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Santa Luzia is a small fishing village that makes for an enjoyable relaxed holiday destination or interesting day trip from Tavira. Santa Luzia is famed for its octopus, which is caught using traditional methods by the fishing fleet and then served up in the family run restaurants that line the harbour front.

Santa Luzia overlooks the lagoons and waterways of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, which is a haven for migratory birds and small marine life. On the seaward side of Ria Formosa are some of the quietest beaches of the Algarve and these pristine beaches can be reached by small ferries that depart from the harbour. This guide will provide an introduction to Santa Luzia for both visitors considering a holiday or day trip to this pretty and characterful village.

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7 nights €505 - €1,115
Santa Luzia, Holiday Homes
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Special Offer
7 nights €505 - €1,115
Santa Luzia Residence, Santa Luzia
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Special Offer
7 nights €505 - €1,115
Santa Luzia Residence, Santa Luzia
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The main attraction is the village itself. Santa Luzia is a traditional Portuguese fishing village, which remains authentic and untouched by the influences of tourism. The colourful fishing boats return early in the morning and this is the best time to visit the fish market, where the last night's catch is displayed and sold.

Tourists seeking some time on the beach can also visit the Praia da Terra Estreita, which is easily accessible by ferry. This beach is part of the Ilha de Tavira sandbar, which offers visitors an unspoilt, stunning shoreline. The Praia da Terra Estreita beach is regarded by some as the best beach in the region and is always quiet, even at the height of the summer season.
 
For those seeking some nature, the village is positioned on the edge of the Ria Formosa Natural Park; a series of protected mudflats and lagoons designed for migratory birdlife. During the summer there are boat tours and bird watching tours around this area.

As a holiday destination Santa Luzia is ideal for tourists looking to experience a unique, traditional Portuguese way of life in a very calm and peaceful setting. Santa Luzia is far removed from the crowds of tourists who visit the central Algarve but is still within walking distance (40minutes) of Tavira a major resort town.

Santa Luzia is situated behind the sandbar of Ilha de Tavira. Extending the length of the sandy island are some of the best beaches in the region. The beach closest to Santa Luzia is called Praia da Terra Estreita, which is accessible only by ferry from the harbour. The frequency of ferry services is seasonal (regular departures take place from May until mid-September) but there are also water taxis for those who miss departures or are visiting in low season. 

To the east of Praia da Terra Estreita is the Praia de Tavira; the most developed section of island, while to the west is the Barril Beach and the Cemetery of Anchors. Both beaches can be reached on foot from Praia da Terra Estreita and takes around 30 minutes. Praia da Terra Estreita is always much quieter than Tavira or Barril but there are only basic facilities available. It is recommended to head to Praia da Terra Estreita in peak season to escape the crowds of beach goers.

No visit to Santa Luzia is complete without sampling octopus (Polvo in Portuguese), a delicacy adored by the Portuguese. This dish is extremely difficult to cook but the village has mastered the fine art and is a speciality of the restaurants that line the harbour.

The fishing fleet of Santa Luzia use traditional and sustainable methods of fishing for the octopus which have barely altered in generations. The fishing technique uses clay pots that are lowered onto the seabed and the unwitting octopus are tempted to swim in but are unable to escape. During the day these clay pots can be seen drying along the harbour front or piled up on the fishing boats.

The otherwise sleepy harbour comes alive each morning when the octopus catches are brought ashore and sold in the local market. Tourists who miss this spectacle can also taste this local delicacy at one of the village's restaurants, which overlook look the colourful fishing fleet.