As Algarve towns go, Silves is one of the most beautiful and most interesting. It’s home to Silves Castle (Castelo de Silves), one of the most popular historical attractions on the Algarve, as well as a few other smaller attractions like Silves Cathedral (Sé de Silves) and the Old Roman Bridge (Ponte Romana De Silves) that joins the two sides of the River Arade.
No, Silves isn’t on the coast but that has its plus points as well. Property prices are cheaper here, particularly in the countryside surrounding the town, and the town isn’t as focused on tourism as other towns on the Algarve.
This is particularly noticeable during the winter months: while many of the coastal towns on the Algarve all but shut down, the shops, bars, and restaurants in Silves all stay open.
And, those beaches aren’t too far away either. Praia da Marinha, one of the most beautiful beaches on the Algarve, is just 14 km away while Praia de Benagil is a little further at 17km.
If you’re willing to trade walking distance to the beach for historical charm and a less touristic town, Silves is definitely somewhere that you should consider living.
Pros & Cons
Everywhere has its good and bad bits, and the following are a sample of the pros and cons to living in Silves.
Unlike many of the towns on the coast, Silves has lots of historical charm and character. It also doesn’t suffer from over-development or high rise apartments like some other places on the Algarve.
Although it gets its fair share of tourists, particularly day trippers visiting the castle, the town isn’t completely built around tourism. This means it doesn’t shut down during the winter with a ghost town vibe that’s so common on the coast.
The town has a good mixture of expats and locals. It doesn’t feel like it’s lost its “Portugueseness,” but you will also see plenty of other non-Portuguese in the cafés, restaurants, and on the streets as well.
For many people thinking of moving to the Algarve, Silves’ first con is that it isn’t located on the coast. If you want to go to the beach, you’ll have to drive.
The temperature can be another con: Silves is usually a few degrees warmer than the coast and places like Faro. During the summer months, this is usually a con rather than a pro.
It’s also quite an agricultural part of the Algarve (famous for its oranges) which unfortunately means there can be a lot of spraying.
Silves has schools to suit every level: a creches, a primary school, and a secondary school (Escola Secundária de Silves).
It’s also within easy driving distance of the Nobel International School in Lagoa (11 km) and DSA – Deutsche Schule Algarve (10 km).
With the exception of hubs like Faro and Portimão, most towns on the Algarve only have average public transport and Silves definitely falls into this category.
That said, it does have both a train station and bus connections, however, like many towns on the Algarve, the train station is located slightly outside of the town centre (around 2 km).
While you could live without a car if you live in Silves Town Centre, you’ll almost definitely need one if you live outside.
Silves is situated in the Central Algarve, but close to the unofficial invisible border of the Western Algarve.
Being in the centre of the Algarve allows you to easily get from one side of the Algarve to the other. Faro, the Algarve’s capital city, and Faro Airport, the Algarve’s regional airport, are around 45 and 40 minutes respectively from Silves. Aljezur, on the West Coast, is around 42 minutes away.
It’s also situated close to Monchique, a mountainous region of the Algarve that’s popular for walking and known for its thermal waters.
As well as Silves, other similar Algarve towns include Tavira, Loulé, Alte, Messines, and Vila Real de Santo António. Faro, although larger than Silves, also has lots of historical attractions and culture.
This article covers living in Silves, but be sure to also read Portugalist’s travel guide to Silves and list of things to see and do.