Silves town and Medieval Festival
Only 12 km from Carvoeiro, Silves feels like it could be a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Carvoeiro and the blue seas and yellow sands of Carvoeiro are swapped for the heavy reds of the sandstone and the green of the agricultural land surrounding this historic city.
Silves still has the essence of traditional Portugal with quaint coffee shops and restaurants nestled next to local shops selling everything from arts and crafts to everyday bits and pieces.
Hours can be spent happily lost among the winding streets through the city stopping to view the historical buildings, cathedral, church and museum showing artifacts found in the city which is built around an Arab well.
To really get into the spirit of Silves it is best to visit during its hugely popular Medieval Festival during August (check www.cm-silves.pt for exact dates each year).
You don't need to be a history buff to enjoy this as it really is an event for all the family.
Take the time to buy a ticket for the jousting competition and cheer on your favourite, buy souvenirs from some of the hundreds of small stalls lining the streets and treat yourself to some suckling pig, drinks and cakes served from street stalls.
If you really want to get into the swing of things then you can swap your everyday clothes and rent a medieval outfit – if you are brave enough to take the heat.
The streets become very busy during this event and parking can be difficult to find as the evenings draw on but this is an essential visit for anyone in the area and seems to only get better each year.
Silves medieval festival UPDATE 2012
In 2012 the Silves Medieval festival is taking place from July 28 until August 5.
There had been worries that the fair would not be able to take place die to financial constraints but to help to combat this and to ensure that the fair has been able to go ahead, there is now an entrance fee for anyone visiting the fair.
Entry to the 2012 Silves Medieval Fair is as follows:
These are available to buy on the day and give access to all areas of the historic city where you will find the street performers and entertainment as well as all of the stalls and food areas.
The ticket can be bought on the day from the entry points to the festival and costs €2 per person.
If you are wanting to attend the festival on more than one day then a fair bracelet is a more economical option as it can be used over all of the days.
You can buy the bracelet at the fair or from the municipal pools in Silves, the library, the interpretation centre in Silves or from certain restaurants in the area.
Children under 1.30m in height are exempt from paying an entry fee
Away from the main area of the city there is also an enclosure for shows and this is worth visiting.
In 2012 the cost to watch a dramatisation of the conquest of the city costs €4 while the jousting show costs €5 with tickets for both shows costing €8.
If you want to blend in with the surroundings then you can hire a costume for the time you are at the fair. Costumes are available for everyone and cost €3 to hire for adults and €2 to hire for children.
Silves sports complex
When you come in to Silves from Carvoeiro you cross the bridge across the river, at this point turn left and continue along to the first roundabout where you then turn into a large car park next to the waterfront.
This large area is a public space that is generally under used by the local population with the municipal sports centre, complete with indoor swimming pool, in the centre of the area.
If you are looking to do a bit of exercise or want a place for the children (of all ages) to be able to run around without fear of being hit by a car most of the time, then this is perfect.
Around the perimeter of the area there is a running track which is lit to be able to use during the evenings as well as during the day, this is popular with runners, walkers, cyclists, people walking their dogs and even a few on rollerblades making the most of the smooth surface (have you ever tried to rollerblade on calçada – very tricky!).
Exhibitions and fairs are also held within this area so you may stumble upon something unexpected while getting some fresh air.
For the children there is a very well appointed wooden play park suitable for young and slightly older children too thanks to its scary little bridges and slightly dangerous other features.
Older children with a taste for something more daring can also visit the small climbing walls or the skate park which is popular after school with local children showing off their skills.
If a walk or a run along the track is not quite enough then there are also a number of exercise stations dotted along the route to allow the more energetic to do some pull ups etc while there is also a special exercise area with specific machines (and instructions on how to use them!) near to the childrens play park.
Alternatively you could just take a seat by the river and watch the world go by.
A safe well equipped area for all the family, free to use and open all year round.
Toilets and refreshments are available within the sports complex.