The beautiful old city of Silves with narrow steeply winding streets and leafy whispering esplanades exhibits a unique and magical charm belying a rich and turbulent history. Only the impressive Moorish Silves castle surviving on the summit of the hill on the north bank of the Arade from which the oldest part of the town descends as far as the river edge and a few vestiges of battlement wall, hints at the former importance of Silves as a sometime medieval capital of the Islamic Algarve.

Close to the castle and a little lower down is Silves’ gothic cathedral, built on the site of the old grand mosque and completed probably in the 13th century. Although along with the rest of the city it suffered substantial damage during the 1755 earthquake and subsequently underwent an extensive rebuilding operation, the Cathedral still retains much of its gothic character.

Silves has a number of excellent restaurants, but dining on the roof terrace of Café Inglês on a starlit summer evening is difficult to beat in terms of atmosphere, food and the wonderful view over the Arade valley.