ALBUFEIRA has long been one of the Algarve’s most popular resorts – and it’s easy to see why. The old centre is a highly picturesque medley of whitewashed houses atop low sandstone cliffs facing a fantastic town beach. But beyond, hundreds of modern buildings lie strung across the hillsides that spread east and west, around the town’s marina, a collection of brightly coloured, Lego-like modern shops, bars and apartments clustered round in-your-face yachts and speedboats. If you’re looking for unspoiled Portugal, this isn’t it, but Albufeira is undeniably fun, attracting a varied mix of holidaymakers.
Although the 1755 earthquake destroyed much of the town, there’s still a Moorish feel to a few parts of central Albufeira – its original Arabic name, Al-Buhera, means “Castle-on-the-Sea”. There are some fine beaches either side of the town, too. Praia da Oura and those further east towards Praia da Falésia are the more developed, while the cove beaches to the west, up to the swathe of sands at Praia de Galé, tend to be quieter. Inland, Albufeira is the nearest base for a couple of the Algarve’s best family-orientated theme parks, while day-trips also run north into the hills to the pretty village of Alte.