Albufeira Travel Guide
Overview A busy trading port in ancient times, Albufeira declined into a
poor fishing town in the 18th century, having been swamped by tidal
waves and burnt out by civil war. But since the 1960s the tide has
turned again and this central Algarve enclave is once more awash
with prosperity, thanks to a tourist boom.
Albufeira, Portugal's most popular holiday resort, has been
described as a stretch of 'holiday-land suburbia', spreading from
the old town both east and west along the coast, its sandy coves
and golden beaches drawing an assorted crowd from retired couples
to wild teens, and plenty of families with young children.
Satellite resort developments provide every imaginable type and
grade of accommodation.
Everyone finds something to enjoy in this sprawling, low-rise
holiday destination, which retains its old world charm in narrow
alleyways behind the new hip and happening "Strip". The Strip, to
the east of town, runs from the Montechoro Hotel down to the Praia
da Oura, lined with dozens of cafés, restaurants and bars
that keep pumping from breakfast time to the small hours. On the
long stretch of beach below Albufeira's central square, accessed
through a tunnel, craggy fishermen mend their nets, unperturbed by
the languishing topless sunbathers around them.
While the chief holiday attraction of Albufeira is its numerous
enchanting beaches, most protected by ochre-tinted cliffs, there
are some interesting sightseeing possibilities too, like the new
Virtual Archaeological Museum, the Municipal Art Gallery and a
small museum showcasing Ming ceramics. Those who venture inland
will find a tranquil green countryside to explore, replete with
almond, fig, orange and pine trees, where little villages stand
timelessly in the sun.
Peneco beach © all4u+
Shopping From seafront kiosks full of fun-in-the-sun odds and ends to a
full on shopping mall experience, Albufeira can keep most shoppers
reaching for their wallets with a tantalising array of merchandise.
The town's main shopping plaza is the Modelo Centre in Rua de
Municipio, north of downtown. Not far away is the lively Algarve
Shopping Complex in Guia, where brand name shoes and clothes are on
offer in a high street mall type complex, along with restaurants,
an English-language cinema and bowling alley. Those seeking genuine
local souvenirs should look out for mats made from rush or
cornhusks in the villages of Almeijoafras and Monte Novo, woven
baskets, woodcarvings and some glazed terracotta ceramics. These
are to be found in numerous independent shops in the town centre as
well as local markets.
Restaurants Like everywhere in Portugal, seafood is the speciality of the
house in most of the dozens of restaurants in and around Albufeira.
The catch of the day is guaranteed to be fresh in this traditional
fishing town, particularly in the eateries clustered at Fisherman's
Beach, below the main town square. Specialities to seek out are
sardines, flounder and bass, lobster and prawns. A true local dish
is Caldeirada, a stew made up of several types of fish, cooked up
with potatoes, peppers and parsley. Steamed clams, cuttlefish
cooked in their ink and octopus salad are other indigenous culinary
adventures. The local wine is a worthy accompaniment.
Nightlife After a day in the sun most holidaymakers enjoy sipping a drink
at one of Albufeira's many outdoor cafés, watching the world
go by, before adjourning to one of the lively bars that surround
the town square or line The Strip. Bars keep hopping until three or
four in the morning, but those who want to dance the night away can
keep going until sunrise at one of the nightclubs or discotheques
that are ten a penny in the town.
Activities While on holiday in Albufeira, relaxing on the golden beaches
and in the warm, clear water is enough to content most vacationers,
with about 23 beaches (some with Blue Flag status) in the area
along a 19-mile (30km) stretch of coastline. Watersports of all
sorts are on offer at the main beaches, from sailing and
windsurfing to jet skiing. Golfers can try out the neat nine-hole
Pine Cliffs course about three miles (5km) east of Albufeira at the
Those with children will spend fun times at Zoo Marine in Guia,
just a few miles away, with water slides, swimming pools, dolphin
shows and an aquarium. Just wandering around the intriguing old
town centre is a pleasant way to pass a day. Look out for
interesting local landmarks like the Clock Tower at Rua Bernardino
de Sousa, and the 18th century Parish Church on the Rua da Igreja
Nova, built on the site of an earlier one that collapsed in the
earthquake of 1755.
One of the few buildings that survived that quake is the Old Inn
on Rua Henrique Calado. Also fascinating is the Xorino Cave, which
served as shelter for fugitive Moors during the Christian conquest
of the town in ancient times. There is also an archaeological
museum in Albufeira and several art galleries worth visiting while
Negatives During the height of summer Albufeira is a favoured holiday
destination for young singles, and it can become a bit rowdy at