If you’re heading to the Algarve, you’re probably expecting long sandy beaches and a tonne of resorts. And while this is true for a lot of the Algarve, Silves is one of the few places which is mostly untouched by the effects of tourism – despite the fact that it is quite a popular place for tours! Located fairly inland, Silves was the capital of the Algarve during Moorish time – a fact that is still evident today with its cobbled streets, and the ruins of a Moorish castle overlooking the city. So, despite its small size, there’s quite a lot to do and explore in Silves!
Climb up the Hill to the Castle:
Silves Castle is located at the top of Silves, overlooking the town from a hill top. While the climb may sound daunting to some, it is only a 15 minute walk to the top, and there’s so much to see and take in on the way, that it really doesn’t feel that long! Although the castle is technically a ruin, it’s still quite intact (particularly the view from the outside), and once inside, you can walk all around the turrets and admire the view from the top! Make sure to walk all the way round, as the views are very varied, with fantastic views of the town from one side, while hills dominate the other! My favourite was the view of the town, as you can still see all the countryside in the distance, while admiring the orange roofs of the town. If you’re interested, there’s also a number of excavations there as you walk around, as well as the castle being a mini paradise with palm trees and greenery everywhere you turn – Silves really is worth coming to, even if just for this!
Visit Silves Cathedral:
With Silves Cathedral being almost right next to the castle, you might as well visit the two in one go! Silves Cathedral is considered the main gothic attraction of the Algarve, and it really is beautiful. During the Moorish rule, the Cathedral was originally built as a mosque, although it was torn down and rebuilt as a Cathedral later on – which really shows how it fits in with the history of Silves! As you walk up the town, you can see the Cathedral from different viewpoints, which shows you how beautiful it really is. It really fits with the feel of the town, as despite being grand, it also has a feeling of quaintness to it which I really loved. Although I didn’t go into the Cathedral (as we only had a couple of hours to explore the town), from the pictures I’ve seen, it’s really stunning!
Visit the Market:
We visited the market on our way into the centre of the town, (it’s located fairly near the river), and it was a great way of seeing all the authentic Portuguese fresh fruits, as well as there being a wonderful array of Portuguese desserts and sweets there!
Wander Through the Old Town:
Silves’ Old Town is full of charm and character, and wandering through it is a wonderful way to spend some time in Silves – although be careful of the slightly slippery cobbled streets! There’s a ton of pretty little cafes and shops as well, so use it as a way to either pick up some presents, or just people watch with a glass of fresh orange juice!
Drink a Glass of Fresh Orange Juice:
Silves is surrounded by valleys of orange tree groves, and according to our tour guide, is known as the Orange Capital of the Algarve! So why not take the opportunity to have a glass of fresh orange juice? It’s delicious!
Wander along the Banks of the Arade River:
Silves is situated along the banks of the Arade River, and a wander along these banks is just beautiful! It gives you a stunning view of the town, with the Castle and Cathedral dominating the sky line, while looking over the river gives panoramic views of the countryside! Also watch out for the Ponte Romana Bridge, which is a bridge built in Roman times, and is another must see in Silves! And while you’re there, see if you can spot the statues across the road – it was a bit of a shock when we spotted them!
What does everyone else think of Silves – will you be adding it to your bucket list?!