If you’re considering a trip to the Algarve, you’re probably wondering whether Albufeira is worth visiting.
Albufeira is a place that inspires polarising views, and depending on who you ask, people will tell you that it’s either the best place on earth, or that they couldn’t wait to leave.
I recently spent 8 days in Albufeira, and honestly, if I’d known more about it before I arrived, I probably would’ve headed elsewhere.
With that being said, I completely understand the draw of Albufeira for the people who return there every year, and so I decided to put together an article explaining just what to expect from a holiday in Albufeira, and whether or not it deserves a place on your Algarve itinerary.
Is Albufeira worth visiting?
Let’s find out.
Is Albufeira Worth Visiting?
Albufeira at a glance
Albufeira is a resort town in the Algarve, the southernmost part of Portugal.
Known for its stunning coastline, Mediterranean climate, and vibrant nightlife, Albufeira is a popular choice for tourists looking for a beach holiday in Europe.
Its long stretches of golden sands framed by dramatic sandstone cliffs look as though they’re been ripped right out of a holiday brochure, and its hedonistic party scene along the infamous ‘Strip’ is another huge draw for people who want to let loose and have their #hotgirlsummer moment.
However, Albufeira’s reputation of being the destination of choice for party-loving Brits can be off-putting if you’re looking for a more tranquil holiday.
Is there more to Albufeira than drunk Brits?
Can you escape the crowds and find some hidden gems?
Does Albufeira feel like an authentic Portuguese town?
Here are my thoughts.
Reasons why Albufeira is worth visiting
Easy to reach
One of the most appealing things about Albufeira is its incredible accessibility, especially if you’re coming from the UK.
Albufeira is a short flight away from most major UK cities, with affordable and direct flights to Faro Airport taking place every day of the week.
Once you land, Albufeira is just a 40-minute drive (or 50-minute bus ride) away, meaning you have more time to enjoy your trip.
Albufeira beaches are the largest sandy beaches in the region, and they are seriously impressive – picture long stretches of golden sand surrounded by imposing sandstone cliffs, all just a few steps of the city centre.
The crown jewels of Albufeira’s coastline, including Praia dos Pescadores, Praia do Peneco, and Praia de Albufeira, lie right in the heart of the city, and if you want to head further afield, you can take an easy walk along the Albufeira boardwalk to the golden sands of Praia da Oura and Praia Santa Eulália, which are equally beautiful.
With over 300 days of sunshine every year, Albufeira promises an almost year-round sunny escape with hot, dry summers and mild, pleasantly cool winters.
This makes Albufeira not only a great beach holiday in the summer months, but it’s also a safe bet if you’re looking for some winter sun.
Albufeira’s Old Town is tiny, and incredibly easy to get around on foot.
All of the bars, shops, and restaurants are within close proximity to one another, with the beaches being easily accessible as well (you can take an escalator down to one!).
This means that unless you’re planning on exploring the rest of the Algarve, hiring a car isn’t necessary, and the only time you’ll need to take a taxi is if you decide to have a raucous night out on ‘The Strip.’
Good to know: Taxi apps like Bolt and Uber are super affordable in Albufeira, and a taxi from the Old Town to the New Town will only set you back a few euros.
Highly developed tourist infrastructure
Albufeira is a destination that is used to tourists, and if you want a holiday where you don’t have to plan anything or think about anything, Albufeira is perfect.
Restaurant menus are always available in English, organised tours and excursions abound, and every other store is a souvenir shop.
You don’t have to worry about getting lost or not being able to make yourself understood in Albufeira – it’s a tourist town that excels in catering to tourists.
Albufeira is also a good choice for a family holiday thanks to the family-friendly resorts, safe beaches, and kid-friendly activities (please don’t go swimming with captive dolphins in Zoomarine though – the dolphins are depressed!).
If you love being in the water, you’ll feel right at home in Albufeira.
Boat trips in Albufeira can include anything from dolphin-watching and snorkelling to exploring hidden coves and sea caves (like the famous Benagil Cave).
You can get your adrenaline pumping with a spot of jet-skiing, cliff-jumping, parasailing, or surfing, or opt for something a bit more tranquil like stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking, or even an organised fishing excursion!
Albufeira’s nightlife is infamous, attracting scores of college students who have just passed their A-Levels, rowdy stag and hen parties, and anyone else looking for cheap drinks and sticky floors with a Pitbull soundtrack.
Albufeira’s nightlife is concentrated in two distinct areas: the ‘Old Town’ and the ‘New Town.’
The Old Town is where the older crowd hang out (basically anyone over 30, but it is particularly popular with people in the 50+ bracket), and it is full of Irish pubs, karaoke bars, and bars with classy-sounding names like YOLO Lounge.*
In the ‘New Town’ is Areias de São João, commonly known as ‘The Strip.’
The Strip is full of flashing neon lights, 241 cocktail deals, and bucking broncos (yes, really).
Basically, if the Old Town isn’t trashy enough for you, head to The Strip and all your hedonistic desires will be satisfied.
A word of warning – if it’s authentic Portuguese culture you’re looking for, you won’t find it on The Strip.
*I actually went to YOLO Lounge and it was much nicer than the name would suggest.
Reasons why you may not want to visit Albufeira
Albufeira is a tiny city with a population of just under 29,000 people (the entire municipality only has 44,000!).
However, the population swells to over 300,000 in the summertime, which is staggering when you consider that Albufeira used to be nothing more than a quaint fishing village.
I’m a huge advocate of getting off the beaten path and spreading out the love, but even if you prefer the more touristy places, sometimes the crowds are just too much, and this is 100% the case with Albufeira in the summer.
You all know the type.
The rowdy, sunburned Brit with a big round belly and a love of English breakfasts, football, 10 am pints, and an aversion to anything remotely ‘foreign.’
Albufeira attracts a lot of these types of tourist, and hey – if that’s your vibe, then that’s your vibe, but it isn’t mine, and in my opinion, it really ruins what could be a lovely town.
If I wanted to be surrounded by Brits drinking beer, I’d go to Wetherspoon’s, I wouldn’t spend £100 on a flight to Portugal.
Old Town lacks charm
Albufeira’s Old Town is really pretty.
It has cobbled pavements with mosaic patterns, whitewashed buildings adorned with traditional azulejo tiles and bathed in sunlight, and some super friendly stray cats.
Unfortunately, however, any Portuguese charm that Albufeira Old Town may have once had, no longer exists.
Every other building is a souvenir shop selling Albufeira fridge magnets and bottle openers, every restaurant seems to serve a Full English, and bars with names like The Geordie Viking and Cavern Pub proudly display signs that they have been ‘British owned and run since 1991.’
Again, if that’s your vibe, then you’ll probably love Albufeira, but for me, the lack of any authentic Portuguese charm is a real shame.
Lack of great restaurants
I found some pretty good restaurants in Albufeira, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that any of them were great, and the amount of overpriced tourist traps vastly outnumber the halfway decent restaurants in Albufeira’s Old Town.*
To some, this won’t be an issue.
As I said, you can definitely get a decent meal in Albufeira, but as food is a big part of the reason why I travel, I was definitely underwhelmed by what was on offer here.
*I want to point out that I only dined in the Old Town and never the New Town, so I can only talk about the quality of restaurants in the old part of town.
Limited cultural attractions
Albufeira is primarily a beach destination, and although it has some cultural attractions, they are few and far between.
The only cultural attractions of note in Albufeira are the Nossa Senhora da Conceição Church, an 18th century baroque church in the Old Town, the Torre do Relógio, an 18th century clock tower at the entrance to the Old Town, and the Municipal Archaeological Museum, which houses a collection of archaeological artifacts from the Roman and Moorish periods.
Is Albufeira Worth Visiting? | Final Thoughts
Albufeira is not for everyone, and to be honest, it wasn’t for me.
There’s no doubt that it’s a beautiful town with a phenomenal natural landscape, but for me, it just lacks authenticity and natural Portuguese charm.
Albufeira is a tourist town that caters to the package holiday market, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it isn’t everyone’s style of travel, and it may well not be yours.
I hope that I’ve managed to paint somewhat of a picture of whether Albufeira is the place for you, and as always, if you have any questions then don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments section below!
Until next time,
If you liked this article and would like to support my work, please click the button above to donate a couple of bucks and buy me a coffee. The ad revenue that I receive on this website is minimal, so support from my readers enables me to keep creating content that you (hopefully!) love to read.