You will find plenty of things to do in Albufeira, the salt-washed and vibrant holidaying mecca of the Algarve. Spreading from a buzzy marina that's peppered with bars and clubs to a cobbled Old Town that bursts with souvenir stalls and Portuguese tapas joints, it's every inch a summertime escape bathed in sunshine. People come to soak up a tan during the day, hit rounds of golf, and enjoy hedonistic evenings of fresh fish and bopping on the dancefloor.

    Albufeira is the hub of a region that's famed for its beaches and quaint hill towns. You won't have to go far to escape the crowds, what with stunning Arrifes Beach and the ochre-tinted cliffs of Praia da Coelha within a short distance. Other possible outings include dolphin spotting, coastline cruises, and trips to the babbling springs of Alte. 

    What are the best things to do in Albufeira?

    1

    Praia dos Pescadores

    Relax on Albufeira's main beach

    Praia dos Pescadores – known to Albufeira's loyal returnee visitors as Fisherman's Beach – is the closest stretch of sand to the town itself. You only need to walk to the south end of the Old Town, and you'll find yourself gazing over the clifftops to a 220-metre run of gold-flecked sand lapped by the sea.

    From the warm spring months onwards, Praia dos Pescadores is where the locals and holidaymakers of Albufeira will go in search of a tan. There are clusters of sunbeds for rent in the middle, surrounded by paint-peeling fishing boats. Just behind, rows of buzzy beach bars have cliffside terraces and cheap cocktails.

    Location: R. da Praia 11, 8365-131 Armação de Pêra, Portugal

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    2

    Praia da Coelha

    Blue seas and gold-tinted sands await at this gorgeous cove

    Head to Praia da Coelha if you're looking for something secluded on the stunning coast of the Algarve. You only need to travel a little to the west of Albufeira. The trip is around 15 minutes in the car. Then, it's down a breezy footpath between pockets of scrub and boulders, before emerging onto a wide bay that's hemmed in by high sandstone cliffs.

    There are rarely the same crowds to contend with on Praia da Coelha compared with the beaches closer to the resort's heart. But you do get the same classic south-Portugal, golden sand, glistening green-blue waters, and a charming little bar with regional seafood just metres from the waves.

    Location: Aldeamento Happymag 6, Albufeira, Portugal

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    3

    Go dolphin watching

    Take a cruise around the rugged Algarve coast

    The rich Atlantic waters surrounding the town are teeming with marine wildlife, and dolphin cruises are one of the best ways to get up close and personal with the gentle creatures. They leave regularly from Albufeira Marina throughout the summer season.

    The trip takes around 2.5 hours and brings you out past the sea caves and sands of Carvoeiro – a well-known spot for all sorts of cetaceans. You'll have loads of chances to spot the elegant marine mammals, a pitstop to swim near a gorgeous cove, and photo opportunities galore. Dolphin spotting trips can cost as little as €30 per person.

    4

    Alte

    Bathe in clear springs in a rustic hill town

    The small village of Alte, which hides between the olive forests and low hills, lies around 16 miles to the north of Albufeira. It's famed for its springs, which babble up to fill a huge canal in the middle of town with refreshing water surrounded by grassy banks and BBQ pits.

    With so many pristine beaches to enjoy, it's easy to forget natural landscapes dotting the inland of the Algarve. The gushing Queda do Vigari waterfall and the forested foothills of the Serra do Caldeirao ranges invite you to wild swimming spots and walking trails along the Alte River. The centre is also worth a look, with its cobbled streets lined with traditional Portuguese taverns and whitewashed cottages.

    Location: Alte, Portugal

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    photo by Kolforn (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    5

    Zoomarine Algarve

    Wave pools and waterslides at a family-friendly water park

    • Families

    Looping waterslides, wave pools, pirate ships, a lazy river are just some of the highlights at Zoomarine Algarve. Located within a 20-minute drive to the north-west of Albufeira, it’s often busy with families looking to enjoy a fix of adrenaline and action.

    The main draws at this water park include the Aquaspash boats with their onboard water cannons and the high Big Wheel. But when you're not soaking each other or riding the Ferris wheel, there are also dolphin shows and even swim-with-dolphin packages on offer. The park is open from March to November, with tickets costing around €25 per person.

    Location: Estrada Nacional 125, KM65, 8201-864 Guia, Portugal

    Open: April–May and September: daily from 10 am to 6 pm. March–April and October–November: daily from 10 am to 5 pm. December–February: daily from 10 am to 7.30 pm

    Phone: +351 289 560 300

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    photo by Timo Newton-Syms (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    6

    Castle of Silves

    Uncover Moorish and Roman history in an amazing ancient fortress

    The Castle of Silves shoulders high above the town of the same name, some 30 minutes' drive to the northwest of Albufeira. It's crowned the hillsides of the Algarve since the period of Moorish rule in the region, which began way back in the 8th century. It's considered one of the best-preserved Arab castles in the country.

    You'll need to navigate the tight-knit alleys of Silves town to get to the fortress. Scale the bulwarks for sweeping panoramas from the top. The huge keeps poking above the walls are a highlight, while the centre of the castle is dominated by old living quarters and cisterns dating from the early Middle Ages.

    Location: R. do Castelo, 8300-135 Silves, Portugal

    Open: April–May and September–October: daily from 9 am to 8 pm. June–August: daily from 9 am to 10 pm. November–March: daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +351 282 440 837

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    7

    Albufeira Marina

    Find welcoming gastropubs and pretty yachts on the quaysides

    Albufeira Marina is a pleasant salt-scented quayside on the far western end of Albufeira town. It's a pleasant 20-minute stroll from the centre to the jetties, taking you along the edge of the Atlantic before joining a canal and delving into the heart of the harbour.

    The marina is the place to go for dolphin watching and high-octane speedboat tours. It's also prime yacht spotting territory. It’s also home to vibrant bars and eateries offering a wide range of dishes. From traditional Algarvian seafood to artisanal ice cream, there are all sorts of cuisines to enjoy.

    Location: R. da Orada, 8201-918 Albufeira, Portugal

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    8

    Parque Aventura

    Challenge yourself in the treetops

    • Adventure
    • Group

    Parque Aventura is an exploration of the forest canopies of the Algarve that's certainly not for the faint-hearted. This adventure park lies east of Albufeira town, around 10 minutes away by car.

    The star of the show is the unnervingly named High Ropes Course. It will whisk you into the very tops of the pine trees, where you can hop swinging wire bridges, whiz down zip lines, and conquer your vertigo. Of course, everyone's strapped to a harness for added safety, while there are pleasant seating areas in the forests for anyone searching for a more relaxed session in the Portuguese outdoors.

    Location: Estrada de Santa Eulalia, 215, 8200-381 Albufeira, Portugal

    Open: Mid-March–mid-June and mid-September–mid-November: daily from 2 pm to 6 pm. Mid-June–mid-September: daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +351 913 185 782

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    9

    Albufeira Old Town

    Explore Albufeira’s historic heart

    The Old Town fringes the port and spills straight into the sea at Fisherman's Beach. The most atmospheric and historic part of Albufeira is also the town’s liveliest quarter. Unfolding northwards from the coast, it's all paint-peeling cottages, cobbled plazas, and Baroque churches fronted with haunting statues.

    You can unwind at cafes and shop for souvenirs on bustling Liberdade. You can also explore the narrow alleys that ring around the Torre do Relogio by the beach. Igreja de Sao Sebastiao is a beautiful church on the southern end of the Old Town, while Candido dos Reis is where the party is usually at.

    Location: Praça Miguel Bombarda 9, 8200-146 Albufeira, Portugal

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    10

    The Strip

    Party the night away on the Albufeira bar drag

    • Nightlife

    Like most of the best summer holiday getaways on the Algarve's coast, Albufeira is no stranger to bumping bars that party on until the early hours. To get them, you can hop over to The Strip come evening. You'll find it towards Praia da Oura to the east of the Old Town, peppered with vibrant drinking holes of all shapes and sizes.

    The hedonism begins at the northern end of Sa Carneiro Avenue, where you've got the ubiquitous Irish bars and English-styled pubs. Move south to catch more neon-lit club venues with attractive happy hour deals. Eventually, you'll discover breezy beach lounges with beautiful views across the ocean.

    Location: Av. Infante Dom Henrique, 8200-340 Albufeira, Portugal

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    photo by Kolforn (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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