Albufeira, situated along the stunning Southern coastline of Portugal, is the perfect place to relax, enjoy gorgeous weather, pristine beaches, and great food. Despite a growing reputation as a stag and hen party destination, the coastline offers plenty to do for a little more culture, adventure, or relaxation. We stayed in the gorgeous 5-star São Rafael Atlântico in the picturesque village of Sesmarias, just a few kilometres from the Old Town of Albufeira, and you can read our review of the hotel here.
If you’ve booked a trip to the Algarve, chances are that you are fully aware of the incredible immaculate beaches. Portugal has 332 blue-flag awarded beaches, with just under 90 of these in the Algarve that meet the strict criteria of safety, access and environment. Experiencing these beaches, however, is something else entirely. Luckily our hotel had direct private access to the São Rafael Beach just 2 minutes away from the hotel, and whilst it was still busy, it was much quieter than the main ones around Albufeira. We also visited the huge Pescadores beach in the Albufeira Old Town which stretches out along the whole coastline. For the best views along the beach, make sure you take a trip to the Pau da Bandeira viewpoint.
Albufeira is split into two parts, the Old Town and the strip in the New Town. The compact Old Town is where you will find the culture, lovely shops and restaurants, and family-friendly entertainment. The strip in the New Town is where you will find the wild stag and hen parties in wall-to-wall clubs and bars. Thankfully we avoided the strip, but we spent a lovely day wandering around the Old Town and taking in the lovely markets, cobbled streets, shops and bars that line every road. There’s certainly plenty to see, do, eat and drink to spend a couple of days in the main town.
Go further to Lagos or Faro
Albufeira is ideally located between the cities of Faro, Lagos, and Portimão, which all offer fantastic day trips. Faro is the largest city and the capital of the Algarve region, and is likely to be the airport in which you will land at. Among the main tourist attractions are the amazing 13th Century cathedral and, as with much of southern Portugal and Spain, the many sites of Arabic influence. To the West of Albufeira lies both Lagos, famed again for it’s wonderful beaches and walled Old Town, and Portimão, a gorgeous port town with a bustling marina and famous old quarter.
Explore the Caves by Paddleboard
The many pristine beaches and rugged coastlines of the Algarve offer the opportunities for a number of exciting watersports. On our closest beach, the São Rafael Beach, we were lucky to have the fantastic Albufeira Surf & SUP offering everything from paddle-boarding to surfing lessons. I opted with a stand-up paddleboard tour of the coastline caves, and it was an incredible experience. Our guide Chico gave us a quick demonstration before we set off to explore the caves (and fall a number of times). Chico took a number of great photos of each of us, as well as taking us to explore a beautiful empty beach. The experience was great, well worth the money, and I would certainly recommend it to anybody visiting Albufeira who want to find a different way of exploring the region.
If you’re a foodie, Albufeira can often some great opportunities. As an obvious gateway to the Atlantic Ocean, the Algarve is famous for its seafood, with plenty of places offering freshly caught fish. Expect wholesome, simple and tasty traditional food from the local restaurants, however there is obviously a huge range of cuisine that reflects the international appeal of the region.