Silves

Travel Guide
Salgados Beach featuring a beach, a coastal town and general coastal views

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

Hotel Colina Dos Mouros
Hotel Colina Dos Mouros
3 out of 5
Pocinho Santo, Silves
The price is £29 per night from 1 Nov to 1 Nov
This family-friendly Silves hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Roman Bridge of Silves, Silves Cathedral and Silves Municipal Archaeological Museum. Silves Castle ...
3.8/5 Good! (173 reviews)
"Fantastic swimming pool, hotel is nice enough but rooms are a bit dated and could do with being refreshed. Perfect for a couple of nights stay though."

Reviewed on 23 Sep 2021

Hotel Colina Dos Mouros
Holiday Inn Algarve - Armacao de Pera, an IHG Hotel
Holiday Inn Algarve - Armacao de Pera, an IHG Hotel
4 out of 5
Avenida Marginal, Silves, Silves
The price is £46 per night from 16 Nov to 16 Nov
This Armacao de Pera hotel is on the beach, 1.6 mi (2.6 km) from Senhora da Rocha Beach, and within 6 mi (10 km) of Zoomarine and Marinha Beach. Benagil Beach ...
4.2/5 Very Good! (438 reviews)
"This room had the best view of the beach! Best part of the beach belongs to this hotel. There is also an awesome pool deck. The breakfast buffet was worth every cent or euro in this case!"

Reviewed on 18 Oct 2021

Holiday Inn Algarve - Armacao de Pera, an IHG Hotel
Amendoeira Golf Resort - Apartments and villas
Amendoeira Golf Resort - Apartments and villas
4 out of 5
Morgado da Lameira, Alcantarilha, Silves
The price is £126 per night from 27 Oct to 27 Oct
This family-friendly Silves resort is located in the mountains, within 1 mi (2 km) of Oceanico Faldo Golf Course and Oceanico O'Connor Course. Aqualand Waterpark ...
4.6/5 Wonderful! (121 reviews)
Perfect to relax
"Very good :)"

Reviewed on 28 Jun 2021

Amendoeira Golf Resort - Apartments and villas
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.
Peralux
Peralux
Largo 1º de maio nº 23, Pera, Silves, Faro
The price is £24 per night from 27 Oct to 27 Oct
Situated in Silves, this apartment building is within 3 miles (5 km) of Lagoa dos Salgados, Aqualand Waterpark and Praia Grande de Pêra. Praia Grande de Pêra ...
4.6/5 Wonderful! (5 reviews)
Peralux
"I loved mh stay here made my holiday amazing. Beautiful quiet location amazing modern apartment. Just want to say a massive thank you to Lucy and Paula so helpful and welcoming. Will definitely consider coming back here! 😊"

Reviewed on 26 Dec 2019

Peralux
Sunset Village
Sunset Village
3.5 out of 5
Urbanizacao Vale do Olival, Silves
Located in Armacao de Pera, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Vale do Olival Beach and Armação Beach. Beijinhos Beach and Praia dos Tremoços ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (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
Rufino Quinta
Rufino Quinta
4 out of 5
Morgado da Lameira, Silves, Faro
Situated in Silves, this golf aparthotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Oceanico Faldo Golf Course and Oceanico O'Connor Course. Aqualand Waterpark is 1.7 mi (2.8 ...
3/5 (1 review)
"Não pode ser bem considerado hotel. Todo o check in foi muito informal sem solicitação de qualquer documento. Houve uma partilha de opinião sobre o preço a que reservamos quase como a solicitar o valor da diferença e talvez por essa razão não tivemos a casa que reservamos. O serviço de Housekepping ..."

Reviewed on 7 Dec 2020

Rufino Quinta
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.

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