Some helpful tips on how to get around

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Spanish Border

We 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…..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 Guidana 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 alive.

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.

Tavira, Portugal

Tavira 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 spot.

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 knockers.

There 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: 30 min.

: 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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