Albufeira holidays – All the holiday boxes ticked
There’s probably not much that you can’t do in Albufeira, which is why it is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the whole of Portugal, and people of all ages have the time of their lives.
Watch the world go by while relaxing at a café in the pretty square of Largo Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco before wandering the labyrinth of narrow alleyways in the old town that hark back to the time when the resort was a simple fishing village. When the beach calls, Praia dos Pescadores, Fisherman’s Beach, is the best known in the resort, and perfect for families. If partying in late-night bars and clubs is your holiday ideal, Avenida Dr Francisco Sà Carneiro, in the São João area, more commonly known as ‘The Strip’, is the place to be. You can get your energy back during the day with a doze on Praia Oura, a beautiful beach near the bottom of the Strip.
For a casual stroll or to watch the comings and goings of the boats and promenaders, the Marina, with its blue, pink, orange, green and yellow buildings offers another face of Albufeira.
Other than a few shops and restaurants closing during the winter, Albufeira is a year-round resort that offers something for everyone to enjoy. Spring and Autumn could be the best times for those not restricted with holiday dates. By the end of Spring hardier souls can be taking their first swim of the year, and by Autumn the crowds have gone but shorts are still the clothing choice during the day.
Instead of watching Big Ben chime on television on New Year’s Eve, you could be part of the Algarve’s biggest celebration, when Albufeira welcomes the new year in with an enormous firework display and party beside Fisherman’s Beach.
The 160 kilometres of south-facing coastline that makes up the Algarve has one of the best climates of anywhere in mainland Europe. At the height of summer, daytime temperatures in Albufeira generally hover around 30°C, falling to a pleasant 18°C overnight. The light westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean help to take some of the heat out of the day and is helped by the cool ocean waters. In winter its southerly position prevents it from becoming too cold.
Rain is a rarity during the summer months, most of the two inches of annual rainfall falling from November to February.
High season is out if you are looking for a deal, as is Easter and Christmas, but Albufeira has something to offer all year round, so it’s worth keeping an eye on any offers from the airlines and looking for accommodation to tie in with the flights – usually better than doing it in reverse. But also be aware that local fiestas can up the price for a room on particular dates, so it’s best to do your research instead of trusting to luck when you get there.
Low-cost airlines Ryanair, easyJet, Jet2 and bmibaby fly to Faro from a number of UK regional airports, as well as London. Aer Lingus, Thomson Flights and Monarch also have flights to the Algarve.
Transfers from Faro airport (the only international airport in the Algarve) to Albufeira (40kms) are plentiful. Bus 4,40€ (£3.60); train 2.50€ (£2), although you will probably have to take a local Giro bus or taxi to your hotel when you get to Albufeira as the railway station is on the edge of the town; taxi between 44-68€ (£36-55) depending on time and size of vehicle. It’s best to book beforehand. From Faro airport to bus or train station - 1.75€ (£1.40) by bus, 10€ (£8) by taxi.
Giro is the local bus network and has five routes in Albufeira, charging 1.10€ (90p) per journey or a 3.50€ (£2.80) daily ticket with unlimited rides.
Falesia beach is said to be one of the best beaches in Portugal. Great for families and beach lovers, the soft golden sands are kept pristinely clean. Eighty steps down to the beach – and back up! – might take the wind out of your sails a bit but once you are there the beach is perfect for bathing, sunbathing and picnics. If you like long romantic strolls in the surf you can walk from near Albufeira old town to Vilanioura in around two hours thirty minutes following the line of the red cliffs. A couple of beach huts sell snacks and cold drinks. You might want to literally splash out on a horse ride through the waves and breakfast on the beach.
Praia dos Pescadores, Fisherman's Beach, is the best known beach in Albufeira and one of the most popular, being close to the town and hotels. It is where many of the Algarve's summer parties are held, including the huge New Year’s Eve party, and fireworks on 25th April to celebrate Freedom Day. The beach is long and flat with calm waters, which makes it ideal for families and swimmers. This is where sun worshippers share the sand with local fishermen repairing their nets, with the aroma of their catch cooking in the restaurants nearby filling the air.
There are plenty of water sports on Oura beach to keep the active entertained; windsurfing, parasailing, pedal boats and banana boat rides. This is the nearest beach to São João, and is just a short walk from the famous ‘Strip’. The beach is on a sandy bay and has plenty of sunbeds and shades to hire for those who simply want to chill out.
You’ll find a 20 mile stretch of superb sandy beaches with no less than 7 different beaches in the resort itself. Explore quieter beaches like Sao Rafael, Maria Luisa, Castelo, Olhos d’Agua and Santa Eulalia.
The Old Town
Albufeira’s Old Town still retains historic cobbled streets, traditional fisherman’s cottages, interesting churches and authentic cafes, bars and restaurants.
Like most Algarve resorts, Albufeira offers a wide selection of water sports, ranging from windsurfing to sailing, snorkelling to body boarding. Expert tuition is widely available for all levels of experience including novices.
Direct buses to Aqualand, one of the best waterparks in Portugal. Experience the Anaconda Corkscrew, the Congo River, white-water rafting and the Kamikaze! Also Slide and Splash in Lagos. Waterparks are an ideal day out for families and groups, and offer relaxation as well as thrills.
Take the 15 minute trip to Zoomarine to see sharks, alligators, turtles, and tropical birds. There are some great live shows including swimming with dolphins. Krazy World combines hands-on animal attractions with fairground rides, swimming and restaurants. Amazonia offers crocodiles, alligators, reptiles, tropical birds and live shows.
An astonishing number of enjoyable music bars, British-run pubs, clubs and discos can be found concentrated around Praia da Oura. Unsurprisingly, this area is extremely popular with younger visitors, with establishments staying open until the early hours of the morning.
There’s no doubt about it, the Algarve is a paradise for golf fans, with dozens of first-class scenic courses and idyllic weather. Try the quality courses around Quarteira and Vilamoura.
The Algarve capital is often overlooked but has a fascinating mix of historic architecture, crumbling medieval walls, charming squares and plenty of old-fashioned shops, bars and restaurants.
If you only know the bustling beach resorts, the gentle countryside inland from Albufeira is a revelation. A short trip out of town and you’ll find yourself surrounded by fig trees, olive groves, sleepy villages, market towns and quiet roads.
Don’t miss out on atmospheric, historic towns like Silves, Lagos, Monchique and Tavira. The Algarve is also dotted with Roman ruins.
Tapas in Ayamonte or a full-day trip to the unforgettable and simply wonderful Spanish city of Seville.