Albufeira is Algarve’s
beach haven. Stretching 30km along the coastline, the city has more than
a handful of beaches. Some are wide open with long stretches of sand,
while others are nestled between rocky cliffs waiting to be discovered.
old fishing village became a popular holiday destination in the 1960s,
thanks to its wide range of beaches and warm climate. More than 40,000
people live in the city of Albufeira, a number that increases
exponentially during the summer months with the annual wave of tourists.
Much like other regions in the Algarve, Albufeira was also occupied by
the Arabs. Indeed, the name comes from the Arab word “Al-buhera”,
meaning castle of the sea.
Our itinerary below will show you the best
things to do in Albufeira, including top beaches, restaurants and
hotels, to help you make the most of your trip.
Begin your day exploring the Old Town, passing through narrow cobbled
streets dotted with shops, bars and restaurants. Largo Engenheiro Duarte
Pacheco is one of the city’s main squares and a great starting point
for your tour.
Stop by the Galeria Pintor Samora
Barros. This contemporary art gallery is named after the painter Samora
Barros who was born in Albufeira. The building itself is impressive,
with its bright white walls, large glass windows (also framed in white),
and a tiled sign stating “Central Elétrica”, a reminder of the
building’s past life as a power station. Keep an eye on the calendar for
the temporary exhibits.
After exploring the gallery, walk to
Albufeira’s main church. You can easily recognise it by its tall bell
tower that still chimes on the hour. This neoclassical church was built
in the 18th century, replacing the original church destroyed during the
1755 earthquake. Inside, the decoration is very modest compared to other
churches around the Algarve. The main altar is adorned with a beautiful
painting by Samora Barros that stands behind the statue of Nossa
Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of the Conception), the city’s patron
Continue on to another church, the Igreja de
São Sebastião, which houses the Museum of Sacred Art in Albufeira. The
museum gathers a series of religious items belonging to several churches
in the region that survived the earthquake. The handpainted tiles are
also a highlight.
Just around the corner
from the church is the Archaeological Museum of Albufeira, showcasing
the city’s evolution from prehistoric days to the modern ages. Beyond
the permanent exhibition, the museum also has a space for temporary
shows and a thematic library.
Spend the afternoon exploring Albufeira’s beaches. There are over
a dozen beaches in Albufeira, each with its own appeal and all with
golden sands. The closest beaches to the centre are Praia dos Pescadores
(known as the Fisherman's Beach) and Praia do Túnel, which can be
easily accessed by an escalator that leads to the waterfront.
looking to escape the crowds, however, you can drive a bit further away
and visit Albufeira’s more secluded beaches. Praia de São Rafael, Praia
da Falésia or Praia da Coelha are great alternatives.
At Praia de São
Rafael, you’ll find stunning orange cliffs and unique rock formations
that have been shaped by the wind and the waves. Two of them even have
names: “Ponte Pequena” (Small Bridge) and “Ninho das Andorinhas”
(Swallow’s Nest). Many of these rock formations continue under the
surface, making this an ideal spot for snorkelling. Alternatively, you
can join a stand-up paddle tour and explore the caves and grottoes near
From a distance, Albufeira is a sea of whitewashed houses sitting on a
hill. There is no better place to capture this than at the Miradouro Pau
da Bandeira, a small viewpoint across from Praia dos Pescadores. Catch
the sunset here before heading down to the Strip.
Get a feel of Albufeira’s nightlife scene at the Strip. Located on Avenida Sá Carneiro, this 2km stretch is the city’s party hub, packed with a series of bars and clubs that are constantly busy during the high season, like Liberto’s and Kiss. In the summer, you can also enjoy many beach parties.
About 2km west of the city centre is the marina. You can walk there
in about 20 minutes, but depending on where you’re staying, you might be
better off getting a car or a taxi. The area stands out with its blocks
of pretty pastel-coloured buildings in shades of pink, yellow and blue.
These are occupied by a variety of restaurants, shops, bars and a
recreational centre. The marina is also the jumping-off point for many
boat tours. You can go dolphin-watching or explore the nearby Benagil
Cave. This iconic natural wonder sits just off the Benagil beach and is
one of the most photographed places in the Algarve. You can get there by
boat, SUP or kayak, though only the smaller vessels can get closer to
Rent a car and drive north towards the Algarve Shopping, an outdoor
shopping centre in Guia with more than a hundred shops, a food court and
a cinema. Unlike most shiny shopping centres, Algarve Shopping evokes
the region’s architecture with its blue and white façades and also
through its logo, representing a stork, a bird that you can frequently
spot throughout the Algarve.
The town of Guia is famous for its
chicken, locally known as “Frango da Guia”, so be sure to try some while
you’re here. O Teodósio has been serving this local speciality since
1982. You can order the chicken with or without piri piri.
Slowly make your way to Paderne. Park the car and follow the walking
trail leading to the town’s castle, which passes through a medieval
bridge, an old mill and a fountain. The Castle of Paderne is one of the
seven castles represented on the Portuguese national flag. Built in the
12th century, when the Algarve was occupied by the Moors, it was
conquered by the Portuguese in 1248. Today, only a few things remain
from this ancient fortification: its surrounding ochre walls and a
ruined church dating back to the 16th century. Before setting off, it's
worth checking that the castle is open, as it has recently been closed
A short drive from the castle is the Côrte-Real Art Gallery, one of Albufeira’s hidden gems. Set in an old farmhouse surrounded by majestic green fields, the gallery presents a collection of contemporary artwork from both national and international artists. They also sell hand-painted ceramics and locally sourced olive oil. Note that the gallery is closed from Monday to Wednesdays, so skip this and return to the centre if you happen to be around in one of these days.
Lagoa dos Salgados: Around 20 minutes west
from Albufeira is this freshwater wetland, also known as the Pera
Marsh. You can explore the surroundings by following the wooden walkways
or cycle paths. It’s also an ideal spot for birdwatching. Keep an eye
out for the Bee-eaters in spring and summer and the rare Richard’s Pipit
Carvoeiro and Ferragudo: Stick to the coastline and
explore the quaint fishing villages of Carvoeiro and Ferragudo. The area
is famous for its beaches and grottoes, which provide the perfect
setting for snorkelling and paddle boarding. Seafood is also abundant in
the towns restaurants. From Ferragudo, you can take a ferry up the
river to Silves.
Albufeira provides several family entertainment options, including two big theme parks, Parque Aventura and Zoomarine. Parque Aventura is an adventure park featuring rope bridges and zip lines, while Zoomarine is a water park with dolphin stunt shows, swimming pools and an aquarium situated about 10km west. You can also see dolphins in the wild by hopping on a boat tour from the Albufeira Marina.
there are no water parks in Albufeira. There are three located within
30km, but our favourite is Aquashow, 15-20km east. Luckily, there are
plenty of beaches nearby where you can for a swim.
The city is
also home to the Algarve Shopping, a large shopping centre in Guia with
over 100 shops, a food court and a cinema — a great alternative for a
Like most towns on the Algarve coast, Albufeira is renowned for its
seafood. Among the most popular dishes here are grilled sardines and the
cataplana (a seafood stew). But there’s also a variety of international
options, including Italian, Indian and British cuisine. From affordable
tascas to Michelin-star restaurants, here are some of the best places
to eat in Albufeira:
Vila Joya: You’ll find this two-Michelin-star
restaurant inside the Vila Joya resort. Austrian chef Dieter Koschina
has curated a menu featuring a mix of Portuguese and international
flavours, with a big focus on seafood. The terrace overlooking the sea
adds even more to the experience.
Cabana Fresca: Set on the edge of Praia dos
Pescadores, this restaurant provides an incredible view over the ocean
and a menu full of fish and seafood delicacies, as you would expect from
its location. Start with the Camarão à Pescador, a plate of fried
prawns cooked with onion and garlic and don’t miss the seafood
Veneza: While in Paderne, it’s worth
stopping by Veneza. The walls of this restaurant are stacked with
thousands of wine bottles and spirits. If you’re unsure what to order,
the staff will gladly give you a recommendation. As for the food,
specialities include the pork loin medallions and the carob cake.
NAU São Rafael (5 stars): With all-inclusive rates, this luxurious
hotel is only a few minutes walk from Praia de São Rafael. The elegant
rooms and suites feature modern decor, and some have balconies with
ocean views. Other facilities include a spa, tennis court, outdoor pool,
and multiple restaurants and bars.
PortoBay Falésia (4 stars):
Located in the village of Olhos de Água, this hotel sits on a cliff
above Praia da Falésia. Most rooms offer sea views. When you get tired
of the beach, you can always retreat to the hotel’s swimming pools or
spa. There are also two restaurants and a bar on-site.
Beach (3 stars): 3HB stands between the Strip and Praia da Oura, meaning
you can enjoy both the beach and the nightlife. It offers a variety of
apartments ranging from one bedroom to three bedrooms. Additional
amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a fitness centre,
and a bar.
Hotel: This award-winning resort offers fantastic ocean views and direct
access to Praia da Falésia. Guests can choose between rooms, apartments
and villas. The multiple restaurants on-site serve a mix of Portuguese
and international cuisine. There is also a golf course, a tennis court, a
spa, and an indoor and outdoor pool.
Salgados Dunas Suites: Close
to the Lagoa dos Salgados is this 5-star hotel surrounded by palm trees.
The spacious rooms offer private balconies, many of which face the sea.
There are six outdoor pools, a tennis court, a spa, and several bars
Grande Real Santa Eulalia Resort & Hotel Spa:
Set near Praia Santa Eulália, this resort offers several swimming pools
and restaurants. Breakfast is included in the stay. Families can also
take advantage of the kids club and the tennis court.
There are three golf courses located near Albufeira: Pine Cliffs in
Olhos de Água, Salgados in Guia, and Balaia, which is close to the
centre. The first two have great views of the Atlantic. All three
courses have 18 holes.
receives sunshine pretty much all year round. However, if you want to
take advantage of the beach and other water activities, summer is the
best time to visit. The weather starts getting warmer around June, with
temperatures ranging between 20ºC and 30ºC. It is the peak season, so
expect crowded beaches and higher hotel rates. Alternatively, you can
visit in spring and fall. The days may be slightly cooler, but you’ll
enjoy quiet streets and more affordable accommodation.
Festa da Nossa Senhora da Orada: Around the 14th of August, Albufeira
pays homage to Nossa Senhora da Orada, the fishermen’s patron saint. The
event includes celebratory masses and processions, including one with
Festa do Pescador: Every year, on the first weekend of September, the
city celebrates its fishing tradition, occupying the streets with food
stalls and live music. Praça dos Pescadores is usually the heart of the
Paderne Medieval: Every year, the village of Paderne hosts a lively medieval fair. The event usually occurs from the 30th of December to the 2nd of January and always attracts a large crowd of locals and tourists who come to celebrate New Year in Paderne. During the fair, the streets are occupied with food stalls and street performers that recreate the medieval era. The highlight is the historical parade on the 1st of January, which celebrates the delivery of the Letter of Donation of the Paderne Castle. The parade is the only part of the fair with paid entrance.