Albufeira is one of the most popular and internationally famous holiday destinations in the Algarve, the most southern and sunniest region of continental Portugal. The resorts and hotels extend from Olhos d'Agua to Galé along the beautiful rocky coastline of the area. Once a small fishing village it has now developed to be a very touristic area. Many holiday makers return year after year because of the lovely beaches, very good climate, proximity of many restaurants, bars and pubs.
The origins of Albufeira date back to the prehistoric period. Later it was settled by the Romans, who called it "Baltum" . The name of Albufeira goes back to the time of the Moors "Al- Buhera", as the town in the 8th century was an important trading centre. There are hardly any remains from this period, only a plaque to commemorate the former Moorish castle on the upper town. Mid-13th century, Albufeira was recaptured by the Order of Knights of Santiago under Afonso III of the Moors. After that, it was for many centuries an insignificant fishing village. The huge Lisbon earthquake in 1755, devastated large parts of the country, and Albufeira was particularly affected. The subsequent tsunami flooded the lower part of the village. This destroyed any significant monuments.
The last quarter of the 20th century saw a revival in Albufeira’s fortunes. Its discovery as the main tourist destination of the Algarve marked a huge expansion from fishing village, to town, to city. Today, the hotels and resorts extend almost seamlessly along the beautiful Albufeira coastline. In the summer months up to 300 thousand holidaymakers join the usual 22,000 residents.
Faro Airport (FAO) is also the main entrance to get in the Algarve through many low cost airline companies, and there is a large choice of airport transfers carrier companies that can provide private or shared ground transportation to Albufeira or any resort in the Algarve.
The train station (Albufeira - Ferreiras) is 6 kilometres from the centre. There is a city bus that can take you into town. A small number of taxis are also available, and are generally timed with the train stops . Be sure to grab one quickly, as it may be a while before another one turns up. Although no wifi is offered at the station itself, a small cafe nearby offers free wifi for its customers (and surprisingly delicious pastels de nata!).
Trains to Lagos & Faro take about one hour each. The train to/from Lisbon takes 3–4 hours. There is now a rapid train that takes 2 1/2 hours but with more limited runs. A student fare costs €17 (for Portuguese students only).
Long distance buses are also available in the city centre.
There are local buses that run throughout town - ask your hotel for a timetable.
Taxis are available and can usually be found in the city center.
Car rental facilities are located in the city center and include major international chains (Hertz, Europcar) as well as local ones. Even for the expert driver, getting around can be quite challenging in Albufeira as there are no street signs to navigate you through the maze-like structure of the endless roundabouts, making maps similarly difficult to interpret. Coupled with the high cost of car rentals, taxis or buses may be simpler modes of transportation.
- 1 Praia dos Pescadores (Fishermen's Beach). The most famous attraction in the Old Town. Fishermen's boats are still pulled in every morning. The beach side is lined with restaurants, bars etc., and are open at night as well as during the daytime.
- 2 Castelo de Paderne (Almoáda Castle). Moorish 12th century castle. Free Entrance.
More than 25 superb beaches, many of them recognised for their quality with the distinguished Blue Flag by FEE, entice holidaymakers to swim and walk. The long sandy beaches Praia dos Pescadores, Praia do Tunel and Praia do Inatel stretching for miles in front of the old town offer a variety of water sports including parasailing, jet-skiing, and kayaking.Smaller sandy beaches sheltered by rocky bays with bizarre sandstone cliffs extend to both sides.
The new purpose built marina, located in an artificial basin on the western edge of the city, was opened in 2003 with a capacity to moor nearly 500 boats.
Alufeira can offer many varieties of culture, entertainment and family fun.
- Zoomarine, Guia (A few kilometers from Albufeira on the N125 direction west), ☎ .
Based on the theme "The Life of the Oceans", Zoomarine, located at the EN125 near Guia, at present occupies over 8 hectares, where, with a single ticket, the visitor has access to an area of leisure, entertainment and education. Just a few kilometers from Albufeira you can watch presentations with dolphins, seals and sea lions, with tropical birds and birds of prey. Here you find also an amazing aquarium with sharks, various habitats, Cinema4D, attractions, amusements and swimming pools, making your visit to Zoomarine even more unforgettable.
Zoomarine is very popular with families with kids, therefore you need to take into account longer queues during the high season.
- Aquashow, Quarteira, One of the best water parks in the Algarve, has something for every member of the family, including the highest freefall slide in Europe! There is an area dedicated to children with small slides, fountains, and shallow waters ideal for young visitors, there are also many tubes and slides to satisfy those who are looking for adrenaline. The water park is located near Quarteira a short drive from the resorts of Albufeira, Loulé, Vilamoura, Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago. On your visit make time to experience the water roller coaster - unpredictable for anyone looking for adrenaline and be sure to visit non-water activities including the theme park for all ages and can even swim with the Sea Lions!
- Fiesa, The International Festival of Sand Sculpture, Armação de Pera (3kms further on from Zoomarine on the N125 is the largest festival of sand sculptures in the world, has been held regularly and annually since 2003 in Pêra, Algarve. Every year, around 60 artists use 35,000 tons of sand to create various works of art in an area of 15,000 m². The event is open to the public in the evening, where night lights provide a completely different view of the event. That is accompanied with circus arts, dance, theater and live music.
The narrow streets of the lower old town are filled with shops and street vendors that offer souvenirs and beach accessories. In the summer months, it is worth taking a stroll through the pedestrian zone with its pubs, bars and restaurants to drink into the special atmosphere of this bustling city.
One of the largest of its kind in the Algarve is the Algarve Shopping commercial centre at Guia on the EN125. Over a hundred shops, a supermarket and numerous restaurants are spread over two floors.
Apolonia supermarket in Galé carries a huge selection of regional and international specialties and world famous brand names.
By Nature - Rua do Movimento das Forças Armadas 10, 8200-157 Albufeira, Portugal
This is a rather lovely little shop which opened in 2013. They sell beautiful soaps in many different styles and scents. The cupcakes look incredibly realistic, and smell divine.
There are many restaurants to choose from, with many of them offering traditional Portuguese fare as well as a wide variety of fresh seafood. Dishes involving different preparations of codfish are plentiful, and the Cataplana styled dishes are well known in this region. Shellfish such as prawns, lobster, and crab tend to be very expensive, while fish is much more affordable. For a break from seafood, try the chicken piri-piri (roasted chicken with a sort of spicey sauce).
- Dream Wave, Albufeira (Albufeira Marina), ☎ .
- O Bom Garfo, in the Oura zone.
- Teodosio In Guia. Specializes in Chicken Piri-Piri.
- Vila Joya Restaurant, Praia da Galé, ☎ . One of the top Michelin Restaurants in Portugal, Vila Joya resembles a small oriental palazzo and is nestled in a breathtaking garden setting on a cliff with stunning views facing the sea.
- Pita Gourmet, Rua Camilo Castelo Branco, ☎ . Greek restaurant for youngsters and families.
Nightclubs, cafes and snack bars are abundant in the Old Town as well as on the Avenida Sa Caneiro, called The Strip, the best known nightlife destination in the entire Algarve, especially popular with tourists from UK and Ireland. Everything is a bit more expensive in the discos at night, so many holiday makers will drink in the bars and go to the disco after 1am (they are open until 6am in the summer!)
Holidaymakers have the choice of more than 500 different accommodations in Albufeira and the surrounding area. Many of these hotels and resorts stretch along the coast between Vilamoura and Albufeira on the beaches of Inatel, Praia da Oura, Santa Eulalia, Olhos de Água and Falésia. West of Albufeira, between the marina of Albufeira and the tourist centre of Armação de Pêra many more hotels and resorts are situated on top of the cliffs, overlooking small rocky bays and the beautiful sandy beaches of São Rafael, Castelo and Galé. If you prefer to stay closer to the picturesque old town of Albufeira to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere in the narrow lanes or to experience the night life on the famous “Strip”, you will find many hotels and apartments along the ring road Av. dos Descobrimentos, encircling the city centre, offering beautiful panoramic views towards the marvellous bay of Albufeira.
- [dead link]Varandas de Albufeira, Rua do Indico 14, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. This hotel in Albufeira offers rooms equipped with cable TV, air conditioning and kitchenette. Some of its facilities and services are restaurant, bar, game room, billiards, outdoor swimming pool, safe deposit boxes and housekeeping. Rates start at €26.
- [dead link]Valmangude Jardim, Rua Dunfermline, Lote 5/7, ☎ . All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, cable television and kitchenette. Some of its facilities and services are bar, pool bar, outdoor swimming pool, billiards, 24 hour front desk, safe deposit boxes, high-speed internet access and housekeeping. Rates start at €78.
- [dead link]Perola do Algarve, Rua do Pacífico, Lote 24, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM price=. Perola do Algarve offers rooms equipped with cable TV, air conditioning and kitchenette. Some of its facilities and services are bar, pool bar, restaurant, game room, outdoor swimming pool, air-conditioned public areas, billiards, 24-hour front desk and housekeeping.
- Vila Galé Cerro Alagoa, Rua do Munícipio, Lote 26 8200-916, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. On the banks of the Ria Formosa, the interior is said to have an Arabian ambience of old southern Portugal. Online booking
- Vila Galé Atlântico, Praia da Galé, Lote 7 - Apartado 108 8201-902, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Close to Praia da Galé and only 6 km away from the centre of city. Online booking
- Vila Galé PRAIA, Praia da Galé, Lote 33 - Apartado 2204 8201-917, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located right at Praia da Galé, 5 minutes away from Albufeira. Online booking.
- Porto Bay Falésia, Quinta do Milharó, Olhos d´Água, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Located over the red cliffs and with direct access to the beach.
- Eden Resort, Vale de Santa Maria, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A condominium with luxury villas and apartments.
- [dead link]Encosta da Orada, Rua Jose Ramos Pimenta, ☎ . Encosta da Orada offers rooms equipped with television, kitchenette, refrigerator and microwave and has a swimming pool, casino, garden, tennis court, golf course, room service, dry cleaning, parking, bicycle rental and airport shuttle. Rates start at €145.98.
- [dead link]Jardins de Santa Eulalia, Estrada de Santa Eulalia (500 m from Santa Eulália Beach), ☎ . Jardins de Santa Eulalia offers rooms equipped with in-room safe, kitchenette, refrigerator, fireplace, television and dining area, and has a bar/lounge, garden, outdoor swimming pool, airport shuttle, laundry service and car rental service. Rates start at €145.98.
Lagos, Silves, Lagoa, Tavira, Evora, Milfontes, Troia, Lisbon. Lisbon: From the Old Town to the railway station the easiest route is by taxi (it's 6 km). This can be bought quite reasonably for 8-€10, and the journey time is 5-10mins. The first train leaves for Lisbon at 07:19am and takes 2h 40m, other services take 3h 20m so be sure to check when the trains arrive/depart. Definitely book and print tickets in advance, www.cp.pt (there's an English version, just click the flag). Return journey cost €32 for a regular class seat. It's well worth the money and you see lots of Portugal on the way.