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Find information on Silves in our Travel Guide covering sights, foods and nightlife plus more...
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Silves lying inland from Portimao has a long history. There was a settlement there long before the Romans came and when the Moors arrived it was made the capital of the region. At one time Silves had access to the sea via the River Arade and so was of strategic importance to Portugal. Although there are many wonderful buildings much of the town was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. Silves is a very busy little town with much to offer visitors.
Silves is an interesting base for a holiday having many sight seeing opportunities. There are also many excellent beaches in the area and a host of leisure activities. Golfers have a choice of venues including a championship course. There is a huge variety of restaurants providing food for all tastes and the same can be said of the nightlife.
Silves has something for everyone as it is well placed to access the many tourist attractions in the area. Golfers can enjoy a round of their favourite game at any time of year. Sun seekers and water sport enthusiasts will enjoy the fine beaches and the clear waters while the lively nightlife appeals to partygoers.
Silves has hot dry summers and pleasant winters making it a year-round holiday destination. Those wishing to walk in the area may find early and late season is better when the sun is not so strong.
Silves is a district as well as an inland town. It has many fertile valleys filled with orange groves and almond and carob orchards. The town has a long history.
Unfortunately, as with many other towns in the Algarve, the earthquake of 1755 destroyed many of the old buildings. Visitors enjoy wandering through the maze of narrow streets of Silves old town, the layout of which has not changed since medieval times. The red sandstone castle, the largest in the Algarve, dominates the scene as it overlooks the gleaming white buildings with their red tiled roofs. The Cathedral built in the thirteenth century on the site of a mosque has been much changed over the centuries. There are also a number of museums including the award winning Cork Museum in the Fabrico do Ingles Square. The square has many bars, cafes and chic shops. A Roman bridge, restored in the fifteenth century crosses the River Arade.
It was the silting up of the river that led to the decline of the town when access from the sea was prevented. The authorities have begun a dredging programme so that it will be navigable by larger vessels.
There are many good beaches in the area with fine sand. The conditions in the sea are ideal for water sports including surfing, skiing, banana boating and sailing. It is not so good for young children and weak swimmers as there are strong currents. Golfers have a choice of courses including Alto, in nearby Alvor, the Morgado, north of Portimao and the Penina Championship course.There are a number of tourist attractions close by including Atlantic Park, a water park with many slides and flumes. Jeep safaris explore the hills and the inland villages where visitors experience stunning landscapes and traditional country life.
Nightlife in Silves is very lively with pubs, music bars, clubs and discos. In August the nearby town of Portimao has its sardine festival when the town comes to life with street entertainers. There are many small restaurants in Silves for those looking for more intimate evenings.
Silves provides many opportunities for shopping including a number of boutiques and specialist shops. There is the usual wealth of gift and souvenir shops traditional pottery, wicker work embroidered linens and jewellery. Nearby Portimao has a large number of excellent shops and boutiques as well as a modern shopping mall. The Modelo Mall has many specialist shops as well as restaurants and bars. On the first Monday of every month there is a market in the town with hundreds of stalls which is a good place to find gifts, souvenirs and holiday mementoes.
There are very many restaurants in Silves providing a wide range of cuisine catering for most tastes. Fresh fish and shellfish are high on the menu. Traditional fish restaurants sit along side fast food outlets and there are also many restaurants serving international cuisine. It is common in Portugal to be served appetisers known as ‘covers’ while waiting for your food. Please remember that these are not free samples and will appear on the bill. Wines are an excellent accompaniment to dinner, while the almond liqueur or, for chocolate lovers the Alfarroba liqueur, is a great way to relax at the end of the day.