One of the top resorts in the Algarve, Albufeira has a wild nightlife, endless options for activities and many world-class beaches. As many as 25 beaches fly the blue flag here, more than any other city in Europe. It’s safe to say that most of your time will be spent in golden sands, ochre cliffs, azure waves and warm sunshine.
Although Albufeira is known for partying until dawn, the city center is a long way from all the craziest nightclubs. This quaint old town is more Portuguese, with restaurants serving fish and seafood caught by the town’s fishing boats.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Albufeira:
1. Falecia Beach
This six-kilometer beach en route to Vilamoura contains the best of the Algarve.
There is a long, spotless golden sandy beach surrounded by continuous cliffs.
These are layered with red and yellow limestone that seem to change with the angle of the sun.
You can walk along the beach on a cliff-top path, and take a steep staircase to the beach below.
With only isolated apartment buildings and villas on the cliffs, Praia da Falésia has a remote, pristine quality.
Children can spend carefree afternoons building sandcastles and shell hunting, and when the tide recedes, they can play in the wide, knee-length shallows.
2. San Rafael Beach
This stunning beach is a bit close to Albufeira’s old town, but completely far from the resort.
Its remoteness is due to the rugged foreshore, which you will traverse with the help of elevated walkways.
There are odd rocks on three sides of the beach, but also scattered along the water.
They are streaked with yellow, orange and red and are rough boulders and funnels.
Outcrops help protect the beach from the wind, and on calm days the waves are nothing more than ripples.
Depending on where you are, going out in Albufeira is a very different prospect.
In the case of the old town, the square has quaint seafood restaurants, cafés and typical Portuguese bars where you can sip a cold sagres and chat.
But a few kilometers to the east is the neon chaos of “Avenue”. Avenida Dr Francisco Sà Carneiro is a north-to-south avenue that gets crazier the closer you get to the waterfront.
There are bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues, fast food restaurants, and pretty much everything for young people who want to paint their town red.
4. Old Albufeira
The historic center of the town is perfect for wandering around for an hour or so.
It has winding streets that taper to the wingspan through ravines of whitewashed houses.
Many of these alleys have “Portuguese sidewalks” which are beautifully paved. The old part of Albufeira is located in the highlands and you will find yourself turning a corner and you can see the sea opposite Praia do Peneco.
Below is a pedestrian tunnel through the rock that takes you directly to the beach from the pedestrian Rua 5 de Outubro.
5. Water sports
Between the spectacular beaches, Albufeira’s coastline is littered with caves, and the only way to get to many of them is by water.
This is where many companies that arrange kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddle board excursions come in.
You’ll receive safety instructions and access to expert guidance, and in many cases, your guide will wear a GoPro to document your travel memorabilia.
The waves on the western beaches of Albufeira are usually surfable, and the constant breeze will allow you to windsurf and kitesurf almost any day.
Equipment rental and tuition are readily available at the resort.
6. Gale Beach
West of Albufeira has another long natural beach that feels far away from the neon lights and noise.
The eastern end of Praia da Galé has cliffs and groups of rocks, hidden pools and caves that can be fun to explore if you keep an eye on the tides.
This is also the densest part of the beach, where restaurants and bars ensure more comfort and convenience.
As you head east, the scenery flattens and things get a little quieter, but there are still some low outcrops scattered along the shore that kids will love to climb over.
7. Zoomarine Algarve
An essential day out for families in Albufeira, this attraction has marine animal demonstrations next to the water park.
If you care about animal welfare, you might be happy to see that Zoomarine Algarve is the only wildlife rehabilitation center in the area.
There are also habitats for various animals, including crocodiles and tropical birds, as well as arenas for dolphins, birds of prey and seal/sea lion shows.
In addition to these shows, there are stunt performers, a 4D cinema and swimming pools, wavy beaches, fast rivers and water slides in the water park.
Book Online: Zoomarine Amusement Park Tickets in the Algarve
8. Miradouro do Pau da Bandeira
Cliffs and steep hills, Albufeira has several places to stop and enjoy the view.
The easiest to find is on a rock between Praia do Inatel and Praia do Peneco.
You are in the southeast corner of the old town and you can look back across the bay to a picturesque townscape of whitewashed houses on the hills.
There are escalators to take you to this perch, and several benches under a metal canopy point to town, the beach or the sea.
9. Igreja Matriz
The main church of Albufeira was built at the end of the 18th century and has stately neoclassical architecture.
There’s a barrel vault, filigree stucco on the ceiling, and a modern altarpiece by Algarve artist Samora Barros.
Of real interest is the Marian statue of Nossa Senhora da Orada, carved in the 1400s.
This is the patron saint of Albufeira’s fishermen, and every August 15th, a procession takes the image from the church to the 15th-century Nossa Senhora da Orada hermitage, where it was originally installed.
The route also includes a short voyage from the marina to Praia do Inatel.
10. Salgados Beach
The most secluded and natural of all the beaches in Albufeira is this one that borders the lagoon.
To say the beaches are spotless is almost redundant, almost every beach in Albufeira is a Blue Flag recipient for perennial cleanliness.
But apart from the remote village of Armação de Pera and a restaurant, there are no buildings at all, allowing you to be one with nature here.
Unlike most other beaches in the area, this beach faces west and is therefore more susceptible to sea breezes, with strong surf suitable for water sports and beautiful sunsets.
There is a boardwalk at the rear with views of the Salgados Lagoon, which is teeming with birds in the fall and spring.
11. Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Albufeira
In the compact historical core of Albufeira, the Archaeological Museum is located in the former town hall of Praça da República, with sea views.
It is suitable for anyone interested in the different cultures that have called this place home since ancient times, with artifacts from prehistoric, Roman, Islamic, medieval Portuguese and early modern times.
Some of the highlights are Neolithic ships, architectural fragments of Roman villas unearthed and sacred artworks recovered from the old church of Albufeira.
Impressively, much of the collection was assembled by a single man, Padre José Manuel Semedo de Azevedoa, priest and head of the Albufeira Tourism Council in the mid-20th century.
12. Outdoor sports
The great thing about being in one of the busiest resorts in the Algarve is that there’s a lot to do when you want to get away from the beach for a day.
On land, hikes, pony rides, horseback rides and classes are available at one of the two equestrian centres near Albufeira.
For petrolheads, quad bike rides up the hills, through dusty bush, and explore small villages to the north and east of Albufeira.
For families, Albufeira Adventure Park is an adventure park with walkways, ziplines and rope bridges suspended under a canopy of stone pine trees like a tree village.
There is no danger as you will be wearing a seat belt and connected to a safety wire.
13. Castelo de Paderne
For more history, you can explore the ruins of a medieval castle not far from Albufeira.
The castle sits on a promontory at the bend of the Quarteira River, in an arid Mediterranean landscape of olive and carob trees.
The structure is in ruins, but much remains, with arches, thick walls and chapel shells for adventure.
It was built by the Moors during the Christian reconquest in the 12th century and captured after the massacre in 1248.
The castle is one of seven that appear on the Portuguese coat of arms.
At the foot of the hill you can also find a small bridge over the Quarteira of the same era.
14. Boat tour
Albufeira’s marinas are stepping stones for surf adventures.
If you want to drive, sailing lessons and yacht charters are available.
But you can also join an organized cruise along Albufeira’s unrivaled coastline.
Usually you go into those caves, stop for a barbecue on a quiet beach, and if the sea is calm, you can jump to the side for a swim.
Nature is also abundant in these waters, and dolphin watching tours offer the perfect opportunity to spot bottlenose, risor or common dolphins in the wild.
With the Atlantic pounding on the shore and a small group of fishermen still working in Albufeira, you can bet fish and seafood should be on the menu.
The signature dish across the Algarve has to be the cataplana, a stew named after the making of metal cookware.
Recipes can vary, but usually some clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and lobster are added to the tomato soup.
Caldeirada is another delicious stew that includes a mixture of white and oily fish, as well as mussels, clams, squid, and other seafood, simmered with tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Albufeira, Portugal
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