Last Updated on 19/03/2023 by secretmoona
Albufeira is an excellent destination for any traveller, whether travelling as a couple, with family or friends, but also solo. The popular resort town in the Algarve is a key city for your Algarve road trip.
There are lots of things to do in Albufeira. The historic centre is picturesque with its narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and many religious buildings. Additionally, with magnificent beaches close to the city, you will have plenty of opportunities to swim or relax by the beach or do some water sports. Albufeira is also known for its nightlife and offers ways to relax, discover and have fun.
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Where is Albufeira and why you should visit
Albufeira is a lovely former fishing village in the Algarve region in southern Portugal. It is now a popular seaside resort town with many things to do. Its charming old town centre, beaches and hiking opportunities make Albufeira a top destination.
The climate in the Algarve is excellent all year round, so it is ideal for visiting the region all year round. Whatever time you visit, you will have plenty of things to do in Albufeira.
The city of Albufeira was one of the last Islamic strongholds in Portugal. Christians reconquered its castle in 1249; you can still see the Arab presence in the city’s architecture. From a fishing town, the city redeveloped itself into a tourist resort town.
Things to do in Albufeira
Explore Albufeira Old Town (Cidade Velha)
Exploring Albufeira Old Town and getting lost in the narrow, cobbled streets is a must while in Albufeira. A former small fishing village, the city has retained its charm. The oldest part of Albufeira is located on top of a cliff, so perfect for a walk with stunning views. It is a pleasure to stroll along the small city and admire its whitewashed houses, balconies decorated with flowers, tiled walls, and Manueline-style churches. Its picturesque streets are full of surprises, such as the many cats enjoying their lives.
Don’t miss Rua de Outubro, one of the main streets in Albufeira. The cobblestone street is packed with souvenir shops and crafts shops. Another place to head to is the Old Town Square (Jardim Público de Albufeira) which has lively restaurants and bars at every corner, perfect for an aperitif. Largo Eng. Duarte Pacheco and 25 de Abril are the busiest places in the Old Town, so worth walking through them to see the atmosphere too.
Azulejo: (re)discovering this Portuguese art
Impossible to visit Portugal without seeing azulejos. We found the small coloured tiles decorating most of the houses and buildings in Albufeira during our walks in the old town. Just like the cities of Lisbon, Porto or Coimbra, these mosaic tiles represent Portugal. Some craft shops offer mosaic-making classes and perfect souvenirs to bring home.
Go back in time at Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Albufeira
A visit to the Municipal Archeology Museum is one of the first things to do in Albufeira. Located in Republic Square, in the heart of the old town, this charming little museum allows you to appreciate a collection of objects from excavations in Albufeira and the Algarve region. The visit will enable you to learn about the area’s past, from the Neolithic to the Renaissance, including the Moorish occupation. There are also superb Roman mosaics. A visit to this museum is a pleasant cultural break during a stay in Albufeira. The museum is opened daily except on Mondays.
Visit the chapels and churches in Albufeira
Spare some time during your trip to learn about Albufeira’s cultural heritage. The city has some picturesque churches worth visiting if only to see the architecture.
Igreja Santa Ana
The 18th-century church is dedicated to St. Anne, Jesus’ maternal grandmother. The former chapel to St. Anne, down on the beach, was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and tsunami, so it was decided to rebuild the church on the higher ground where it now stands.
Igreja Matriz de Albufeira
Among the many churches to see in Albufeira is the Igreja Matriz (Parish Church). This 18th-century neoclassical church has three large windows with and a stunning interior with a barrel vault. Inside the church, there is an altarpiece dedicated to the patron saint of the city of Albufeira, Nossa Senhora da Conceição.
Discover religious art at the Museum of Sacred Art
The Museum of Sacred Art (Museu de Arte Sacra) is located in the chapel of São Sebastião in the old town. This small chapel in both Manueline and Baroque styles dates back to the 18th century and hosts several sacred religious objects from the region’s churches. Museum visitors will love the intricate tiled works and gilded leaf altar. Among other things, you can admire the crown of Nossa Senhora da Orada. Entry is only 2€.
While wandering the charming streets of the Old Town, you will be tempted by the variety of boutiques, souvenir shops and jewellery shops. You can get some clothing for yourself such as linen trousers or beach hats.
There are also many things to bring back home as souvenirs, such as the typical Portuguese azulejo tiles, Algarvian wine or traditional bags, purses and other items made with cork or leather.
Relax by the beach(es)
Hitting the many beaches is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Albufeira. There are too many for you to try; however, you can see some of our favourites to help you decide where to hang your towel and work your tan!
Praia dos Pescadores
This is the main beach accessible from the old town. Like everywhere in Algarve, you will find fine sand and turquoise water here. As the name indicated, it’s the fishermen’s beach, so you will see fishing boats sailing offshore dotting the horizon. If you walk further out of town, you’ll find beaches that are a bit more secluded, such as Praia da Falésia in the east or Praia da Galé in the west.
Praia do Túnel (Praia do Peneco)
Another beach accessible via the old town with the immense Peneco Rock rising out of the sand. You can access this beach via a tunnel on Rua da Outubro, hence the name Plaia do Túnel. You can also connect to the beach via steep stairs or the impressive glass elevator Elevador do Peneco. There are some lovely viewing platforms with benches to relax and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere. It’s one of Albufeira’s main beaches, so I suspect it gets busy during summer.
Praia dos Olhos de Água
This small beach is located in the fishing village of the same name. This beach is my favourite of all the beaches in Albufeira: the white sandy beach with clear waters, jagged cliffs and fishing boats gives off a charming vibe.
Praia da Oura
This is the ideal beach for partying, thanks to the many bars-restaurants on the beach and the beauty of its sunset.
Admire the sunset at Miradouro do Pau Bandeira
One of the top things to do in Albufeira is enjoy the stunning views. The most famous viewpoint in the city is the Miradouro do Pau Bandeira. Accessible via the escalator in Barrio de Pescadores, the viewpoint offers spectacular views of Albufeira Old Town and the beaches.
The Miradouro do Pau Bandeira is one of many places where you can appreciate fantastic views of Albufeira. The resort town has several such as the Observation Deck Albufeira, a metal deck that stretches over the cliff with benches. The other one is the deck by the Elevador do Paneco. The small balcony-type deck offers stunning views over the beach and sea.
Eat Algarvian food
One of the top things to do in Albufeira besides visiting the main attractions is to taste the local food. Thanks to its prime location on the Atlantic coast and being a former fishing village, the Algarvian cuisine centres around fish and seafood (mariscos). Here are some of the food to try when visiting the Algarve:
- Bacalhau à Brás (codfish served with fried potatoes)
- Cataplana de mariscos (seafood stew cooked with herbs, potatoes, tomatoes and white wine)
- Frango da Guia (piri-piri) originated from Guia, a small town near Albufeira. The chicken is either marinated in a spicy sauce and then grilled over charcoal or grilled and then dipped in sauce. It is enjoyed with fries.)
- Grilled sardines (Portimão is the place to go for sardines, but you can sample them everywhere in the region)
- Caldeirada a Algarvia (a stew made with fish, potatoes and tomatoes)
- Dourada grelhada or robalo (grilled seabream or sea bass with boiled vegetables and potatoes)
- Pastéis de nata (the famous Portuguese custard tarts).
Party in The Strip or Albufeira Old Town
If you are looking for a lively place to spend an evening or generally for nightlife during your trip to Albufeira, look no further. The Strip is the top place for nightlife in the Algarve. If the long street seems quiet during the day, at night and especially during the weekend, it becomes lively with partygoers, including groups of hen and stag parties.
The Strip is called Avenida Sa Carneiro, but some call it The Strip or Rua da Oura because it leads to Praia da Oura.
Go on a boat trip to the Benagil Cave
As mentioned, there are lots of things to do in Albufeira and taking a boat trip to discover the fantastic coastlines is one of them. The topology of the region means that there are many caves and secluded beaches, some of which can only be accessed via boat or kayak. The most famous of the caves are the Benagil Caves. Unfortunately, the inside of the caves can only be discovered by renting a standup paddleboard or kayak from the village of Benagil. Boats are not allowed inside, so that you won’t see the cave from the inside.
That said, taking a boat trip is fun and worth it. With the boat tour lasting roughly 2 hours, you will have plenty of time during your trip to see this unique rock formation. If lucky, you might also spot some dolphins or whales. You can see the dolphin-watching tours here.
Make sure to have some water and sunscreen with you, and generally prefer taking a smaller boat with fewer tourists. You want to take some good photos without people blocking the views.
Note: Although it’s a short distance from Benagil beach to the cave, swimming is not advised as the waves can bring underwater currents, and the tides change quickly. Safety first!
Go dolphin watching
If you are more interested in seeing the wildlife and want to see dolphins in their natural environment, note that many companies offer dolphin and whale-watching tours from Albufeira Marina. That said, it’s important to note that they are wild animals with no fixed itinerary, so there is no guarantee that you will see them.
Even if you don’t see the dolphins, the boat tours always include exploring the caves – weather permitting.
Discover the colourful Marina
Multicoloured buildings and houseboats surround the pretty marina. You will find restaurants, bars, shops, hotels and a yacht club there. The marina has a different vibe from the Old Town, and you can take a stroll while admiring the many boats.
The Albufeira Marina is also the starting point for all the sea excursions: dolphin watching, tours to the Benagil caves, kayaking etc.
Located a reasonable distance from the old town, about 25 minutes walk, the marina is worth a detour. You can get there within 5 to 10 mins, by car or Bolt, depending on your initial location. Fares are affordable in Algarve, so it’s an excellent alternative to rental cars.
Here are some of the available tours from Albufeira Marina:
- Caves & Dolphin Watching Boat Tour
- Banagil Hidden Caves Tour by Kayak or SUP
- Benagil Caves & Dolphin Watching Speed Boat Tour
Enjoy water activities
While in Albufeira, people love participating in at least one type of water activity. Kayaking and standup paddleboarding are some of the best ways to explore the interior of the caves or get to the more secluded beaches. This is an excellent activity when the water is calm, and a guide for safety and peace of mind always accompanies the tours.
Jet Skiing, kite surfing and parasailing are other activities for adrenaline lovers. You can do this in either Praia da Oura or the Albufeira Marina.
How to get to Albufeira
Many airlines, including low-cost flights to Faro, the region’s capital. It is recommended to book in advance when visiting during the summer as it is costly. The journey from Faro airport to Albufeira takes about 35 minutes by car.
If you are already in the country and want to include Albufeira in your itinerary, you can get a rental car, train or flight (depending on your location or preferred method of transport). For example, it takes about 2.5 hours to reach Albufeira from Lisbon by car and just over 3 hours by train. When taking the train, you will arrive at Albufeira-Ferreiras Station, about 6 km from the Old Town. While there, get on a Bolt/Uber to your hotel.
How to get around Albufeira
Getting around the historic centre is done quickly on foot. All the main highlights, such as the Old Town, the Strip and the beaches, are within walking distance. However, to explore further, you can take the local GIRO buses, Bolt/Uber, or a guided tour by tuk-tuk. However, a rental car is key for more flexibility as it allows you to get out and explore at your leisure.
During my stay in Albufeira, I walked everywhere. For longer trips or in the evening, I took Bolt. Fares were always less than 6€ and cheap; they were also convenient as I rarely waited for more than 2 minutes for the cab. Buses, however, are not very frequent, especially during the low season.
How to get from Faro airport to Albufeira?
You can take a taxi, Uber or Bolt from the airport or transfer to Albufeira. The journey will take roughly 40 minutes, with prices ranging from 35€ to 90€, depending on your transportation of choice.
You can hop on the express aerobus N56 to Terminal Rodoviário de Albufeira, about 4 km from the Old Town. This is the most economical way to get there and costs 10€. However, you will need to get on a local Uber/Bolt bus to reach your final destination. Check the timing here.
Is it necessary to rent a car in Albufeira?
Having a car during your trip can make your life easier, especially during the low season. Although promising, public transport is very sparse, so if you don’t time things well, you might be waiting for the bus for an hour and a half. That said, if you only stay in Albufeira for a couple of days and want to explore the historic centre and its surroundings, then a big part can be done on foot. The car is particularly required if you wish to explore some of the more secluded beaches.
If renting a car, it would be ideal for getting it from the airport as soon as you land. This will allow you to be flexible right from the start of your tip. Plus, picking up the car at the airport means you can drop it off there too. Be sure to book well in advance to benefit from cheaper rates. Discover Cars are our go-to car rental tool.
When to visit Albufeira
Albufeira and the Algarve region generally benefit from a very mild climate which is lovely all year round. They have sunny days and clear skies all year. Temperatures in the city are, on average, 21°C over the year (from 13°C in January to 28°C in August). The hottest months are from July to September, while January to March is the coldest.
The climate is pleasant for travelling to Albufeira all year round, but the weather is ideal from the end of March to October.
Travelling during the winter (December to February) is possible with an average temperature of 13°C. However, the drawback might be that many restaurants, bars and places of interest will have reduced hours or might be closed. The best time for a suitable water temperature for swimming is from July to early September. If you want to avoid the crowd and don’t mind milder weather, spring can be an excellent time to visit.
Where to stay in Albufeira?
Albufeira is a perfect base for your trip to the Algarve or even a day trip option from other major cities such as Faro, Lagos or Portimao. There is a mixture of hotels to accommodate all tastes and budgets. While in Albufeira, you want to stay in the most charming part of the city, such as the Old Town and along the coasts.
Here are some excellent hotels/resorts in Albufeira:
- Real Bellavista Hotel & Spa is a 4* hotel ideally located between the bus station and the Old Town. The hotel has modern and confortable rooms with private balconies and features four swimming pools. It is 20 mins walk from the Old Town. The hotel also provides a shuttle bus service to and from the historical centre, the beach and The Strip.
- Grande Real Santa Eulalia Resort is a 5* resort located on the eastern side of Albufeira. The hotel is located very close to the beach, with few stairs to get to it. It also offers daily shuttle bus service to the Strip and The Old Town.
- Hotel Sol E Mar is an adults-only hotel above the Albufeira Tunnel. Its excellent location means easy access to the beach and the Old Town.
All the hotel options in Albufeira can be found here.
So here you have it, our list of the best things to do in Albufeira, Algarve. The resort town offers enough activities for anyone who loves culture and nature. Whether travelling as a family, with friends, as a couple or solo, you will have plenty to do in Albufeira. I sure had a good time. I hope you found this guide that helps you plan your trip.