Albufeira is known for it's nightlife and beaches so it's definately a big touristy resort. I stayed in an apartment near the Montechoro hotel which was a 5-10 min walk from 'The Strip' - a neon street of lively pubs and clubs which runs all the way down to the beach.
The beaches really are lovely - white sands and clear blue water - and appear to be very well maintained. As the beaches intertwine along the coast of rugged sandstone it can get quite busy as the sandy areas can be quite tight, but if you walk along the shore and are lucky you can find a more secluded patch of sand in amongst the sandstone. All the usual watersports are available at the beach (jetskis, paragliding, banana boat etc) and there are places to eat and drink near to hand.
Weather-wise, the Algarve is blessed with almost perfect weather. Really warm but there is always a slight breeze in the air to cool you down just that little bit. Perfect for sun worshippers.
'The Strip' is one of the busiest areas of town - especially at night. There are loads of pubs, karaoke bars, clubs, restaurants - all with an excitable PR person outside trying to coax you in with the lure of a free shot (which always seems to be warm and disgusting!). To some, this street would be a neon hell but it is definately the place to come for a party and it's ful of stag and hen weekends.
While the strip is definately worth a visit at least once or twice during your stay, the real gem is the old town. I never discovered this till late on in my stay and was rather disappointed I never got to spend more time in it. Here, it is a lot more classy. You still have a great nightlife but it's not as brash and tacky as the strip and way more easy on the eye. It's lovely and has a great beach too.
I can see why Albufeira is such a popular holiday resort. It has the weather, the beautiful beaches, the nightlife (wild or tasteful) and lots of things going on. It can get expensive dependng on where you go like any pub or club would here in the UK, but you will have a cheap night out on the strip (no measures for the spirits - they just freepour there - talk about value for money!) and a thoroughly enjoyable one at that!
Lastly, look out for the hot dog seller at the very top of the strip. Does the best hot dogs I've ever had!! Especially at 4am ;)
I was first introduced to Albuferia when I won free flights on a Hoover Competition back in 1993. I went with my Wife to be, who had already been on a few occasions camping. We stayed in an appartment in San Rafael which is on the edge of the old Albuferia town. We would regularly walk into thetown each night and would look in awe at a town which could quite honestly have been in a time warp back in the after war years. The roads were very steep in places and there was a great tunnel built into the cliff face, which took you onto the fantastic golden sandy beach. I remember even now how we would see an old beggar lady each day, sitting there with a bowl. Poverty was not too far away.
Fast forwarding a few years to the late 90's, I went back this time with my Wife and young baby, as well as some other family members, whom I had boasted about the suroundings. This time we also stayed in San Rafael, even nearer to the Albuferia Old Town, and the town hadn't changed at all. However on this occasion we travelled further to the other end of Albuferia. This was to an area of bars, restaurants and tourist shops on the north-to-south road just up from Praia da Oura. It really is a very busy road, which attracts many thousands of tourists a night. Here you can also expect the normal timeshare touts, like you would in other European Seaside Resorts. It was somewhere we would visit quite regularly over the holiday, although we were really glad that we hadn't booked our holiday in the vicinity!!
Since then we have been on many other occasions also, but we have always stayed on the outskirts of the town. The last time we went was in August 2009 and was a little disappointed to see the old fishermans village was no more. Aso the old windy steep steps to the beach, which I had struggled on many occasions previously carrying my daughters prams down, had been replaced by an outside esculator and the fish market replaced with an outside sqaure, for concerts.
All the boats are now situated towards the old town, towards San Rafael. In fact a marina has been built and many hundreds, if not thousands of houses, in different colours, were (or have been) built. In fact the bright colours used make it look like balamory.
There are miles of beaches in an around the area, but some can be dangerous with falling rocks, so heed any warnings!!
The area that was once really poor now seems to have attracted a lot of investment. It certainly isn't cheap, and mix this with a low rate of sterling against the euro, will make me think of looking elsewhere for holidays in future years. I still love the place. I mean I wondered have gone back time and again, if I didn't. But maybe it is time to try elsewhere!!
Have been to Albuferia about twice a year for the last 5 or so years now and I still love it as much as I did the first time. I'm in my late twenties but there are things to do for every age. Weather is hottest in July and August as you might expect but you can get weather in the 70s in April and October although you may experience a day or two of rain. Weather in the summer can hit 100 so beware!! The breeze coming off the Atlantic will cool you down a bit though.
There are a number of accommodations I would reccommend in the New Town (which is where I always stay). Clube Praia Da Oura is a big complex right on the beach. This has in house entertainment, a massive pool, a kids pool, a bowls green, 4 jacuzzis, a sauna, a restaurant and bar, a piano bar, a childrens play area, a sun deck, beautiful gardens and much more. Probably one of the highest priced hotels in the area. Others to consider are Forte Da Oura, Ouratlantico and if you're on a budget Vilanova will do the trick although it's about another ten minutes walk from the beach.
I would say the New Town of Albufeira was more catered towards the younger holidaymaker but there are a lot of families and couples that come to this part too. The New Town has what is know as the Strip, which is a long road full of bars and restaurants and gift shops. Not as tacky as it sounds! A few bars at the top of the Strip after about 11pm are full of teenagers and twenty something year olds yes (for example, Matts Bar, Renos, La Bamba), but walking further up the Strip leads you to other bars such as Libertos (which is ideal to start you night with a few drinks outside or some live music inside, a nice little cocktail and karaoke bar called Paradise and other nice little bars if you keep walking up - some for families, some for younger people who don't want to go in the tacky bars. There's also some nice restautants along the beach front if you fancy eating and watching the waves roll in!
There are two main taxi ranks in the New Town, one at either end of the Strip. Taxis dont stop when you put you hand out so either go to one of these ranks or get your hotel reception to call you one. Beware you will wait a long time in line in the New Town at about 9pm! There is also a little tourist train which 4 Euros for a day ticket - it stops at the Strip, the Old Town and in between the two at a place where there's a massive supermarket called Modelos (think Tescos), McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC and a few clothes shops. Worth a walk around if it rains whilst you're there.
A taxi to the Old Town will cost you about 4 or 5 Euros and takes under 5 minutes. The Old Town has a bit more character than the New Town and feels a lot more Portuguese. Set in an old fishing village you can browse the shops in the main square or eat lunch or dinner in one of the restaurants overlooking the sea. Take a ride on the outdoor escalators to the top of the cliffs for a brilliant view of the town and coast. Perfect for photo opportunities!! The evenings can get a little nippy in Albufeira, even in the heigh of summer, so it's advisable to take a cardigan or something with sleeves with you. The wind can kick in at night making it feel more chilly than it really is!
The beachs both in the New Town and the Old Town are lovely, sandy and clean and both offer watersports (parasailing, banana boating, jet ski hiring etc) and both have some nice beachside cafes where you can grab a snack. It's worth noting the beach in Oura (New Town) seems small, but take a walk along the top and you'll find it's far longer than you think. The tide is usually in at around lunchtime in the summer so it's best to walk along the top and you'll find more beach - trust me! It can get pretty packed in the summer though so get down there early to get a good spot!
There's plenty of trips you can go on too. There is the Shopping Cente in Guia which is a ten minute cab ride away which has lots of great shops and places to eat - even a few English shops thrown in for good measure. Zoomarine is also in Guia and is a great place to take the kids. With a dolphin show, sealion show, an aviary, some great rides for the kids and a 3D wildlife cinema show its a great value day out.
There are a couple of waterparks you can go to as well, Aqualand, Slide and Splash and Aquashow. Having visited all of them I would reccommend Slide and Splash followed by Aquashow (which has a rollercoaster by the way). I'd give Aqualand a miss as it's not very big and the rides don't have many thrills! These can all be booked at your hotel or at one of the many tour shops along the Strip or in the Old Town. All quite reasonable too - about 20 Euros each including the coach ride there and back. They are all about a half an hour to 40 minute coach journey ride away.
There is also Forum Shopping in Faro (where you will fly into) which is a great shopping centre - it even has a C&A for all the nostalgics out there!! You can get some great bargaisn in there.
There's so much more to the Algarve but this is just a small insight to Albufeira and the outskirts. The Portuguese people are also some of the friendlist in Europe and are always happy to oblige. And one reccommendation - the Chicken Piri Piri is one of their staple dishes - try it! (did you know Nandos is Portuguese?). And try the Portuguese Style Steak (not the one with the fried egg on top - the one with the sauce and potatoes) - its delicious.
We arrived in Albufeira at around 3pm in the afternoon on 7th July 2007 and the first thing that hit us was the heat. We hadn't anticipated how hot it was going to be! Me, my twin sister and our two best friends were on our first holiday together. We were all 16.
We got the coach to our hotel which took around an hour. The transfer coach was stuffy and really hot, so wasn't a pleasent ride. Our hotel looked really grand from the outside and we had no problem checking in.
We were staying all inclusive in an apartment in the hotel which was brilliant. We had a small kitchen, a large living room with two pull out beds, a bedroom with two beds and also two balconys!
The weather was amazing, however we did have to sunbath on the grass as our hotel ran out of sun beds very easily! Germans eh!
However the weather hit the mid 30s everyday and I think we all turned very dark that holiday! The beach was about a mile down the road so we generally got a taxi when we went down (which wasn't very often I will admit!) and it cost about 3 euros. I wish we had gone to the beach more now because the sand and sea were both beautiful, very much like the pictures above.
The town was split into two, the old town and the new town. We went into the old town for the use of beach and also wandered around it a couple of times looking at shops etc, however we spent our nights in the new town. Albufeira strip consists of a long strip of road with lots and lots of bars on them. Being 16 we hadnt been to more of the "clubbing" locations so we thought it was brilliant being surrounded by lots of bars. There were no clubs on the strip however there was one close by called Kiss that you had to pay 15 euro to get into! we did go to that on the last night, it was like a huge club you would find in England, except full of portuguese sweaty men! Long ques for the bar, stuffy etc etc
The bars on the strip were quite good but we generally only stuck to one or two. Our favourite was called Matts Bar that had a bucking bronto outside it! It was generally very good fun with good music and good employees. The bars tended to shut about 4am, however the club dependent on the night stayed open til about 7am! Judging that most places in britain close at around 4, a small town in Portugal with a club closing at 7 is saying something about our nightlife!
Overall a very good holiday, didn't put on any weight even though we were eating all day due to all inclusive, probably because we danced the night away every night! loved the holiday and loved the place, would definitley go back but probabaly for more of a chill-out holiday as I wouldn't really see it as a clubbing holiday now, although I did meet a cheeky man who was mid twenties on his stag do...!
Albufeira is located in the Algarve area of southern Portugal which is well known for its amazing beaches, great weather, numerous golf courses and great seafood such as grilled sardines and Cataplan! It's a very popular location for Britsih and Irish tourists.
I've been three times to Albufeira and absolutely love it! The beaches are amazing - endless sand and very clean. They range from the larger beaches with sunbeds that you can hired for about Euro7 per day to the more secluded quieter beaches which you can chill out on with very few people around to disturb you. There are plenty of watersports available to take part in on the beach such as banana boating, pedalo boats and parasailing. I've only ever had the guts to do the banana boat and the pedalo boats but next time i'm going to try out the parasailing!
There's plenty to see and do in the resort and a lot of restaurants and bars to choose from catering for all sorts. The main strip in Albufeira is the more lively area with endless bars, restaurants and discos. This part of the town is slightly tackier and the crowd tends to be quite young and mainly english and irish with some portuguese students on their holidays. For a change I would recommend visiting the old town which is much more traditional and better for those with families. The restaurants in the old town are much nicer and theres a more relaxed atmosphere with people strolling about late into the night as opposed to the pumping music and the kids hanging around the strip.
Most tourists tend to go to Albufeira on package holidays but it is also a very easy place to get to if you wish to book your holiday independently. Easyjet flies to the nearest airport, Faro from a range of locations such as London and Belfast and it's easy enough to book your own accommodation online and possible to get some good deals at the moment. Last time i stayed in Hotel Montechoro at the top of the strip and got a good deal online. I've written a separate review on this hote. There are also plenty of companies you can book with online to arrange your transfer for much cheaper as taxis from the airport are a real rip off! The locals are all very friendly and the area is generally very safe. I would definitely go back again.
this review is for the alfaga hotel in albufeira (there didn't seem to be any better place to put it so i out it under albufeira in general)
Alfagar apartments Albufeira.
We were on the coach from the Airport at Faro for about 1hr before being dropped off at the Alfagar Apartments. When we arrived at about tea time we went to the reception and were greeted by the receptionist who took our passports over night (we were later told by a English man living in Albufeira that due to passport cloning we should have refused to do this.) and he arranged for a member of staff to take us to our room in his people carrier. The room was only a minuet away but there were two ways to go, one was up stairs but with our cases that wasn't practical and the other was around the pool but it was the busiest time of the day when we arrived so the staff took us in there car the long way round which I thought was very nice of them.
The room was a 1 bed self catering room. The bedroom was large it had two single beds pushed together with bedside tables at each side, fitted wardrobes and a dressing table and chair, with patio doors opening out to see the small pool just around the side of the building. The main room had a sofa that pulled out into a double bed; two chairs a glass table and a nest of tables and a TV which had English channels on.(kids loved this they got to watch cbeebies) This room had a balcony leading off it where there was a clothes hose and a table and 4 chairs. This too gave a view of the small pool.
The kitchen had an oven, grill, 4 hobs, fried freezer, kettle, and iron, everything you could need. This had a window showing the small path outside the room.
The bathroom had cupboards, bath shower, sink, and toilet and B day. one thing i will also mention also is they do not have any air conditioning or any fans so it gets very hunid and hot on a nights its hard to sleep (unless you have a good drink)
Reception-The reception is open 24 hours a day
there are Telephone and fax facilities (Taxi calling service costs 0.80 per call) Money exchange available here too. You can also rent a safety deposit box from reception. TV satellite can be arranged here on a pay as you go tariff. . Bookings for excursions, horse-riding, jeep safari, cruises, fishing trips, water parks, bullfights, airport transfers. Wake up service, post service, maintenance assistance. Baby-sitting (need to book in advance). Medical assistance. Car/bike rental. General information.
I can't comment on any of these services because I never needed them, the only thing I used was the safety deposit box that was 10 euros plus 30 deposits. And well worth it because there are cleaners coming in every day and you are reasonable for your own goods so if anything goes missing then you can't claim it back.
working from 9 am - 6 pm.
Cleaning 5 times a week. (Apartment cleaned daily Mon to Fri. If you arrive on Sat or Sun, your accommodation will be cleaned again on Tues.) Change of towels - twice a week, Change of bed linen - once a week the maids were always friendly and made you feel comfortable and didn't mind of you told them you didn't want your room cleaning today.
3 Swimming pools - open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m
one swimming pool with children's section. Another pool on the top of the cliffs with sea view. Large children's pool and playground, climbing frames swings and slides, great for kids! All the pools are very clean with lots of sun beds and umbrellas available. There is no life guard but arm bands and swim rings can be bought from the shop on site if needed.
Two tennis courts
you need to book this at Reception (fee and key deposit). I never saw anyone using these its to hot for tennis!!
At the Bar's lower level. A few pin ball machines and pool tables, better for the teenagers.
At the Bar (didn't see any evidence of this but there were signs at reception)
Supermarket - Open every day from 8:30 a.m.
sells everything from plasters to bread, from pizzas to socks! Not kidding if you want it, it will be there.
Dinner 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Open from end of February to beginning of December. Not a great deal of chose here and quite expensive compared the local restaurants. Open air terrace dinner and in winter there's an open fire.
Open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Ice-cream, coffee shop, all kinds of drinks, snacks and meals served all day: spaghetti, lasagna, various omelettes, toasts, sandwiches, cheeseburgers, spare rips, steak, fresh fish... i haven't mentioned price because it changes with the seasons but an example of september prices are 1 large beer 2 euros 1 full english breakfast 3-6 euros.
There's a terrace, surrounded by beautiful garden.
Entertainment. Live music every night until 1am. It's terrible but it's entertaining.
Alfagar hass a stunning cliff top location overlooking the sea beautiful gardens. It has its own Private steps that lead down to the Santa Eulalia Beach. Ikts a beautiful resort and the staff are friendly and helpful.
My only falut with the apartments is location, its about a 20 min walk to the main area and when its 105 degrees and hilly all the way 20 mins is a long time, however we got a taxi every day and night in to the old town which only cost 5 euros!
I really loved the apartments it had everthing yiou needed. It was always clean and tidy and gardeners could be seen watering the grass every day. It's a lovely apartment and a great country. Im thinking of going again next year but I would stay somewhere closer to the old town as that's what I prefare. But alfagar is higly recommended!!
For pictures and more infor visit http://www.portugal-info.net/alfagar/
i have put everything i can remember about the apartments here but if any one thinking of going and wants any info just leave me a message.
This was the first time my family had been abroad. We looked long and hard through travel brochures, TV and Internet ads before deciding the Algarve was suitable for us. We were badly misled! The weather was fantastic, there were loads of beaches and the town was full of bars and restaurants. So what was wrong? The town itself has no inherent interest. It exists in its present form simply to service the tourists. The Strip epitomises this, full of glitzy memorabilia shops, bars and food outlets. It is simply The Golden Mile with sun! Fantastic if that is what you want. We didn't. We would have preferred even a little bit of genuine culture, pleasant countryside, and less 'See the real Algarve' bus trips... Albufeira provides a haven for those seeking sun sand and much else beginning with an 's'. It is not a holiday centre for those who dont want to spend all day on the beach and all night in a bar. Accommodation wise we were also messed up. We were self catering. The apartment was not equipped to cook so much as an egg. The alleged swimpool area closed at 7pm so if you spent a day out and came back for a meal there was literally nothing to do, no bar, cafe or restaurant on the entire complex (Villa Alba). The apartments were set in a run down area of Montechoro surrounded by derelict plots of land, tenements and dogs. We were supposed to be in Albufeira, we ended up in Montechoro, the hill at the top of New Town. A short walk to the beach? 40 minutes down hill, over an hour back. Check carefully in which part of town your accommodation is situated. We had several run ins with the hotel over the lack of facilities and poor maintenance. This did not help us enjoy the 'holiday'. The rep was next to useless and did not get back to us regarding the obvious problems we had with cooking. Albufeira? Stay in Old Town, explore the quiet beaches to the East, find a decent restaurant away from the front and next time go to Gr
eece. They do it much better!
This year Mr Geordieger, Mrs Geordieger and the two little Geordiegers set off on their first ever holiday abroad. After some debate and hours pouring over the travel brochers we decided on Albufeira, on the Algarve. Now before I go any further I have to warn you that this op may seem long but I want to be as thorough as possible. TRAVEL ------ We flew from Newcastle, as Airport tarrifs are expensive in Scotland and the cost of travel to Newcastle was cheaper when added up. Newcastle is a clean, modern airport, with plenty of shops, eating areas and toilets. Carparking is extensive and a private taxi service, and the local metro trains run to and from the terminal. THE FLIGHT ---------- The Geordiegers flew by JMC. On arrival on the aeroplane the small Gers were handed an activity pack to keep them amused, which it did for about 3 minutes. The TV's on board were hung from the baggage compartment, and the headphones to hear the TV cost £2.50 each set. The flight to Faro was 2hours 40 minutes and was a great flight, no turbulance and the stewardesses eager to help with anything(ooh-errr missus). FARO AIRPORT ------------ The only way to describe Faro airport is that it is a dive. The runway feels like it has potholes in it. The queues for the busses to the terminal building are long, and on the bus it is cramped. The building itself is teaming with people. The bagage carousel has luggage from three flights from different destinations(so if you are lucky you can nab some rich person's case). The bus journey from Faro to Albufeira takes about 30 minutes and even the little gers decided to have a nap during the journey.(Aaahhh bliss). THE ACCOMODATION ---------------- As expected accommodation comes in the usual stars. If you like living over the noisiest disco in town and sharing your shower with a cochroach then go for the cheap and nasty
, but better accommodation can be found for a reasonable price. The Geordiegers stayed in the Balia Plaza, just outside the main town. It is officially rated as 3 star, but the apartments were huge, clean(the maids came in 6 days a week), and had all the mod cons. A fridge, microwave, hob, tv and even a bath in the bathroom. The hotel is a 20 minute walk from the main strip, but to make up for it there is a large swimming pool area, with a bar(no need to tell you where Geordieger was most of the time), and a bar in the basement of the hotel which was surprisingly soundproofed as it was open until 2 and we were able to sleep through the music.(Mrs Geordieger says that the alcohol may have helped us to sleep). This accommodation has a kids club, which kept our little ones entertained. There are two activities a day and a kids party on a wednesday and sunday night. The little Gers want me to say that they had a great time in the kids club.(I've done it for you, kids, now stop harrassing me and go to bed). ALBUFEIRA STRIP --------------- In the main part of Albufeira the tourist area is called "the strip". Here the bars and restaurants can be found and by night it is teeming with people. A tip though is to go to the restaurants just off the main strip, where the food is still delicious and is a lot cheaper. There is also a big bunji sphere(I can't remember the exact name of it) where for a few Euro's you have the pleasure of being catapulted through the air and regurgitating the dinner and beers you have just consumed over your best friend. OLD TOWN -------- Old town Albufeira is a lot calmer than the strip. Here you can walk around the main square, which is cobbled, in the centre of old town, and through the day be entertained by musicians and street entertainers. Again there are numourous bars and restaurants to sample. Most bars have l
ive e ntertainment in the evening, with a porugese guy mimicking Buddy Holly or the likes, while you sup your beer. As with the strip, the cheaper and better resteraunts are off the main square. They are worth the hunt as the food is better quality and the staff are of the friendlier persuasion. BEACHES ------- There are many beaches around Albufeira including the Fisherman's beach where the local fisherman leave their boats at night. The best way to find your own personal favourite is to explore. You can walk along from Old Town to the strip along the beaches, but it helps if you are part mountain goat as some of the area is quite tricky to navigate. Not one for people with pushchairs. NOW A SURPRISE!!! ----------------- I can personally vouch for the medical services in Albufeira. Geordieger, having consumed copious amounts of beer on the last night of the holiday was walking around the main square. Unfortunately a coble decided to trip Geordieger up, and BANG, down went Geordieger. When I fell I managed to knock myself unconcious whilst splitting my forhead open on a cobble. The review of the medical services comes from Mrs Geordiger, as I cannot remember what happened, being unconcious at the time. The ambulance appeared very quickly, apparantly one of the bar staff who had not fallen over laughing at me had rang the emergency services. The ambulance will take you to a private hospital, and Mrs Geordieger says it was clean and the staff all spoke English well. For the ambulance ride and 11 stitches in my forehead we paid 15 Euros which works out at about £9 I think. One thing you must remember is you need a fit to fly certificate from the hospital as if you have an injury and no certificate you have a long argument with a desk clerk at Faro airport before signing a disclaimer form to say you will take full responsibility for your health. I
had a lovely argument with a travel rep about what my boss would say if I phoned from Portugal to say that I would be off sick from work. ADVANTAGES. ----------- In may the weather is warm and sunny(quite a change from Glasgow). <br >The resort is clean. As you have to drink mineral water to avoid deli belly, it is nice to see that is very cheap all over the resort. The resort is not too far to the airport so the transfer is a short one. The people are very friendly indeed. The beer(and food) is reasonably priced. DISADVANTAGES ------------- You have to go through Faro airport. The bloody cobbles in Old Town main square. You have to go through Faro aiport. Excursions can be expensive through the holiday reps(go into town and book them there instead). You have to go through Faro airport(do you think I didn't like Faro airport???) CONCLUSION ---------- We all loved it. The weather was great, although I get a sense that in high season it could be too hot. I would reccommend Albufeira for families with small children and those more seasoned holidaymakers.
If your thinking about going to Albufeira, read this review first. The area is a very nice area, plenty of beaches, loads of shops and restaurants. Nice location... by the sea. Well thinking of all this makes you wonder what a wonderful place it is. But... the beaches are filled with fishermen/women and fishingboats, they absoloutely smell of fish. The streets, well all I can say about them is if you are not a dog fan like me you won't like it because there are so many dogs you wouldn't believe it. The actual strip is very hard to find and when you do get there there's hardly anywhere to park, and even if there is it's normally a long way away. The one thing that is mostprobably the best thing there's plenty things there to buy and their at VERY cheap prices. One thing I noticed was that Albufeira train station was about 2 miles away from the town itself, and if you wanted to catch a bus you'd just have to wait by a stop because there is nowhere to find a timetable! It's a very big place and believe you me, easy to get lost in so make sure you take a map or something. Hope I've been of some help to you, please leave a comment for me! So before you go there, think twice.
I went to Albufeira in June this year, just as the holiday season was kicking off. 12 of us staying in a luxurious apartment just outside the heart of the town. The town itself is like any other popular European resort, i.e Magaluf, Corfu, Gran Canaria. Full of tacky tourist shops, filled with variations of the National Symbol, a chicken of all things. In between the tourist havens are many bars and restaurants. Much of the focus is along the strip. Here you have all types of food, ranging from Portuguese to Chinese and Indian. All reasonably priced, good service and good portions of food. Not all of the restaurants are air conditioned which means the one's that are tend to be busy. Fish is the local delicacy and I would highly recommend it. You can get anything from Tuna Steak to Calamari. Now onto the nightlife. As I mentioned before much of the focus of events is along the strip. Here you will find bar after bar after bar, the action doesn't usually start until around 11.30, the bars close at around 3.30am. All bars feature DJ's and dancefloors. I preferred the bars to the clubs, much more friendly. There is only one club in the resort, The Kiss Club. The only words to describe this are smelly and dingy. However you can guarantee that you will end up there at least on at least one occassion. The club is few hundred metres from the strip so it gives you time to sober up a touch before hitting the alcohol once more. Beer is extremely cheap just over a pound for a pint, and if you buy it from supermarkets you can find "Superbock" for around 30p a bottle. We only visited the beach one day in our week's stay! The beach is very clean and sandy. Lots of attractions such as Banana Boat, Donut. There are sunbeds which you can hire with shade or without. This go very quickly so it is best to get to the beach early! I'm afraid I can't comment o
n the resort and it's attraction to families, seeing as I am not part of one. I think it is certainly ideal for young groups of people to go out and have a good but cheap time!
Albufeira was a last minute choice, an apartment found for us by our travel agent at a very reasonable price and cheap flights to Faro. Sounded ideal; we just needed to chill-out; food, drink, sun, sea, sand, and...
We were not actually staying in Albufeira but in a small "village" about 4 kms inland called Ferreiras, at the Solcosta Apartments but more of that later.
Albufeira is in the Algarve and has had a long history, dating back to Roman times. It was the last town on the Iberian Peninsula freed from the Moors and its current name is derived from its Moorish name.
The town fell on hard times after earthquakes in the 16th and 18th centuries and it has really only been the tourist boom of modern times that has raised the level of prosperity it now enjoys.
Albufeira really divides into the old town and the new. The old town covers a broad stretch of clean sandy beaches and backs up about half a kilometre from the sea. Beyond this is all the new development, though mainly to the east and north of the old town. It is mostly low-rise apartments and hotel complexes.
The old town is delightful, full of narrow streets and alleys. Much has been pedestrianised, especially on the seaward side of the main town square and the square itself. Everywhere you find shops, bars and restaurants. During the day it was relatively quite, at least, it was when we were there in June.
In the evening the place comes alive. The square is full of entertainers and artists. The bars are full although most customers sit out in the street, especially along Candido dos Reis, where there is wall-to-wall music and live entertainers.
It is quieter as you move beyond this area and there can easily be found restaurants where you can relax and enjoy your meal in relative peace. We found several such.
In the new town area, all nightlife centres on The Strip. Although we didn't ourselves visit it, another
couple in the apartments did several time and reported it to be excellent though probably more oriented towards the younger element.
The beaches are well looked after and are divided up by rocky prominences. Our favourite was the one we called the "Tunnel Beach". As its name implies it is reached through a tunnel from just off of the square, down stone steps to beach level. Here the beach is quite narrow although it deepens to the right to about 100 metres. If you decide to rent a sun bed and shade at the foot of the steps, be sure to check the times of the tides. When the tide is really high it comes right to the foot of the steps. We had great fun watching the unwary nearly being washed away as we retreated to enjoy lunch.
We had lunch at several restaurants. The one referred to above was the Sunset Terrace, just to the left of the tunnel exit and a part of the Hotel Sol e Mar which is mostly sited on the cliff above. The food was good and reasonably priced considering the enjoyable view from the terrace.
The best lunch and, indeed, the best restaurant in town in my opinion, was A Ruina. This is on the beach to the left of the Tunnel Beach, reached either by walking along the sand or through a tunnel dug through the headland. Their terrace is literally on the beach, a large paved area laid directly on the sand. The building seems almost to be set into the cliff and rises many floors, to include indoor eating areas and a roof-top terrace as well.
Generally service in all the restaurants is, how shall we say, relaxed! Don't be in a hurry because the Portuguese don't know the meaning of the word, except when they are driving. The exception is A Ruina, where service is attentive and friendly. But then, so it should be as they are definitely the most expensive.
Their food is all fresh from the sea and magnificently prepared and served. You make your choice directly from the cold cabinet, ther
e is no menu.
Our next favourite was Tres Coroas (Three Crowns), right on top of the cliffs above the Tunnel Terrace. An outdoor terrace with live entertainment. If you want a view of the sea however, get there early as, it is set back a little and there are only three tables with a good view. There we had the traditional Cataplana, both a style and also the dish in which it is served.
Also recommended, A Tasca do Viegas, right next door to A Ruina.
The only one that disappointed was Cave Vinho do Porto, tables on an alley just off the main square and also indoor tables. The air-conditioning wasn't working, service was average and a number of things we wanted weren't available although advertised on their menu.
Credit Cards are not generally accepted, except in restaurants and hotels. Be prepared to take cash. There are many ATMs and also Bureau de Change so it isn't difficult to get your hands on real money.
Portugese wine is very good but not significantly cheaper than the price of equivalent wines in the UK so you won't save much by taking it home with you.
If you are going to use local transport, all buses to the town terminate at the main bus station which is situated at the edge of the town. You either have to take the local town shuttle bus from there or walk, about 25 minutes to the beaches.
Taxis are variable. You either have to phone for one or go and wait at one of the taxi ranks. The best taxi rank is just inland from the town square, about a 5 minute walk. Taxis are, however, cheap although the locals don't seem to think so. A taxi to or from Ferreiras where we were staying was 1000 escudos, about £3. We thought that was good value.
The train station for Albufeira is actually in Ferreiras. There are trains to most large towns along the coast from the Spanish border to the Atlantic coast. Trains run about every two hours. It's a single track l
ine with passing points at stations. Fares are very cheap. We took a day trip to Portimao, about a one hour journey, which cost about £4 return. The carriages were clean and in many cases the trains were all first class carriages, although we only had to pay a second class fare.
The Solcosta Apartments where we stayed were excellent. The complex was built around a pool. It was all very clean and well maintained.
UPDATE January 2005
The following observations were made in 2001, over 3 years ago and so should be read with that in mind. The recently added comment by a more recent visitor to Ferreiras indicates that things seem to have changed. I cannot comment on that as we havent been back there since the visit the subject of this review. I suggest that you treat it with an open mind and make further enquiries before rejecting a visit out-of-hand.
Sadly, however, Ferreiras itself was anything but. The whole village was in complete chaos with almost all of the roads into the village un-surfaced and the pavements unusable. Everywhere the roads are up for various services, water, drainage, electricity... A permanent cloud of dust hangs over the area. We understand it has been like this for two years. An election was due whilst we were there. One day road layers turned up to surface the main road into the village. It took them two days and then they vanished, never to be seen again. Can't imagine that won the councillors any votes.
So, would we go back again? To Albufeira? Definitely. To Ferreiras? Only if the whole area has indeed returned to some sort of normality.
"Albufeira is a Portuguese city and a municipality in the district of Faro. It has a population of 35,281 inhabitants and a total area of 140.6 km². The population expands significantly in the summer, as Albufeira is one of the leading tourist resorts of the region. New developments include a marina, golf courses plus innumerable hotels and apartment blocks for the annual flood of visitors. The name "Albufeira" is of Arabic origin "Albuheira" and means in Arabic "lagoon", and in Portuguese, "reservoir" (or sometimes lagoon)."