The beautiful town of Albufeira is nestled on Portugal’s famed Algarve Coast. It is a popular resort town, but should still be under consideration by anyone backpacking this region of Europe. Albufeira is worth visiting for a number of reasons. Of course, there are its stunning coastline and beautiful beaches. Praia dos Pescadores and Praia do Peneco are two of the most popular beaches in the area, offering golden sands and clear waters. Albufeira has a vibrant nightlife scene, with its mega-clubs sure to attract any young traveler looking to have a good time. About 5 million people each year visit this town, whose population of 40,000 seems measly in comparison. It’s not hard to see why, though.
Albufeira’s Old Town is characterized by its charming cobbled streets, traditional white-washed buildings, and historic churches. Having roots in Roman, Gothic, Moorish, and Spanish history, Albufeira is more than just a beach party town. It offers a glimpse of traditional Portuguese architecture and culture. Albufeira offers a diverse culinary scene with a variety of restaurants serving traditional Portuguese dishes, fresh seafood, and international cuisines. Albufeira’s mild Mediterranean climate makes it an attractive destination throughout the year. Need I keep going on? There are plenty of reasons to include Albufeira on your Europe backpacking itinerary.
Disclaimer, though. I will say that as a solo traveler, Albufeira wasn’t entirely my vibe, as it definitely catered more towards family vacationers and groups of young travelers. The town was filled with resorts and tacky bars, giving me similar vibes to Cancun’s Zona Hotelera. Cancun for the Brits, is what I remember thinking tom yself. Objectively, the town and surrounding beaches are gorgeous, and the nightlife options are limitless. I’m not one to discount a destination based on my experience alone, so without further ado, here’s the down low on traveling to Albufeira.
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Table of Contents
- How To Get to Albufeira
- Things to Know Before Going to Albufeira
- Where To Stay in Albufeira
- How To Get Around Albufeira
- How Many Days to Spend in Albufeira
- The Best Things To Do in Albufeira
- Nightlife in Albufeira
How To Get to Albufeira
There are several ways to get to Albufeira.
The nearest major airport to Albufeira is Faro Airport (FAO), located approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles) to the east. From the airport, you can take a taxi, shuttle, or public transportation, such as a train or bus, to reach Albufeira. If you’re a backpacker looking to stick to your budget, use Skiplagged to find cheap flights you won’t find anywhere else. It’s free to use and I’ve saved thousands of dollars on flights since I started using it religiously.
Albufeira has its own train station, which is well-connected to major cities in Portugal. You can take a train from Faro or Lisbon to reach Albufeira. The train journey provides scenic views of the Algarve region.
Several bus companies operate routes to and from Albufeira, connecting the town to various destinations within Portugal and other European cities. I took Flixbus from Sevilla to Albufeira, and it dropped me off close to the old town and the beach. The actual bus station in Albufeira is further from the beach, so if you get dropped off there, consider getting a taxi or hopping on a local bus to get to your destination. It’s still a doable walk, but taking luggage and heat into account, it can be uncomfortable. I had to lug my 20 kilos of backpacks up a huge hill to get to the bus station from my almost beach-front hostel, and that was no fun at all.
If you prefer driving, you can rent a car and use the well-maintained road network to reach Albufeira. The town is easily accessible by car, and it allows you the flexibility to explore the Algarve region at your own pace. Renting a car in Portugal is generally straightforward, and it provides the flexibility to explore the country at your own pace. Most rental cars in Portugal are manual, but if you can drive manual, they are mind-blowingly cheap. I’ve seen some for as low as 10 euros per day.
Things To Know Before Going to Albufeira
Before visiting Portugal, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with some important information and cultural aspects.
Portuguese is the official language in Portugal. Albufeira is a hugely popular tourist destination, especially among the British. There won’t be a language barrier, but still, learning some Portuguese phrases can enhance your experience and interactions with the friendly locals.
The official currency is the Euro. ATMs are widely available, and credit cards are generally accepted in most establishments.
I wouldn’t say there is much to be concerned about regarding safety in Albufeira. Portugal is a safe country in general, and outside of the big cities, there isn’t much crime to be concerned about. Still, keep your wits about you. With Albufeira being a big party destination, there are always opportunists seeking to take advantage of drunk tourists.
Staying connected in Portugal isn’t too hard, as one can get a SIM card pretty easily. For a short trip where it’s not quite worth getting a new SIM card for just a few days, I’d recommend using an eSIM service. I use an eSIM app called Airalo. Use ELIJAH933 to get $3 off your first eSIM with Airalo, which offers an unlimited data plan for South Korea.
And of course, it’s always important to have travel insurance handy when out adventuring the world. I use SafetyWing to keep me covered throughout my travels for as low as $45 a month, and their coverage includes Portugal among the 190+ countries that they cover.
Where To Stay in Albufeira
The best area to stay in Albufeira can vary depending on your preferences and the type of experience you are seeking. Despite being a pretty small town, Albufeira is split into a few different neighborhoods that aren’t really within walking distance of one another.
Old Town (Cidade Velha)
Albufeira’s Old Town is a charming and historic area known for its traditional white-washed buildings, cobbled streets, and historic churches. It offers a relaxed ambiance, proximity to the beach, and easy access to local restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s an ideal choice for those seeking a more authentic and cultural experience.
Praia da Oura
This area is known for its lively atmosphere and vibrant nightlife, making it a popular choice for visitors interested in enjoying the bustling nightlife scene, including bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. Praia da Oura is also close to the beach, offering convenient access to the sea and water activities.
The Strip (Avenida Dr. Francisco Sá Carneiro)
The Strip is a lively and energetic area known for its vibrant nightlife, bustling bars, and restaurants. It is a popular choice for travelers looking to experience the dynamic and social atmosphere of Albufeira. The area offers easy access to various entertainment options and is well-suited for those who enjoy a bustling and vibrant environment.
Hostel Recommendation for Albufeira
As a budget-conscious backpacker, Albufeira does come with a price tag. However, there are quite a few hostels to choose from to help cut costs.
I stayed at Musical Hostel and have to say, it’s one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed at. It has a great location close to plenty of restaurants and bars, and is just a short walk from the Old Town and the beaches. The staff was friendly and very helpful with sorting out anything that I needed advice on. Best of all, they even have a hot tub! I don’t think I’ve stayed at too many hostels with hot tubs, so that was a big plus. It was the only hostel I stayed at in Albufeira, so I can’t compare it to any other ones, but I’m confident that it can’t get much better at such a budget-friendly price point.
How To Get Around Albufeira and the Algarve Coast
Walking: Albufeira’s compact city center and Old Town are easily navigable on foot. Exploring on foot allows you to enjoy the charming streets, historic sites, and local shops at a leisurely pace.
Local Buses: Albufeira has a local bus network that connects the main areas of the town, including the Old Town, the Strip, and the beaches. The buses are an affordable option for getting around, and they operate regularly throughout the day.
Taxis: Taxis are readily available in Albufeira and can be a convenient option, especially for traveling to specific destinations or areas not easily accessible by public transportation. You can find taxi stands in prominent locations throughout the town.
Rental Cars: Renting a car in Albufeira provides flexibility and convenience for exploring the Algarve region at your own pace. It allows you to access nearby attractions and scenic spots that may not be easily reachable by public transportation.
Scooters and Bikes: Renting a scooter or a bicycle is a popular option for getting around Albufeira and exploring the surrounding areas. It’s an enjoyable way to travel, especially during the warmer months, and provides the freedom to explore the town and its nearby attractions.
How Many Days to Spend in Albufeira
I’d say about two full days should be enough time in Albufeira. Take a day to explore the Old Town and the nearby beaches accessible on foot. The second day can be dedicated to taking a boat trip along the Algarve Coast. Of course, Albufeira is a popular destination for relaxation, so one can spend many more days just lounging about and enjoying the laid-back vibes and the beautiful beaches. For backpackers traveling at a fast pace, I’d say two days is enough. I spent three nights and didn’t find too much to fill my time, and had quite a bit of down time. Of course, that’s never a bad thing and actually gave me time to relax, read on the beach, and just soak in some sunshine.
The Best Things To Do in Albufeira
As I just mentioned, I didn’t think there was too, too much to fill your time in Albufeira. It’s definitely more of a vacation spot than a backpacker’s spot, although it does have a good nightlife scene. Albufeira is a very family-friendly place, and the activities definitely cater to that. Look up other travel guides and they’ll suggest activities such as golfing or expensive boat trips, things not necessarily within a backpacker’s budget. That’s not to say that there aren’t some amazing things to do here.
Take a Boat Trip along the Algarve
By far, the best thing I did in Albufeira was hop on a boat and explore the stunning coastline and sea caves around Albufeira. Many tours include opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and sightseeing along the Algarve’s picturesque cliffs and rock formations. The highlight is the Benagil Caves. Make sure to book a tour that allows you to kayak and actually set foot in the famed cave. Most boats are too big to fit in the cave, so you can only see it from the outside. I made this mistake, although the trip was still very worth it.
Visit the Beaches of Albufeira
Albufeira is known for its beautiful beaches, such as Praia dos Pescadores, Praia do Peneco, and Praia da Oura. Relax on the golden sands, swim in the clear waters, yadda yadda yadda. You don’t need me to tell you what to do on a beach.
Explore Albufeira’s Old Town
Wander through Albufeira’s charming Old Town, characterized by its cobbled streets, historic architecture, and traditional white-washed buildings. The touristic part of it is quite small, lined with shops and pricy restaurants. However, an aimless wanderer can easily find themselves lost in the narrow alleyways and labyrinthine streets winding up and down the hills of the Algarve. This is the best way to explore the Old Town, in my opinion. Visit the historic churches, shops, and local cafes for a more intimate experience with Albufeira.
Walk along the Beachside Viewpoints
One of my favorite things to do in Albufeira was just walk along the cliffs and take in the views of the coast and the city of all-white from a good vantage point. Miradouro Rossio and Miradouro do Pau da Bandeira are two of my favorites within walking distance from the Old Town.
Feast on Fresh Seafood and Portuguese Cuisine
Sample traditional Portuguese cuisine at the numerous restaurants and cafes in Albufeira. Don’t miss the opportunity to try fresh seafood, grilled sardines, and regional dishes accompanied by local wines. Portuguese cuisine is diverse and flavorful, with an emphasis on fresh seafood, hearty stews, and pastries. Don’t miss the opportunity to try traditional dishes like bacalhau (salted cod) and pastéis de nata (custard tarts).
Take Day Trips Along the Algarve
Explore the surrounding area by taking day trips to nearby towns and attractions, such as Lagos, Faro, Silves, and the beautiful natural parks and reserves in the Algarve region.
Nightlife in Albufeira
Along with its beaches, the nightlife is what attracts most people to Albufeira. Like I said, it’s basically Cancun for the Brits. Here’s an overview of what you can expect from the nightlife in Albufeira.
The Strip (Avenida Dr. Francisco Sá Carneiro)
This bustling area is a hub for nightlife in Albufeira, particularly among younger crowds. The Strip is lined with a variety of bars, clubs, and late-night entertainment venues that cater to different musical tastes and preferences. This 2-kilometer long street caters purely to late-night party-goers. You’ll find everything you need here if you’re looking to paint the town red. Just keep in mind that it is quite far from Albufeira’s Old Town. If you aren’t staying within walking distance, be sure to figure out how to get to and from The Strip before you end up passing out on the beach at sunrise.
Compared to the debauchery of The Strip, Albufeira’s Old Town offers a more relaxed and traditional atmosphere, with numerous restaurants, pubs, and bars that often feature live music performances and local entertainment. The ambiance is welcoming and conducive to socializing and enjoying a laid-back evening. Old Town Albufeira features several live music venues where you can enjoy performances by local bands, musicians, and DJs. These venues often showcase a mix of traditional Portuguese music, international hits, and contemporary jams. You’ll find no shortage of live music in Albufeira.
All in all, you’ve got options for partying in Albufeira.
Final Thoughts on Albufeira
Albufeira is an undeniably beautiful place. The golden beaches are pristine and some of the best in Portugal. The white-washed buildings of the city make for a stunning aesthetic. It’s filled with history dating back thousands of years. The cuisine is varied and delicious and the nightlife is among the best in the country. At the same time, Albufeira can feel quite artificial, and the price tag is enough to convince backpackers to steer clear. The crowd that Albufeira caters to isn’t quite my crowd, and I didn’t meet many other solo travelers in this part of Portugal. I do still think Albufeira is worth visiting if you can squeeze it in, but don’t plan on spending more than two nights here unless the aim of your trip is to party all night and nurse a hangover on the beach. Which hey, doesn’t sound like a bad time to me.
Buy Me A Beer!
One last thing, if this post helped you out, show some love and support for the blog and help keep my adventures going by buying me a beer! My adventures are entirely self-funded, so any show of support is greatly appreciated. It allows me to keep providing free travel guides and creating travel content to help you all travel the world.