Albufeira - Algarve - Portugal
Welcome to Albufeira Uncovered! Your guide to Albufeira holidays!
Albufeira in the Algarve, Portugal, attracts thousands of visitors every year and it's easy to understand why! There is Albufeira old town with it's pretty cobbled streets lined with restaurants, bars, cafes and shops; the lively nightlife in São João; Albufeira marina with it's sugar candy coloured apartments and last but not least the lovely, sandy beaches. Albufeira is perfect for families, couples and singles of all ages and is central for all the tourist attractions, with the added bonus of a short transfer from Faro airport! Find out all you need to know about this lovely area of the Algarve on Albufeira Uncovered!
In Roman times Albufeira was known as Baltum and then re-named Al-Buhera by the Moorish settlers in the 8th Century. It was finally taken from the Moors in the middle of the 13th Century by the 'Knights of the Order of Santiago'.
Albufeira, like many Algarve towns, has the remains of a castle dating from Roman times, but most of the castle along with the town, was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. The most visible pointer to the castle remains is the Torre do Relógio (clock tower), which was built on one of the old castle towers, and is normally lit up on festive occasions.
Albufeira was a small fishing village until the arrival of tourism in the 1960s. Substantial developments since then have turned it into a major holiday resort (and probably the most popular resort in the Algarve) and today there are well over 100 Albufeira Hotels to choose from! Even with all of the developments, some of Albufeira Old Town still retains the essence of the village it once was, with narrow cobbled streets winding up and around the hillsides and typical single storey houses lining the roadside.
Albufeira can provide whatever type of Algarve holiday you are looking for but you will need to consider what is important to you before you book - it is a perfect example of when not to be tempted by that special offer with "accommodation allocated on arrival" if you have specific needs because you could find out it really wasn't the holiday you were hoping for when it should have been brilliant! To help you decide where you would like to stay have a look at our Albufeira map! You can also print it to take with you to help you find you way around.
If you are looking for lively nightlife and bars and clubs that are open nearly 24 hours a day then you probably want to stay in the Areias de São João area, home to "the strip" (Avenida Dr Francisco Sà Carneiro), or nearby Montechoro both of which are about 2kms from Albufeira old town. There are plenty of hotels and apartments to choose from and shops, bars and restaurants (many with English menus) all to hand and the beautiful beach, Oura, just a short distance from the bottom end of the strip. Of course, with everyone in party spirit it isn't going to be particularly quiet, particularly in peak summer! So if neon signs and late night revelry aren't for you, it will be better to stay near the old town!
Albufeira old town is more relaxed and has a lovely central square decorated with trees and colourful shrubs surrounded by street cafés and restaurants for a quiet meal or a cool drink. The streets leading off the square are a shoppers delight with clothes shops, leather goods (fantastic handbags!), gift shops, street stalls and of course, all the practical shops for daily necessities. There are also many more restaurants and bars in between the shops so there is never a shortage of places to eat and drink! It is worth mentioning that although English is very widely spoken and menus will normally be in 3 or 4 different languages, if you have any particular likes or dislikes or have special dietary requirements then you may find our food and drink information helpful.
The bars in the old town are still open late - most will be open until 4am during the summer months but may close at 2am in the winter. It does mean that you can take a rest after a busy day on the beach before getting ready for the night!
There are two main beaches in Albufeira itself - "Fishermans beach" (Praia dos Pescadores) is overlooked by a variety of restaurants and there is always the tempting aroma of barbecued fish in the air. Here it's possible to walk straight onto the beach without the need for steps. Adjoining Fishermans beach is Albufeira beach (Praia do Túnel), slightly to the west through the tunnel near the tourist office. There are more bars and restaurants here and steps down to the beach.
If you are staying in Albufeira, it isn't really necessary to rent a car; in fact, particularly if you are new to driving in Portugal, it can be quite nerve wracking in the summer months when the Algarve is so busy, and parking can be difficult too. Our Albufeira Travel information has details about the 'tourist train' that runs between the 'strip' and Albufeira 'old town' and the excellent local "Giro" minibus network. If you want to visit one of the water parks such as Aqualand or the Algarve's most popular theme park Zoomarine, there are several agencies in Albufeira offering very reasonable prices for transportation and tickets and with pick-up points near the main hotels it's both convenient and cheaper than hiring a car.
Albufeira marina is on the western outskirts of the town - you can't really miss it as all the buildings and apartments are painted in blue, pink, orange, green and yellow squares! There are rows of shops along the road behind the marina and some bars and restaurants along the marina itself. It is a brilliant place to spend an afternoon, have a drink or a meal, or just sit in the sun and watch the boats and people strolling by. If you go for nothing else, go to see the amazing colours of the buildings! There are also some interesting dolphin statues raised on poles along the marina walkway and each has been individually decorated with a different design.
The marina is the starting point for many of the most popular things to do in Albufeira, such as boat trips, fishing trips and diving excursions. Or if you prefer staying on dry land - have a go on a Segway - the marina's long promenade is perfect for this novel form of transport! Just around the corner from the marina is the fishing port where you can see the fishermen going about their daily business and also get a lovely view of Albufeira across the bay.
Albufeira is always bustling in the summer months, but it is a lovely place to wander around in the autumn and winter when the crowds have disappeared! Contrary to popular belief - the Algarve doesn't close down - the bars and restaurants are open, as are the shops! So for those of you who find July and August too hot and too busy - try the quieter pace of life in the Algarve during the out of season months - the sun still shines and Albufeira is still there to welcome you!
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For more information about the Algarve (Portugal) you can see our other Algarve Uncovered Resort Guides!