The Top 10 Things to See and Do in Albufeira

Kayaking is one of the many water sports you can try in Albufeira, Portugal
Kayaking is one of the many water sports you can try in Albufeira, Portugal | © agsaz / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nina Santos
17 September 2020

There are many reasons to visit Albufeira in the Algarve – from stunning beaches and beautiful nature to adventure parks, a buzzing nightlife and a large English-speaking community. Then, there are the traditional Portuguese side and unique heritage to discover. Here are Culture Trip’s top experiences to have in Albufeira.

Explore the Coast

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© Luis Elvas / Alamy Stock Photo
Albufeira is close to expanses of sandy beaches, coastal caves and seaside cliffs. From sunbathing to kayaking and other water sports, such as stand-up paddle boarding, the options are endless. You can even schedule boating, kayaking and paddle boarding tours for a unique way to explore the coast, but beach-hopping and wandering the shore on foot won’t disappoint either. A few of the most popular beaches are the Praia dos Pescadores, Praia da Falésia, and the Praia da Marinha.

Enjoy the Social Scene

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© Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy Stock Photo

The coast isn’t the only reason to visit Albufeira, and the town is well-known for its vibrant social scene and nightlife. There are plenty of bars and coastal cafes where locals and tourists like to kick back with a drink or two (or three) while listening to music. Two of the most popular spots in the entire Algarve are Piccadilly Cocktail Bar and NoSoloAgua Albufeira. There is also ‘The New Town’, a neighbourhood lined with even more venues where you can drink and dine out.

Visit a Water-Themed Park

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© Felipe Rodriguez / Alamy Stock Photo
Albufeira is close to two water-themed parks that are perfect for families. At Zoomarine Algarve, visitors will enjoy an aquarium, some live shows (with dolphins and seals) and even water slides, while nearby Aqualand Algarve is purely an action-based waterslide and pool-filled park. Both options are great activities for a day out when you don’t feel like going to the beach.

Visit an English-Language Bookstore

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Much of the Algarve has become incredibly welcoming to the English-speaking community, and English-language bookstores are just one example. If you’re in need of reading material or just want to peruse the collections, visit Bookworms or Julie’s Bookshop – two excellent places to buy English second-hand books.

Stop by the Roman Ruins of Cerro da Vila

Building, Museum, Ruins
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© Eddie Gerald / Alamy Stock Photo
Although they are located in Quarteira, the Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila are only a short drive (17km/10.5mi) from Albufeira and shouldn’t be missed. Once an expansive estate that was inhabited, at different times, by Romans, Visigoth tribes and the Moors, it is now a living memory of a long-ago time.

Visit the Castle of Paderne

Ruins, Architectural Landmark
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© Mauricio Abreu / Alamy Stock Photo
Another piece of local heritage to tour are the ruins of the 12th-century Castle of Paderne, a Moorish-built fortification located 10km (6.2mi) inland from the Albufeira coast. Visiting this ancient landmark, like the Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila, is a lovely way to do something that doesn’t involve beaches or bars. As one of the oldest castles in the country, it has a fascinating history to boot, and it’s free to visit.

Eat Out

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© Cro Magnon / Alamy Stock Photo

There are easily hundreds of restaurants to choose from in Albufeira, covering everything from traditional Portuguese cuisine to Asian and vegetarian food. If you’re not on a budget, look into the Michelin-starred Vila Joya restaurant, located at the eponymous five-star hotel. Budget travellers may love chicken piri-piri, otherwise known as frango assado. As one of Portugal’s favourite fast-food meals, it is always a good idea, and Albufeira is a fantastic location with great barbecue chicken shacks and restaurants.

Go Dolphin-Watching

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© Chris Dorney / Alamy Stock Photo
No matter when you visit the Algarve, dolphin-watching should always be on the agenda, and the morning hours are the best time to try to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. The Algarve is home to a few different species, including the common and the bottlenose dolphins. You can schedule boat tours from Albufeira’s marina.

Do a Little Shopping

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© Ian G Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Catch up on the latest fashion trends by browsing some trendy boutiques, or look for cultural souvenirs at the local flea and gypsy market. There is also a network of streets downtown near Albufeira’s Old Town that has plenty of local shops with a variety of merchandise, ranging from ceramics to clothing and even art supplies. Why not make a day of it, periodically interrupted with a bite or two from one of the many restaurants in the area?
These recommendations were updated on September 17, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.