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This fascinating historical town is situated on the banks of the River Arde, dominated by the ruins of an ancient castle still bearing the scars of battle against Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors. The surrounding countryside is masked with picturesque houses set into hillsides which boast stunning views over lush citrus groves.
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With such a large coastline it’s no surprise the Algarve is a great place for all kinds of fish and seafood, with restaurants commonly serving fresh sardines, bream, cod, monkfish and tuna. Another famous dish of the Algarve is chicken piri-piri great for a relaxed atmosphere! Most dishes will be served with served with boiled potatoes and vegetables or salad.
Silves prides itself of its restaurants and has a number of lovely places to choose from. The nightlife is not as lively as others however there are a number of bars that are open until late.
The stunning Algarve coastline is best appreciated from the water and there are plenty of opportunities to board one of the many boats offering cruises that last from an hour to a whole day. The magical hidden caves and grottos between Carvoeiro and Albufeira are a joy to explore and with the longer boat trips you can include a lunch stop at a secluded beach, a swim and, if you’re lucky, a chance to spot dolphins frolicking in the wake of your boat.
Cleverly combining education with heaps of fun, Zoomarine is both an animal conservation centre and family theme park located at Guia, less than half an hour’s drive from Silves. The park introduces visitors to exotic habitats and an array of sea and land animals from tropical birds and birds of prey to dolphins, seals and sharks, with shows and presentations throughout the day. Book in advance for a chance to interact with dolphins in person in the unique Dolphin Emotions experience. Besides its wonderful animal encounters, the park provides hours of entertainment with its own waterslides, wave pool and river rafting as well as fun fair rides and a 4D cinema. Open daily from March to October with its own transport service from most of the Algarve resorts.
Slide and Splash Water Park
Less than a 15 minute drive from Silves is one of Europe’s largest water parks, covering some seven acres and offering fabulous fun for all ages. Huge lagoon-style pools are interspersed with gigantic water slides, tubes and tunnels that vary from gently undulating to fast and furious. Guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s faces, this is one treat you and your family won’t want to miss. Open every day between 1 April and 31 October, the park also runs transport from the main resorts so you don’t even need to take your car.
Located at Alcantarilha, just off the main A22 road towards Faro, Aqualand Algarve offers fabulous fun for the whole family. The park boasts dozens of thrilling waterslides, adrenaline-fuelled rafts and rapids, a wave pool and a dedicated children’s paradise pool that will keep the little ones entertained for hours. With rides sporting names such as Kamikaze, Crazy Leap and Crazy Race, you know you’re in for an exciting day out.
Around 45 minutes’ drive inland through rolling hills, citrus and olive groves and flowering meadows brings you to the Serra de Monchique, a mountain range that separates the Algarve from its neighbouring region, Alentejo, It’s a world away from the Algarve’s beach culture, with quaint hillside hamlets, lush farmland and spectacular panoramic views. Monchique is a pretty market town nestling between the peaks of Foia and Picota with two beautiful churches and a convent as well as a bustling monthly market. Nearby, just 6 kms to the south, lies the peaceful Caldas de Monchique, home to natural springs of 32ºC that are recommended for their therapeutic properties even today. Both are well worth a visit.
Located beside the castle in a delightful square, Silves Cathedral is one of the Algarve’s most important Gothic monuments, restored many times over the centuries. The main nave has a height of around 18 metres, while two lateral naves and golden altars date from the Baroque period. The cathedral houses the tombstones of several important bishops and noble families of the area as well as the Portuguese King D. Joao II, though his body was transferred to Batalha Monastery.
Dominating the surrounding landscape, the striking Silves Castle identifies the town as a thriving Moorish stronghold in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. While little remains of the original buildings housed within it, the thick defensive walls and eleven towers are beautifully preserved and the panoramic views from the castle over the river and surrounding countryside are simply breath-taking.
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