Albufeira needs no introduction: it is the beach vacation destination of the Algarve.
There are thousands of people visiting Albufeira and the city becomes an authentic mecca for sunbathing and sea (where there is no shortage of beaches to extend the towel and tanning), of the party without limits, and nightlife crazy.
In this article, you will find our suggestions on what to do in Albufeira, the main attractions and points of tourist interest, where to eat and sleep, and what walks are near Albufeira for a well-filled holiday.
In addition to this, we want to show you a not so known facet of Albufeira. A more peaceful and genuine one, of a holiday destination in the Algarve perfect for all tastes and likes.
When to go
Nothing like hot summer temperatures to enjoy its golden sand beaches and appetizing waters, so, if that’s your main goal, plan to visit Albufeira from June to September. But Albufeira’s climate is great all year round and the city is not just about the beach. In addition, the bathing season is the one with the highest influx of tourists and vacationers, which triggers accommodation and catering prices.
Christmas, Easter, and, especially New Year. New Year is also the high season. Inclusively, Albufeira offers one of the best nights of New Year’s Eve from the Algarve ( if not from the country ) and every year there is something new added to a glamourous night.
Spring and autumn are great for hiking exploring the natural beauty of the Algarve or discovering regional traditions. Promenades and sands on a spring day without the crowds jostling – they are great, we can guarantee. In low seasons accept the blatant invitation of dolce far niente in one of the friendly and sunny street terraces.
But summarising, you can visit Albufeira at any time of the year. After all, we are in the region of Portugal which enjoys 300+ days of sunshine per year. The temperate Mediterranean climate means that summer is hot and winter benefits from mild temperatures.
Where to stay in Albufeira? Accommodation suggestions
The offer of accommodation in Albufeira is vast and varied, from romantic to family, or from the hostel’s entertainment and youth to the refinement and luxury of the 5 world’s top stars.
- The hotel Cerro da Marina ( stars 3 is one of the hotels in Albufeira with the best quality ratio ) price. It is the team that wins with sympathy and availability, and they generate that “home away” kind of environment without stress or exhaustion. Highly praised for the cleanliness, location ( Albufeira center ), and for the small – buffet breakfast with continental, English, American, and gluten-free options. And you can take your pet.
- On a family trip or on a trip with friends, you will need space and independence. Garden Hill Relax & Old Town by OCvillas has apartments for your needs, well located and equipped.
- Adults only hotels are the fastest selling in Albufeira, so be quick to book Hotel California Urban Beach – Adults Only , which is only two minutes from Praia dos Pescadores.
- If money is not a problem, Pine Cliffs Hotel, A Luxury Collection Resort is what you need for a princely stay. Awarded as the Best Luxury Resort with Sea View in Europe, you do not need to go any further to find la crème de la crème from the hotel industry in Albufeira.
What to visit in Albufeira
This old fishing village became – one of the most sought after summer vacation destinations when, in the 1960s, the British discovered this paradise ( at the time, a bargain ) of sun, beach, and sea.
It didn’t take long for Albufeira to become the Algarve of tourist resorts on the coast, offering a myriad of experiences to its visitors, especially for those looking for a complete summer destination.
Despite the modern hotel units and the millions of tourists who visit every year, Albufeira maintains its Moorish atmosphere and, at the heart, it is still the fishing village that has always been.
Albufeira was occupied by the Moors for five centuries. From the Arab legacy, the cobbled, narrow, and labyrinthine alleys remain, evidence of the ancient walls of the Moorish castle and the very white houses with their acotheias and arches that define typical architecture.
All of this we find in the old city , the blinding white spot of houses on the top of the cliff, where the city was born and which feels like walking. Here you breathe – calm and tranquility where the pace of life is slow and carefree. Walking through the historic center means feeling the weight of time on each cobblestone.
Let’s go to the oldest area of medieval Albufeira, of which we have tile panels to mark the wall doors : Porta de Santa Ana, Porta da Praia and Porta da Praça.
This was one of the towers at the vertices of the quadrangular fortification built by the Moors during the Arab occupation. The location at the top of the cliff made the castle practically impregnable, so Albufeira ( Al – Buhera name of Islamic origin which, in a broad interpretation, means “castle of the sea” ) was only conquered by King Afonso III in the 13th century, after decades of battles.
The views from the top of the Clock Tower over the Atlantic Ocean are breathtaking.
Right next door, in Praça da República, we find the most valuable historical heritage set in Albufeira: the archaeological remains of Islamic houses ( 1st century. XII and XIII ), with silo and cistern excavated in rocky soil, the Municipal Museum of Archeology, the former building of the Town Hall with the coat of arms of the Azevedos, mayor of Albufeira castle to top the door, and on the opposite side, the chain building , converted into the current Albufeira music conservatory.
In the continuation of Rua Henrique Calado, you will find – if the architectural complex of the old hospital, inn, and Capela da Misericórdia , identifiable by the Manueline portal ( relatively modest ) in an ogival arch. Although there are no supporting documents, it is believed that the chapel occupies the space of an old mosque. –
At the end of this street is North Gate, or rather, what remains of it as it is badly damaged. Only the tile panel helps us to find it.
There are three churches to visit in Albufeira but do not visit during Mass – in addition to being a gesture of respect, devotees are grateful.
We start with São Sebastião Church, 100, which preserves a beautiful baroque altar door. It also houses the Albufeira Sacred Art Museum, with a vast collection of religious objects from the county churches.
The Church of Santa Ana was completely destroyed by the 1755 earthquake, except for the main portal with some Baroque elements. The current church was built in the late 18th century. It is especially known for its altar – major.
The statue of Saint Vincent de Albufeira ( missionary son of the land who was martyred in Japan ) is next door.
“5 de Outubro” Street
It is not that you have not already come across numerous craft stores, souvenirs, and local commerce in the Old Town. But no visit to Albufeira is complete without going down to Rua 5 de Outubro , full of more stores and people.
Most are not here in stores, but in the Tunnel that gives access to Praia do Peneco , another form ( less tiring ) to get here is to catch the Elevador do Peneco from above the Dr. Frutuoso da Silva Esplanade. The viewpoint is pleasant for a relaxed moment.
Largo Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco
Surely the Power Station building in the square will not escape, not that it is a highlight, but it gives a certain old and sober air off where nightlife begins to end at Rua da Oura. What few know is that the building houses an interesting gallery, the Art Gallery Painter Samora Barros .
Obviously, bars, restaurants, terraces, and shops at each door. So that the visitor is not missing anything. Anyone who knows Albufeira knows that all streets will lead to Largo, especially the bohemian Cândido dos Reis street. Probably the street with the most concentration of bars in the entire Algarve.
Pau da Bandeira viewpoint
Continuing until Largo 25 de Abril , you will come across Fishermen’s Beach, to climb the escalators to Pau da Bandeira viewpoint ( a favorite of locals normally).
The sunset at this viewpoint is something not to be missed when visiting Albufeira. But don’t limit yourself to our suggestions. Within the city, there are many viewpoints, such as Rossio, Porto de Pesca, Peneco and Bateria.
A walk by the sea – sea on the promenade of Marina de Albufeira can be a very interesting end-of-day activity. Among yachts and leisure boats anchored, we also find the boats of local fishermen that add color to the port. It is also from the Marina that boats leave that invite you to the most memorable experiences.
Tours and Experiences from Albufeira
There is an infinity of activities to occupy your vacation days in Albufeira. Depending on your interest, physical condition, and time, we present some of the most popular and the ones we consider most interesting, with more or less adrenaline, from the coast to the Algarve mountains. Click on the links below to see our favorites, read reviews and make your reservations
One of the most popular activities in Albufeira is boat trips along the coast to explore caves, such as the famous Benagil Cave, and rock formations. With some luck, you can also watch wild dolphins on the high seas.
Want to visit the caves and rock formations of the beautiful Algarve coast, but do not have the stomach for boats, choose a more peaceful and friendly ride on 4 wheels.
Do you want to feel adrenaline in the water?
An adventurous day, between rural villages and the Algarve hills, the thrill of 4 wheels in the Algarve beyond the beaches, with a tasting of local products.
Your first experience of diving in a controlled environment with a professional companion or that fun class of initiation in surfing.
Local Tip: when choosing activities, and because unforeseen events happen, always avoid booking tours that do not allow free cancellation. Give priority to activities that have good reviews and allow you to cancel free of charge with ( at least ) 48h in advance.
Albufeira brings together the best of both worlds in what the beaches are about: from the extensive sands to the cobbled beach hidden among dramatic rock formations.
In the 30 km of coastline, Albufeira has more than twenty beaches, it is even the municipality with the most Blue Flags, a European symbol of the quality of the beaches.
An elevator takes – o to the foothills of the cliff to Peneco Beach and a few meters ahead you can find more towel space at Fishermen’S. These are the two beaches that are located in the city, therefore, the most frequented.
If you have legs and are looking for a quieter area, walk east where Inatel beach or Praia dos Aveiros for fans of snorkeling . The Praia da Oura is highly praised for the dramatic scenery of its coves.
To the west, between Albufeira and Galé, the coast is embroidered with tiny cobbled beaches. The next beach to extend the towel is exactly Galé Beach with facilities for water skiing and jet-ski.
What to do in Albufeira at NIGHT
From sunset to sunrise, Albufeira night is considered one of the best in southern Europe. Albufeira is reputed to be the stage for the best parties, to host clubs that have made history where the best DJs in the world have performed.
Psychedelic neon, loud music, glasses tinkling, and the euphoria of tourists are one of the most striking images of Albufeira’s night. Every night there are hundreds of parties happening simultaneously, so there is everything and for all tastes, whether you want to dance late into the night or just have a drink at the end of the day.
The party still starts during the day, with Boat Parties off the coast of Sunset Parties standing on sand.
At night, the pilgrimage to the old city begins, usually, the meeting point is at Largo Duarte Pacheco. Run the chapels of Cândido dos Reis and Av. 25 de Abril.
Almost invariably, everything ends up on Avenida Dr. Francisco Sá Carneiro. This is where the party reaches its peak. Better known as Rua da Oura, the Albufeira Strip brings together the largest and best cocktail bars ( increasingly innovative and daring ), and clubs that are open until the wee hours of the night.
It is very difficult to advise the best spots for Albufeira night, because the offer is so diverse, the environments so different and the prices so distant, that it is best to experiment. Some very unique bars are Sal Rosa with a super atmosphere cozy and delicious cocktails, and the Havana Meets Jamaica Bar because of the relaxed atmosphere, drinks, and the music that always puts our feet to beat at the rhythm.
What to do in Albufeira in WINTER
The Algarve is far from serving only those looking for a beach holiday destination. In winter there is much to occupy the shortest days, it is true, but with sun and mild temperatures.
Albufeira can offer various winter activities, like golf, passing through mountain hikes and cycling through the cliff trails, initiation classes for diving in a heated pool, surf lessons to start facing the waves, or even kayaking along the coast to discover the caves and algares hidden in the cliffs. Culturally, set out in search of fairs and thematic markets with regional products and local crafts.
And if the day is rainy, go to Albufeira Marina, plan a fun afternoon with your family playing bowling, or feel the adrenaline on a closed track of karting, give wings to the winemaker in yourself with a tasting of Algarve wines, or risk your luck in a casino. If none of those are tempting, perhaps a Spa session to rejuvenate body and mind, would do?
After all, the Algarve has a busy schedule 365 days a year, you will not miss things to do when you visit Albufeira in winter.
What to visit near Albufeira
Visit towers that guarded the Algarve coast against the privateers who coveted our treasures, see freshwater springs in the middle of salt water, watching birds and getting to know the biological richness of the interior are some of the things you can do in Albufeira besides the beach.
- The walking path of 7 Hanging Valleys (, more specifically at Praia da Marinha ) is one of the most beautiful trails in the Algarve and was recently elected as the best hiking destination in Europe. If you like a good walk and breathtaking views, this is an unmissable activity when visiting Albufeira.
- Paderne Castle , one of the seven castles represented by the national flag, despite being in a very advanced state of ruin, is a proposal to have a taste of the historic Algarve.
- Torre da Medronheira , very close to Praia Maria Luísa , it was one of the watchtowers on the 16th century coast that is still in good condition.
- Lagoon of Salgados is perfect for watching birds in the wild in a protected area of rich fauna and flora.
- The park of Zoomarine Algarve is a “sea of fun” for the whole family with, the water park with mind-blowing slides, the mountain amusement park – rollercoster – aquariums to discover the marine world and even birds.
Local Tip: Zoomarine has a large turnout in the summer, it is advisable to buy the ticket online in advance – otherwise you will lose hours in line at entry. For the unforgettable experience of swimming and interacting with dolphins, you will even have to schedule the activity in advance.
- Lemurs in the Algarve? Yes, on Krazy World Zoo in Algoz (which belongs to Silves but is a 20-minute drive from Albufeira ) where crocodiles and reptiles are present
- Armação de Pêra, with two charming must-see places, in a scenario that you won’t forget: the beach of Cova Redonda and the simple Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Rocha
- strolling through the sophisticated, luxurious and beautiful promenades of Vilamoura. Vilamoura is ( and will be ) one of the fashion spots of Algarve, where many go for a drink on the terrace or to test their luck at the casino.
- Awake your inner Indiana Jones and explore the depths of the cliffs, its caves, and tunnels such as Cerro do Malpique , Canon Slab or a Xorino Cup .