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Silves is one of the largest of the 16 Algarve counties and Silves town is the former capital of the region. It’s a popular holiday destination and home to many Portuguese and expats from across the world. There’s plenty to do and see in the area, from discovering the historic town to experiencing a tour of the amazing caves along the coast of Armação de Pêra.

From whichever direction you approach the town of Silves, you will be welcomed by the magnificent Moorish castle rising up above the town’s labyrinth of cobbled streets – its red sandstone walls are a remarkable contrast to the whitewashed gothic cathedral which stands at its side. Silves is steeped in history and its long-standing reputation as a centre of culture is evident behind the doors of several small art galleries and craft shops which are dotted around the town, as well as within its many live music venues and the charming and beautifully restored Teatro Mascarenhas Gregório, which stages a broad variety of theatre productions and concerts throughout the year.

If you want to explore Silves centre, the castle is a good place to start. It’s open daily between 9am and 5pm (8pm in the summer). For a nominal entrance fee you are free to walk around the ruins. The views from the castle walls can only be described as breath taking, so don’t forget your camera. On your way down from the castle, the cathedral is the natural next stop. It’s open from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5.30pm (usually closed at lunchtime). Entry is free, but a small donation is expected. Silves also has a Museum of Archaeology, tucked away on Rua da Porta de Loulé 14. The museum displays a vast collection of artefacts discovered in the area, some date from when the Moors ruled the region.

Silves in the night
Silves in the night


Stroll down from the cathedral through the cobbled streets to the Rio Arade and you’ll pass an interesting selection of shops to browse and an excellent choice of restaurants and bars, including Rui Marisqueira, one of the most famous seafood restaurants in the Algarve. Make sure you look up as you’re walking, or you’ll miss the numerous nesting white storks – a protected species. If you’re in town on a Saturday morning, take the opportunity to buy some of the local farmers’ produce at the popular street market, it’s fresh and delicious and cheaper than the supermarkets. If you fancy some exercise or just need to cool off, on the riverbank you’ll find a large Municipal swimming centre with three indoor pools – one is chlorine free.

White Storks nest on a factory chimney. Photo by Toms Place


When the sun goes down on Silves, it’s time for the music to strike up. Café Ingles, beside the castle, and many of the restaurants and bars along the river front, offer live entertainment. Silves also plays host to fairs and festivals throughout the year, including the annual Medieval Festival. During festival week, the centre of Silves is transformed into a vibrant hub of colourful stalls, street theatre, music, dance and traditional food.

Golfers won’t want to miss a challenging round of the 18-hole, 72 par course. The Pestana Silves golf course is located just outside Silves town in a tranquil spot and has an excellent 19th hole which serves good food. If you’re not into golf, the hills around Silves town are a haven for ramblers and nature lovers; the Barragem do Arade and the Funcho Dam in the São Bartolomeu de Messines area, are well worth a visit.

Amendoeira Golf Camp
Amendoeira Golf Camp


A little way out of town, but still in the county of Silves, there’s no shortage of family entertainment. Krazy World Zoo in Algoz offers everything from an 18-hole crazy golf course to a reptile complex with some awesomely large crocodiles and snakes. And, beyond Algoz towards the coast, FIESA the annual sand sculpture festival is held in Pêra and features a themed extravaganza of outstanding sculptures crafted from 40,000 tons of sand.

Just over the county border in Lagoa, Slide and Splash guarantees a great day of fun. The park has an excellent range of water slides which are clearly enjoyed by adult visitors as much as by children. There’s a special area designated for young fun seekers, who perhaps can’t swim or don’t have the confidence to use the larger slides. There are many grassy areas for relaxation too.

There’s a wide range of property for sale in the county of Silves, from apartments on the coast to town houses and country villas. You can search for your perfect home on the property map.

Review of Silves Medieval Festival


If you are trying to decide which of the many fantastic things to do in the Algarve is the best, then you should certainly consider visiting one of the many festivals.

Silves Medieval Festival is an annual event taking place in the Algarve every August in the city of Silves and is an event that the entire family can get involved in.

Silves is an inland city in the Algarve, although by most standards you would probably consider it to be more of a town in size. The city has a rich history and a proud past, as it once used to be the capital of the Algarve and a city of major importance, nowadays most people know of Silves either because of its castle or because of the Silves Medieval Festival.

Silves Medieval Festival


If you are only able to get to one big event in the Algarve during your stay, then the Silves Medieval Festival really should be at the top of your list. This is an event that not only provides entertainment for all ages but also includes a fair smattering of Portuguese history and culture and even the chance to get dressed up and take part yourself!

Over the years the Silves Medieval Festival has evolved, grown and adapted to the needs of the visitors in the Algarve and it has gone from being a small scale event to one that attracts thousands of people every year of all nationalities.

If you plan to get to the festival under your own steam then it is a good idea to get down to Silves as early as possible, the event itself takes place usually from around 6pm but getting there early means you can find a good parking space without the need to resort to dubious car abandonment while also avoiding the inevitable traffic queue to get into the city at peak times.

There is a small fee payable to enter the main festival and then extra payments required if you want to see specific shows or features but there are discounts for families, children and OAP’s available to keep prices down.

The jousting show takes place near to the entrance to the festival and is well worth buying tickets for if you have never seen anything like this before and the booing and heckling of the bad knight and cheering for the good one will help you all get into the mood. If you really want to get into the spirit of the event then head for the robes area where you can switch your modern clothes for medieval ones and blend in with the surroundings!

Medieval clothes to rent at Silves Medieval Fair

The main festival itself takes place through the cobbled streets of the city which wind their way up to the castle. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because the climb in some areas is steep and the cobbles make it more of a challenge in places but if you take your time and stop to see the stalls or some live belly dancing on the way up you will be able to catch your breath.

There are few events in the Algarve that are so well organised and you will find the entire city decked out flags, with bales of straw for seats and hundreds of stalls selling everything from dried fruits and nuts, to hand made swords and lucky stones which you can buy either with euros (boring!) or with the xelb, the currency used at the festival which can exchanged throughout the event.

There are plenty of food options available with the main focus being near to the Silves Câmara building where you will find hog roasts and beer and sangria served in terracotta mugs which you pay for initially or can return them for a refund.

Silves Medieval Festival is an event that needs to be seen to be believed and with entertainment taking place throughout the streets, a good choice of stalls and plenty and food and drink for everyone, it is an event that many in the Algarve return to year after year.

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