Last year, we were in Sintra (Portugal) during the new year. It was a rare experience, one that we were not used to; it was very quiet in the city, even when the clock stroke at 12.00 midnight! We didn’t want to have that kind of new year again, so we gathered some information on where is the good place to celebrate the occasion. We had to choose between Tavira and Monte Gordo, both on the southern part of Algarve. And Tavira won!
Tavira is a very charming and picturesque town in the Algarve region. It is where the water of Rio Gilao meets the water of the Atlantic ocean. It was early afternoon of December 31 when we arrived in Tavira. We came from Paderne, a small inland village in Albufeira where we attended the Medieval festival for 2 days! We parked on a big parking area by the Mercado Municipal at Estrada 4 Aguas and stayed here for 3 days.
CAMPSITE : Estacionamiento, Mercado Municipal
Cor. Estr. 4 Aguas and Rua Simao Fernandez
Coordinates: N : 37.12304 W : 7.64202
It is a rather spacious free parking area by the public market, just about 200 meters to the town center. There are no other facilities. Laundry can be done at the self-service laundry along the riverfront, on the way to the town center.
NEW YEAR’S EVE CONCERT
It is in Tavira where we experienced the best and most spectacular New Year celebration ever! A free concert was held at Praca Republica, the main square, which started at 22.00 and lasted till the wee hours in the morning of January 1.
A big stage was set up at the main square and powerful speakers were placed at some strategic points in town, including the other side of the river. The mains quare was full of celebrating people – locals and tourists alike, majority of which brought their own drinks.
It was really a great musical extravaganza as the musical group Funcao Publica performed the whole night long, to the delight of the amazing public. The repertoire was a mixture of Portuguese and English popular songs, and what was really amazing were the light effects! There were different light effects and themes for every song! And one was more spectacular than the other! We’ve never seen something like that before! The colors and themes changed every time the music changed.
And the music was non-stop! The only time it stopped was during the countdown for New Year, and at the stroke of 12.00 midnight, when the public was treated to a grand firework show which lasted for about 15 minutes! After that, the party continued and the songs became livelier, faster and wilder!
It was a great night! It was 2 in the morning when we finally returned to our camper. But even then, we could still hear the music which lasted till about 3.30.
THE OLD TOWN
January 1, 2017….New Year’s Day!
We had a late start on this day as we overslept. We went to the Church of Santa Maria to attend the Sunday mass. Apparently we were misinformed about the time of the mass, as it has already begun when we arrived. After the mass, Hans and I went to the nearby castle and had a leisurely stroll in the gardens and on the ramparts. It was quite busy that day, as many locals were also up visiting the castle.
After lunch break and a short nap, we went back to the town center and did a little of exploration. There are electronic information boards placed at strategic location which gives information about the town, agenda and attractions. It was also possible to take your own picture . These boards are on Main square (Praca Republica), other side of the Roman Bridge, and near the Castle.
The old town of Tavira
We crossed the Roman bridge, walked up to largo Santa Ana where we had a fantastic view of River Gilao and the town of Tavira. We also went to some of Tavira’s churches, but unfortunately, we were able to visit only the Santa maria Church. The rest were closed!
Views of Tavira, with Gilao River
Anyway, apart from this, we found Tavira a very charming town! It is full of monumental buildings, tiled houses and small souvenir shops. One souvenir shop in particular caught our attention as it had a closing up sale and all items had 50% discount, even more, when I tried to haggle for some items! We bought here so many things that we spent at least 100 euros, not normal for us!
Tavira is also home to some of the nicest beaches in the Algarve. But most of these beaches are accessible only by boat. One of them is Ilha da Tavira. There is a ferry boat that takes passengers to the island. The ticket costs 1.50 (retour) and it takes you to the island in less than 5 minutes. The ferry terminal is situated at the end of 4 Aguas. Hans and I went to the island on the second day of January.
The ferry terminal, with map of the island
We took the 12.35 boat and stayed there till 16.30. It is a beautiful island with very long sandy beach. Except for some tourists, the island was very quiet when we visited it. The sea was wild; high waves came rushing to the shore, and most especially at the pier where the lighthouse stands. But we could imagine how busy it would be here in the summer. There are lots of restaurants and small houses where sunbeds and chairs are kept). There is even a camping ground at the island.
Quiet Island of Tavira
We were glad we came at this period, then we were able to see the island at its purest, without the noisy and crowded tourists!
Our customary picture together 🙂