Former capital of the Algarve

Silves is a peaceful city located right in the middle of the southern Algarve.

Before Faro, Silves was the official capital of the region and it is considered one of the oldest places in Portugal.

You can reach Silves by car, bus, train and even by boat from the nearby city of Portimão. History lives and breathes in Silves, in the walls of its medieval castle, in its Gothic Cathedral and in the old Roman bridge that crosses over the Arade river. Each of these historic monuments is a memory of the civilizations that have passed through Silves in the past.

The Castle of Silves is the most striking monument in the town. Built during the Algarve’s Moorish occupation, it is the best-preserved castle in the region today. Its dark-red stone walls lure visitors from the moment they arrive, as they stand high above a hill overlooking the town. The castle contrasts against the maze of whitewashed houses and cobbled streets leading down to the river.

Right next to the castle, there is a pathway to the Silves Cathedral, one of the few gothic monuments still standing in the Algarve. If you walk down the hill you will find several cafés and restaurants with outdoor seating where you can enjoy the river views and admire Silves Roman bridge. There are many other interesting sights in Silves including the Archeological Museum, Cruz de Portugal and the Municipal Market which is open every morning between 7 am and 2 pm. 

The beaches of Armação de Pêra are only a 20-minute drive away from the town, so you can easily combine your visit with a relaxing swim in the Atlantic.

To the north, Silves is surrounded by mountain valleys that border with the Alentejo region. Along these valleys, there are two charming villages worth exploring - São Marcos da Serra and São Bartolomeu de Messines. Wine lovers can also schedule a visit to Silves vineyards and taste some of the best wines produced in the Algarve.

In August, the medieval fair takes over Silves, recreating the age of the Christian Reconquest and occupying the streets with jugglers, dancers, acrobats and snake charmers dressed in Medieval attire. This annual festival is one of the largest summer events in the Algarve and draws visitors from all around the world to Silves.

Explore this region by following our Silves 2 day tour. Also read about Silves beaches, São Marcos da Serra and São Bartolomeu de Messines.

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