Faro and Tavira, Portugal – two popular tourist destinations situated on the beautiful Algarve coastline. Both are breathtaking and great vacations spots in their own way. But which is the most enchanting, Tavira or Faro?
Faro is the Algarve’s capital and offers a distinctive traditional feel. From well-maintained plazas to a classy marina, there’s a lot to like for any passing tourist. Without a doubt, Faro is worth visiting, especially for anyone who wants to soak up the Portuguese culture.
Tavira is equally traditional with the rich Portuguese energy pulsing through the streets. Located on the banks of Rio Gilão, this is a highlight for anyone exploring the Algarve region.
So if you’re hoping for a charming getaway, either of these two Portugal gems should be considered. But which one comes out on top? From accessibility to hotels, we’ve done the research and put Tavira and Faro head to head. Keep reading to find out which is the most enchanting destination in the Algarve!
Table of Contents
Tavira vs Faro: getting there
Faro is the gateway to the Algarve and Portugal’s southwest region. The international airport is 7km from the center and is serviced by several European airlines including Easyjet, Aer Lingus, and Eurowings. Once you’ve touched down, you can either use the limited public transport services or grab a taxi directly from the airport.
A bus from Faro airport into the city will cost around €3 per person. You’ll then need to change buses at the central station to continue onto your final destination. A taxi will cost between €10 – €15 which can be agreed upon before departing with the driver.
The best way to get to Tavira is to fly into Faro airport and then use a series of bus routes, a taxi ride, or rent a car to travel the additional 35 km. Be prepared for inconsistent departure times for the buses and allow over 2 hours to make this journey.
Public transport to get further afield and around the Algarve is quite poor. It’s highly recommended to rent some wheels while here. Car rental is available directly from Faro airport and can be organized before arrival.
Winner: Faro (closer to Faro International Airport and slightly better transport links)
Tavira vs Faro: culture and climate
Tavira and Faro share a similar culture and climate. The two towns are less than 40 km apart, both boasting the classic Algarve sunshine, influenced by the neighboring Mediterranean. As a whole, the Algarve is one of the warmest places in southern Europe.
|Average Temperatures||30ºC / 86ºF||24ºC / 75ºF||17ºC / 62ºF||20ºC / 68ºF|
|Average Hours of Sun||12 hrs||8 hrs||6 hrs||9 hrs|
The classic Algarve climate provides mild wet winters and very hot, dry summers. Both Faro and Tavira are slightly inland, separated from the coast by sandbar islands. So in the summer, there is little relief from an ocean breeze coming off the Atlantic. If you don’t like mega hot temperatures, try to plan your vacation for the shoulder seasons for a more pleasant stay.
Culturally, both Faro and Tavira are charming and quintessential. As the Algarve capital, Faro is teeming with history throughout the pretty center surrounded by the ancient Moorish walls. However, Tavira is by far more enchanting. The narrow cobbled streets weave around Tavira, boasting a relaxed ambiance along the banks of Gilão River with a selection of interesting historical monuments.
Winner: Tavira (quieter and more enchanting setting)
Tavira vs Faro: accommodation
Having a good place to stay is a fundamental key to the success of any destination. You need to know what your budget is before you start planning, as this can play a significant role in where you choose to vacation.
Faro offers more variety for properties than Tavira. There are 144 hotels, guesthouses, B&B’s, and apartments listed on booking.com in Faro – this is double the amount found for Tavira.
Both destinations offer luxury hotels and boutique stays that are unique, tranquil, and a perfect getaway. Check out Casa Terra Ecological Boutique Hotel in Tavira or the 3HB Faro in the heart of Faro for a premium place to stay.
However, if you are on a budget holiday, you’ll have more choices of cheaper hotels, hostels, and B&B’s in Faro simply because there is more available. There are several areas of Faro, offering different experiences in each. So be sure to choose accordingly when looking where to stay in Faro:
- Cidade Velha – cultural and historical center, great for exploring
- Downtown – plenty of bars and restaurants, good nightlife
- Parque Natural da Ria Formosa – beaches and lagoons, for the water lovers
- Montenegro – greenery, perfect for families
Winner: Faro (more choice and a better range of prices)
Tavira vs Faro: food
Portuguese cuisine consists of meats, seafood, and fresh vegetables. There are a lot of cross-overs with Meditteranean dishes. A national favorite, known and loved across the globe, is the peri-peri chicken often served with rice.
But the Algarve has more to offer than just chicken! Make sure you taste these local flavors, all readily available at both Faro and Tavira:
- Mel da Serra de Monchique – local honey
- Citrinos do Algarve – oranges, lemons, and grapefruits
- Sal de Tavira – artisanal sea salt produced in Tavira
- Batata Doce de Aljezer – sweet potato (yam)
- Medronho – fruit brandy
- Cataplana – a mixed dish serving fresh shellfish with tomato and basil, originally created in Faro
In Faro, the list of restaurants is endless. You’ll find several highly rated places around the Old Town and marina district. Sardines and shellfish are a highlight of Faro, sampling the freshest in Algarve Portugal.
Tavira is similar, with just as much choice. There are several restaurants along the banks of Gilão River, perfect for a romantic evening meal by candlelight.
Regardless of which town you choose, you have to try the iconic Pastéis de Nata. This small yet mighty custard tart embodies the beautiful flavors Portugal is known and loved for.
Winner: Both! (Tavira or Faro – both have amazing fresh seafood)
Tavira vs Faro: nightlife
The Algarve is a popular choice for party animals who love a boogy and booze session. Most hen-parties and stag-do’s often head to the beachfront resort town, Albufeira. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t nightlife to be enjoyed in Faro or Tavira.
Faro is a university town, so there is vibrant nightlife year-round. You’ll have no problem finding a lively bar to have some drinks after dinner, though you’ll have to wait until midnight for the clubs to open their dancefloors if that’s your thing.
There are several rooftop bars and cocktail lounges in Faro. Most of the best bars are found in the Old Town district of Faro. So if you enjoy a classy night out, this could be the perfect scene for you.
Even though Tavira is generally quieter than Faro, it still has a surprisingly good nightlife up for grabs. The vibe is slightly more laid back, but there are a handful of establishments to get merry in with good friends. Both locals and tourists mix at the bar here, giving you a completely immersive experience of Tavira.
Winner: Faro (for the number of rooftop bars and nightclubs)
Tavira vs Faro: things to do
The Algarve region is commonly associated with beautiful beaches and relaxing bars. While this is correct, there is more to do and see in the region. Both Tavira and Faro offer more to discover.
Tavira is one of the most historic locations in the Algarve. Besides the sensational Castle Tavira and central garden plazas, you’ll be surprised at what other things to do in Tavira:
- Take a day trip to Vila Real de Santo António
- Visit the surrounding fishing villages, Santa Luzia or Olhão
- Cycle the Ecovia do Litoral to Cacela Velha (Old Town)
- Ride a horse along the empty beaches
- Rent a kayak and paddle the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa
- See the anchor cemetery at Barril Beach
Faro, being the capital of the Algarve, has plenty of points of interest for tourists. From the cobbled streets of Old Town to the impressive Roman Bridge over the river, this city break could be perfect for you:
- Admire the stunning Arco da Vila
- Renew your faith at the Sé Cathedral
- Learn about Faro’s history at the Museu Municipal
- Visit Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo and marvel at its iconic Bone Chapel
- Discover on one of the islands
- Take a Ria Formosa Tour
- Visit Centro Ciência Viva do Algarve
- Go shopping in Faro’s boutiques
- Visit the Palácio de Estói
If you can’t decide which is best for you, luckily they are only separated by 40km’s. Our advice? Rent a car so you can explore the entire region!
Winner: Faro (although it was close!)
Tavira vs Faro: beaches
If the beach is your main prerogative, perhaps you should consider vacationing in Albufeira or the Lagos region. Neither Tavira nor Faro have immediate access to beaches due to the sandbar islands separating the towns and the sea – a short ferry ride is required to get any beach time.
Praia de Faro is roughly 10km to the southwest of Faro. There are buses from the center, or you can take a ferry. This is a long and narrow stretch of sand with beautifully calm waters lapping at the golden sand.
Tavira has more beaches, but you still need to take a bus, drive, or hop on a ferry to access them. These beaches are spectacular and well worth the journey. A beautiful coastline of golden sand beaches, calm turquoise sea waters, and pristine natural scenery.
Both Faro and Tavira are within reach of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. Here you’ll find breathtaking and remote beaches, including Ilha Deserta and Praia da Ilha da Culatra.
Winner: Tavira (more beaches within reach)
Which is better, Faro or Tavira?
So there you have it, the showdown between two gems of the Algarve. While there are a lot of similarities between Faro and Tavira, there are plenty of points to differentiate between the two.
If you are after an easy vacation, then Faro is the best suited. From getting there to choosing a hotel, you can plan a great getaway with plenty of things to do.
However, if you are after a more enchanting destination, with more traditional culture, then Tavira is the place to go. This is a quieter town, but still offers fantastic flavors of the region. And then there are the beaches… Simply breathtaking.
Which comes out top for you? Tavira or Faro?