Widely considered the most attractive town in the Algarve, with churches far outnumbering hotels, Tavira—a 40-minute drive away—is well worth a day trip. Layer upon layer of the region’s history are revealed by a walk through its streets. A few must-hit spots include the famous seven-arched “Roman” bridge spanning the Gilão River (now considered more likely to date from the Moorish occupation in the 12th century). Then, climb the hill in the old Arab center to the Moorish castle, followed by a visit to the Renaissance-era Church of Misericórdia, with its lovely doorway topped by saints Peter and Paul. On the Rua da Liberdade, you’ll see unique houses with pyramid-shaped roofs. Some say these clay-tiled roofs with their upturned eaves were brought from the East, while others think they were fashioned to let the sudden downpours of the Algarve run off them more easily. Rather than trying to visit all 37 churches, be selective. One not to miss is the 13th-century Santa Maria do Castelo, built on the site of a Moorish mosque, with its iconic clock tower remodeled from the original Muslim minaret. For lunch, head slightly out of town, past the sparklingly white salt pans, to Quatro Águas. It’s Tavira’s best restaurant, and hugely popular with locals, so make sure to book ahead. It’s all about seafood here so definitely start with the house specialty of migas (soaked bread), perhaps migas de lingueirão (razor clams). Their cataplanas are also legendary, with their tender chunks of lobster, langoustines, and prawns.
QUATRO ÁGUAS: Sitio das Quatro Águas, Tavira; +351-281-381-272; 12:00 pm-3:30 pm, 7:30 pm-10:30 pm Tuesday to Sunday
SANTA MARIA DO CASTELO: Calçada da Galeria, Tavira; 7:15 pm Monday-Saturday, 11:30 am Sunday
IGREJA DA MISERICÓRDIA: Travessa do Fonte, Rua da Galeria, Tavira; open 9am-1pm; 2pm-6pm daily