices. Also good are Anazu, Rua Jacques Pessoa 13, and the Aquasul Restaurante, Rua Dr Augusto Da Silva Carvalho 11-13, which serves fresh pizzas and cosmopolitan main dishes as well as vegetarian dishes on request. The Arco, at Rua Almirante Cãndido dos Reis 67, is a laid-back and gay-friendly bar.

Information courtesy of Travelnow and Rough City Guides Lda.