One of the liveliest places on Portugal’s southern coast and budget-friendly too, Albufeira is one of the Algarve’s most popular resorts.
This former fishing village has plenty to keep tourists entertained, the modern marina a base for all sorts of seafaring activities, such as diving, sailing, and dolphin-watching trips.Whitewashed houses atop low sandstone cliffs form the Old Town, facing a fantastic beach - and quieter bays are within easy reach. With its nightlife strip, sports pubs and restaurants galore, an Albufeira package holiday is a fun break that’s simple to plan.
Just follow the neon signs and loud music when you’re looking for Albufeira’s late-night strip, Avenida Sá Carneiro, which comes to life in high season. Drinks deals, karaoke and sports bars make this a popular place for stags and hens. Dancing till dawn may be on pause for now, but when the clubs reopen, you’ll want to head straight to Kiss. With five dancefloors and a rosta of international guest DJs, it’s considered Albufeira’s best night out. Don’t miss a ride on the mechanical bucking bronco at Matt’s Bar either: it’s a rite of passage in this town.
The 30km of coastline here, with its dramatic rock formations and 25 gorgeous beaches, is at the heart of what to do in Albufeira. You’ll no doubt spend plenty of time at Albufeira Old Town’s Praia dos Pescadores (Fisherman’s Beach), lounging on its soft golden sand. Good news if you get hungry – this place lives up to its name, with fantastic seafood restaurants along the shore. For a more serene experience, strike out in either direction along the coast to beat the crowds. The most spectacular in the area is the Blue Flag beach Praia de Galé, which stretches almost 10km to Armação de Pêra.
With a heritage of explorers setting sail in the Age of Discovery, the Algarve coast is a sea-farers haven. These days, it’s the wildlife that draws people out to sea: dolphin-spotting excursions set off from Albufeira marina year-round. Venturing out on a 2-hour Dream Wave Algarve cruise is one of the best things to do in Albufeira – if you’re lucky, playful dolphins and porpoises in these waters might start leaping through the waves. The jet-powered Dreamer boat has a mini-bar on board, or choose a more intimate experience with the 12-person Insónia semi-rigid vessel; being lower to the water brings you an even closer view.
Head for nearby Quinta do Miradouro, a wine estate owned by veteran pop star Cliff Richard. Not one to sit back and let others have the fun, Sir Cliff is genuinely involved in producing the wine. It’s become something of a pilgrimage for fans of the veteran heart-throb, who is happy to pose for a photo whenever he’s around. You might think it’s one of the more novelty things to do in Albufeira, but a trip here feels like a very authentic Portuguese day out. Especially as tours are available of the beautiful vineyard and winery, which overlooks the coast.
Guia, 9km northeast of Albufeira, is all about the chargrilled chicken. It’s the birthplace of piri-piri after all, the hot-and-spicy flavour made famous by the Nando’s chicken chain at home. The chicken’s cheap, delicious, and simply one of the best things to fill your belly in Portugal. There’s a string of specialised restaurants to choose from in this small town. Homely family-run restaurant Ramires has an authentic feel to it; if you’re there for lunch head to the rooftop terrace for a beer with panoramic views while you’re chicken’s sizzlin’.
Even the most relaxed beach holidays need the occasional dose of adrenaline. Head to Parque Aventura at Estrada de Santa Eulália where the high ropes courses range from the easiest level of ‘Curious’ to the most challenging, ‘Fearless’. Leading you from tree to tree are challenges such as wobbly bridges, rope nets and giant zip lines. It’s not just for kids: there’s no upper age limit at this adventure in the forest. Paintball’s on offer too, in a 2,500-square-metre game field on the forest floor, filled with natural and artificial obstacles.