Silves Portugal Tourism Guide
Silves is a pretty and historic Portuguese town that makes for an enjoyable day trip from the coastal resorts of the western Algarve. The town was the capital of the region during the Algarve’s Moorish era (700-1200), being both an important port and administrate centre. Remnants of this glorious past are seen throughout Silves and include the huge red brick castle that dominates the skyline and the city walls that surround the central square.
Today, Silves is an unhurried and charming town that is far removed from the hectic pace of life found along the coastal region of the Algarve. The town has a lot to offer to tourists and is regarded as the best destination for a day trip in the Algarve. This guide will provide an introduction Silves which is highly recommended to visit as part of a holiday to the Algarve.
Why Visit Silves?
Silves is regarded as the best non-coastal, northern town of the Algarve and is a great opportunity to discover the “real” Portugal. Silves is very different from the developed resort towns and is how the Algarve was prior to the advent of mass tourism. The old walled section of Silves has remained unchanged for more than 300 years, and there is no hint of modern development through the town.
Silves is a fascinating destination, ideal for those who wishing to learn about the early history of the region. Silves was the capital of the Algarve region during the Moorish era (7-12th century), and was a major port with boats flowing down the Arada River to the sea and North Africa. This strategic importance of Silves is reflected in the sights of the town, which include the mighty castle and remains of the old solid city walls.
The main city gate in Silves
Silves as a Day Trip
Silves has enough sights to fill a day’s sightseeing and is only a short journey from the major tourist centres of Lagos, Portimão and Albufeira. There are reliable and inexpensive public transport connections between the coastal towns and Silves or it is only a short drive for those visitors with a rental car. For the less independent visitors, there are daily guided tours of Silves that depart from all the coastal resort towns.
How long to spend in Silves?
Silves is a relatively small town, and all of the major tourist attractions can be easily visited within a few hours, making it ideal for a day trip. Visitors who are touring the Algarve may wish to spend a night in Silves, as the town has a pleasant, relaxed ambience that is very different from the coastal towns. Silves is not a great base for an extended holiday (more than three days), as it is over 15km to the nearest beach and can feel remote from the buzz of the Algarve.
The Arade River and the Ponte Romana in Silves
What’s the Best Tourist Attraction of Silves?
The best tourist attraction of Silves is the wonderful red brick castle that stands at the heart of the town. The castle dates from the Moorish era but underwent a major restoration project during the 1940s. Today visitors can explore the battlement and admire the panoramic views over the town.
What’s the best Hidden gem of Silves?
The best sight of Silves, which is not discussed in any guide book, is the stunning view over Silves from the hills which overlooks the town. From this vantage point there are delightful views of the town, with rolling countryside, the cooling waters of the river and the distinctively coloured castle rising high above the town. The viewpoint is just a short walk from central Silves and the route crosses the Ponte Romana Bridge and follows the road to the train station.
The wonderful views over Silves
Silves or Loulé?
Silves and Loulé are popular day trips for visitors, who based in the central coastal regions of the Algarve, but both towns are very different and will appeal to different tourists. Loulé is a much larger, bustling city that offers better shops and has a lively daily market. Silves is more historic, with better tourist attractions and has more character and charm. In our opinion, Silves is the best destination to visit as a day trip to a northern Algarve town.
Train or Bus to Silves?
Visitors without a rental car can easily visit Silves as there are good bus and train connections to Silves. Bus is the recommended means of travel for tourist based in Portimão, Albufeira and Vilamoura while the train is suggested means of travel from Lagos or Faro. Silves train station is located 2km south of the town, and the walk to the historic centre is not great, as it follows a major road with limited footpaths and steep hills.
Public transport is very cheap in Portugal but always check local timetables before planning a day trip as some bus routes have limited services, especially on Sundays. For the latest bus timetables please see the Eva bus website:
For train times see the CP (Combio de Portugal) website:
Further Useful Further Guides to Silves
A day trip to Silves
A 1 day tour of Silves
Questions for a trip to Silves