The best guide to Albufeira
Albufeira is the largest, liveliest and most energetic of all of the resort towns that line southern Portugal’s beautiful Algarve coastline. Albufeira provides stunning beaches, a glorious climate, varied eating and a buzzing nightlife. There is so much to love about Albufeira, and this is why this once peaceful fishing village has been transformed into the Algarve’s most popular holiday destination.
Being the largest resort town of the Algarve, Albufeira has an extensive range of activities, attractions and accommodation, making the town the ideal holiday destination for families, couples or groups looking to party. This guide will provide an introduction to Albufeira, for tourists who are planning to visit this fantastic region of Portugal.
Albufeira is an outstanding holiday destination, as it offers so much more than just gorgeous beaches and great weather. Within the charming and historic streets of the “Old Town” there are over one hundred different restaurants and bars, while the nightlife scene is vibrant and social, and continues late into the night.
If you are seeking a more hedonistic holiday, then you should head to the New Town, which is centred along “The Strip”. This street is crammed with themed-bars and clubs, and actively encourages excessive drinking and partying.
Though Albufeira welcomes a wide range of visitors, it is still primarily a family holiday destination, with facilities and activities that are perfectly suited for children of all ages. Young children will be welcomed throughout, while difficult to please teenagers will be entertained by the waterparks, theme parks and the general excitement about the town.
If during your holiday you tire of the beaches, there are many interesting day trips, including the historic and cultural towns of Silves, Faro and Loulé. These can be explored independently using the inexpensive bus services. A more leisurely activity is to join one of the excellent boat tours that depart from the marina, and these tours range from deep sea fishing, coastal tours, dolphin watching, and all the way through to party boats.
For a golfing holiday, Albufeira also can’t be beaten, combine world-class courses, amazing facilities and a social nightlife. Albufeira has a large expat and retiree community, and new visitors are often surprised that though the town has a hedonistic reputation, in fact, it possesses a personable and welcoming atmosphere, suitable for all ages.
Simply put, Albufeira is a fantastic holiday destination.
Related articles: Activities and sights - 1 week in Albufeira - Albufeira day trips
Albufeira is able to cater for the two extremes of tourists (families and party/stag/hen holidays) as there are two separate and very different areas of the town; the Old Town and The Strip (New Town).
The Old Town is the historic centre of Albufeira and is a series of traditional Portuguese streets and plazas, filled with family-friendly restaurants and shops. This district opens out on the Praia dos Pescadores, a calm and sheltered beach suitable for families and children.
The New Town lies to the east of Albufeira and is filled with modern hotels and sprawling apartment complexes. At the heart of this area is “The Strip”, a street crammed with themed bars and night clubs, designed for all-day drinking and late-night partying. At the base of “The Strip” is the Praia da Oura beach, the perfect setting to recovery after a heavy night.
This separation of the two areas allows for families and party focused groups to enjoy Albufeira at the same time, and not antagonise each other.
Related articles: Stag & hen Albufeira guide – Albufeira for children and family activities
Albufeira has hot summers, pleasant springs and autumns, and winters are mild but possibly wet. The height of the summer season aligns with the school holidays (July and August), while the high season extends from May until the end of September.
The weather is suitable for spending time on the beaches from May until mid-October, but the seas are surprisingly cold, only reaching 20C at the height of the summer.
The Average weather of Albufeira
Late spring and early autumn are the best times of year to visit southern Portugal, as days are bright and sunny, but without the intense summer heat or tourist masses.
The winter months are mild but are unpredictable, with an equal number of sunny days and grey days. Albufeira should not be considered as a winter sun destination, but the Algarve does offer some of the best winter weather in mainland Europe. Albufeira has a large permanent population, (with a mixture of expats and Portuguese) and the town never fully closes in the winter, many restaurants, bars and cafes open year-round.
The Algarve is currently experiencing massive growth within tourism; new businesses are opening, hotels are being refurbished, and the peak season is extending. Albufeira is expecting a record number of visitors for 2019, and this follows the sell-out summer in 2018.
This popularity does mean that to secure the best prices for accommodation and flights, they must be booked far in advance. Our advice for you, if you are seriously considering a holiday to Albufeira, book your accommodation now, as it will sell out.
The map below shows the location of Albufeira’s hotels, and if you adjust the dates to your holiday, it will display current prices and availability:
The Algarve has amazing water parks and theme parks, but there are none directly in Albufeira, so they need to be travelled to, either by car, taxi/uber or a shuttle service.
The best water park is Slide n’ Splash (30km from Albufeira, €27 adult), a huge complex of insane slides, flumes and rubber ring rides. Alternative and closer water parks include Aqualand (15km, €29 adult) and Aquashow Park (19km ,€29 adult). The best theme park is Zoomarine (9km, €29 adult), which is a combination of waterpark and sea life centre, which specialises in dolphins.
All of the theme parks are modern and well maintained, the only downside are the expensive entrance fees. Official websites are:
Zoomarine - https://www.zoomarine.pt
Aqualand - https://www.aqualand.pt/
Slide n’ Splash - http://slidesplash.com
Boat tours and trips
Some of the most popular activities in Albufeira are the boat tours and boat day trips. These range from jet boat rides, dolphin watching tours, coastline tours, deep sea fishing trips and party boats! Albufeira has the largest selection of different sea-based activities in the Algarve, and some of the best boat tours include:
Small group tours of the Algarve
There are many enjoyable organised tours on offer in Albufeira, which provide a hassle-free way to explore the region and a chance to meet fellow tourists. The standard of these tours has greatly improved over the last few seasons and now are much more for world travellers and clued up tourists. A selection of our favourite to discover the Algarve include:
Albufeira will sell out in the summer, and popular alternatives include: Lagos, Praia da Rocha and Vilamoura. Lagos is the most similar resort town to Albufeira, and boasts a charming historic centre, beautiful beaches and excellent tourist facilities. Praia da Rocha is a lively and modern resort town set on a massive beach, while Vilamoura has an exclusive marina, and is popular for golfing holidays. For a more relaxed holiday consider Carvoeiro or Alvor, and these are both ideal for families with younger children.
Our Opinion: Our favourite holiday destination in the Algarve is Tavira, and other highly recommended beach towns around Portugal include; Cascais, Sesimbra and Nazaré.
Related articles: Lagos guide - Praia da Rocha - Tavira - Cascais - Sesimbra - Nazaré
The main international airport of southern Portugal is Faro airport, and this is 36km to the east of Albufeira.
There is surprisingly poor public transport from Faro airport to Albufeira, and the majority of visitors either pre-book a private transfer or get a shared transfer from the airport. Private transfers to Albufeira are €32 (1-4 people) or shared minibus transfers are from €15 per person. Never plan just to get a taxi from the arrivals lounge as this will be very expensive. There is Uber in the Algarve, but demand is high during the summer.
To travel from Faro airport to Albufeira using public transport requires two buses journeys; the first from the airport to Faro city and the second from Faro city to Albufeira. The journey by public transport is inexpensive but there are few departures and long waits for connections.
Related articles: Faro airport to Albufeira
Warning, please read
There have been a number of sham residential letting websites, which have appeared on the internet, with bogus or copied listings (often of real apartments). These websites look professional (guarantees, refund policies etc) and often the prices are significantly cheaper.
Only ever book an apartment through a trusted website (booking.com, homeaway.co.uk etc) and never pay for accommodation by bank transfer. For more details please see the TripAdvisor forum post:
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g189111-i330-k11450362-Beware_Villa_Scam_bogus_company_PT_Villas_Algarve-Algarve.html (link opens new link)
Note: This type of scam is not just limited to the Algarve but is found in all major tourist destinations. The Algarve is just ripe for it, as demand for accommodation outstrips supply.
Albufeira has the largest selection of restaurants, cafes and bars in the Algarve, with over 500 different establishments. The wide selection covers all styles of cuisine, including Portuguese, English, Indian, Chinese, Italian and Spanish. The evening meal is an important part of the Portuguese day, and meals tend not to be rushed.
Portugal is one of the least expensive countries in Europe, and is significantly cheaper than many of the other established holiday destinations, such as Greece, or the Balearic Islands. Due to tourism Albufeira, is one of the most expensive locations in the Algarve, but still will be much cheaper than back at home.
Albufeira is the Algarve’s busiest holiday destination and the hundreds of hotels of the region are crammed with package tourists, especially during the school holidays. If you visit during this period expect beaches to be full, restaurants busy and prices at their most expensive.
Certain visitors may find the town to crowded, busy or hectic to fully enjoy while others may enjoy the buzz of the place. If planning to visit during the summer always book flights and accommodation well in advance as the best hotels sell out and the prices increase.