SILVES, LOULÉ AND SÃO BRÁS DE ALPORTEL
Silves was, during the Arab occupation between the 8th and the 12th centuries, the capital of the Algarve, mainly due to the presence of the navigable Arade river. Silves was also a cultural center where poets and historians lived. The town’s tradition comes to life during August, when the Medieval Fair of Silves takes place in the historic center for 10 days, attracting more than 100,000 visitors.
Its Castle is considered the most beautiful example of Arab military architecture in the country and is the largest of the Algarve. Silves does not have a large number of hotel beds, so there is no greater influx of tourists in the high season, with its population being more or less the same throughout the year: about 7,000 inhabitants. An exception to this is the large number of motor homes, many hundreds of which make the city their winter home.
Located in the Western Algarve, and about 16km from the coast, Silves offers a quiet lifestyle with good access to a variety of local services and amenities, including good grocery shopping, restaurants, a vibrant market and excellent public sporting infrastructure. The municipality is the country’s largest citrus producer and its healthy lifestyle is epitomized by sweet oranges, honey and the potent locally brewed medronho. The nearest large cities are Portimão to the West (18km) and Albufeira to the east (32km). Faro airport is 61 km away and Lisbon is 253 km away.
Like Loulé and to a lesser degree São Brás, Silves has excellent highway access, and very good intercity bus and rail transport with connection to the various localities of the Algarve and to Lisbon. Its inland location means that real estate prices are more affordable.
With about 72,000 inhabitants, Loulé is an inland city, located in the central Algarve and 12km from the coast. It is 16km from Faro Airport and 265km from Lisbon. The centrality and good accessibility make this Municipality a tourist destination par excellence. As far as accommodation is concerned, visitors can count on a great diversity, from 5 star hotels to rural tourism accommodation. A must-see in Loulé is its market, housed in a vast complex of Arab style, one of the best and most beautiful in the Algarve, but which spills over into the surrounding streets on Saturdays, when the market is at its fullest. Loulé is graced with excellent sporting infrastructure including tennis, swimming, cycling, football facilities and multi-sports pavilions.
The city is famed for its festivals including one of the country’s most famous Carnivals, music festivals, and events celebrating Mediterranean culture and food.
SÃO BRÁS DE ALPORTEL
This inland village is in the Eastern Algarve, with about 5,000 inhabitants. It is 284km from Lisbon, 20km from Faro airport and 191km from Seville.
The village of São Brás de Alportel is a mixture of old and modern. In the old part of the city you will find the cobbled streets full of shops and cafes. Away from the center, new build apartments and houses are the norm.
In the 19th century, this council was the largest producer of cork in the world. The “Festa das Torchas Floridas”, one of the most genuine manifestations of religious culture of the country, takes place on Easter Sunday. The main streets of the village are embellished by thousands of roses and wild flowers, forming an extensive flowery walkway.
Accommodation, in comparison to the coast, is simpler, with lower prices, but comfortable. This is a good location to buy property if you are looking for something different. From the typical whitewashed Algarvean houses, to farmhouses in the countryside, the rural options are varied.
REAL ESTATE LANDSCAPE
All three regions are characterized by countryside properties with gardens and set in tranquil locations. In addition, all the towns have quality new build which is available at much lower prices than equivalent inventory on the coast.
INLAND MUNICIPALITIES AS RETIREMENT DESTINATIONS
Although the province’s inland cities and towns offer wonderful authenticity and charm, a sense of a return to a more original past and a slower pace of life, we have purposefully selected three towns which have enough population density and year-round activity to counter, as much as possible, a sense of isolation for those spending long periods of time or moving permanently to the country. This is of particular importance as a lower percentage of inland populations tend to speak a foreign language.
Unless you select a location within a city centre or perimeter, having a car is essential. Of the three towns, Loulé has the most extensive medical facilities, with a large modern clinic, but all locations have health centres and the usual range of dentist, private medical, and complementary diagnostic centres. Closest hospitals will be Portimão or Faro depending on the location.
Finally, the Algarve is a well-known coastal destination. Most visitors and their guests come here for the beautiful coastline and beaches. Even for those that are not eager to bake in the sun, a walk on the beach or a drink on the promenade is the idea of a pleasant lifestyle.
If you are planning a long-term, permanent retirement in the country, we strongly urge any clients to consider very carefully how the choice of an inland location will affect your lifestyle, friendships and access to amenities over time. Don’t let it put you off, but please consider it carefully.