A selection of over twenty glorious beaches have transformed Albufeira from the former fishing village and food processing town into the internationally renowned city that it is today. A variety of beaches adorn its coastline, all different and yet all equally enchanting. Whether it be small, enclosed coves surrounded by ochre-coloured cliffs or longer expanses of fine, golden sand dunes giving on to calm, tepid waters, it can all be found in the Algarve district of Albufeira and explain its appeal as a leading European holiday destination.
The city is fronted by a coastal strip containing 3 beautiful long beaches: Peneco, Pescadores and Inatel. All these beaches are spectacular long stretches of sand, flanked by the golden cliffs that are so characteristic of this area. Peneco beach, also known as Praia do Túnel (Tunnel beach) lies in front of the old city centre and is accessed through a tunnel in the cliffs that gives out onto a wide balcony lined with outdoor cafés overlooking the beach. A pleasant footpath runs along the foot of the cliffs to the neighbouring marina. Praia dos Pescadores (Fisherman’s beach) is a continuation of Peneco beach and, as its name indicates, is home to the dozens of brightly coloured fishing boats that serve to remind visitors of the region’s past and offer delightful exploratory trips around the coastline’s grottoes and caves. Inatel beach lies ensconced between the Inatel complex and the rocks that branch out of the cliffs into the sea.
For those wishing to leave the centre of Albufeira and experience the diversity of the region’s beaches, São Rafael is a perfect example of the magical effect of the combination of wind and sea erosion, rocks and water. Sculptured cliffs, crevices, rock pools and solitary boulders rising out of the water characterise this beach and provide a beautiful setting for a sun-drenched day. Praia do Evaristo is a rocky beach that is very rich in marine life where divers and snorkelers revel in the abundance of barnacles, mussels, limpets and shoals of fish. There are beaches for every taste along this coastline, many of them blue flag beaches offering every modern amenity and a wide range of water sports, or the more secluded beaches where you can simply soak up the sun and revel in the wonders of nature.
Entertainment and good gastronomy go hand in hand with Albufeira’s sun and beaches. Fresh fish just off the fishing boats or lobster are the region’s delights although traditional fishermen’s staple diets are equally enticing. Cockle and coriander soup, mackerel or sardines cooked with tomato or oregano and sardines in corn are some of the local dishes, never forgetting the region’s favourite, shellfish cooked in the cataplana (round, sealable copper recipient). Albufeira’s abundance of restaurants will be happy to oblige with either typical Portuguese food or international cuisine. The nightlife is one of the liveliest in the Algarve, whether in the city streets, the buzzing long road referred to as “The Strip” or in the more tranquil surroundings of the marina.
A variety of shops provide all necessary requirements, from the most exclusive boutiques to high street shopping in the centre of the town and on the The Strip. The little shops in the centre of the old town are excellent for picking up the local handicraft and market day is a favourite with visitors, with the numerous stalls providing fresh produce and creative hand made articles. There is a large Retail Shopping Mall on the outskirts of the city, providing cinemas, fast food outlets and an enormous supermarket in addition to all the shops.
Albufeira is proud of its historical roots despite the damage sustained during the 1755 earthquake and Bronze Age, Roman and Arab domination have left their mark. The charming old part of the town shows the strong influence of Arab culture in this area, namely the narrow, winding streets, the whitewashed houses and the Moorish arch on the Travessa da Igreja Velha, signalling the site of a mosque and the town’s first church. The Clock Tower with its wrought iron bell support and the 18th century bell tower of the Matriz Church are both local references and the Misericórdia church still retains some the Gothic doorway, arch and apse of what was once the 15th century local governors’ chapel.
Golfers have a number of golf courses in this area to choose from: the challenging course of Salgados near Armação de Pêra, the 9-hole course at Balaia and the 9-hole course in the Pine Cliffs Hotel behind the Falésia beach.
Albufeira’s attraction has persisted throughout the ages. Centuries after it drew Moors to its shores and earned the Arab name “Sea Castle”, Albufeira’s natural beauty continues to lure foreign visitors to its shores.