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The best guide to Albufeira

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Albufeira - Sights and activities, things to do and see

Albufeira is the Algarve’s premier resort town, which boasts glorious beaches, a scenic old town and a buzzing atmosphere. The town is often purely regarded as a beach holiday destination, but there is a surprising amount to see and do within the central Algarve region. This guide will detail the most popular sights and activities for a holiday to Albufeira.

Albufeira early in the evening

Albufeira beach - early in the day before the crowds arrive!

The beaches – Sights Albufeira

The Algarve is famed for its beautiful beaches and the Albufeira has one of the largest beaches of the central region. The Praia dos Pescadores provides soft golden sands, crystal clear waters that are clean and safe for children to swim in. Often shrieks and squeals can be heard from people playing in the waters and this is commonly due to the shockingly cold sea temperatures (16-18C), but who cares when the beach is at 32oC! As Albufeira is such a popular tourist destination the beaches can get very crowded during the summer months but there are quieter beaches to west near the town of Gale.

Eat and drink – Things to do Albufeira

Albufeira has the largest selection of restaurants, cafes and bars of any Algarve resort town and within the vicinity of the town are over 500 establishments. This vast selection of restaurants cater for every taste, preference and cuisine style, and dining out in Portugal is significantly cheaper than back at home. When choosing a hotel, it is advisable not to go all-inclusive as this will severely limit the options of when and where to eat, also half-board hotles often do not include meal time drinks, which can be very expensive.

Albufeira nightlife

Long nights in the old town of Albufeira

The nightlife of Albufeira is equally as varied, with and ecliptic mix of bars ranging from tacky and themed to uber-chic. There are two distinct nightlife areas of Albufeira, with the Old Town more family, couples and traditional holiday focused while the Strip is ideal for groups seeking wild nights and over drinking.

Day Trip to Loule

Loule is a charming Portuguese market town, which makes for an enjoyable day trip from Albufeira. The town has a pretty daily market (except Sunday) that is housed in a North African inspired covered market, while the pretty cobbled backstreets of Loule are filled with quaint house and small shops. Loule has a distinctively Portuguese ambience, with locals socialising in open air cafes, women gossiping in doorways and old men sat all day on the same bench – Loule is wholly different from Albufeira. Loule is a great excursion and is connected to Albufeira by a direct bus service that departs from Albufeira bus station. For a guide to Loule please click here.

town hall of Loule

The town hall of Loule

Water Parks – Albufeira activities

A European summer holiday destination wouldn’t be a decent one without a crazy waterpark and the Algarve exceeds, with many fantastic choices. There are three major water parks within the central Algarve; Slide and Splash, Aqualand and Aquashow. These water parks are great fun for children, teenagers and adults and within the safe and well maintained complexes are gravity defying flumes, near vertical slides and colossal rubber ring rides. The only downside are the overly inflated entrance fees of around €27/€19 (adult/child), which dampen the bill payer’s spirits. Links to the English websites are:

http://www.aquashowparkhotel.com/en

http://www.aqualand.pt/en/

http://www.slidesplash.com/en/

(links opens new window)

algarve water park

There are great water parks in the Algarve

Day Trip to Silves – Albufeira things to do

If all the sun, sand and long nights of Albufeira get to much take a day trip to pretty Silves, for a dose of history and culture. Silves was the North African Moors capital of the Algarve during their occupation of the southern Portugal and a mighty fort was constructed to defend the fertile lands. Today, Silves is an incredibly scenic town, being on the banks of the Arade River, with cobbled streets, traditional painted Portuguese houses leading up to the imposing red brick castle. Silves is best described as the quintessential Portuguese town. Silves is much further away than Loule but there is a direct bus from Albufeira bus station and this makes it possible to visit as a day trip. For a guide to Silves please click here.

silves portugal

Silves is a pretty town

Zoomarine – Albufeira sights

Zoomarine is wonderful marine park that specialises in dolphins, marine life and topical birds. In the marine park there is a diverse selection of activities including dolphin shows, aquariums, and a good water park with slides, wave pools and rapids. The animals of Zoomarine are kept in modern facilities and all are well cared for. The variety of attractions means Zoomarine is ideal for both families and young couples but again has a steep entrance fee of €29/ €19 (adult/child).

I'm so cute!

I'm so cute!

Boat trips, tours and fishing trips – Albufeira things to do

Departing from the marina are an assortment of different boat trips, which include tours of the coastline, dolphin spotting and deep sea fishing. For the more adventurous are speed boat tours, jet boats or jet-skis, while for stag or hen do's there are party boats with unlimited drinks….Typical cost are:

• 3 hour caves/coastline tour €26/€17 (adult/child)

• 2 hour Dophin tour €35/€25 (adult/child)

• 3 hour deep sea fishing (20-30m) for snapper, mackerel, grouper €35/€25 (adult/child)

• 3 hour sunset party boat (including drinks) €30

Albufeira boat tours

The Albufeira boat tours

Try Portuguese Food

Albufeira is an ideal location to try local and traditional Portuguese cuisines. Portuguese foods tends to be heart and filling (often served with rice, chips and bread as a starter) and Algarve specialities are based around freshly caught fish or shellfish. One dish to try is Cataplana, a seafood rice stew, that is both cooked and served in a large copper dish that resembles the key ingredient, clams. Cataplana is designed to be shared, with the copper dish being placed in the centre of the table. Locally produced wines are the perfect accompaniment for any meal!

A prawn Cataplana

A prawn Cataplana - yummy!

Go karting

There is an excellent indoor go karting circuit in the marina complex (bottom level of the underground car park). The karts are fast, the track is good and the whole experience is great fun. There are a range of prices with discounts for groups but prices start from €25 for 20 minutes.

silves portugal

The karts are fast

High Ropes and forest adventure

Tired of all of that eating and sitting around? Well then go to Luso Aventura for a forest adventure, which contains high rope walkways, vertical nets, cobweb and monkey bridges that span the forests just to the east of Albufeira. This is suitable for children and adults as there are varying levels of difficulty, the 2 hour “fearless” course cost €17, for more information see the Luso Aventura website:

http://www.lusoaventura.com/uploads/PDF/Folheto_Parque_Aventura_Albufeira.pdf

Cinema

For those very infrequent wet days a trip to the cinema may be the perfect day time activity. The latest movies are shown with English audio, as Portuguese movies have subtitles (and not dubbed), the only exception are kids movies. Albufeira’s cinema is in the Algarve Shopping complex. The latest listing can be seen of the Nos Cinema website:

http://cinemas.nos.pt/

(link opens new window, which unfortunately is only in Portuguese, the Algarve cinema is called “Forum Algarve”)

Golf – Albufeira things to do

The Algarve is famed for it’s wonderful golf courses and though Albuferia is not a common golf based holiday destination it is very easy to both hire clubs and travel to the courses. The three course close to Albufeira are Salgados (18hole), Pine cliffs (9hole) and Balaia (9hole).

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