I love Albufeira. I had the best time there while travelling in Portugal, met amazing people and explored the most beautiful beaches. Yes, Albufeira is very touristy town. There are loads of people on the streets, restaurants and beaches. But don’t skip this town to avoid crowds. This place has so much to offer and I will tell you a secret how to spent the best time of your life in Albufeira in three days.
I arrived in Albufeira in the afternoon. Bus station is a few kilometres away from city centre so keep that in mind if you plan to stay in town center. I decided to walk down to my hostel because I really wanted to start exploring this city ASAP (and do some food shoppings in Lidl at the same time).
While I was following the road I felt like I’m walking in a dream… Palm trees, white buildings, hotels, blue sky, warm weather… Oh I was so happy to be there. While walking down the street I was wondering why the streets are so empty, just a few cars past me all the way. But once I reached the main old town street the view completely changed. I’ve never seen this thing in my life – there was so many people in one place, restaurants and bars playing loud music, souvenir shops, street artists, street food and so on and on… I was literally in paradise. Seriously I couldn’t be more happy than I was. It made me think that I just had a really interesting journey, two cities was different like day and night – Faro was small and quiet but Albufeira was big and loud. Wow. Truly. Amazing.
So once I finally arrived in my hostel I got an offer to get myself ready in 5 min and go to enjoy the sunset with other people. I didn’t even thought about it – I was ready to go! And oh my oh my how beautiful it was. I am forever that girl who gets really excited when the sky is in pretty colors. How about you?
So I would really recommend you to go and see the sunset at Praia da Gale Oeste beach. No matter when you arrive in Albufeira – dedicate your evening for his majesty Sunset. Grab some wine, snacks and up you go!
Before that you can explore Albufeiras old town – charming busy streets, lots of food to try and huge beach near city centre to visit. Get to know Albufeira before you go on adventures the next day!
Day 2 in Albufeira
Wake up early in the morning and go for a coffee in one of the small cute bakeries with locals. The streets will be empty so you can see the real view of old town. Have a pastry (Pastel de Nata of course) with coffee/tea and enjoy the quiet morning. If you not in a mood – have breakfast in your accommodation (or do both like I did).
When you feel that you’re ready – let’s go on a beach hopping/hiking trip! Today you will see why Algarves region is an extremely popular destination.
So first of all let’s meet in a place called Elevador do Peneco (viewpoint). It’s a place that is worth a visit as you can see a above the Praia do Peneco. Beautiful beautiful coastline view. Simply walk here from your accommodation by using phone map. From this viewpoint we will head down the street which will lead us to a beautiful Marina de Albufeira.
This is going to be a very pleasant walk with lots of great views from the hilltops. Once you start going down the hill you will see your destination – the harbour which is surrounded by colourful lego block houses. It looks really nice from far away and walking next to it creates a feeling like you’re in a computer game. Fun fun fun. Also if you want you can take a boat tour to surrounding areas from this harbour, see the coastline or dolphins. Or you can chill a bit in one of the cafes, buy some snacks and drinks in the shops.
Next you go around the marine and head up to the hill (get ready it’s going to be hot). When I was going there I actually thought that I went the wrong way because it was like a private house street. But after a few minutes walking I saw a muddy footpath to the woods and I turned there. It was the best decision ever – I end up at the end of the world! Not really but I end up where I wanted to be – cliffs!
So here’s the place where your beach hopping beggins!
Follow the footpath (it’s really visible and there is quite a few of them). After a short walk you will reach your first destination – Praia de Arrifes and Praia da Vigia. Then if you follow the path you will reach Praia de Sao Rafael. If you don’t feel like walking anymore here you can rent a Kayak or SUP individually or join a tour. Going further you will reach Praia do Ninho de Andorinha, Praia da Ponta Pequena, Praia da Ponta Grande, Praia da Coelha and finally our destination – Praia do Castelo.
This is an amazing walk, believe me. Views are spectacular, so many caves(!), nature is incredibly beautiful, it’s peaceful and quiet.
I actually don’t remember and I feel very sad about it that on your way between Praia de Sao Rafael and Praia da Coelha there is one secret beach! Yes yes you read that right – secret, hidden cave beach. Look for a hidden stairs down and follow it! It is a small little cave beach where you can lay down and relax for a bit. There’s going to be a few other people because it’s not so secret after all but anyway it’s really nice to discover something like this.
Now when you reach final destination Praia do Castelo you deserve to finally relax and get some tan! If you have a book and snacks – you’re lucky! Enjoy your beach time, go get yourself a drink or food at the beach bar and swim in the blue blue (cold) waters!
When you’re ready – let’s go back to Albufeira. It took me around 1.5 hours to go back (it took longer to reach this beach as I stopped everywhere to take pictures, to go for a swim and so on). So when you’re planning this day – remember that you have to walk back.
There is another option to do beach hopping without walking – most of the beaches that I mentioned have a parking lots, so you can definitely come with a car. You might visit even more of the beaches if you drive.
After this busy busy day I spend the evening walking around the old town, having a drink in one place, dinner in another place and ice-cream at night. There are so many artists doing their shows during the night – you won’t be bored at all, trust me.
Day 3 in Albufeira
This day you definitely need to go to Benagil caves! Benagil cave is one of the most popular tourist attraction here in Algarve. It is a natural wonder as you can get inside the cave and enjoy the sunlight streaming from the roof, relax on the golden sand with the view of beautiful azure waters.
Now there is the trick with those Benagil caves.
I was lucky because my hostel was organising the trip to visit it. We went with a car to the Praia de Benagil, put on the life vests, took a swimming boards and swam to the cave. In my opinion, that is the best way to really enjoy it. Although the swim was really hard as the water is cold and traffic in the water is very busy (that sounds funny). Honestly It took me like 10 mins to swim 10 metres because of the waves, kayaks and SUP boards, small and big boats going everywhere around. I saw people swimming without any protection, but I think you have to be very confident doing that as it is short but very hard swim.
Other ideal way is to rent a kayak or SUP board and paddle to the cave as it’s so much easier and safe way.
I don’t recommend going on a boat tour to see it as you can’t get out of the boat and enjoy your time in the caves. To see it is one thing – but to be there is totally different. But the boat tours are good if you want to see more of the coast because I believe that they are going to more than one cave. And I’m sure that you can find tours to see the caves from all over the Algarve coast cities and towns.
The choice is absolutely yours!
Wow I feel like an expert writing this…
So today spend some time in the cave, take pictures, swim in the (cold) water, get the sunshine and when you’re ready get back to the beach to do exactly the same. Spend a day on the beach! There is a nice cafe where you can buy some refreshments or have snacks.
After a proper beach day I think it’s time to have a good night out in Albufeira! So this city is popular not only for its beaches but also for its nightlife. A little bit further from the old town there is The Strip where you can find a lot of pubs and nightclubs. That street is very loud at night. If you’re ready to have fun – you should definitely go there. At least to see how it is (exploring you know). Mind you there might be a lot of young drunk people, so keep yourself safe, ok?
Before going out I want to recommend one nice place to eat – Adega Dom Pipas. Very nice restaurant with a delicious local food. Once you’re ready jump into taxi and let the night begin!
Other option – walk there by foot. On your way you can see the sunset from Miradouro do Pau da Bandeira. It’s a viewpoint above the Albufeiras old town. Very very nice.
So that’s a perfect 3 days in Albufeira. A little bit of everything – relaxing and being active, having a beach time and fun night out. I think that’s a perfect way of spending your holidays.
P.S. To have the best Portuguese food – don’t go to the main street restaurants, go one street behind – you will find real local delicious food.
P.S.S. I heard one tip for choosing the restaurant – don’t go where they have pictures of food on the menu or hanging everywhere around that place.