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Winding Canals And Golden Beaches: Visit The Venice Of Portugal On Your Next European Vacation

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Perhaps the most iconic city in Italy is the beautiful historic city of Venice. Lined with scenic canals oozing romance and all the European vibes imaginable, Venice highlights many travelers' bucket lists.

In 2024, it's not the most welcoming with overtourism and environmental concerns, plus a tacky entry fee for tourists.

Fortunately, there are many doppelgangers around Europe for selfie-worthy canals and charming streets.

Female tourist visiting canal in Tavira

While you can't cruise the whole city by a dreamy gondola, one city in Portugal has been dubbed the “Venice of Portugal”, or at the very least the “Venice of the Algarve“.

Nestled in the Algarve near Spain's border lies the lesser-known seaside city of Tavira, home to winding canals and golden beaches.

A Gorgeous Alternative To Venice

It's understandable to say there's no place like Venice, but there is such a thing as second best.

Like a bad breakup where we momentarily feel like we'll never find love again, it's safe to say Tavira is your rebound if Venice is your ex.

Aerial view of Tavira, Portugal

Portugal, or the city, doesn't claim to reign supreme over one of the most iconic cities in Europe, but dupe destinations are a hot trend right now.

Finding the next best thing to avoid crowds or save money is all over TikTok and social media.

While romantic gondola rides and aromas of spaghetti and meatballs might be off the table, you don't have to sacrifice the quality of wine or incredible natural sites.

Despite being lesser known, there are some similarities to Venice. Obviously, canals are the most notable, hence Tavira's nickname.

Blue water canals of natural park of Ria Formosa

“Gondolas”, per se, are scarce or a novelty at best here, but the good news is there are some amazing boat tours to enjoy the pretty water.

Ferries and tours operate to some stunning sites, but no better than Ria Formosa Nature Park, where miles and miles of calm canals and islands eventually run into a magnificent coastline of golden beaches.

Compared to Venice – no entry fees, no reservations required, but you can still indulge in awesome food, wine, and scenery without the overbearing rules and extra costs as the Algarve is known for affordability.

Tavira's Beautiful Seaside

Beautiful beach in Tavira

The picturesque canals may not be discussed enough, but if there is one claim to fame in this side of Portugal, it's beautiful golden beaches.

Portugal has been booming, and now that summer is upon us, it surely won't change. Tavira may not be relatively unknown, but that's the appeal.

With Porto, Faro, and of course Lisbon, soaring to new heights, this only adds to the allure to visit such a place.

Tavira is lined with golden beaches, but there is one place with gorgeous white sand a quick ferry ride away for a day trip.

Beach with golden sand in Tavira

Just 20 minutes away from the city is Ilha de Tavira – a sugary white sand island.

But, beachgoers be warned – for better or worse, the stunning scenery may not be the lasting memory you have if you happen to wander in the “clothing optional” section.

Easier To Reach Than You Think

Azores Airlines recently announced the addition of new nonstop flights to Portugal from the U.S. from Boston and New York.

Portugal is a fairly small country compared to many European nations, so no matter where you fly into the mainland, Tavira is within reach.

Charming cafe and stone streets of Tavira, Portugal

Many would agree that exploring Portugal by train is an adventure worth taking in its own right.

Nonetheless, Azores obviously flies to the country's phenomenal islands as well, so that would be the only monkey wrench reaching Tavira.

That being said, the nearest Portuguese city is Faro, which has seen a surge of tourists as of late. United picked up the memo and now flies nonstop here, making Tavira super easy to reach within 40 minutes.

Another convenient option would be to reach Tavira from Spain, another dynamite country seeing huge amounts of tourists pour in.

Travelers can reach the Venice-like city from the Spanish city of Seville in under 2 hours by bus or driving.

Boats and historic architecture in Tavira along canal

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