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 (indicated on the Google map below) 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.
Where to go in the Algarve
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.
Centrally located along southern Portugal’s sun-blessed Algarve region, Albufeira is the hub of an area packed with tourist interest, such as the upmarket resort of Vilamoura and Quinta do Lago, one of Europe’s premier holiday destinations.
The long list of other wonderful places within easy reach of Albufeira includes the port city of Portimão (a 30-minute drive to the west) and Faro, the Algarve’s glorious capital just 45 kilometres to the east.
Albufeira is perfectly placed for golfers, with many of Portugal’s top championship courses located a short drive away, while nature lovers can spot many rare species of birds and other animals (most notably flamingos and chameleons) at the world-famous Ria Formosa wetlands.
Need more sightseeing ideas for your next visit? Listen to the Portugal Travel Show, the podcast for people planning a trip to sunny Portugal…