Undoubtedly one of the most popular resort towns in the Algarve, Albufeira is a fun place to vacation or pass by a couple of days on an Algarve road trip.
There are lots of things to do in Albufeira, Portugal, from exhilarating water sports to relaxing on the beach or strolling the cobbled streets through whitewashed houses.
If you like to party and drink cocktails in beach bars, the summer months will have you covered, however, if you like to enjoy a slower pace, try to visit Albufeira in winter. It’s perfect during the off-season with its endless charm and pleasant Algarve winter temperatures.
Whatever you prefer to do, I’m sure you’ll enjoy these top things to do in Albufeira.
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Things to do in Albufeira
Get lost in the old town
Getting lost in Albufeira old town is a must when visiting the city. It’s such an enchanting part of the Algarve with restaurants and bars around every corner.
You will find all the souvenirs you need in the little shops – but avoid buying shells. Unfortunately, it has a negative effect on the eco system when shells are removed from the beach or the ocean floor.
Walking along the cliffs will also get you to some of the best viewpoints in Albufeira over glittering blue water dotted with boats and paddleboards.
Go back in time at Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Albufeira
In the old City Hall building in Albufeira, you’ll find the Municipal Archaeology Museum. This is one of the best places to visit in Albufeira to learn about the city’s history from prehistoric times to the 17th century.
The museum has 5 different sections featuring local excavations from the pre-historic times, the Roman rule, the Visigoth period, the Moorish period, and the modern ages.
You’ll see finds from the Roman Villa in Retorta, the castle in Paderne, and the old parish church among others.
On the upper floor, there are temporary exhibitions.
Entry is only 1 Euro and is well worth it. You can find updated opening hours here.
Party hard at Albufeira’s party strip
Albufeira’s ‘strip’ is famous among travelers for its vivid party life, and you can safely say that among all the cities on the Algarve, Albufeira has the best party scene. If you’re looking for a holiday jam-packed with parties, music, and meeting people, this is the place to be.
Especially young travelers head there during their summer holiday to spend a week of partying at night and beach in the day.
But even if you’re going for a more relaxed vacation, it’s worth taking the trip there if you plan on one night out.
Feeling adventurous? Explore the backcountry by jeep or quad!
Visit Igreja Matriz
One of the best things to see in Albufeira is the Igreja Matriz, nestled in the old town. It was built in the 18th century in the same place where there used to be a mosque in the times the Moors ruled.
The seemingly plain neoclassical church hides an astounding interior covered with traditional blue tiles. There’s also a statue of the patron Saint, Nossa Senhora da Conceição which dates back to the 16th century.
In one of the side buildings, you can visit the Museum of Sacred Art which I highly recommend.
Take a picture at Miradouro do Pau Bandeira
When it comes to things to do, Albufeira has more than enough. Yet, the views are unique from this beach town and Miradouro do Pau Bandeira is one of the best places.
That’s where you’ll get the traditional view of Albufeira beach, but there’s also amazing ice cream to be had by the viewpoint so that’s another reason to head up there.
There are electric stairs taking you from the beach to the viewpoint so even on a lazy day (or incredibly hot) it can be done as part of your Albufeira sightseeing walk.
Enjoy the astounding views of the white town climbing up the cliffside from the wide beach, overlooking the crystal clear water.
Explore the coastline by kayak, SUP, or parasailing
One of the top things to do in Albufeira is definitely to rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the coastline from the seaside.
There are plenty of guided trips taking you to explore the nearby rock formations and caves, one of the highlights being Benagil Cave.
But if you’re yearning for some more action, Albufeira is the perfect place to go parasailing, which consists of flying above a boat along the mesmerizing coastline.
Not only will you see it from the seaside, but also get a birds-eye view of the astounding area.
Read my complete list of the best activities in Albufeira here.
Check out these action-filled tours
Go on a boat trip
There are multiple exciting boat trips from Albufeira taking you to see the bewildering coastline, hidden beaches, and caves. Particularly popular is the Benagil Cave, the most famous cave in Portugal. Even with as little as a 3 days in Algarve you should prioritize a boat trip.
You might also be lucky and see dolphins or whales on the tour as they frequently play in the glittering waters. There are many alternatives, but I’ve picked out a few of the most popular boat tours here:
Get a tan at the beach
Chilling at the beach to work on your tan is no doubt one of the best things to do in Albufeira.
The Praia dos Pescadores (Fisherman’s beach) is the most central beach sitting right in front of the old town and the one you get a bird’s eye’s view of from the Miradouro do Pau Bandeira, one of the top Albufeira tourist attractions.
Due to its placement in front of the whitewashed town wrapped in cliffs on each side, this is also one of the most beautiful beaches in Algarve.
In the summer months, there are sunbeds and parasols for rent, and lifeguards are on duty. You can also rent paddleboards if you want to float on the crystal clear water for a bit.
Visit Igreja de São Sebastião
Another one of the most prominent Albufeira attractions is the Igreja de São Sebastião. The 18th-century whitewashed church is a fusion of architectural styles from the main portal’s Baroque style to the Manueline side portals.
In the 16th century, there was another church on this spot, and some of the statues in Igreja de São Sebastião’s interior are just as old.
You can also visit Museu de Arte Sacra, the church’s museum situated in the hermitage. There you can take in religious art collected from different churches in the parish of Albufeira.
Go dolphin watching (ethically)
One of the most memorable activities in Albufeira is without a doubt to go dolphin watching. There are many companies that take you out and though there’s no guarantee that you’ll see dolphins as they’re wild animals, they’re familiar with where you can expect to see them.
Therefore, it’s often a hit. In case you don’t come across any wildlife on your boat tour, they usually combine it with exploring the sea caves in the area so nonetheless, it’s doomed to be an incredible experience.
Top tip! Avoid the ZooMarine where they offer swimming with captive dolphins and dolphin shows. There are many reasons why this is a cruel tourist magnet and Peta gives you a few here.
Here are some of the most popular dolphin watching tours that include caves:
One of the most amazing things to do in Albufeira is to scuba dive. For experienced scuba divers, there are a plethora of dive sites exploring the world below the surface of one of the most breathtaking coastlines of Europe.
A labyrinth of underwater caves and marine life awaits every level of divers and if you want to discover scuba diving for the first time you can also safely do that.
If you’re not sure scuba diving is for you or your budget is low, there are also snorkeling trips where you’ll still get a glimpse of the bewildering life below the surface.
Here are some of Albufeira’s best alternatives:
Visit Castelo de Paderne
While looking for things to do near Albufeira, don’t miss out on the remains of the ancient Castelo de Paderne. Situated only 10 kilometers north of the city, it overlooks the glittering Quarteira river.
The castle was originally built by the Moors between the late 12th century and the beginning of the 13th century. Even today, it’s seen as one of the Iberian Peninsula’s best examples of Moorish military architecture.
In 1248, the castle was conquered from the Moors by D. Paio Peres Correia, one of the most important warriors in the 13th century Reconquista. It served as a military structure until the mid-1800s.
Today, Castelo de Paderne is one of the 7 castles on the Portuguese flag.
During your visit, you can learn more about the castle’s history through the information signs that are placed around the site.
Hike the Seven Hanging Valley’s Trail
If you’re wondering what to do in Albufeira, Portugal outside the hottest months, make sure to hike the Seven Hanging Valley’s Trail.
This is one of the most mesmerizing hikes in Algarve, taking you on top of the sunkissed cliffs between Marinha beach and Carvoeiro.
It takes about 6 hours return to do the hike and it takes you past multiple potholes sinking into hidden beaches where you can hear the strength of the Atlantic smashing into the rock walls below.
You’ll pass some of the most beautiful beaches on Portugal’s southern coast and be mesmerized by natural arches and rock formations towering above the glittering water.
The hike requires adequate footwear like good-quality sneakers or hiking shoes. You also have to make sure you bring enough water (minimum 2 liters) and food.
Related: Carvoeiro boardwalk
Discover Ria Formosa Natural Park
Not far from Albufeira, you can discover one of the most unique natural areas of the Algarve, the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Discover salt marshes, tidal flats, and dunes home to an abundance of birds and reptiles.
Particularly compelling is the multitude of migratory birds that use this area as a resting place on their travels between Europe and Africa. There’s no denying, Ria Formosa is a haven for bird watchers.
Take a boat trip to the sand-blown barrier islands like Tavira island, Culatra island, or Armona island to explore the old fisherman’s settlements that died with the tuna fishing a long time ago. Especially cool is the anchor cemetery at Praia do Barril.
You can also go hiking, whereof the Ludo trail in Faro is particularly nice for spotting flamingos. Ria Formosa surely makes for one of the most astounding day trips from Albufeira.
Take surf classes
Truly one of the top things to do in Albufeira is to go surfing! The Algarve is one of the best spots for surfing in Europe and a great place to start learning this awesomely cool sport.
The best way to start off as a newbie, is to take surf classes to learn the basics. But even if you’re a pro surfer, you can rent gear and head to the best surf beaches for riding the famous Atlantic waves.
Here are some of the most popular surf classes in Albufeira:
Read my complete Algarve itinerary HERE
Reflections on what to do in Albufeira
With these amazing attractions, it should make it easy for you to figure out what to do in Albufeira on your trip. The city is so charming and even if you want a more relaxed holiday, the old town offers an abundance of charm even in the low season.
Beaches and viewpoints are covering the coastline of Albufeira. Things to do, don’t stop within the city walls, but you find yourself in between some of the most bewildering natural attractions in southern Portugal.