The history of Albufeira is often traumatic but always fascinating. The village suffered a succession of devastating earthquakes – the worst of all occurring in 1755. In 1833 it was besieged then burnt to the ground during the Portuguese civil war. Prosperity only returned to Albufeira with the tourist boom that began in the late 1970's and gathered momentum in the 1980's. Major developments during that time have turned it into one of Europe’s most popular beach resorts.
Today, Albufeira is a fascinating mix of old and new. Previously a small fishing village, parts of the old town have still retained the essence of its past, with narrow cobbled streets winding up and around the hillsides. However, contemporary Albufeira is represented by a myriad of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops. Vibrant nightlife can be found in São João whilst the town’s beaches are a major draw for visitors.
Albufeira is reasonably well connected by road, rail and air via the city of Faro, which is 25 miles away. Most visitors travel to Albuferia by air and the journey from Faro airport takes about 40 minutes. Faro connects with many European destinations, with flights to the UK, Holland, Italy and Germany. There are over 14 flights a day from the UK to Faro in the high season, so there is plenty of choice. A number of budget airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair operate services to Faro.
Trains to Albufeira from Faro, Lisbon and Porto run daily. If you are flying into Lisbon, Eva Bus is the most efficient of the bus services and the journey to Albufeira takes just under 3 hours.
The summers in Albufeira are long and dry with winters continuing to stay mild with limited rainfall. July and August are the hottest months in Albufeira, when you will find up to 12 hours of sunshine a day. The coastal breezes tend to keep the temperatures bearable.
The spring and autumn is still warm, whilst the coldest winter months are January and December although the temperatures rarely fall beyond 15 degrees. Even in the heart of winter there is still around 6 hours of sunshine a day. From November to March is when most of the rainfall occurs, though on average there are only around 50 days of rainfall a year.
Albufeira’s beaches are internationally renowned and if that’s your prime reason for visiting, then you’ll be spoilt for choice. A number of the bigger beaches offer water sports including windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, water-skiing, paragliding, jet-skiing, sailing and fishing.
One of the most popular beaches is Praia do Peneco, a pleasant, sandy beach near the town centre. Praia do Peneco is 5 minutes east of the centre, and is a reminder of the town's fishing heritage, lined with boats and fishermen hauling in their catches. This area also has some of the town's best bars and restaurants
For recreation away from the beaches, a popular choice with both adults and children is the Zoomarine park, 10km from the village centre. The park offers a variety of entertainment including dolphins, walruses, sea lions, swimming pools and fair rides.
About 15km from Albufeira, Aqualand is a family water park with some exciting rides and a safe area for younger kids. Golf is also popular in the resort with first-class courses that are perfect for everyone from beginners to experts.
Albufeira has a good crop of churches, in varying states of use and repair, while the Archaeological Museum in the old town displays items salvaged from the ruins of buildings from bygone eras.
When it comes to restaurants, whether you're in the old town or elsewhere, you’ll not be stuck for a choice. The Minar Indian Restaurant in Albufeira's Old Town is a particular favourite with visitors.
If you want to escape Albufeira for an excursion or a daytrip, you could go on a Jeep safari tour. This is a great way to sample the Algarve countryside and places off the beaten track.
Also in September, the Alcoutim festival has been running since the 1950s and includes a huge programe of entertainment from sporting activities to traditional regional games, music and amusements.