There are many reasons to visit Albufeira in the Algarve, from the beautiful beaches to nature and adventure parks to a buzzing nightlife and a large English-speaking community. Then there is the traditional Portuguese side and unique heritage to discover. Here are Culture Trip’s top experiences to have in Albufeira.
Explore the coast
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 even paddle boarding tours for a unique way to explore the coast, but beach-hopping and wandering the shore on foot won’t disappoint. A few of the most popular beaches are the Praia dos Pescadores, Praia da Falésia, and the Praia da Marinha.
Enjoy the social scene
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 cafés where locals and tourists like to kick back with a drink or two (or three) while listening to music. Two of the more popular spots in the entire Algarve is Piccadilly Cocktail Bar and NoSoloAgua Albufeira. Plus, there is the main strip, known as “The New Town,” a neighborhood lined with more venues that cater to both day and night drinking, as well as a variety of cheap eats.
Visit a water-themed park
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 outside without being at the beach, and tickets for adults/children cost around €29/€19 and €27/€19, respectively.
Zoomarine Algarve, EN 125, KM 65, Guia, 8201-864 Albufeira, Portugal, +351 289 560 300
Visit an English-language bookstore
Much of the Algarve has become incredibly welcoming to the English-speaking/expat community, and the English-language bookstores are just one example. If you’re in need of reading material, or just want to peruse the collections, visit Julie’s Bookshop and Bookworms, two excellent places to buy second-hand books in English.
Stop by the Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila
Although they are located in Quarteira, the Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila are only a short (17 kilometers or 10.5 miles) drive 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. Wander the ruins and see how the residences were delineated with stations for baths, salting fish, and the main residential buildings.
Cerro da Vila, Av. Cerro da Vila 2, 8125-507 Quarteira, Portugal, +351 289 312 153
Visit the Castle of Paderne
Another piece of local heritage to tour are the ruins of the 12th-century Castle of Paderne, a Moorish-built fortification located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) 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 and bars, and it has a fascinating history to boot as one of the oldest castles in the country (plus it’s free to visit).
Fascinating tip: The Castle of Paderne is theorized to be one of the castles displayed on the Portuguese flag.
Spend a day on the golf course
Another popular activity in the Algarve is golfing, and Albufeira is close to stunning greens, including the nine-hole Pine Hills course.
Pine Hills Course, Av. da Praia da Falésia, 8200-909 Albufeira, Portugal, +351 289 500 300
Go out to eat at one of the many restaurants
There are easily hundreds of restaurants to choose between 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 Vila Joya five-star hotel. On the contrary, budget travelers may love chicken piri-piri, otherwise known as frango assado. Recognized as one of Portugal’s favorite “fast food” meals, it is always a good idea, and Albufeira is a fantastic location with great barbecue chicken shacks and restaurants.
Schedule a dolphin-watching boat ride
No matter when you visit the Algarve, dolphin-watching can 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
Catch up on the latest fashion trends by browsing the trendy boutiques or look for cultural souvenirs at the local flea/gypsy market. There is also the network of streets downtown near Albufeira’s Old Town that has plenty of local shops with a variety of merchandise, 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?