Albufeira – the complete guide (2019)
Albufeira is the ultimate family holiday destination and the best place in the Algarve to party. Albufeira is divided into the Old Town and the Strip. The Old Town is a beautiful white city with cobbled streets where you can find over a hundred family focused restaurants. The Strip is renowned for its nightlife full of discos, pubs and bars that stay open till early morning. It is very popular among young people who just graduated and groups of friends celebrating their hen & stag parties. Find out all the secret tips on Albufeira.
Albufeira – Highlights
Top attractions in Albufeira:
• A beautiful old town
• Vibrant nightlife in the Strip area
• Beautiful beaches
• A modern marina
Albufeira – General Information
Albufeira has a population of more than 40.000 inhabitants. Originally, it was a small fishing village, but nowadays it has developed into a large tourist destination. Despite all the touristic development, Albufeira has somehow retained the look and feel of an old fishing village.
The fishing village has transformed into the largest touristic hotspot of the Algarve.
Albufeira has two main areas: the old town and the Areias de São João, also known as ‘The Strip’. The old town has a lively center, with small streets between traditional white houses. There are many shops, bars and restaurants. You will also find street artists here, that entertain the crowd. The Strip is a relatively more modern area, full of bars, clubs and restaurants. The Strip is very much geared towards nightlife and is located near the Praia da Oura, a beach that is popular among tourists.
Albufeira – What to see
Visting the old town
Our suggestion is that you start the visit of Albufeira at the belvedere of ‘Pau da Bandeira’ on the eastern side. Here you can enjoy the best panoramic view over Albufeira and take good photographs. From here you see the whole town with its white houses, the beach with fishing boats, and the sea.
Walking down to the beach ‘Praia dos Barcos’ you can see the colourful fishing boats and the fishermen unloading fish or mending their nets. Near the beach, in front of the famous restaurant ‘A Ruina‘ you can see the building of the fish auction. From here you can walk up the street ‘Rua da Bateria’ and enjoy the beautiful views over the bay. Take the street ‘Rua da Igreja Velha’ (right) into the old town, to see its typical narrow streets and old houses.
At the end of this street you find the palace of the former northern entrance to the castle and some remains of the castle wall. To your left you have the street ‘Rua Henrique Calado’, where you can see the gothic portal of the old Lodging House building (nr. 9), another gothic portal of the Misericórdia Chapel and the old hospital (dated from 1885).
Now turn to your right and on the left you will see the hotel Sol e Mar. Take the staircase on the right to access the main street ‘Rua Cinco de Outubro’. Here you find the tourist information office. From this street you can access the beach (through a tunnel) and the main square (to the right), called ‘Largo Duarte Pacheco’, the meeting point of old and young, and central point of the evening scene.
The most important satellite developments are situated to the east of Albufeira and are Montechoro, Areias de São João and Oura. In these areas there are plenty of hotels, bars restaurants and discos.
Albufeira has a relatively new marina, which is located west of the center of the town. Here you can walk around and see the many boats in the marina, surrounded by colorful buildings. It has a different atmosphere than the rest of the city.
Guia is another village in the municipality of Albufeira. In this village you can eat the delicious piri-piri chicken. The chicken is barbecued on the charcoal and spiced with hot chili sauce. It can be served with a delicious tomato salad and chips. Piri-piri chicken is a delicious and cheap Algarvean specialty. Guia, a village 6 km far from Albufeira has specialised in piri-piri chicken.Try it in the restaurant O Teodósio.
you can take the bus to silves, faro or loulé
Nightlife in Albufeira
In and around the city there are lots of bars and discos. In both the old town and the ‘Strip’ area, there are all kinds of bars, including bars with live music, karaoke and bars where you can dance. Most clubs don’t get going until 1 a.m. and do not close until sunrise. The nightlife in Albufeira is like no other.
The superb beaches around Albufeira are surrounded by high sandstone cliffs, providing shade in summer and protection against the wind in the winter. The beaches are usually populated by tourists and colorful fishing boats.
The beaches west from the town are São Rafael, Castelo and Galé, three of the most beautiful beaches in central Algarve. Some of the best beaches east of the town are: Praia da Oura, Balaia, Santa Eulália, Olhos de Àgua and Praia da Falésia.
There are many good restaurants in Albufeira. Our absolute favourite ones are listed below.
- Os Arcos Restaurante. This Portuguese restaurant has excellent fresh fish and homemade food. It is located in the old town of Albufeira. The atmosphere is nice and the service is friendly.
- Restaurant O Marinheiro. Located in the area of Sesmarias, this restaurant has built a reputation for great Portuguese food. Their dishes are prepared with the freshest ingredients.
- Spice Lounge. If you like spicy food, this place is heaven. The Indian restaurant offers very tasty food and is not that expensive. Also, the service is really good.
- Senhor Frogs Pizzeria. This is one of the best pizzerias in Albufeira. Their pizzas are fantastic. It is located near the Strip, in the new town of Albufeira.
- Restaurant Vila Joya. This restaurant is run by Chef Dieter Koschina and has two Michelin stars. They offer a daily changing six-course menu. The quality of the food is superb. Located in the famous 5 star Vila Joya hotel.
- Al Quimia. This restaurant offers highly original dishes that are designed by Portuguese chef Luis Mourão. Located within the Epic Sana hotel, near Praia da Falesia.
Our favourite hotels in Albufeira are:
- Vila Joya. This 5 star resort is one of the most exclusive hotels of Albufeira. It has several swimming pools and spa facilities. The hotel houses a two star Michelin restaurant and overlooks the beach of Praia da Galé.
- PortoBay Falesia. This highly rated 4 star hotel near Praia da Falésia has a great view over the ocean. The hotel offers a nice swimming pool and wellness centre, including steam bath and fitness room. It has two restaurants: an international one and an Italian one.
- Velamar Boutique Hotel. This hotel is located near Olhos de Água. It was fully renovated a couple of years ago. It has everything you need for a great holiday in the Algarve. You can for example rent a bike from the hotel, which is a wonderful way to explore the area.
After the busy summer season of last year, we recommend to book your hotel now, as it will probably sell out. Below you can find a map with the location of hotels in Albufeira. By changing the date of your holiday, the map will show you the current prices.
Albufeira – Secret Tips
From Albufeira you can take an excursion by boat to see dolphins. While seeing a dolphin is no guarantee, it can be quite impressive when you see one. the chance of seeing at least one dolphin are about 50/50, but also depend on the weather, the wind and the water currents. And when you don’t see a dolphin, at least you have enjoyed a nice boat trip, with amazing views of the cliffs of Albufeira. Be sure to bring sun cream on your boat trip, because on sun can be quite strong.
You can take a diving course in Albufeira. There are courses for beginners and for the more advanced diving students. Diving is done in small groups and all groups are accompanied by an experienced PADI professional. Dives start from 35 euros. You can for example the diving course from the company Indigo Divers.
Albufeira is located on the beach and is a 35 kilometers drive from the airport of Faro.
Map of Albufeira