Before air travel was widely available, and subsequently the huge expansion in charter flights, the Algarve was an idyllic part of Portugal, south facing on its Atlantic Coast and Albufeira was one of its settlements. The Algarve was a place of small towns and villages, with fishing one of the significant regional activities. Its climate, fine cuisine and lovely beaches were sure to attract holidaymakers searching for the sun, which proved to be the case. With Faro established as an airport capable of handling significant numbers of aircraft and passengers, the Algarve has flourished. One of the places that has benefitted enormously from this tourist explosion is Albufeira.
Albufeira has a population of just below 30,000, with half as many again living in the immediate locality. Faro is under an hour away to the south-east. Holidaymakers choosing Albufeira as their base have few transfer problems. In the height of the summer, estimates suggest that as many as 300,000 people are in Albufeira in any one week. In addition, the Algarve’s latitude means it’s a top place for anyone wanting to escape cold winter weather in Northern Europe while travelling, on average, a couple of hours away by air.
Albufeira’s growth as a tourist town began in the 60s and its infrastructure grew as numbers increased. Many of the best things to do in Albufeira involve the ocean and beaches. Read on and find out more.
- Albufeira, Portugal
- Top Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Albufeira
- 1- Enjoy The Pleasures Of The Sea
- 2- Experience The Thrill Of Parasailing
- 3- Sample The Local Wine
- 4- Explore In A Kayak
- 5- Learn To Surf
- 6- Ride A Jet Ski
- 7- Relax And Enjoy A Beach BBQ
- 8- Go On A Buggy Adventure
- 9- Take The Family To The Aquapark
- 10- Get Your Scuba Diving Qualification
- 11- Sail The Seas
- 12- Ride A Tuk Tuk
- 13- Go To Loule Market
- 14- Take A History Lesson
- 15- Wander Around the Old Town
- 16- Sample The Local Cuisine
- 17- Learn to Cook Portuguese Cuisine
- 18- Treat The Kids To Zoomarine
- 19- Head To Praia da Gale
- 20- See The Birds Of Lagoa dos Salgados
- Albufeira: 2.5-Hour Caves & Dolphin Watching – a nature boat tour with the chance of seeing marinelife.
- Benagil Hidden Caves Tour – by kayak or SUP for a paddle into hidden caverns to see amazing rock formations, secluded beaches and caves.
- Albufeira: Sightseeing Cruise with Beach BBQ and Open Bar – relax and enjoy the view!
20 Things To Do In Albufeira
1- Enjoy The Pleasures Of The Sea
There are many opportunities to head out to sea any day of the week, not just to sunbathe and feel a warm breeze.
These waters have plenty of life, with one of the highlights being its dolphins that can appear in large numbers.
Any trip will involve stopping for a swim and exploring the coastline’s numerous hidden caves.
Take a boat to get into places that larger boats cannot access, or join a tour and have a marine biologist tell you more about the marine life here as well.
Recommended tour: Albufeira: 2.5-Hour Caves & Dolphin Watching Boat Tour
2- Experience The Thrill Of Parasailing
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly with the birds?
Parasailing offers a different perspective of Albufeira and the immediate region by taking to the skies.
It’s a unique experience, even if your flight is only for a short time.
You will start from a platform at the back of your boat and gradually climb.
“Trips” into the sky are available individually, as a pair or even a threesome.
You will reach an altitude of 80 metres (over 260 feet).
It’s quiet up there, with nothing interrupting your views back down to earth and Albufeira.
Your descent will also be gradual before landing back on the platform, touching the water if you wish before finally landing.
Recommended tour: Albufeira Parasailing As A Single Double Or Triple
3- Sample The Local Wine
A trip inland is also great fun and the best form of transport to go off-road is a 4×4, which will take you through villages, cork forests and orange orchards.
You will learn about cork and its journey from a forest to human use.
But your destination? A local winery to discover acres of grapevines with the Portuguese sun guaranteeing that they will ripen to allow the wine process to take place.
You have to sample the wine with locally produced cheeses, jams, smoked ham, and fresh bread.
It’s a wonderful day out.
Recommended tour: From Albufeira 4X4 Off Road Safari Vineyard Wine Tasting
4- Explore In A Kayak
Why not head out to sea “under your own steam”?
Even if you have never been in a kayak before, you can try it under expert supervision to get into places where even the smallest boats would struggle.
This trip involves taking a boat to Benagil, about 40 minutes from where you will get into your kayak.
You can opt for standing or kneeling on a paddleboard if you prefer.
Once on the sea, you are able to explore, enjoy the rock formations, caves and caverns, taking photos as you go.
There are double kayaks if you wish, and even beginners will have few fears after the pre-launch safety briefing.
After a real experience, you will certainly enjoy the drink provided on the return journey.
From Albufeira: Benagil Hidden Caves Tour by Kayak or SUP
5- Learn To Surf
Albufeira’s lovely coast has plenty of beaches, such as Gale Beach, where you can learn to surf during your holiday by arranging a lesson.
Wetsuits and surfboard come with the tour and it begins with a warm-up and safety briefing.
You will learn how to get in and out of the water before beginning the challenge of being able to balance yourself while standing on the board.
It does take a few attempts but it is great fun, and all the time, you will have instructors helping you with instructions and encouragement.
Recommended tour: Albufeira: 2-Hour Falesia Beach Surf Lesson
6- Ride A Jet Ski
If you want some help getting across the waves, a jet ski is a great way to do it.
You will begin by listening to an expert about safety and how to operate a jet ski.
Once you start, be sure to keep your eyes on the water to make sure there is nothing, or no one, in front of you.
The jet skis are powerful, 1100 cc, and you may be surprised how quickly they move over the water.
Recommended tour: Algarve: 30-Minute Jet Ski Experience
7- Relax And Enjoy A Beach BBQ
Why not let someone else do the work? A relaxing cruise along the beautiful coastline will allow you to take in the surroundings while enjoying a breeze and the cloudless skies.
You will also get to swim or snorkel before heading on a dinghy to the beach for a lovely BBQ.
Some beaches are only accessible from the sea, so you will not find crowds wherever you disembark.
Boats come equipped with sports equipment for your group to play beach games or even paddle board.
There is no rush, so after lunch, you will still get a couple of hours to do whatever you want until joining the boat for the trip home.
Recommended tour: Albufeira: Sightseeing Cruise with Beach BBQ and Open Bar
8- Go On A Buggy Adventure
If you want to explore the immediate region around Albufeira, you can do this on a self-drive buggy.
The terrain is varied, with the scenery offering great views.
The trails your guide will reveal to you are a real experience, an adventure if you like!
Some of the roads are asphalt but mostly you are on gravel roads.
There are plenty of opportunities to take photographs with frequent stops, so you do not need to take any risks as you travel off-road.
Recommended tour: From Albufeira: Half-Day Buggy Adventure Tour
9- Take The Family To The Aquapark
Aquashow Park is the largest such park in Portugal and it makes sense to buy tickets in advance to avoid the queues that build up in high season.
You can expect an outdoor swimming pool and slides, spaces reserved for children’s activities, restaurants, and bars.
There are slides for all, including a Kamikaze slide that is 32 metres (105 feet) high.
There are large waves to surf, a Speed Race, the White Fall for the brave and the Wild Snake, which takes you on a ride into the dark.
If your children are young, take them to the mini-park especially designed for them.
There is much more, as well as a place to relax or take a jacuzzi.
The show area is somewhere everyone enjoys; birds of prey, exotic birds and reptiles. Skip the line and reserve your tickets here.
10- Get Your Scuba Diving Qualification
There is a wonderful world under the waves, so if you enjoy holidays by the sea, why not learn to scuba dive so that you can get even more out of future holidays.
Licensed instructors are on hand to take you through the stages towards getting certification.
All the necessary equipment is there.
You will get some basic instructions initially before ever entering the water.
You will be limited to a depth of 12 feet (3.5 metres) once you head to the sea but the early instruction is in a pool.
It is possible to get a certificate at the end, which is the first stage in being able to dive anywhere in the world ultimately.
That certificate will attest to the fact you have done the basics and an initial dive.
Recommended tour: Discover Scuba Diving In The Algarve
11- Sail The Seas
The Algarve is relatively small, so nowhere is too far away if you are looking for a special day out.
You can join a schooner from Vilamoura which is just half an hour east from Albufeira by road to sail west along the coast.
The route takes you past the large beach of Falésia, Olhos d’Agua, a fishing village and the small beaches backed by the red sand cliffs.
Albufeira is next then São Rafael’s steep cliffs.
You will stop for a swim in all but rough sea conditions and perhaps the time to explore one of the many sea caves.
The schooner turns around near Galé and you can help by hoisting of the sails or assisting the captain at the helm.
Recommended tour: From Vilamoura: Algarve Coast 3-Hour Sailing Cruise
12- Ride A Tuk Tuk
You may associate a tuk-tuk with Asia, but you can also enjoy the experience of travelling around in a tuk-tuk to see Albufeira.
The tour takes in landmarks, with your driver pointing things out and describing the people’s typical daily lives.
You can stop and stop whenever you wish while the tour will also take you to the popular beaches.
This is an excellent introduction to your holiday base.
You should be ready with your camera and mentally note where you would like to return to later in your holiday.
Incidentally, tours are also available at night, with your guide able to answer any of your questions about restaurants, bars and nightlife.
Recommended tour: Albufeira One Hour Tuk Tuk Guided Tour
13- Go To Loule Market
Around half an hour from Albufeira, this tour of Loule will give you an insight to a traditional market town with a unique atmosphere.
The street market is full of colour, selling everything from handicrafts to toys, shoes and clothing.
You will have plenty of time to walk around, and don’t forget to haggle; it is expected.
The Algarve’s’ tourist popularity has led to changes in most resorts.
Loule is the best place to experience things as they were before crowds arrived.
Recommended tour: From Albufeira Explore Loule Town And Market
14- Take A History Lesson
This region has a rich history, and tours are available to teach you more.
Head to Silves for its impressive castle, while Silves Cathedral is a history lesson on its own with your guide knowledgeable of all aspects of the past.
Then proceed to Fóia, the Algarve’s highest point at around 900 metres (almost 3,000 feet).
Cabo São Vicente in Sagres is Continental Europe’s most southwesterly point, and it is where you will see the Fortaleza de Sagres, a military monument built during the Age of Discovery.
Praia da Cordoama is an impressive rock formation near the ancient capital Lagos.
Recommended tour: From Albufeira Historical Algarve Region Tour
15- Wander Around the Old Town
The Old Town is a great place to explore and you can find a surprise that leads you to the beach.
The Bell Tower and SantAnna Church are two prominent landmarks.
If the church is open, take a look inside.
The main square is Largo Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco, with several streets leading off it.
Shops, bars and restaurants aplenty are there and this is where special events in Albufeira take place.
There is a tunnel linking the old town to the beach, Praia do Tunel.
One minute you are on cobbled streets, the next on the sand.
16- Sample The Local Cuisine
Mediterranean cuisine is world famous, and not surprisingly, the dishes of the Algarve are both traditional and inevitably healthy.
Seafood here is terrific and one of the local favourites is Cataplana which is the name of the cookware in which it is prepared.
The dish is a rich stew using local shellfish.
Caldeirada is another you will find on menus in all the local restaurants.
It is also a stew made from local fish.
You may only have tasted sardines from a can before you go to the Algarve.
In Albufeira, sample the local grilled sardines at least once during your holiday.
Everything goes down well with a glass of local wine.
17- Learn to Cook Portuguese Cuisine
Before your holiday is over, you might like to think about preparing some of the lovely local dishes you have eaten in Albufeira’s restaurants.
Everything is fresh and locally sourced.
There are numerous opportunities to learn about preparation from a local chef, with the bonus of eating what you have produced at the end of the lesson.
Ask around, and you may get someone to collect you and drop you back at your hotel afterwards.
The classic main courses and the local custard tart (pasteis de belem) are options with local wine always available.
18- Treat The Kids To Zoomarine
Guia is just a few minutes from Albufeira, where you will find a family theme park that everyone will love.
“Jurassic River” is a real adventure taking both kids and adults on a fantastic journey back to prehistoric times.
“Pirate Bay” sees heroes with swords and eye patches entertaining with impressive stunts.
A huge artificial wave beach is a “must”, while the 4D cinema and the aquarium are other great attractions.
Get your tickets in advance to avoid queuing.
19- Head To Praia da Gale
You may decide that on one of your days in Albufeira, you want to lie on a beach and sunbathe, perhaps with the odd swim.
There is plenty of choices, but if you want to avoid a beach that is too crowded in high season, head just a short distance west out of Albufeira towards Armacao de Pera, and you will find a beautiful golden beach that has remained a hidden treasure.
There are facilities and restaurants, so you need not worry; the large crowds are missing.
It is popular with the locals, but it will be quiet midweek.
It is also a great place to watch a sunset.
20- See The Birds Of Lagoa dos Salgados
This coastal lagoon is just a short distance west of Praia da Gale.
It is a great place to see both resident and migratory birds.
The sea regularly invades the lagoon, although manmade defences are there to stop serious problems.
The water covers around 50 hectares and is relatively shallow, ideal for ducks, waders and herons.
Records show over 200 species over the years, with highlights being the Ferruginous Duck, the Greater Flamingo, Squacco Heron and Caspian Tern.
There is an observation point from which you can scan the lagoon and a wooden walkway along its length.
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