Albufeira is a lively town in southern Portugal and a popular vacation spot for Europeans.
Currency: Euro. As of June 2017, the exchange rate is around 1 USD = 0.89 Euros (1 Euro = 1.12 USD).
Getting in: Portugal is a member of the Schengen Area, which US citizens can enter without a visa and stay for up to 90 days in a 180 day period.
Getting around: The city of Albufeira is very walkable. Buses also serve the city and provide infrequent service to surrounding towns and beaches. www.algarvebus.info provides bus information and timetables for southern Portugal.
When to visit: Spring through fall is ideal since southern Portugal is fairly dry and warm during these times. The summer gets a bit hot midday but it might be best for swimming at the beaches.
How to visit: The closest airport to Albufeira is the Faro airport, which serves all of southern Portugal. Using United miles to fly to Faro will cost 60,000 round-trip, and availability is relatively good. However, if you live in a city served by Aer Lingus and happen to be traveling during off-peak times, then you can book for as little as 39,000 to 45,700 British Airways miles round-trip. If you are looking to pay for a flight, prices generally start at $500 to $800 round-trip. From the Faro airport the best way to arrive into Albufeira is to book an airport transfer at least 24 hours in advance on a site like mytransfer.pt for 7.50 Euros each way. Taking public transportation is also possible but costs nearly the same and requires catching 2 or 3 separate buses.
Highlights of Albufeira:
Albufeira is in the region of far southern Portugal called the Algarve. Near the city there are many beautiful beaches with unique rock formations and sea caves. It is also a great spot just to lounge on the beach and relax, and the city has a huge amount of nightlife.
The old city of Albufeira has a large central square with old churches, restaurants, and shops surrounding it. Much of it is a pedestrian only area, and there is quick and easy access to the beach. There is a viewpoint on the east side of the old city accessible by escalator.
If you walk east down the beach past the pier and down to the end, there is a staircase that leads to a walk down the scenic coastline and eventually ends at Praia da Oura near the new city.
Walking up the main road from Praia da Oura leads to the center of the newer part of the city, known as “the strip” for its resemblance to Las Vegas (on a much smaller scale of course). From the strip it is about a 20 minute walk back to the old city.
I highly recommend getting out to Praia de Benagil and Praia da Marinha during your time in southern Portugal. These beaches can be accessed by public bus from Albufeira on weekdays only. Buses run twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, from Albufeira to both of these places with a connection in Lagoa. Or you can do what I did and catch a morning bus to Benagil, walk along the scenic coastline a few miles from Benagil to Marinha, and then catch the afternoon bus back from Marinha! The most up-to-date bus info can be found at www.algarvebus.info.
Praia de Benagil, near the town of Benagil, has a small beach and it is possible to easily swim (in good weather) from the beach around the rock to the left to a very impressive cave, as seen in the photo at the top of this post. There are also local companies renting kayaks for a hefty fee (20 euros per person for 1.5 hours as of June 2017) if you prefer that option.
To walk to Praia da Marinha, you walk eastward up the road for a few hundred feet and follow the first trail on the right. The walk is very scenic and passes by many secluded beaches and rock outcroppings, as well as the skylight to the Benagil cave.
Praia da Marinha is a popular beach with neat little caves and rock formations. It is great for swimming, exploring, and relaxing. Note that there is not a designated bus stop for Praia da Marinha and instead the bus just turns around and picks up passengers where the road enters the parking lot. Beware that the local vendors may deny that a bus exists to try and sell you marked up taxi rides!
In addition to these, there are many other beaches in southern Portugal to explore if you have more time. I hope you find this rough guide useful in planning a trip to Albufeira and the surrounding areas!