A mixture of the modern and historic in Albufeira
In contrast, the Old Town is a dense cavern of narrow streets that open out into atmospheric squares. It’s here that you’ll discover a more authentic impression of the Portuguese way of life. Traditional restaurants waft the aroma of fresh herbs and spices in the air, whilst the bars are generally more sedate and feature quaint wooden interiors.
One of the biggest attractions of holidays in Albufeira is undoubtedly the choice of beaches. The main beach, Praia do Pescadores, is a perfect example. Lined with ochre-coloured cliffs, the beach still has a working section for fishermen. So whilst you laze on the golden shores you can catch a glimpse of the daily life of the locals.
And as Albufeira has retained its Portuguese culture, it’s still possible to see plenty of attractions within the Old Town, from elegant clock towers to myriad little white churches. There are great activities to keep the kids occupied too, as waterparks and zoos are all within easy reach of the resort. Holidays in Albufeira bring you all the convenience of the new, whilst still holding on to the history of the old.
Fun zoos and grand castles are waiting to be explored
Being based on the coast of a large city, holidays in Albufeira have a range of things to do and see nearby. Cultural landmarks and attractions add an impressive air to the seafront streets, whilst the huge themed zoo here will captivate your kids. And you can’t imagine holidays in Portugal without a golf course nearby, and Albufeira has just that. It’s a stunning one too, set in the leafy paradise of a nature reserve.
It’s easy to explore the major landmarks of Albufeira, as they’re all based close to the coastal road of Bernadino Sousa. There are no less than twelve points of interest in this area, including churches, statues and the remnants of medieval castle. Of those, the ones that you should really take the time to see during your holidays in Albufeira are the Clock Tower, the Chapel of Mercy and the Museum of Archaeology. The locals are rightly proud of the elegant metal spire of the Clock Tower, and it is often recognised as the most prominent landmark in Albufeira. The Chapel of Mercy is one of the most interesting churches in the region largely due to its age. Decorated in typically understated, whitewashed style, it dates back to the Arabic occupation of the city in the 10th century. Based right across from the Clock Tower, the Museum of Archaeology is worth a visit as it details the history of Albufeira, from prehistoric and Roman times to the present day.
If you’d prefer an activity that’s a little more family-focused, the Zoomarine is fantastic fun. Located in Guia (in the municipality of Albufeira but 6 miles from the coast) this amusement park combines two attractions in one. It has a water park with super-fast slides, three swimming pools, a playground and a small fun-fair. But it’s not just a theme park; it’s also a fully functioning zoo displaying dolphins, sea lions and crocodiles among others. Zoomarine even offers the chance to swim with the dolphins safely in a swimming pool.
There are lots more for families to do at the Monte Choro Fun Park, just 2 miles inland from Albufeira. All within the clean, enclosed grounds, you’ll come across sports bars, swimming pools, a bouncy castle and even an 18-hole mini golf course. The Hotel Montechoro is just opposite the fun park, so if this all sounds like your idea of fun you should book your holidays there with Jet2holidays.
Plus, around 14 miles west of Albufeira you can visit the Aquashow in Quarteira. Combining all the colourful slides of a water park with a fully-fledged theme park of rollercoasters and rides, plus a fun zoo and an ice-rink you pretty much get four attractions in one! There’s so much to see and do here that enjoying the park to its fullest will take more than one day. Luckily, you can stay at the on-site Aquashow Park Hotel with Jet2holidays.
Venturing a little further out, CS Salgados Golf Course is just three miles from the centre of Albufeira. Set in a protected nature reserve, this stunning course follows the coastline and features huge lakes and rivers, trimmed fairways and thousands of palm trees. Sounds like a great game of golf? Here’s even more great news – you can stay at the CS Salgados Grande Hotel with Jet2holidays and you’ll be right next to the golf course! You’ll also be close to the beautiful shores of Salgados Beach.
And if you’re up for venturing out on an excursion, the sprawling ruins of the 12th
century Paderne Castle
are just eight miles inland. The multi-coloured, cobbled textures from endless years of baking in the sun castle give it an aged, weathered style. But of even greater interest is that the castle is one of just seven that are actually featured on the Portuguese National Flag.
Portuguese cuisine and British favourites
As holidays in Albuefeira are some of the most popular in the Algarve, there’s no shortage of tourist-friendly bars and restaurants here. British tourists have been enjoying the golden shores of Albufiera for many years now, so British cafes have now popped up all over the place, with most of them found at the Strip. Beyond the all-day breakfasts and fish and chips, it’s actually possible to have a great value yet classy meal from a classic British menu. But what actually helps improve delights like sirloin steak and shepherd’s pie the most is the quality of the local ingredients.
Spanning back for miles from the coastline, as Albufeira is a fairly large city it has still managed to retain its local culture. This is especially the case in the Old Town, where you’ll find the majority of Portuguese restaurants at its atmospheric squares, such as Largo Eng Duarte Pacheco. The Portuguese cuisine is a very inventive mix of flavours, highlighting Portugal’s colonial past with several dishes inspired by South America and Africa. You’re in luck if you like seafood – Portugal has a great love of fish dishes, with salted cod being the most popular. Sardines and tuna are also often on the menu, and look out for caldeirada, a rich stew of shellfish with tomato and onion.
And of course, who could forget piri-piri? This delicious marinade of chillies, limes and paprika gives instant flavour and juiciness to char-grilled chicken. During your holidays in Albufeira you really need to try how tasty this dish is in the country where it was invented! For a sweet treat, give pastel de nata a taste, it’s a deliciously creamy version of the classic egg custard tart.
“Visit the Old Town in Albufiera. The quaint old narrow streets and the abundance of good restaurants are amazing.”
Cliff-backed beaches of golden sand
The Algarve is famed for its great golf courses and beautiful beaches, and holidays in Albufeira certainly don’t disappoint. One of the most stunning aspects of several of the beaches in the Algarve is the dramatic rocky cliffs that encircle the coastline. This aspect is something that makes the beaches in Albufeira all the more attractive.
Praia do Pescadores is one of the closest beaches to the town centre. It’s actually named as the ‘fisherman’s beach’ due to the fact that it is still a working beach. Fisherman place their multi-coloured boats on the beach when they’re not fishing, making a pretty backdrop to your sunbathing. And luckily, the beach is neatly divided into two sections – one for fishing and one for tourists. There’s a nice wide stretch of golden sand here, and the coastline follows around to rocky, cliff-edged headland, with the whitewashed buildings of the city peering out on top.
Meanwhile, the Praia do Tunel close to the Old Town is a classic example of the kind of beaches you’ll enjoy in the Algarve. It’s only accessible by walking through a tunnel in a cave, which helps to highlight how rocky this area is! A large sandstone-coloured rock towers over the glistening sands of the beach, whilst this entire shoreline is backed by craggy, moss-covered cliffs.
In contrast to the other two bigger beaches, Praia da Oura is an idyllic little cove 2 miles to the east of the centre of Albufeira. It has a narrow promenade for admiring the endless blue of the Atlantic Ocean, but the biggest attraction is the secluded nature of the huge shrub-covered sandstone rocks. Children will love exploring the little caves and nearby rock pools too.
A combination of cultured and lively nights out
The contrast between the Old Town and the so-called Strip is just as evident on evenings out as it is during the daytime. The more modern buildings of the Strip house bars, shops and restaurants that are geared towards tourists. Things can get pretty lively later on around the Strip, as there are several neon-lit bars and clubs that stay open until the early hours. However, even around this area it’s still possible to find a quite street or two with bars that welcome families.
The Old Town offers a much more authentic evening out. The narrow (elegantly patterned) streets here hold atmospheric bars and restaurants for you to explore. Discover your favourite drinking spot in the Old Town and take in the character of the heavily wood-furnished interiors. Stay at the Boa Vista Hotel & Spa with Jet2holidays and you’ll be right in the heart of the Old Town, with easy access to all its cultural delights.
Just outside of the city, another nightspot worth visiting during your holidays in Albufeira is the marina. It’s quite different here to the typically white washed look of the Old Town, as many of the beachfront buildings have been painted in bright pastel colours of pink, green and yellow. They make for a pretty (if unusual!) backdrop to drinking on the many outdoor terraces of the bars around the marina.