Although Sagres is the most popular day trip from Lagos, those with some extra time and wishing to explore more of the region, should also visit Silves. This rather sleepy town was actually once the capital of Algarve, and it’s not even on the coast -- it grew thanks to its position by the Arade River. It was quite a wealthy city in Moorish times (8th to 12th centuries), but all that is left from that period is the massive castle. That’s Algarve’s best-preserved castle, and the reason most people come to town.
Like Lagos, most of Silves was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1755, so except for the castle, there is no complete building predating the 18th century. The gothic cathedral does feature elements dating all the way back to the 13th century, but it’s mostly an 18th-century construction. To travel back to the town’s glory days, you should visit the small archaeological museum.
On the cobbled lanes leading down to the river are other smaller churches and monuments, as well as outdoor cafés where everyone takes a break and enjoys the peaceful atmosphere. The entire town can be experienced in just a few hours, but it’s the perfect destination to see a different side of Algarve, away from the beaches.
How to Get to Silves from Lagos
Getting to Silves is easy by car, but not so easy by public transportation. Follow highway A22 and you’re there in about 30 minutes, or take the non-toll road N125 into Lagoa followed by N124 north to Silves (once in Silves, it’s not always easy finding a parking spot in the center, but you shouldn’t have a problem finding one farther away but within reasonable walking distance).
If you don’t have a car, you can only get there by train from Lagos (there are no buses between the two towns). The journey takes between 35 and 40 minutes, but unfortunately the station is 2km outside the center of town, and you have to walk up a not-so-pedestrian-friendly road (it’s about a 20- to 25-minute walk). There is a very infrequent bus that connects the station to the center of Silves, at very inconvenient times for passengers arriving from Lagos. There might be a taxi by the station, but that’s not guaranteed (if you’re lucky to find one, the fare should be about 5 euros).
There are just 8 trains per day (see the cp.pt website for the times). Tickets must be bought before boarding, at the stations. Lagos’ train station is by the marina, a short walk from the Old Town (less than 15 minutes).