Albufeira Travel Guide
Albufeira is a popular tourist town on the Algarve coast of Portugal. Sandy beaches, dolphin watching, a beautiful Old Town, and thriving night life make it attractive to everyone, whatever combination of romance, history, sun, and party you are looking for.
There is no doubt that Albufeira is blessed with beautiful beaches, backed by low sandstone cliffs and probably the main reason the little fishing village has developed into an increasingly large resort town.
There are two beaches at Albufeira’s old town: Praia do Tunel (sometimes called Praia do Peneco) to the West and Praia dos Pescadores to the East. Both are beautifully clean, the beach tractors and workmen arrive every day in the early morning to collect the inevitable litter. Praia do Tunel is accessed via a man-made tunnel through the cliffs or by an elevator. Praia dos Pescadores is at the end of a pedestrian street and has escalators leading down from the cliffs. Remember that Albufeira faces the Atlantic and not the Mediterranean so there are proper waves and the sea isn’t near as warm. All types of beach furniture are available for rent, and if you want a quiet beach – go early in the morning.
There have been settlements in Albufeira since prehistoric times. The Romans called it Baltum and built bridges, aqueducts, and roads. The tiny museum shows evidence of a Roman villa in the area along with other artifacts. The name Albufeira comes from the Arabic ‘Al-buhera’, meaning ‘castle-by-the-sea’ because Albufeira had a Roman castle. Most of it however, like the town, was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake and subsequent tidal wave. The chapel and clock tower (Torre do Relógio), was built on the remains of the old castle gate and church. The clock still chimes the hour and you might be able to find a tour to take you to the top. The church itself displays some local art and is worth stopping inside to take a look around. The Hermitage of St Sebastian dates back to 1740 and replaced an earlier, smaller one on the same site, and like that previous one, owes its dedication to St Sebastian to the fact that this saint is believed to have rid the area of the Black Death.
Alburfeira has a lovely Marina area. You can find a boat tour for the day or simply stroll round taking in the lovely weather, have coffee in one of the cafes, or just sit down and relax. The Marina is only a few years old so its quite modern with lots of colored Dolphins displayed, with Albufeira’s famous colorful apartments nearby.
Albufeira also has lots of kid friendly activities, like a tourist train that goes around the beach area and part of Old Town. The whole trip takes around 40 minutes and gives a decent view of the city. You can buy day tickets (kids ride free), and the train makes four stops around town so you can get on and off as you like.
There is also Zoo Marine, a kind of seaworld/zoo, the main attraction being the dolphin show. Other attractions include a sea-lion show, birds of prey show, and tropical bird show. There are also other animals such as crocodiles, giant tortoises, and a small aquarium. The facilities are very good and include cafes, toilets, a picnic area, and children’s playground.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about traveling to Albufeira.
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