Albufeira has everything a top beach holiday should have: sparkling blue seas, golden sands and stunning landscapes to explore on foot. Once a quiet little fishing village, it has become one of the top destinations for holidays and short breaks, with plenty of nightlife on the infamous ‘Strip’, buzzing beachside bistros serving traditional Portuguese cuisine, plus sunshine and scenery galore.
Your ultimate guide to a stag do in Portugal’s sun-kissed southern city
The city of Albufeira has a historical and cultural heritage that demonstrates the spirit and strength of its local population. Beautiful in the summer and just as pleasant in the winter, it’s a sunspot that attracts thousands of tourists each year. But even with these large numbers, there are still quiet pockets in which to relax.
Albufeira at a glance:
- Albufeira is traditionally a beach destination, but it’s also full of historical buildings and culture
- A population of around 39,000 swells to 300,000 during tourist season
- Home to some of the cleanest beaches in Europe
- Popular with windsurfers, while other watersports are available just about everywhere during the summer months
Galé – a great spot for sunbathing
Galé is a quiet residential area about 5kms west of Albufeira old town. Three golden beaches and a handful of restaurants, bars and shops make it an ideal place for relaxing away from the crowds.
São João & Montechoro – bursting with nightlife on Albufeira’s famous ‘Strip’
Albufeira’s answer to Las Vegas, the long stretch of road between São João and Montechoro is the place to go for late night bars and clubs. Also known as ‘The Strip’, every bar and restaurant here is lit by super bright neon lights and attracts thousands of revellers every year.
Old Town - a quiet square in central Albufeira
At the heart of Old Town in central Albufeira is a large square surrounded by local plant life, cafes and restaurants. All the streets leading off the square are filled with shops and stalls selling gifts, clothing, trinkets and local artisan crafts.
Best bars in Albufeira:
Casa do Cerro, Cerro da Piedade - https://pt-pt.facebook.com/casadocerro
Step into Casa do Cerro for a touch of exotic Moroccan-style décor and a totally laid back vibe. Drinks are reasonably priced and there’s ambient music early in the evening. Shisha pipes in a variety of flavours finish off the night perfectly.
Wild & Co, Francisco Sa Carneiro - www.wildandcompany.com/
In Wild & Co you can enjoy live music from the bar’s resident band while indulging in a wide range of beers and signature cocktails. From 1am onwards the stage turns into a dancefloor. With professional dancers, freestyle bartending and themed parties, Wild & Co promises to entertain you every night of the week.
Liberto's, Travessa Antero de Quental - www.libertosclub.com/
Liberto’s is a cosmopolitan lounge club on the Strip. Swanky interiors make it one of the classiest venues around and its staff are reputed to be some of the friendliest around. Sloppily dressed punters might feel out of place, so dress smart.
Best clubs in Albufeira:
Kiss Club, Rua Vasco da Gama - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Matts...Kiss-Club/101532003266376
A huge club similar to many rave venues in the UK, with laser shows, grimy toilets and crazy glow-in-the-dark art installations. It welcomes group bookings and has VIP tables set aside. Because it stays open until 7am it’s ideal for big groups looking to pull an all-nighter, especially when the other bars on the Strip have shut up shop.
Capitulo V, Praia da Oura - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Capitulo-V/236185983065044
The best venue for house music in the Algarve, Capitulo V has played host to some world class DJs. Overlooking Praia da Oura beach, it offers an unbeatable selection of cocktails and beers spread out over four bars, two of which are outside.
Food: eat like a local:
Many of Portugal's popular dishes are fish-based due to the country's location on the Atlantic, with a local favourite being salted cod or bacalhau, which can apparently be cooked in 365 different ways. The Portuguese also love their meat too – expect to see roast suckling pig (leitão assado) and pork marinated in wine and garnished with clams (carne de porco à Alentajana). Or for those keen on some comfort food, tuck into cozido à Portuguesa, a sort of hotpot of beef, sausages, potatoes, vegetables and rice.
One of the most popular restaurants in Old Town, Cabana Fresca (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cabana-Fresca/143964755676669
?) is known for its spectacular sea view overlooking Fisherman’s Beach. As well as delicious traditional Portuguese cuisine, Cabana Fresca’s dessert menu is legendary, with mouth-watering treats like their chocolate lasagne and Grand Marnier parfait.
Only a few doors away, Cabana Fresca’s sister restaurant Flavours opens from 8:30am until midnight. Freshly-cooked seafood and meat dishes are particular favourites, and all at very affordable prices. Look out for special offers and ‘happy hour’ deals. Staff are friendly and are more than happy to accommodate large groups, including stags and hens.
Also in Old Town, A Tasca Terraço (www.albufeira.com/tasca-terraco
) serves up an excellent platter of fresh seafood, with house specialties including Monkfish Cataplana, Shellfish rice and Dogfish stew.
One of Albufeira’s oldest restaurants Casa da Fonte (www.casadidavid.com/k/30/home.php
) offers lunch or dinner in small garden surroundings. Fresh fish and meat are charcoal grilled and served in a typical Algarvian pateo.
Raising a glass to Portuguese tipples:
A lot of wine sold in the Algarve comes from other parts of Portugal, but the region does produce its own wine, mostly from the Lagoa, Portimão and Tavira areas. Most Albufeira restaurants will only have Portuguese bottles on their wine list. For beer (cerveja) there are really just three national brands that you’ll become familiar with: Sagres, Super Bock, and Cristal. There are also various imported beers and lagers but these may be a little more expensive.
After a meal you really should try a glass of port, Portugal’s best known drink. Made from a blend of wines, port is available in ‘ruby’ (a young and full-bodied sweet port), ‘tawny’ (a lighter port, best served chilled) and ‘white’ (which is dry and better served over ice as an aperitif). The Algarve is also famous for its spirits and there are two main ones to look out for when you come, Aguardente and Medronho. You’ll need a very strong palette though, especially for Medronho, which is better known as ‘fire water’.
The best view of the city:
Go to the coast and take a short boat trip to see the beaches and colourful cliffs from the water. Castelo Beach is recommended.
Best time to visit:
Although Albufeira’s climate is good all year round, it’s probably better to visit between the end of May to the beginning of September. August tends to be the most touristy month, so if you want to avoid the crowds and inflated travel costs then you may want to visit at a different time.
The Mediterranean Sea greatly influences the Algarvian climate. Summers are hot and dry and winters are mild with hardly any rain. The Algarve can also count on around 3,000 hours of sun during the year, which makes it a favourable destination for those who fancy working on their tan.
Walking or renting a bike is one of the simplest ways to travel across Albufeira as well as the most scenic. However, if you’re travelling far or are in a large group, it’s cheaper to call a taxi than to go by public transport.
Albufeira and the Algarve region in general are quite safe with crime rates in the country some of the lowest on the continent. Petty theft does occur however and it’s best to take care of your belongings and keep important valuables hidden to avoid problems. It’s also advisable to be careful if walking back to your accommodation late at night, especially in dark and isolated areas. Albufeira has a municipal police as well as the GNR (Guarda Civil Republicana) to ensure public security.