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Albufeira, Portugal - A Tourism Guide Updated for 2018

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, a vast selection of restaurants and a buzzing nightlife; there is so much to love about Albufeira, and this has transformed the once peaceful fishing village 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 hotels, making the town an ideal holiday destination for families, couples or groups looking to party. This guide will provide an introduction Albufeira for tourists who are planning to visit this fantastic region of Portugal.

Why have a holiday to Albufeira?

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. For those groups of visitors wanting a more of a hedonistic holiday should head to New Town and “The Strip”, a street crammed with bars and clubs which 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, which 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, these tours range from deep sea fishing, coastal tours, dolphin watching, and all the way through to party boats.

If you seek 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 has a lot to offer you for your holiday!
Related articles: Activities and sights - 1 week in Albufeira - Albufeira day trips

Albufeira for 2019

The Algarve is currently experiencing an unparalleled rejuvenation; new businesses are opening, hotels are being refurbished, and there is a sense of confidence and optimism about the region. 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. For a summary of the best hotels in Albufeira, based upon true and current reviews, please see Booking.com.
The following box lists any last-minute deals or late availability accommodation for Albufeira, as found by Booking.com:

Booking.com

How can Albufeira be suitable for both Families and Stag/Hen holidays?

Albufeira is able to cater for the two extremes of tourists (families and 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 children and toddlers.

To the east of the Old Town is the New Town, which is filled with large hotels and apartment complexes. At the heart of this area is The Strip, a street crammed with bars and clubs, designed for all-day drinking, late night partying and recovery food. This is the section of Albufeira ideal for groups, stag and hen do’s.

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 guideAlbufeira for children and family activities

When to Visit Albufeira

Albufeira has hot summers, warm springs and autumns, while winters are mild but can have extended grey and wet periods. The height of the summer season aligns with the school holidays (July and August) but the high season extends from June until September.

This extended summer season of Albufeira, which is much longer than many other resort towns, is due to the fact that Albufeira is popular with visitors who do not have children. If you are planning a holiday during the high season always book accommodation and flights well in advance.

Albufeira weather

The Average weather of Albufeira

The weather of the Algarve is suitable for spending time on the beaches from May until mid-October but be warned the seas are surprisingly cold, only reaching 20C at the height of the summer. The spring and autumn months are a great season for visitors who wish to explore the region, as days are bright and sunny but without the intense summer heat.

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 as there is a large permanent population, the town never fully closes in the winter and there are always restaurants, bars and cafes open.

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Water and Theme parks in Albufeira

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 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) Aquashow Park (19km €29 adult). The best theme park is Zoomarine (9km €29 adult), which is a combination of waterpark and sea life centre that specialises in dolphins

All the parks are excellently maintained, with great attractions and are enjoyable for visitors of all ages; the only downside are the tourist inflated entrance fees.

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:

Boat tours and trips

Some of the most popular activities in Albufeira are the boat tours or boat day trips. These range from jet boat rides, dolphin watching tours, coastline tours deep sea fishing and party boats! Albufeira has the largest selection of different sea-based activities due to the large marina complex on the western side of the town.

Albufeira Airport

The main international airport of Albufeira is at Faro, 40km to the east of Albufeira. Faro airport is a major airport and has flight connections covering the whole of Europe and is served by a selection of low-cost, national and charter airlines. Faro airport has recently undergone a major expansion and modernisation, but it will feel busy and chaotic in the summer.

There is very poor public transport from Faro airport 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 (1-4pax) or shared minibus/coach are from €15 per person, never plan just to get a taxi (or Uber) from the arrivals lounge as this will be very expensive.

To travel from Faro airport to Albufeira using public transport requires two buses (airport to Faro city and Faro city to Albufeira). There are very limited departures, poor connections and the buses are slow, but the journey is inexpensive.
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 comparative 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.

Restaurants, eating out and Food in Albufeira

Albufeira has the largest selection of restaurants, cafes and bars in the Algarve and in the extended town there are over 500 different establishments. These are all designed for tourists and the wide selection covers all styles of cuisine and dining, 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. Expect the evening meal to last for a good couple of hours and there to be a wait for freshly cooked food.

Portugal has the added appeal that it is a comparatively inexpensive country; with food, accommodation and transport much cheaper than many of the other established holiday destinations, especially when compared to Greece, or the Balearic islands. Albufeira is one of the most expensive locations in the Algarve for food, but it is significantly cheaper than back at home. Tipping is not compulsory but it is often expected as it helps to boost the meagre wages of the waiting staff.

Albufeira in the Summer

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 before Easter and the prices of flights skyrocket.

 

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The best guide to Albufeira

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