The Algarve, Portugal conjures up images of the perfect holiday destination with endless golden sands, sparkling sapphire waters and luxurious golf courses. However, away from the hustle and bustle of the popular coastal resorts, lies a world apart of traditional villages, Moorish castles and ancient cobbled streets. Beautifully typifying this are the villages of Silves and Monchique, located just a few miles inland from the coast.  Overflowing with local customs and traditional gastronomy these villages sparkle with the slow-paced charm of rural life; making a ‘head for the hills’ escape never looked so appealing.

Silves

Silves, Portugal
Silves, Portugal

For those searching for the traditional heart and soul of the Algarve, Silves is the perfect place. Located between the Arade River and Silves Castle, inhabitants of the village proudly boast its colourful history and rustic charm. Within the rolling hills, beautiful bougainvillea, lemon and orange groves, traces of a city ruled under Roman and Moorish empires can be witnessed. In pride of place stands the Silves Moorish castle, looming over the land with its ancient sandstone walls.

Rich in local traditions and customs, Silves hosts a Medieval Festival every August, perfect for those looking to don their historical costumes! Stepping back in time, the town dims its lights and transforms into a medieval marvel of costumes, music and strolling minstrels. The delights of medieval cuisine can be sampled and wine enjoyed from earthen cups. Truly embracing the spirit of the time, the currency of the day transforms from the euro to the Xelb.

Medieval procession in Silves, Algarve
Medieval procession in Silves, the Algarve

Monchique

Situated just a twenty-minute drive away from the popular resorts of Albufeira and Praia da Rocha, Monchique offers an idyllic rural retreat. Built upon natural springs, these legendary lands are believed to have natural curative powers. Caldas de Monchique, a picturesque village situated upon a narrow ravine, houses some of the best thermal spas around. With healing hands bending to your every whim, there is little more you could ask for!

If you’re ready to head over, take a look at accommodation options today. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

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