When searching for our break in the Algarve, Albufeira was on my radar momentarily. The description of “busy, lively and exciting entertainment hub” ruled it out for me instantly!
However, having made our choice we were curious enough to see the place for ourselves on the last day of our break. It was only about 14 miles from our hotel in Vilamoura and the Uber ride was about €18 (including holdups at roadworks)
I confess that the first impression was not favourable. It might have something to do with it being a bleak and overcast day. Disappointment set in when we were dropped off at the Old Town. It’s not like the old town in Loulé or Faro at all! In fact there’s nothing Portuguese about it!
The square was enveloped by bars and restaurants, shops selling the usual tourist stuff and stalls in the middle selling more of the same. The outlook improved somewhat as we moved towards the hill top for an overview of the beach
We came across the Parish Church and Torre do Relógio, an 18th-century clock tower on our way
Praia do Peneco
We headed for Elevador do Peneco lift to go down onto Praia de Peneco but it was not working so we took the steps down. Although it was a sunless day with the odd drops of rain, the vista from the top of the steps was still rather charming
Praia dos Pescadores (Fishermen’s Beach)
Praia dos Pescadores is the extension of Praia de Peneco. Until a few years ago, traditional fishing boats could be seen on this beach but they have been relocated to the new harbour in Albufeira Marina.
From here we ascended on the escalator to Pau da Bandeira Viewpoint . It’s a great spot to take in the seascape of beaches and the white-washed buildings on the hilltop.
Saving the best till last, we retraced our steps towards Elevador do Peneco for a rather long walk to Albufeira Marina, which took about 40 minutes. First we came across this charming harbour, presumably where the fisherman’s boats have been transferred.
Then the colourful jaunty apartment blocks came into view. They certainly brightened up the leaden sky and quickened my steps!
Albufeira Marina is a tourist complex built in 2003 dedicated to the leisure industry. It’s a resort of over 200 apartments. Around the waterfront there’re restaurants, bars, shops, and moorings for all classes of nautical recreational vessels. A lot of the water activities and tours start from here.
The main draw of the development must be the apartments in a kaleidoscopic array of colours that recalls those summer holidays of pink candy floss, azure sky, lemon ice lolly and Neapolitan ice cream. The cheerful colours lighten up even the gloomiest of days!
We found a nice café at the Marina for a light lunch and people-watching. One of the benefits of using Uber was that we could be picked up at the Marina when we’re ready to go, without having to traipse back to our starting point.
There’s really no substitute for experience in shaping an opinion. Having visited Albufeira I can understand how it could be a destination of choice for those seeking boisterous fun. For me, I think the relaxed and sophisticated ambience of Vilamoura was definitely the right choice for us.
All in all, our sojourn in the Algarve has been very fruitful. Apart from escaping the storm back home in England we saw places with different favours: historic Faro, traditional Loulé, modern Vilamoura and Albufeira, a typical seaside resort.