Silves, the ancient capital of the Algarve during Moorish rule, is a charismatic town steeped in history.
Nestling against the hills on the banks of the Arade river, and surrounded by orange and lemon groves, Silves offers narrow cobbled streets lined with pretty whitewashed houses overlooking the riverfront.
Stroll from the river up a steep and twisting warren of narrow cobbled streets lined with fine-looking buildings from the days when Silves was a rich merchant's town to the imposing red-sandstone ramparts of the Moorish Castelo dos Mouros.
The castle dates from the 9th century and built on the site of 4th century Roman fortifications.
The biggest castle in the Algarve, its walls offer panoramic views over the medieval town and surrounding countryside. Inside, wander underground tunnels to see dungeon chambers and a huge sandstone cistern.
Visit the 13th century Gothic Sé (cathedral), which stands adjacent to the castle. Built in the 13th Century and considered one of the major Gothic monuments of the region, the cathedral is home to stunning aisles, naves and ancient Crusader tombs believed to be of those who seized the town from the Moors in 1244.
Ponder the Cross of Portugal, which dates back to the 15th or 16th century. The beautifully crafted limestone cross stands three metres tall and is regarded as an excellent example of Gothic art.
Stroll across the Roman Bridge which crosses the Arade River at Silves and stop to admire the view down river and across to the town.
Later, at the Museu Arqueologia, examine artefacts found around Silves – once the centre of Muslim culture in southern Portugal.
Watch out for the Great White Storks that nest on the chimney’s of various high buildings.
Try to be in Silves for the annual annual Medieval Fair, which takes place for 10 days during August – it’s worth planning your visit to make sure you catch it.
While Silves is located inland from the coast, it still has two beaches owing to the municipality of Silves extending all the way to the coast.
The beaches near Silves are large and sandy, but the sea water temperature is typically cold, even in summer.
Praia de Armação de Pêra is the main beach of Armação de Pêra, a popular seaside resort near Silves.
The eastern section of the beach is still home to several traditional fishing boats, which are launched from and recovered to the beach, since there is no fishing port. This gives the beach a unique character.
Armação de Pêra is a long beach and offers plenty of facilities, including Lifeguards, sun loungers and shade rentals as well as numerous bars and restaurants. The town itself provides a beautiful promenade with stores and restaurants.
Praia de Armação de Pêra is around 14km (8.6mi) west of Albufeira
Praia Grande de Pêra extends for 2km (1.2mi) from Praia de Armação de Pêra all the way to Praia dos Salgados in Albufeira.
A wide boardwalk allows you to stroll across the dune landscape and past two natural wetland areas, where you can spot rare waterbirds.
Apart from a small beach kiosk, Praia Grande beach is completely natural and unspoiled. Less visited than Praia de Armação de Pêra, the beach is great if you want some privacy and is also a great place for long beach walks.
In peak season Praia Grande is partolled by lifeguards. During July and August, the beach is particularly popular with windsurfers.
Praia Grande de Pêra is around 13km (8mi) west of Albufeira
Come for a day or stay longer at the Hotel Colina dos Mouros, which sits just a short walk from the historic centre of Silves.
Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travellers have to say about hotels in Silves at TripAdvisor.
Anytime is good to visit Silves (and the Algarve) – the coast sees little rain and lots of sunny days throughout the year including winter – but for the best weather, visit Silves between June and October.
The peak holiday season in Silves is July and August; these are also the hottest months of the year, with the temperature averaging 28°C (82°F) and but often reaching the high 30°Cs.
The months of spring (March to May) and autumn (October and November) are typically warm and – while perhaps too chilly for swimming – are excellent for sailing and land-based activities such as golf.
More information about weather on the Algarve …
Silves is located 32km (20mi) east of Albufeira and 15km (9mi) northeast of Portimao, an easy drive or boat trip along the River Arade.
The most convenient route to Silves is by air to Faro International Airport (FAO), also known as Algarve Airport, located 4km (2.5 mi) west of Faro, and around 63km (72mi) west of Silves – 40 minutes by car.
Faro – the provincial capital of the Algarve and the largest city in southern Portugal – is located 45km (28mi) east of Albufeira and 309km (192mi) southeast of Lisbon.
Taxis and buses run frequently between the airport and Faro city centre, taking around 7 minutes.
Taxis and hire cars are available at the airport. A bus service operates every 30 minutes from the airport to Faro train station at Largo da Estação for connections to Silves and other destinations on the Algarve.
More information about how to get to the Algarve…
Latest update: Silves Honeymoon Guide: 22 December, 2019
Search, compare and book the lowest possible prices on discounted airfares and hotels from our online travel partners.