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SilvesPortugal

Silves is a picturesque city filled with orange and lemon trees, which is a favourite with those looking for a relaxed holiday, good food and culture.

The hilly city of Silves, the former capital of the Algarve, is located on the banks of the Arade River. This once navigable waterway was once the main route for transport and commercial trade to the interior region. Now it’s a calm and glistening vein that runs through this picturesque city, appreciated more for its looks.

HistoryThe region has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic Era and has a storied history. Silves was once the Moorish capital (“Xelb”) of the region, the traces of which can still be seen in the city’s landmarks. When the Moors invaded Iberia, Silves was given the Arabic name of Shilb, and became part of the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba.

In 1156, after the Almoravid conquest, the town became Almohad. A few years later, King Sancho I of Portugal conquered the town, but soon lost it again to the Almoravid. Under the Almoravid’s rule it prospered so much that it was called the Baghdad of the West, which was a supremely powerful city in the past. Paio Peres Correia, Grand Master of the Order of Santiago in 1242 captured the town from the last Muslim king and Silves declined in significance thereafter.

LandmarksAlmedina was the gate to a residential area built in the 12th or 13th century within the defensive ramparts, which gave access to the city. The Almedina Gate is only one of four original gates that still remains, and is also known as the City Gate.

The Englishman’s Factory or Cork Museum is a former cork factory, known locally as Fábrica does Inglés. It tells the history of the regional cork industry, with displays of the machines and tools used for creating cork, amongst other items.

Silves Castle dates back to the 8th Century and, having been restored in the 1940’s, is one of the best-preserved castles in the Algarve. Standing on the top of a hill, made from red sandstone (grés de Silves), it provides stunning views overlooking the region. The castle has eleven towers, four of which have picturesque gothic doorways; a perfect photo opportunity, so don’t forget your camera.

Cathedral of Silves (Sé of Silves) sits adjacent to the castle and is one of the Algarve’s few remaining gothic monuments. Construction started during the 13th Century on the remains of a mosque. It suffered damage during an earthquake in 1352, but in the 1440’s, King Afonso V provided funding for its reconstruction. It was an epic task that wasn’t completed until much later in the early 16th Century. Sadly, another earthquake in 1755 again destroyed part of the cathedral, which has yet to be restored.

The Municipal Archaeological Museum displays plenty of historical treasures from archaeological digs conducted at the castle and the surrounding area, and includes artefacts from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Roman occupation periods. Perfect for any history buff.

Food, Drink and ShoppingThere’s a great selection of cafés and restaurants on the main street opposite the river, as well as in the area around the Cathedral and Castle. Explore the local souvenir shops, which are well known for selling pottery and ceramic gifts, as well as clothing accessories and gifts made from cork. There’s also a local market near the Roman Bridge selling tasty fresh produce.

Why not take a boat trip from Portimão to Silves along the Rio Arade, a perfect way to explore this beautiful historic town in the Algarve.

Where to stay in Silves

Salgados Beach featuring waves, a city and a beach

Armacao de Pera

4.5/5Wonderful!(74 area reviews)

Armacao de Pera is popular for its beaches, and if you're looking for more to see and do, you might think about a trip to Senhora da Rocha Beach or Salgados Beach.

Armacao de Pera

Top hotels in Silves

Amendoeira Golf Resort - Apartments and villas
Amendoeira Golf Resort - Apartments and villas
4 out of 5
Morgado da Lameira, Alcantarilha, Silves

This family-friendly Silves resort is located in the mountains, within 2 mi (3 km) of Oceanico Faldo Golf Course and Aqualand Waterpark. Zoomarine and Armação ...

4.6/5Wonderful! (117 reviews)

"Very poor information at check-in. Advised that room would be available soon but 4 hours later - still waiting."…"

Reviewed on 12 Sep 2020

Amendoeira Golf Resort - Apartments and villas
Holiday Inn Algarve
Holiday Inn Algarve
4 out of 5
Avenida Marginal, Armacao de Pera, Silves
Free cancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is £46 per night from 30 Oct to 31 Oct

This Armacao de Pera hotel is on the beach, 1.6 mi (2.6 km) from Senhora da Rocha Beach, and within 9 mi (15 km) of Zoomarine and Marinha Beach. Albufeira Marina ...

4.2/5Very Good! (404 reviews)

"Great position on the coast. Hated that the shower was in poor repair and unable to be attended to until for repair after 8 the next morning!! Of course that by then we are already organised to be on our way out."…"

Reviewed on 31 Jan 2020

Holiday Inn Algarve
Villas Barrocal
Villas Barrocal
2 out of 5
Urbanizacao Barrocal, Apartado 164, Pera, Silves
The price is £25 per night from 1 Nov to 2 Nov

This family-friendly Silves apartment building is located in the historical district, within 3 mi (5 km) of Zoomarine, Salgados Beach and Gale Beach. Aqualand ...

4.4/5Excellent! (250 reviews)
Just one night

"Friendly staff."…"

Reviewed on 16 Jul 2020

Villas Barrocal
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Top Holiday Rentals in Silves

Villas Barrocal
Villas Barrocal
2 out of 5
Urbanizacao Barrocal, Apartado 164, Pera, Silves
The price is £25 per night from 1 Nov to 2 Nov

This family-friendly Silves apartment building is located in the historical district, within 3 mi (5 km) of Zoomarine, Salgados Beach and Gale Beach. Aqualand ...

4.4/5Excellent! (250 reviews)
Just one night

"Friendly staff."…"

Reviewed on 16 Jul 2020

Villas Barrocal
Sunset Village
Sunset Village
4 out of 5
Urbanizacao Vale do Olival, Silves

Located in Armacao de Pera, this villa is 0.5 mi (0.7 km) from Vale do Olival Beach and 1.7 mi (2.8 km) from Senhora da Rocha Beach. Fisherman's Beach Armacao ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (2 reviews)
Mooi en goed onderhouden resort

"Sunset Village is een kleinschalig resort wat goed wordt onderhouden. Personeel is daar waar nodig hulpvaardig. De vila's zijn goed/modern uitgerust en worden goed schoon gehouden. Wij komen er zeker nog een keer terug."…"

Reviewed on 7 Oct 2017

Sunset Village
Villas2Go2 Mourinhos
Villas2Go2 Mourinhos
3 out of 5
Urbanização Montes Mourinhos, Lt 49, Armação De Pêra, Silves

Situated near the beach, this villa is 1.5 mi (2.4 km) from Fisherman's Beach Armacao de Pera and 3 mi (4.8 km) from Senhora da Rocha Beach. Armação Beach and ...

Villas2Go2 Mourinhos
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Silves

Top things to do in Silves

Reviews of Silves

4.3

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
11
5 - Excellent 45.833333333333336%
4 - Good
9
4 - Good 37.5%
3 - Okay
4
3 - Okay 16.666666666666668%
2 - Disappointing
0
2 - Disappointing 0%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

3/5 - Okay

Alyne

20 Jan 2020

Would have been perhaps much nicer in the summer as most shop and restaursnts were closed, it was a bit of a ghost town during January. However if you want a quiet place to relax with no noise for a week, it is recommended.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

18 Sep 2019

Did not have a chance to visit

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

15 Sep 2019

The hotel and area was wonderful best holiday ever. Location was amazing on the beach and the area is fantastic. Clean sheets every day would definitely go back again. Really take the boat trip to the caves well worth it.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

18 Aug 2019

As prior feedback

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

6 Aug 2019

Its such a nice area, great food!

5/5 - Excellent

Chris

15 Jul 2019

Great social area! Lots to do and see at all times of the day. Can be relaxing or exciting and the locals are more than friendly.

Cities near Silves

Albufeira featuring a sandy beach and landscape views as well as an individual male

Albufeira

Marinha Beach featuring rocky coastline and general coastal views

Lagoa

Tres Irmaos Beach which includes general coastal views, rugged coastline and a beach

Portimao

Algarve showing a church or cathedral, a small town or village and a pool

Loule