First built in the 8th century AD when the Moors ruled over the Iberian Peninsula, and then rebuilt in the 13th century, Silves Castle dominates the landscape for miles around. In those days, before the Arade River silted up, blocking the town’s access to the ocean, the town was the most important in the Algarve region with boats transferring goods between Portugal and North Africa.
Nowadays, a tour of the huge castle and its attractive gardens will give you a sense of the importance the town once enjoyed – and visiting with a knowledgeable guide will unlock the secrets of the castle that might otherwise go undiscovered. Head to the nearby archaeological museum to learn more about the legacy of Romans, Visigoths, and Moors.
Things to know before you go
- Sections of the castle and gardens are wheelchair-accessible.
- There is a cafe and restrooms on-site.
- Remember your camera – the castle walls offer panoramic views over the town and river.
- Combined tickets are available for the castle and archaeological museum.
How to get there
Silves Castle is located on the outskirts of the town. Silves is best reached from the airports at Lisbon or Faro car – another good option is booking a guided tour that includes round-trip transport from your hotel. Train and bus connections will take you to nearby towns such as Albufeira and Portimão, although note that the train is a mile outside of the town.
When to get there
Silves, and the Algarve, in general, has clement weather all year round, with warm sunny days possible even in winter. You’ll find the town is busiest in the summer months when visiting tourists heading for the beaches swell the population.
Visit the Mountain Village of Monchique
Head inland from Silves up into the hills of the Serra Monchique to find the mountain village of the same name. With winding cobbled streets and spa hotels, the village invites you to take life at a slower pace, and the weather is often cooler up in the hills than on the coast, a bonus on sweltering summer days.
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