Albufeira: Where to Stay and Where to Play

A vibrant resort town located about a 30-minute drive from the Faro Airport, Albufeira is a great place to stay if you are looking for a fun and exciting holiday.

Once a fishing village, the area was turned into a resort community in the 1960s. With a number of beautiful beaches, warm climate, and nearby golf courses, it isn’t hard to see why!

Here’s a look at everything you need to know to get the most out of your trip to Albufeira and the Algarve coastline!

What to do in Albufeira

There is never a dull moment in Albufeira. It may be a town of only 40,000 people, but there’s lots to see and lots to get up to. Here are some of our favorites:

Visit the Old Town

The historic center of Albufeira is an interesting glimpse into the past. Here, the narrow streets are laid out in intricate cobblestone mosaic patterns leading to you through the many alleyways and squares.

The main square in Old Town is known as Largo Duarte Pacheco. This plaza is surrounded by many cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops. If you are looking for a place to sit, sip a cold beverage, people watch, and even catch a street performance or two,  you’ve found it! It is also near here, on Rua 5 de Outubro, that you will find the tourist information office.

The Old Town is the best place to see the traditional Portuguese whitewashed houses. And, given that this section is located on high ground, it is not unusual to turn a street corner and catch a stunning view of the sea and Praia do Túnel!

If you follow Rua 5 de Outubro you will find a foot tunnel through the rock to the beach.

Hit the Beach

The Algarve is known to have some of the best beaches in Portugal and when it comes to beaches, you have many to choose from in Albufeira and each one has its own unique charm and attributes.

The following are just 5 of the area’s best!

Praia da Gale

Just 4km west of town, this beach is divided into two parts: east and west.

The eastern side of the beach (on the left if you’re looking at the sea!), is narrow with many rock formations. The water is quite shallow and forms small pools in the rocks. This makes the eastern side of Praia da Gale the perfect beach for small children. And, for those who enjoy a good investigation, there are a few caves to explore and, if you look closely enough, you may even find some fossils in some of the rocks!

The western side of the beach is much larger and is perfect for water sports like surfing and jet skiing. This side of the beach also has many nearby bars and restaurants and you can rent sun loungers to make your beach visit more comfortable!

Praia dos Pescadores

Known as the “Fisherman’s Beach,” once upon a time, you’d see many a fishing boats here with fishermen repairing nets on the short. Now, it’s a popular sun and fun spot. Located along the Old Town, this is one of the most popular beaches in Albufeira.

The sand here often contains pieces of shells so you might want to consider wearing flip flops or water shoes when up and about.

The location of this beach makes it a convenient place for a quick dip in the Atlantic or to do something more adventurous like parasailing.

Behind the beach you will find a square that easily connects you to the Old Town. There is always activity in the square so if you get bored lounging around, you don’t have far to go to find a little excitement.

Praia do Túnel

Separated from Praia dos Pescadores by a protruding rock, Praia do Túnel is obviously another very conveniently located beach.

The water here is clear but be careful because it can get deep in a real hurry. In the summer, there is an inflatable water park so if you are visiting this, or Praia dos Pescadores, with children, there is plenty to keep them occupied.

This is the perfect beach for long walks and at low tide, you can see many incredible shells!

From this beach, you can walk to the cave of Xorino. This cave was used by the Moors as a hiding place after the Christian conquest of Albufeira in the 13th Century. Just walk west. You’ll see a promenade and at the end of it will be the cave.

Praia da Falésia

Praia da Falésia is not only considered one of the best beaches in Portugal, but it is also believed to be one of the best beaches in the world!

Found near Olhos de Agua this beach is about a 20-minute drive from Albufeira. Surrounded by gorgeous red cliffs, this beach is more than worth the trip.

The beach itself is 6km long so no matter how busy it is, you can still be comfortable. There are many nearby restaurants and a snack bar located on the western side of the beach near the car park.

Paragliding, scuba diving, snorkeling, and surfing are all available closer to the eastern end of the beach.

There is a hiking trail that runs along the clifftops and offers absolutely breathtaking views. If you can swing it, try to take in a sunrise or a sunset from the cliff tops. There are few places on earth where you’ll find a more spectacular display.

If cliffs aren’t your thing and you’d rather walk the beach, it will take about 2 hours to do the whole thing.

Praia São Rafael

Like Praia da Falésia, Praia São Rafael is iconic and well known for its surrounding rock formations.

The sand here is a beautiful golden color and while the beach is often crowded, it isn’t hard to find a little bit of it for yourself.

Years of erosion from the wind and water have lead to some very unique rock formations. Take a moment or two to explore the grottos that have formed along the shore.

If you are interested in snorkeling, the water here is warm and crystal clear, making it the perfect place to go looking for interesting sea life!

Party on The Strip

For a real taste of nightlife in the Algarve, head to the Strip!

The nightlife found in the Strip stands in stark contrast to what you will find in the Old Town. The Old Town offers lovely seafood restaurants and bars where you can drink regional wine and enjoy the conversation of your companions. The Strip, on the other hand, is a 2km stretch loaded with bars and nightclubs that just scream “good times found here!”

The Strip is not for the faint of heart, however. Most clubs don’t really get going until about 1am and they often stay hopping until sunrise!

Play Golf

There are many really great golf courses and golf resorts around Albufeira. The closest courses are Pine Cliffs in Olhos de Agua, Salgados in Guia, and Balaia which is close to the center. Pine Cliffs and Salgados both have incredible views of the Algarve coast.

If you want to play and stay, or travel a little farther afield for your round, there are two fabulous golf resorts just a short drive away.

Vale do Lobo

Vale do Lobo is a resort that contains TWO championship courses: Ocean and Royal. Ocean is one of the oldest courses in the Algarve and has some spectacular ocean views. The Royal is famous for its 16th hole that carries a clifftop! In fact, it is one of the most photographed holes in all of Europe! You’ve got to see it to believe it!

Quinta do Lago

This place should be on the bucket list of every golfer. The World Golf Awards has twice named it Europe’s best golf destination and Golf Digest has twice given it the “Editors’ Choice Award for Best International Resorts.” Three courses and all the amenities you could want. Is there anything better?

Visit the Theme Parks

Albufeira is situated near two fabulous theme parks: Zoomarine and Parque Aventura.

Zoomarine has been voted the best theme park in Portugal and offers fun for the whole family. With a waterpark as well as live animal shows featuring dolphins, seals, and sea lions as well as demonstrations with tropical birds and birds of prey, it is impossible to have a bad day at this location!

Parque Aventura is, as the name would suggest, and adventure park that has zip lines, high rope courses, and paintball! If a day of active fun is on the agenda, head to Parque Aventura!

Tour Paderne Castle

Just a short drive from Albufeira lies the ruins of the medieval Paderne Castle. It was built by the Moors in the 12th century and captured in 1248 after a massacre carried out by the conquering Christians.

There are plenty of interesting elements to explore here despite being in ruins.

Paderne Castle is one of the castles featured on Portugal’s coat of arms! It would be a shame to be so close and not pay a visit!

Take a boat tour

Boat trips are one of the best ways to see the beauty of the Algarve. Some of the most amazing features of the coastline in Albufeira is the rock formations and cliffs. While they look great from land, they look even better by sea.

There are boat trips leaving from the Albufeira marina that will take you to view the popular Benagil Sea Cave, or, you can take a 2-hour combined dolphin watching and cave tour. If you have a little more time, you can take a tour of Ria Formosa Natural Park. This particular excursion will require a full day as the tour will pick you up in Albufeira and transport you to where the boat launches. The boat tour itself is 4 hours long.

Where to stay in Albufeira

As a popular holiday destination, there are lots of great places to stay in this area. If you’d like to book an apartment we have several options for you to choose from.

Whether you want to stay in a 5-star hotel or go on a camping adventure, you’ll find it in Albufeira.

Here are a few of the more popular places to stay: 

PortoBay Falesia

PortoBay Falesia. This hotel is located near Praia da Falésia and has great ocean views. The hotel has 2 restaurants, a swimming pool, a fitness center, a steam bath, and a wellness center. Simply put, it has everything you need to for an incredible holiday.

Vila Joya

Vila Joya is one of the most exclusive hotels in the region. Overlooking Praia da Gale, this hotel is conveniently located and full of luxurious amenities. With a two star Michelin restaurant you can enjoy fine food after spending a day relaxing by one of the many swimming pools or taking advantage of the spa facilities.

Where to eat in Albufeira

There are plenty of culinary delights to be found in Albufeira! Whether you’re looking for traditional Portuguese food or something else entirely, you’ll find it here.

Here are some can’t miss restaurants:

Três Pammeiras

This is a traditional, family-run establishment that serves up some of the best Portuguese food in town! Try the rabbit stew or the cataplan-cooked seafood stew. Located a little outside the touristy part of town, this restaurant offers incredible food at very reasonable prices.

Castelo do Mar

This restaurant is on a hill overlooking the harbor in an old, renovated building. It offers incredible, fresh, local cuisine. But if you aren’t feeling like Portuguese fare, there are some British and European dishes on the menu as well. If you want to savor a view while savoring a meal, this is the place for you!

If in the Algarve, it is hard NOT to visit Albufeira. With so many beaches, nightlife, resorts, sights, and nearby activities, there is something to suit all holiday makers. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway, a little adventure, or a wild, celebratory party atmosphere, be sure to plan a stay in Albufeira.