Since the 1970s, the picturesque fishing town of Albufeira in the central coastal region has been the undisputed tourist capital of the Algarve, in winter as well as summer.
Its golden beaches and pulsating night-life attract holidaymakers from all over Europe, who arrive in their droves during the summer months.
In Roman times, Albufeira was called Baltum and fine examples of Roman bridges can be seen in Paderne and Guia.
The Moors, who occupied the town in the 8th century, renamed it Al-Buhera, which means ‘The Castle on the Sea’, which is how the town derived its name.
During five centuries of Arabian rule, Al-Buhera built up a busy trade with nearby North Africa, and together with Faro it was one of the last Moorish strongholds to be conquered by the Portuguese in 1250.
Visiting today’s Albufeira is a delight with much more to enjoy than the long sandy beaches right through the year. The Church of São Sebastião on Praça Miguel Bombarda has an impressive doorway built in the Manueline style of Portugal‘s heyday in the early 16th century.
From Praça Miguel Bombarda, take Rua 5 de Outubro which leads you temptingly through a tunnel to one of the town’s most popular beaches where bars and restaurants line the promenade.
At Praia dos Barcos you can see Albufeira’s colourful fishing boats and hardened fishermen unloading fish and/or mending their nets.
The small sandy coves around Albufeira are surrounded by high sandstone cliffs that provide good shade during the hot summer months and protection against the wind in winter.
More restaurants and lively night-life can be found in the satellite developments to the east of Albufeira such as Montechoro, Areias de São João and Oura, where a density of hotels, bars, restaurants and discotheques caters for the summer crowds.