Albufeira started out as a fishing village and has now evolved into one of the world’s hottest tourist destinations. It has become famous for its incredible beaches, gastronomy, and nightlife. Most beach towns don’t have much else to enjoy outside of just the beach, but Albufeira is definitely an exception. From its historic architecture to the Benagil caves, there’s plenty to do during your stay there. If you are lucky enough to spend a week in Albufeira, we have provided a day-by-day breakdown of the many things you can do.
Day 1: Relaxing in the sand
I don’t know about you, but when I first arrive in a new country I am pretty exhausted from flying. I want to explore…but I also want to take a nap. Luckily, Albufeira is famous for their incredible beaches, making it possible to start off your trip with a relaxing day on the beach. Leave your luggage at your hotel, put on a bathing suit, grab a towel, and head to one of the many sandy beaches of Albufeira. Some popular beaches are: Praia da Coelha, Praia de São Rafael, or Praia de Falesia – to name a few. There are numerous beaches to visit though, so you could really try a different beach each day you’re in Albufeira.
Day 2: Benagil Caves & dolphin watching tour
The Benagil caves are one of the most spectacular groves in the world. What makes them so famous is the fact that they bask in sunlight, creating spectacular views with its “eye.” The top of the cave has a hole, letting sunlight into the cave making it appear as though there is a beam of sunshine within the cave. There are many fantastic tours you can take to see these caves such as this one . I highly recommend going on a tour during the daytime, so you can see the sunlight going through the “eye” of the Benagil Cave.
If you are taking a boat tour of the Benagil Caves, it is best to take advantage and choose a tour that comes with dolphin watching. This is a fantastic way to see dolphins up close in an ethical manner as they are not captive dolphins. By doing a combination tour, you can make the most out of your tour and money. This tour is a great option, but there are many others you can choose from.
Day 3: Seven Hanging Valleys’ Trail
This hike is not for the faint of heart, but it is well worth it if you have the time (and energy). Known as one of the most beautiful day hikes in Portugal, this trek covers Carvoeiro to Praia da Marinha. All along the trail you will be shocked by the beauty that surrounds you. The ocean passing under you, hidden caves, the sunlight hitting the coastline – I mean it can’t get better than that. This hike takes about six hours (if you don’t go into all the hidden caves that is), and is one way.
If you take this hike, make sure you have plenty of water with you and cash for the taxi ride back home. You could walk back, but hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is not safe to do at night. I recommend staying the night in Praia de Marinha and going back the next day if you want to return on foot. There are many articles that go into depth about the safety of hiking this trail like this one. Definitely give it a read before taking on this big task. You got this!
Day 4: Old Town Center and Nightlife Galore
After a long hike, it’s good to take a little break. It’s the perfect time to explore the Old Town of Albufeira. Famous for its laid-back vibes, Albufeira is filled with cobblestone streets, traditional Portuguese architecture, and local cuisines to enjoy at your own leisurely pace.
During the day you can enjoy sitting at a cafe or restaurant, while taking in the view around you. There are many local vendors in Old Town, so take some time to do a bit of shopping while supporting local businesses. While in Old Town, you have to check out Igreja Sant’Ana Albufeira and Albufeira Igreja Matriz – two of the most famous landmarks in Albufeira.
Igreja Sant’Ana is a staunch white cathedral that stands out against the blue sky. This cathedral was originally in a different spot, but after being destroyed by a tsunami in 1755, it was rebuilt in its current, higher elevated, place. If you want to learn more about the cathedral’s history, you can read about it here. The Igreja Matriz has quite a different architecture styling to that of Igreja Sant’Ana. This is likely due to the fact that this church was originally a mosque, giving it a much different style to a catholic church like the Sant’Ana.
Once the sun begins to set on your day in the Old Town Center, it’s time to enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Albufeira. There are two different ways you can appreciate the night scene, depending on what kind of vibe you prefer. The Old Town Center has many restaurants and bars for you to enjoy while providing a more relaxed environment. It’s perfect for those who want to wind down for the night, while enjoying a drink or two. If you prefer a bit more of the party scene, you should check out “The Strip.” This street is packed with bars and clubs for you to enjoy. In the summer months, many students come here to partake in the nightlife festivities so it can get quite crowded around summertime. The strip is best for those looking for a fun night out filled with dancing and drinks.
Day 5: Parasailing trip
Now that you’ve had some time to relax (or party), it’s time to go back out and enjoy the water. This tour will get your heartbeat racing and fuel up your adrenaline. Parasailing is a water sport where you are pulled by a boat while attached to a parachute-like device. When the boat starts rolling, you start flying. You are shot up into the air, becoming a human kite, enjoying the exhilarating thrill of it all. If you aren’t screaming the whole time, like I would be (yes, I am afraid of heights), you can also experience the views of the beaches from up there.
This activity, although fun, won’t take up your whole day. Since you are already in the water, I recommend taking another day to enjoy the many beaches of Albufeira. It’s famous for its beaches for a reason – check them out!
Day 6: Wine tour
Albufeira is a town of many wonders, but one of the most overlooked aspects of Albufeira is the wine! There are many vineyards close by, tended by local farmers, that create some of the best wine in Europe. This tour takes you to Silves, the countryside of Portugal that homes a multitude of local vineyards. Not only do you get to visit these spectacular farms, but you get to taste the wine made there, and enjoy it with some tapas (small dishes). Many of these wine tours also include time for you to explore Silves, or other smaller towns near Albufeira. It is a great way to explore other areas, and enjoy some of the gorgeous scenery Portugal has to offer. There are many wine tours, but try to find ones that support local, family-owned wineries. Helping the local economy is never a bad thing.
Day 7: Miradouro do Pau da Bandeira
Oh no, it’s your final day! It’s already been such a fun and eventful week, right? Let’s take this last day to try and enjoy the views one last time. In Albufeira, there are many famous spots where you can get the best views of the city. Miradouro do Pau da Bandeira is one of those spots. Note: you do have to walk up a hill to get here, but it is truly worth the climb. Once you get to the top of the hill, you get magnificent views of the deep blue sea, and even views of Old Town.
The descent from the hill is much easier as there are escalators you can take. I have heard from many that their favorite thing to do after visiting this viewpoint is to take the escalator down and enjoy ice cream from a nearby vendor. Albufeira has about 300 days of sun each year, so a nice cold treat after walking uphill sounds like the perfect way to enjoy your last day.
If you have extra time:
Let’s say you enjoyed your trip so much that you decided to add a few days, or weeks, to your stay in Albufeira – what else is there to do? Many things!
Kayak Trip to the Benagil Caves
This tour is a unique way to get a closer, more personal view of the Benagil caves. You get to take a kayak, or SUP along the ocean near the Benagil caves. It is quite the workout though, so make sure you have lots of energy for your kayaking day.
Off-Road Buggy Tour
Being in the city center you can get many incredible views, but what if you want a closer view of the nature that surrounds you? Going on an off-road buggy tour could be perfect for you! By going off-roading, you get to be in the countryside seeing views you wouldn’t see in the typical tourist spots of Albufeira. This experience is great for those who like to go off the beaten path and enjoy the scenes that most dare not to see.
Day trip to Lagos
One of the great things about Albufeira is its proximity to other coastal towns. Just one hour away by bus or train, you can reach the coastal town of Lagos. A beautiful beach city filled with historical buildings, cultural art buildings, and plenty of water sports to enjoy. If you have some extra time in your stay, I highly recommend taking a day trip to Lagos.
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