What to Visit
Albufeira may be noted more for their lively atmosphere, beaches and bars, but there are more cultural and historic things to do. For instance, in the old town in a small square, Praça de Republica, you’ll find the Archaeological Museum, with its collection of Stone-Age, Roman, Visigoth and Moorish artefacts. Just up from the Fishermen’s beach is the Church of São Sebastião, a beautiful 16th Century church. Then there’s the clock tower, Torre do Relógio, a symbol of Albufeira. Another tower of note is the imposing bell tower above the Igreja Matriz. There was once a castle in Albufeira, whose fortifications surrounded the city. Nowadays there is not much left of it due to the 1755 earthquake. What does remain can be seen at Rua Joaquim Pedro Samora.
The Old Town lies at the bottom of a steep hill, with the majority of the accommodation in the area high above it. Albufeira has not lost all its charm and this can be seen in the Old Town. Unlike the strip, it attracts a slightly older and more cosmopolitan crowd, and is a popular destination with Portuguese families. The main attraction of the old town is the main square, which is where you will find many of the bars and restaurants. There are very good restaurants in the old town. In the summer, the square comes alive in the evenings, with live entertainment, music and partygoers. Away from the main square are winding, narrow cobbled streets, awash with cafes, restaurants and market stalls and little shops selling local crafts and gifts. Many of these streets are pedestrianized and unsuitable for cars. If you want a bit of culture and history, there are some churches to explore and also a museum. Just off the main square, near the Albufeira Tourist Office, is a tunnel carved through the rock. Walking through this and down the steps leads you to the town's main beach, Praia dos Pescadores or Fishermen’s beach.
The Albufeira Marina is a new development a couple of kilometres to the west of the old town. It has been designed as a holidays tourist complex with a couple of luxury hotels and apartments, villas and restaurants. If you want to walk to the old town from here then it will probably take about 25 minutes, but it is a bit hilly. A taxi or bus (Giro) is also an option. The apartments at the Marina are bright and multi-coloured.
Three kilometres west of Albufeira Old Town is an area known as the Strip. It is modern and completely different in character from the Old Town. It is very busy (in the high season), and packed with shops, restaurants and bars. Here you can get anything you want, from a full English breakfast to a Portuguese decent meal, and there are many good establishments to choose from.
There are many bars with entertainment, karaoke and so on... This area is definitely most popular with the young party crowd.
The area itself is based around a single street, which runs down from the Montechoro area, at the northern end, down to the golden beach of Oura at the bottom of the hill at its southern end.
It has spread out now on either side of the road with more of the same and plenty of holiday accommodation provided by apartments, villas and hotels. If you are staying at the northern end, it is probably a 15-minute walk down to the Praia da Oura beach (and bear in mind it’s uphill on the way back).
Nightlife is very lively here, with bars staying open late into the night, pounding out music. If you want to continue partying until dawn, then just off the Strip in the Areias de São João, there are a couple of nightclubs.
São Rafael, Galé and Lagoa dos Salgados
São Rafael and Castelo are in contrast to the larger beaches in Albufeira. With no high-rise developments and bustling streets, visitors are free to indulge in the natural beauty of the council. This beautiful part of Albufeira is where you will find some of the finest 'cove' beaches and all are no more than a couple of miles from bustling Albufeira.
Head west from Albufeira and you will find an altogether different Algarve as you leave the bright lights and crowds of tourists behind and enter a place noted for its peace and serenity. The restaurants are family orientated, where children always welcome, and needless to say there are some wonderful beach restaurants offering excellent lunchtime or early evening menus including sardines, salads, locally caught fish and grilled meats – perfect with a chilled bottle of Vinho Verde.
Some of the beaches have rock pools, where children can spend hours exploring, or observing the marine life left behind when the tide goes out. A little further from São Rafael and Galé, laying some 15kms West of Albufeira, you will find Salgados Lagoon, excellent place for bird watching lovers. It consists of a large brackish coastal lagoon that is protected from the ocean by the large adjacent dune system of the Praia Grande beach.
Salgados Lagoon attracts a wide variety of birds throughout the year. The Spring and Autumn migrations see the greatest number of different species. Some of the birds while rare elsewhere, are easily seen here. This is the a breeding site in Portugal for the globally endangered Ferruginous Duck and a favourite haunt for nesting Purple Swamp Hens, Purple Herons and Little Bitterns.
Other herons are usually present, as well as Spoonbills and Greater Flamingos in nationally important numbers as are many waders and terns. For those with the bug for finding the unusual, this area has turned up an impressive array of Portuguese and European rarities like for example Lesser Flamingo, Pacific Golden Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher and Chimney Swift and is a regular wintering site for Richard’s Pipit. The great variety and sheer quantity of birds make this area a must for any visiting birdwatcher.
Olhos de Água
Olhos d'Água is a small, typical fishermen's village 6 kilometres from Albufeira. From the XVII century, it has a lookout point in the defence of the Albufeira's Square with the historical strategy of the area being of importance.
The name was given due to the sweet water springs that spout out into the sea and creates a rare and beautiful phenomenon in the sand.
After the 70's decade, with the increase of tourist activity, the area suffered big alterations in the economic structure and now remains one of the main tourist attractions of the council of Albufeira.
Summer holidays in Olhos d'Agua see the hilly, cobbled streets in the town bursting with life, but in quieter months the beach empties out and the mood is laid back and peaceful.
The beach is gorgeous with pine-clad cliffs and rocky promontories, and in the evening there's a great choice of excellent restaurants.
During the low tide, the freshwater springs which give the town its name bubble up through the sand on the beach.
Praia da Falésia
The Falésia beach is the one of the most amazing scenarios in the Algarve region.
Boasting more than six kilometres of golden sand, stretching from Vilamoura in the west to Olhos de Água in the east, Falésia is one of the longest beaches in Portugal.
Backed by cliffs (Falésia is Portuguese for cliff) decorated with pine trees, the beach is accessed by steps that lead down from a clifftop car park.
The sheer size of the beach and the laid-back atmosphere of the town contribute towards making this one of the more peaceful corners of the Algarve, although it is well-served by several top-class golf courses, a smattering of restaurants and bars and a number of accommodation complexes.
You can walk along the beach or in the top of the cliff, with the sea as background.
Situated 5 kilometres from Albufeira, Ferreiras is a place in expansion. The area was occupied by the Roman's and there are traces that take us back to the II century.
Initially known as Lagoas due to the lagoons that existed at the time of the rains, the name is connected to a family named Ferreira who lived in the region in the mid of 19th century.
Was founded in Roman times and was given the name Alfontes by the Arabs which means after the bridge.
The people's origin is hard to determine, but the oral tradition remains as it was here that Nossa Senhora da Guia was erected as in one of her invocations, the “Virgem” appeared.
Guia is now known by its famous piri-piri chicken.
Paderne is very much a traditional village. Located in the Albufeira countryside, Paderne was conquered by the Moors in 1248.
After the 1755 earthquake, the people were moved from the inside of the walls to the north, 2 km's away, where it is now situated. With over seven centuries of history, this village is situated furthest inland.
The Algibre, Alte and Quarteira's river bank it is a popular place for hikers and also for those who look for a quaint village that has kept its originality.