Albufeira is one of the most popular seaside resorts in the Algarve and a major European holiday destination. Located on the coast in the center of the region, about 36 kilometers west of Faro, the city is synonymous with tourism and has some of the best beaches in southern Portugal. Once a quiet fishing village, Albufeira still retains some of its traditional character. The old town center is a maze of steep, narrow streets with whitewashed houses and fishermen’s cottages leading to a fantastic beach.
Evidence of Albufeira’s Roman and Moorish heritage is scarce, however, with only the remains of the once mighty castle walls visible. The city’s original Arabic name, Al-Buhera , means “Castle-on-the-Sea” and one or two buildings with telltale Moorish arches. But as the modern tourist capital of the Algarve, modern Albufeira is a lively holiday center of hotels, restaurants and boutiques.
Inland, away from the noise, a more secluded Algarve awaits to be discovered – countryside little changed by the advancement of tourism.
Read also: Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Olhão
1 the beach
Albufeira is blessed with an excellent choice of beautiful and unspoilt beaches ( praias ). Praia dos Pescadores is located right on the doorstep of the resort. Named after the colorful fishing boats that once decorated the beach (they are all now moored at the marina), this family favorite is easily accessible on foot, but can become uncomfortably busy in high season. Alternatively, near Praia da Ouracan be reached by following a scenic two kilometer coastal walkway east of the resort. Larger and less sheltered than its neighbor, this beach is a popular destination for windsurfers. Both beaches are served by an inviting array of seaside cafes and restaurants and there are plenty of fun activities for water sports enthusiasts.
Praia de São Rafael is also nearby, one of the best beaches in the Algarve and a beautiful pocket of sand enclosed by honey-coloured rocks that resemble wedges of gingerbread.
Slightly more exclusive is picturesque Olhos da Água . Five kilometers from the center of Albufeira and connected by local bus services, the wonderfully named “Eyes of Water” is a small pocket of sand wedged into a crescent-shaped bay. This is a great place for children to explore when the tide is out; the ankle-high shoals and rock pools are a beachcomber’s dream.
Further east is still the beautiful Praia da Falésia. This is one of the best beaches in Portugal, known for its seemingly endless stretch of golden sand and shallow waters. It is set among ocher sandstone cliffs covered with clusters of umbrella pine trees. You will need a vehicle to reach the remote location.
2 Albufeira Marina
Enhancing Albufeira’s holiday address is the destination’s chic marina, four kilometers west of the resort. The central focus of a luxury apartment building, the marina provides an interesting distraction away from the busy center of the city. Lined by a promenade with multiple cafes and restaurants, plus a number of shops and busy market stalls, this is also the departure point for numerous sightseeing cruises, maritime excursions and other adventure tourist attractions.
Address: Rua da Orada, Albufeira, Algarve
Official site: https://marina.marinaalbufeira.com
3 Adventure Park
High roping through a treetop assault course is the name of the game at this exciting and challenging Amusement Park . Participants must overcome a series of obstacles to complete the course, including a dizzying rope course and the terrifying Monkey’s Bridge. There is also an intricate cobweb to cross, a vertical net to climb and a zip wire to slide down. Located in green forests near Santa Eulália and Praia da Oura, the park consists of a series of games and paths at different heights among the trees. Designed to test endurance and motivation, the course allows participants to develop their own sense of responsibility as they move slowly through the canopy. There are a number of different adrenaline-pumping routes to try, each with varying levels of difficulty (some say playfulness). Fully trained staff oversee every step, with special initiation pathways for active young people. Not only is this great fun, it is also an educational experience and helps increase awareness of the forest environment. The organizers can also arrange paintball tournaments for adult groups.
Location: Estrada de Santa Eulália, Albufeira
Official site: https://www.lusoaventura.com
4 Largo Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco
Shopping area Albufeira
The tempestuous hub of Albufeira is tacky, over the top and utterly irresistible. Named after an illustrious 20th-century Portuguese statesman and civil engineer, this modern pedestrian square attracts locals and tourists to its abundance of restaurants, cafes and snack bars. It’s worth browsing the range of fashion boutiques for cheap summer clothes, and it’s worth investigating the craft workshops lining Rua Candido dos Reis for locally made souvenirs and a delightful selection of assorted holiday kitsch. An interesting cultural attraction is the Galeria Pintor Samora Barros, a well-known contemporary art gallery with works by Portuguese and international artists. After dark, troupes of buskers and street performers appear to help entertain the crowds. The square is a short stroll to Largo Cais Herculano , the city’s bustling seafront, where part of the original castle wall – now part of a restaurant facade – can be admired.
Address: Largo Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco, Albufeira
5 Archaeological Museum
Although modest in size, the exhibits on display in the archaeological museum in Albufeira include prehistory , the Roman , Islamic , and Visigothic periods and the modern era. The most interesting objects, spread over two floors, are stone flint tools from the Stone Age, fragments of mosaics excavated from a nearby Roman villa and a collection of weathered 16th-century keystones. The highlight is an impressive 10th century Islamic silo, excavated while the building was still serving as a town hall.
Address: Praça da República 1, Albufeira
6 Church of Saint Sebastian
The small, whitewashed Church of St. Sebastian is an understated cultural highlight of Albufeira . Dedicated to the mid-18th century, its appearance is distinguished by a decoration of heyday Baroque masonry that frames the main portal. Confusingly, the facade of the church has a plaque dedicated to São Vicente – St. Vincent, the patron saint of the city. Inside, visitors are treated to a rare gilded wood altarpiece, topped by the round and ruddy faces of laughing cherubs. The ship doubles as an ad-hoc museum of sacred art , and is also used for temporary exhibitions.
Address: Praça Miguel Bombarda, Albufeira
One of the Algarve’s great family entertainment options, Zoomarine puts on spectacular dolphin shows and a fun sea lion spectacle, among other daily performances. There is also a fascinating aquarium-museum to explore. A number of different habitats display exotic seabirds and majestic birds of prey. In addition, tickets can give access to a fun fairground and a fantastic water park with swimming pools for children and adults and a giant water slide. Another highlight is the digitally animated film shown in the 4D cinema, which chronicles the ocean journey of a sea turtle. But probably the most magical moment is the opportunity to interact with bottlenose dolphins, where visitors can swim with these beautiful and intelligent creatures in a pool under the supervision of the trainer.
Location: approximately 7 kilometers northwest of Albufeira on the EN125 highway near Guia
Official site: https://www.zoomarine.pt
8 Krazy World
Located a little off the beaten track, this wonderfully unassuming amusement park includes a mini zooand a range of recreational facilities ideally suited to tourists traveling with young people. The idyllic rural setting offers a pleasant contrast to the often busy coastal towns and the rural atmosphere is peaceful and unhurried. Parents and children can greet cute and cuddly pets at the petting zoo, while the reptile zone is home to exotic creatures such as turtles, iguanas, alligators and snakes, including a giant python. There are pony rides and bouncy castles for younger children, and teenagers can test their riding skills on the moto-quad track. Meanwhile, novice golfers can practice their putting on the 18-hole mini golf course. And when it’s warm, the pools are particularly welcoming.
Location: About 13 kilometers north of Albufeira at Lagoa de Viseu, near Algoz
Official site: https://www.krazyworld.com
9 Castle of Paderne
The atmospheric ruins of Paderne Castle sit in beautiful isolation high on a hilltop deep in the Algarve hinterland. Built by the Moors in the 12th century, on the site of an earlier Roman fortress, the castle overlooks the Quarteira River where a well-preserved Roman bridge can still be crossed. However, the castle has proven to be less insensitive to the ravages of time. The still impressive outer walls remain, as do remains of the tower gate, but little else. However, the site offers a glorious slice of countryside, particularly attractive in spring when the slopes are dotted with flowers. Within the ramparts lies the ruined Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Assunção, built after Christian forces overran the Moors in 1248. The castle is located near Paderne , a charming but sleepy spot of a village that’s worth a quick look before seeking out the castle. Visitors should note that the castle is unsupervised and the steep dirt road to the entrance should not be moved during wet conditions.
Location: Near Paderne, about 13 kilometers northeast of Albufeira on the N395
Where to stay in Albufeira for sightseeing
We recommend these charming hotels in Albufeira, with easy access to attractions and the beach:
- EPIC SANA Algarve Hotel: luxury beachfront resort, beautiful pools, spacious suites, modern decor, kids club.
- Vila Gale Praia: mid-range pricing, walking distance to the beach, outdoor pool, yoga room, full-service spa.
- Golden Beach by 3HB: 3-star apartment-style resort, sea views, comfortable beds, beautiful outdoor pool.
- Vale de Carros: budget hotel, bright rooms and apartments, swimming pool and tennis court.
Tips and tours: how to get the most out of your visit to Albufeira
- Boat trips: A popular tour from the marina is the Caves and Dolphin Watching Cruise from Albufeira. This two-hour excursion explores some of the caves carved into the rugged sea cliffs. Along the way, keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins cruising the coastline. Another fun outing, and one with a fantastic fun factor, is the Leaozinho Pirate Ship Cruise from Albufeira. Kids can pretend they’re Captain Hook or Long John Silver on this half- or two-hour westward journey along the picturesque Algarve coast.
More Must-See Places to Visit near Albufeira
Albufeira’s central location on the Algarve coast makes it a convenient place to stay when traveling further afield. Portimão is an easy drive west, while in the other direction Faro, the regional capital, is worth a day trip, not least to discover the beautiful Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. If golf is your favorite pastime, take a look at our page of the best golf courses in Portugal. There are several excellent layouts of the Algarve listed, some of which border the most celebrated seaside resorts in the country.