Has Albufeira Lost it’s Portuguese Charm?
Exploring Albufeira to find it’s Hidden Charms
With 48 hours to spend in Albufeira, the fishing village formally known as “Al-Buhera”, meaning “castle on the Sea”, we got to the opportunity to sample the sights both on land and at sea . From a hip and happening nightlife, to the holiday-maker buzz. But hidden away beneath it all was the real charm of this historic “city on the hill”.
It’s no surprise that one of the most famous stretches of the algarve belongs to the bustling town of Albufeira. Most British and Irish tourists flock to this hilly coastal town in droves every year.
It will come as no surprise that this once sleepy fishing village is now seriously over developed, gets a bad reputation among local Portuguese and now feeds on tourist money spent on booze and bar crawls.
It’s crazy how a place can really change in just a few short years.
But there are still plenty of great reasons to visit Albufeira. If you look beyond the crowds, venture a little further a field and embrace the Portuguese culture, it is still possible to enjoy the best of what Albufeira has to offer.
Did you know that one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, ”Praia da Marinha” lies just a few miles from Albufeira. Or that one of the original castles to occupy the shield of the Portuguese flag “Castle of Paderne” is located just 8.2 kilometres away.
This southern town has also been the target of a number of horrific earthquakes over the years, even resulting in most of the city being wiped out in 1755, by the tidal flood that came prior.
Thanks to it’s stunning stretch of coastline, it’s fabulous beaches and of course, endless hours of entertainment, Albuferia has emerged from it’s natural disasters and grew into a mix of historic charm nestled among neon lights.
The white washed houses that cluster the cliffs and the undeniable beautiful beaches are some of the many things that attract the crowds yearly. Not to mention the climate, blue skies and as always the friendly locals.
How to have 48 hours of fun, in Albufeira:
Take a Boat cruise with AlgarExperience ~ Cruise the coastline west of Albufeira to discover hidden coves, stunning rock formations, luxurious resort towns and more. Spend a lazy day soaking up the sun on board one of their luxury cruizelines. Get the VIP treatment on top deck as you sip procecco with the wind in your hair and the sea salt on your face.
A day out at sea with Algarexperience will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the nightlife of Albufeira old town.
What does a day on board AlgarExperience consist of?
We checked in for our boat tour at the Marina de Albufeira, a short walk west of the old town. With 30 minutes to spare we watched courageous enthusiasts bungee jump over the marina as we wandered along the peaceful promanade.
I must admit I was temped to give it a try myself but hunger got the better of me and so we opted for lunch instead! When it was time to board the boat, we were welcomed by the friendly crew with a glass of fruit juice/wine and a smile.
We set sail, sun cream on, drink in hand, ocean views; what more could you ask for?!
As we cruised along we got a brief introduction from the crew members who gave us an interesting history lesson on Albufeira and the surrounding areas.
I have to say the rugged coastline with it’s hidden coves, limestone caves and crooked cliffs certainly was a million miles from the bustling tourist trap I had just came from. Lost at sea, it’s tranquil to see the beauty of Albufeira, from a far.
Amazed by the multitude of hidden beaches scattered among the limestone formations, the clicks of our cameras were on overdrive. Most are only accessible by boat, and the immediate feeling of gratitude soon filled our souls.
This was short lived as we learned our boat was slightly too big to explore a little deeper.
With our particular tour lasting around 3 hours, we had just enough time for a quick dip in the atlantic, before our return journey to the Marina. We won’t give too much away about the tour but if you make it to top deck, then there’s a nice little surprise for the homeward journey, as you relax in the summer sun.
A highly recommend tour by algarexperience. With plenty of trips to choose from, I’m hopeful they will have something to cater for everyone. Plan you trip here AlgarExperience or check availability here!
Considering Albufeira is fortunate enough to boast beautiful sandy beaches, it would be a shame not to enjoy them. There’s plenty of watersports activities to keep you entertained and a few that will keep you fit at the same time.
There’s surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaks, standup paddle boarding, jet skiing, and even a full scale inflatable assault course in the middle of the ocean to your avail. Head for the water and take your pick.
With world famous beaches on your doorstep, it would be a shame not to experience a few of them.
Here’s a list of out top 3 beaches in the Algarve
Get ready for beach hopping on day 2!
Praia da Marinha
Praia da Marinha is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches along the entire Atlantic coast and it is located in Caramujeira, and very accessible from Albufeira. It truly has to be seen to appreciate its beauty. The Michelin Guide honoured this beach as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe and also in the top 100 most beautiful beaches in the world.
In 2015, the European Best Destinations / EDEN European Destinations of Excellence awarded Marinha Beach as one of the best destinations in Europe. It’s a spot often used by top modelling and advertising agencies, you might even be lucky enough to spot a few famous faces!
Praia da Gale
Praia da Gale is located around 4km to the west of Albufeira, flaunts a wide sandy beach, clear waters and unique rock formations. Favoured by families for its clean beach and safe swimming, you might struggle to find a sun lounging spot. Located a short 5 kms away, you’ll find Salgados Nature Reserve and some amazing sand dunes.
Praia da Falésia
Praia da Falésia is absolutely stunning. You will be mesmerised by the colours of the golden sands, clear waters, blue skies and red and white cliffs luring above. The impressive sandstone cliffs will leave you feeling quite small on this long sandy beach.
There’s definitely more to Albufeira than what meets the eye. It just takes the curious traveller to delve a little deep to find the charm surrounding the bay. Who knows what the next few years will have in store of this holiday hub, but a few days spent soaking up the sun in the central Algarve is always a good idea!
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