like to set aside a full day for an action packed trip across the
Algarve to the Spanish border and then stop at Tavira on the route
back. It takes about 2.5 hours to get to the border from Lagos (on
the main highway - the IP1). This frontier is separated by the Guidana
River with an impressive bridge dividing the two great countries
of Portugal and Spain. We and a multitude of cars and trucks were
once held up at the Spanish border for about half an hour while
a film crew did multiple "takes" of a car chase scene
across the bridge. Priorities
About 15 minutes after crossing the Spanish border, you can exit
the highway to visit the port town of Ayamonte. This relaxed little
town has endless pedestrian streets with loads of great cafes and
shops. These cafes can be found in the heart of town and along the
Riverfront. We like to spend a couple of hours meandering through
the streets and admiring the architecture, the tile and the marble
work. Stop and admire the colourful fountains and plazas boasting
a multitude of tile combinations.
Stop into a coffee shop for a cortado (espresso-like coffees with
hot milk), a snack and of course to people watch.
Plan to arrive no earlier than 10 a.m., when the town really comes
Allow a couple of hours in Ayamonte before heading right back across
the border, into Portugal and stop in at Tavira for a late lunch.
Tip: Spain is one hour ahead
of Portugal. Remember this as you plan your trip.
From Lagos, drive east on the A22 Faro/Lisboa 4-lane motorway. The A22 takes
you all the way to the Spanish border. Cross the bridge across the
Guidana River and exit the highway at Ayamonte. Follow the signs
which take you straight into the heart of Tavira's historic town.
Driving time from Lagos: 2 hours-30 min.
If you get there early enough, you can usually grab a parking spot
right along the waterfront lining the town. You'll likely need to
tip one of the unofficial parking "attendants" who will
eagerly point out the best spot to park.
is truly an experience, so spend the afternoon here on your way
back from the border and take it in. The town is separated by a
canal running right through the middle of it and joined by a few
bridges. By the time you arrive in Tavira you will likely be ready
for a meal. We usually have our favourite "frango no churrasco"
(BBQ chicken) offered in many of the Tavira's restaurants along
the canal. The restaurants and menu selection for lunch are plentiful,
so enjoy the adventure of roaming around to find your perfect lunch
After eating, spend the afternoon exploring the narrow cobblestone
streets on both sides of the canal and check out the fishing boats.
Take a walk up the hill to visit the castle overlooking the town
for some great views. Tavira has endless surprises that await you
and that can only be
discovered as you casually wander its streets. Notice the intricate
doorways arches, the old solid wood doors and the very unique door
are some very good shops if you are looking for Portuguese rugs
and linens and we find that the shops have a great traditional feel.
You can usually find locals shopping alongside you.
When you are ready to call it an afternoon, because you have worn
out the soles of your shoes, simply hop back on the highway and
head back home to Lagos for the evening.
From Ayamonte, head back to the Spanish border into Portugal. From
the Spanish border, take A22 west and exit at Tavira, following
the signs into town "Centro" .
From Tavira, take the A22 west back to Lagos.
Driving time from Ayamonte-Spain to Tavira-Portugal:
Parking is tricky in Tavira as there are no parking areas, so you'll
need to drive around until you manage to find a spot along a one
of the streets.
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