Guide to Albufeira, Algarve
Albufeira offers a diverse mix of, family attractions, nightlife and natural beauty.
Albufeira is a coastal city, renowned for its club culture, beach bars, lively restaurants and endless entertainment. Every year thousands of young holiday makers are drawn to its stunning beaches and exciting nightlife.
But, there is another, more tranquil side to the ‘party capital’ of the Algarve. Around 40 minutes’ drive or transfer from Faro Airport, Albufeira is central to the region’s main tourist attractions and a great base for exploring the Algarve. If you don’t want to venture too far, there are countless areas of natural beauty to discover, just beyond the busy city, making it an ideal destination for all ages, including those who prefer to get some sleep before the sun comes up!
What to see
Old Town: Albufeira has an interesting past. Once occupied by the Romans and the Arabs, some believe it has been inhabited since prehistoric times. If you want to experience the history of Albufeira, take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the Old Town. The 18th century-built Sant’Ana Church in Largo Jacinto d’Ayet has become a local landmark and is worth a look. In Praça de Republica you’ll find Albufeira’s Archaeological Museum, which houses a small collection of artefacts dating from the Stone-Age to the 17th century.
The Strip: Modern and worlds apart from the Old Town, The Strip runs from the northern end of Albufeira down to the golden beach of Oura. In high season it buzzes with activity day and night. The Strip spills over into the side streets and is bursting with shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs - it never sleeps!
Paderne: This traditional village is 13km from the city and a great example of rural Algarve. There are a number of monuments worth seeing in the village centre: the old bridge and watermill, and a couple of churches - 16th century Nossa Senhora da Esperança and the 18th centrury Nossa Senhora do Pé da Cruz. You can also visit Moinho do Leitão a renovated windmill, just below the village centre in Cerca Velha - look out for the brown tourist information sign.
If you’re in the area in January, you’ll catch Paderne’s Medieval Festival and in February you’ll get to experience ‘Carnaval’ – Paderne’s very own Mardi Gras. The main attraction for walkers and cyclists however, is the beautiful trek up to the Moorish Castle. It’s quite a hike, but if you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded by magnificent castle ruins and absolutely stunning views – you can cheat a little and drive up!
If you appreciate art, don’t leave Paderne without a visit to Corte Real. This charming gallery’s strapline is aptly ‘art for art’s sake’ and sells a wide range of reasonably-priced international art.
Olhos de Água: Six kilometres along the coast from the city you’ll find Olhos d'Água. This typical fisherman’s village is popular with the more mature sun seekers. There’s a good range of accommodation here and a choice of excellent seafood restaurants overlooking the ocean. The magnificent Olhos d'Água beach is flanked by pine covered rocky cliffs and, when the tide’s out, look out for the freshwater springs bubbling up through the sand.
Praia dos Pescadores (Fisherman’s Beach): Cast yourself back in time to when Albufeira made its living from the sea. To the east of the sands, you’ll often see colourful wooden painted fishing vessels, which have been used for decades by the local fishermen. You can access Praia dos Pescadores via the lift down to neighbouring Peneco beach, which is an experience in itself!
What to do
Take a walk: Praia da Falésia is one of the longest beaches in Portugal, it stretches from Olhos de Água to Vilamoura. You can walk its 6km length on golden sand or along the cliff top – both are equally breath-taking.
To the west of Albufeira, Salgados is the place to appreciate nature. Check out the boardwalk, which stretches from Praia Salgados to Praia Grande (Armação de Pêra). It has good wheelchair access and is a flat and easy walk for those with reduced mobility. You can spot a variety of birds at Salgados Lagoon –you can’t miss the pink Flamingos. And look down into the water as you cross the bridge, there are often bales of sea turtles just below.
Have a beach day: If you’re staying in Albufeira city, you’ll find plenty of beautiful beaches on your doorstep. But, if you fancy exploring a little further along the coast, try Praia Galé, just west of Albufeira. The huge expanse of golden sand is dotted with interesting rock formations and there’s a good choice of smart bars and restaurants too - perfect for beach day. And, while you’re in Galé, drop in at Scooby’s Pool Bar – this all day bar/restaurant with krazy golf, a kiddies play area, a fantastic pool and lovely staff, is geared up to be a winner with all age groups.
Visit Albufeira Marina: Perhaps best-known for its candy-coloured apartment blocks, Albufeira Marina is a modern, purpose-built tourist complex. The Marina’s moorings are suitable for all types of vessels and it offers visitors a variety of shops, restaurants and bars. It’s a pleasant place to visit during the day or as the sun goes down. Hop aboard one of Algar Experience's fab boat trips to explore the coastline - they come and go from the marina. There are dolphin watching trips, coastline cruises with BBQ on the beach or fun sunset parties with DJ on board.
Enjoy a family day out at Zoomarine: Open from March to October, Zoomarine is probably the biggest Algarve attraction. It has everything for a memorable family day out, from the amazing Dolphin Emotions experience to awesome waterslides and wavepools, birds of prey, 4D cinema and more.
Have a day at the races: Sometimes it’s nice to have a day out of the sun. Hot Wheels karting is a great way to keep your teens and kids entertained, and a good excuse for you to get behind the wheel on the Algarve's fastest indoor karting track. When you completed your laps, move next door to the Hot Shot Bowling for some more fun.
Add a little drama to your trip: In addition to providing a professional transfer service, Albufeira-based Safety Transfers 2U can transport you to the Game of Thrones’ world of fantasy, with a tour of the TV show's filming locations in Seville.
Make a splash at Aqualand: This excellent waterpark is a fun-filled way to keep cool. From adrenaline boosting drops to gentle river rides, as well as plenty of areas to relax, Aqualand is suitable for all ages.
Explore on 4 wheels: Off-roading in the Algarve is great fun and a good way to see the countryside. There are a number of companies offering off road jeep safaris and drive-yourself buggy and quad bike tours.
Get active: LUSO’s outdoor tree-top obstacle course plus a paintball battle field equals a few hours of fabulous fun for the kids, and adults too!
Go clubbing: If you walk down The Strip at night, you’ll find out just how easy it is to fall under the spell of Albufeira’s neon lights and vibrant atmosphere. This is the heart of city’s nightlife with an abundance of clubs and bars which cater for every taste in dance music. Remember, you’re never too old in Albufeira!
Experience a wine tour and tasting: You can enjoy a detailed guided tour of the vineyards and winery at Quinta do Miradouro and a chance to taste Sir Cliff Richard’s Vida Nova, which is vinified, matured and bottled on the estate.
Get in the swing of things: If golf’s your bag, there’s a choice of three excellent golf courses around Albufeira: Salgados Golf Course, Balaia Golf Village and Pine Cliffs Golf & Country Club.
Try out the local water sports: All manner of water sports are available along the Albufeira coast, including surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, diving, jet biking, water skiing, banana and rings rides, pedal boats and kayaks. You’ll find a good range of family-orientated water sports on offer at Praia Oura.
Celebrate New Year’s Eve: Albufeira is renowned for hosting the biggest New Year’s Eve party on the Algarve coast. The event spans several days of concerts, music, dancing, street entertainment, food and drink, culmuating on 31st at Fisherman’s Beach in the Old Town, with a mega fireworks display to welcome in the New Year.
Shop ‘til you drop: Not only are there are plenty of shops in Albufeira itself, the county is home to one of the Algarve’s biggest retail parks – Algarve Shopping. Situated close by in Guia, the two storey mall is packed with shops promoting top brands, restaurants and fast-food diners. Plus there’s a multi-screen cinema showing all the latest films in English. Parking is free and there’s a regular EVA bus service which stops at the mall.
Where to eat
Just about every type of international cuisine is available in Albufeira and, if you adore ocean fresh fish, you’re in the right place! Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Belize Sports Bar and Café – located on the colourful Albufeira Marina, Belize Sports Bar is named after the Catamaran Belize, run by Algar Experience, and is open all day and into the night, with a great menu of drinks, cocktails, snacks and light meals.
Al Quimia - For gourmet cuisine and a magnificent setting, try this excellent restaurant at the Epic Sana Algarve Resort.
Vila Joya Restaurant - Set within the grounds of the Vila Joya Boutique Resort, this classy eatery is the holder of two Michelin stars and it’s the only restaurant in Portugal on the World's Best 50 lists. It also plays host to one of the world’s most prestigious gourmet events, the International Gourmet Festival, which takes place every November.
Restaurant Veneza - A little out of town, but worth the trip, Restaurant Veneza is home to one of the very best wine cellars in Portugal, and combines a truly unique wine experience with local, regional and Portuguese dishes.
Pizzeria Fratelli – From pizzas and pastas to steaks and more, this is a great family restaurant that’s reasonably priced.
The Royal Orchid – An oriental oasis tucked away from the madding crowd, this Thai restaurant offers an extensive menu of well-cooked dishes.
Where to stay
There’s a wide range of accommodation available for visitors, both in the heart of the city and in the more tranquil suburbs. From 5 star resorts to self-catering apartments and luxury villas, the choice is yours! And look out for some great bargains, particularly out of season. Here’s our selection from across the board.
Vila Joya Boutique Hotel - If you’re looking for luxury, the 5 star Vila Joya should tick all your boxes. It’s practically on the beach, with breath-taking views and top class facilities.
Algarve Getaways – Let the team help you find your perfect up-market self-catering holiday accommodation in Albufeira, from apartments to luxury villas.
Casa Velha Apartments – Great for couples and families, these holiday apartments are set in peaceful gardens close to the beach and central Albufeira.
Bayside Salgados Golf & Beach Resort – Perfect for golfers, the 3 star Bayside Salgados Resort offers self-catering accommodation and special discounted golf packages.
The practical stuff
Driving and parking
The town centre is generally busy, particularly during peak season. If you have a large vehicle, it’s best to avoid the narrow lanes around the Old Town. However, the main roads are wide and traffic management is good. A series of roundabouts along Ave dos Descobrimentos act as excellent landmarks - each showcasing an eye-catching work of art, from colourful worms and giant watches, to leaping dolphins.
There are managed car parks in and around the town centre. The multi-storey on Rua 25 de Abril is located close to the beach, while the car park just off the ‘nautical’ roundabout on Ave dos Descobrimentos is an easy place to leave your car if you’re planning to explore the town on foot. There’s also limited-time Pay and Display street parking across the city– you’ll see the international parking sign and the words ‘Zona Pago’. The wardens are quick to fine you, so make sure you buy and display your ticket and return before the expiry time.
Many hotels in Albufeira are wheelchair friendly and the main paved walkways around the town are suitable for wheelchairs and those with reduce mobility. There’s a lift down to Peneco beach, one of many Albufeira beaches classed at Praia Acessiveis, meaning that they comply with disabled access requirements such as ramps, footpaths and walkways, adapted toilet facilities and parking places. Rocha Baixinha Nascente, Salgados and Maria Luísa beaches offer amphibious chairs, so people with reduced mobility can enjoy bathing in the sea. If you would like the use of an amphibious chair, you need to contact the local lifeguard when you arrive at the beach.
The main tourist office is located on the N395, at the entrance to the city. It has its own parking area and is open from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 7pm (closed on Sundays and public holidays).
Tel: 289 599 502 email: email@example.com
Transport -Taxis operate from official taxi ranks and there are several ranks around Albufeira. Alternatively, hotels, resorts and restaurants will be happy to call a taxi for you. If you need transport to and from Faro Airport, you’ll probably get a better deal by booking ahead with one of the transfer companies. Or, you can use the bus service. There’s a good public transport service in Portugal. EVA offers a regular bus service across the Algarve and to Lisbon, and is a cheap way to get around. The EVA website is available in English.
Albufeira Bus Station is 1.6km from the Old Town and almost all EVA bus routes to and from the city start and end here.
GIRO is Albufeira’s own network of buses that offer cheap local travel. You can download the information leaflet and route map here.
Frota Azul operates a service to and from other local towns such as Silves and Monchique, great if you want to explore inland Algarve. You can download timetables from their website - available in English.
Portugal has an excellent rail network too, which offers a low cost way to travel. Albufeira has its own station, it’s located in Ferreiras, about 5kms from the centre of town. You can get more information, download timetables and use the easy online booking system on the Comboios de Portugal website (available in English).
With everything on hand and an excellent transport service, there’s really no need to rent a car if you’re visiting Albufeira. However, if you do want to hire a vehicle, there are many hire companies offering good deals.
Supermarkets - There are numerous supermarkets in Albufeira, including a Continente superstore within the Albufeira Shopping complex, Pingo Doce (two), Lidl and Aldi, all of which are easily accessible with their own car parks.
WiFi - Many cafes and restaurants in Albufeira offer free WiFi. There is also a Municipal Access Point in Cerro da Alagoa, near the council buildings.
Banks – There's no shortage of banks and cashpoints in and around the city. You’ll find all banking services and friendly English-speaking staff at Millennium bcp in Albufeira Shopping .
Police Station – The main GNR (Guarda Nacional Republicana) office in Albufeira is on Estrada Vale de Pedras, not far from the bus station. T: 289 590 790.
There’s also a dedicated support number for tourists. T: 289 513 203.
Medical care – Located on Urbanização Alto dos Caliços – Albufeira’s Centro de Saúde has a minor emergencies and treatment facility, and will treat holders of EHICs (European Health Insurance Cards). T: 289 598 400. There are also numerous private clinics in the Albufeira area.
Main hospitals with 24 hour emergency departments are located in Faro and Portimão.
Veterinary care – If you’re travelling with pets, you may need a vet. There are a number of veterinary surgeries in and around Albufeira. Clínica Veterinária de Albufeira in Beco da Cocheira, just off the N395, is easy to access and offers an emergency service. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 7pm, and Saturday 10am to 1pm. T: 289 589 621 Emergencies: 913 341 526.
Post Office – The main post office is on Avenida 5 de Outobro Nº 8-10 and is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 6pm.
Payshops – look out for the red ‘Payshop’ sign. Handy for paying A22 Toll fees, buying phone cards, topping up Portuguese network mobile phones and even buying a Lotto ticket! There are 14 Payshop agents in Albufeira - the kiosk at the municipal market is a ‘Payshop’.
Enjoy your visit!
For information on other areas of the Algarve read our Algarve Travel Guides.