What it’s Like to Live in Albufeira… Should You Move Here?

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Published: September 2020 & Last Updated: November 2021

With plenty of cheap restaurants, souvenirs shops, and sunburnt tourists, Albufeira is a quintessential beach resort town. But that’s just one side of Albufeira. While you’ll find plenty of places serving kebabs and fish and chips, Albufeira is also home to some of the best Michelin Star restaurants on the Algarve.

It’s also one of the largest towns on the Algarve and, because of this, a popular place to live. It isn’t for everyone, though. For a lot of the year, the town will be inundated with holidaymakers from all over the world, all here for a good time. For some people, that sounds absolutely perfect while others will want to head for the hills (there are actually some lovely quiet places to live in the Portuguese hills).

Of course, you don’t have to live on the famous neon-lit strip or even in the more family-friendly old town. Many choose to live on the outskirts of Albufeira and still have all of the amenities on your doorstep when you want them.

Albufeira has a lot of selling points. Firstly, there’s always something going on. Even in winter, when many other Algarve towns become incredibly quiet, there are enough locals, tourists, and expats in Albufeira that many restaurants, bars, and shops stay open.

It also has some fantastic beaches and in winter, when the weather can still top 20° C, the beaches are usually quite empty – even despite the few winter holidaymakers Albufeira usually manages to attract.

Photos of Albufeira

Old Town Albufeira

Albufeira’s Old Town is made up of beautiful cobbled streets, interspersed with souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars. During the summer months, there’s a good buzz as buskers and holidaymakers mingle in the squares and enjoy the good weather.

Although “The Strip” is the place to go and party, that’s not to say that you can’t have a good time in Albufeira’s Old Town. You’ll find plenty of bars here, and plenty of people sampling their wares, but the atmosphere in the Old Town is more family-friendly than The Strip.

In terms of beaches, Praia dos Pescadores is right in front of the Old Town and connects to Praia do Inatel and Praia dos Alemães. Together, the beaches stretch for almost 2 km which, even in the height of summer, is more than enough beach for everyone.

The New Town (The Strip)

Areias de São João (or The Strip, as it’s more commonly known” is a long road packed with bright neon-lit bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.

The party starts early here: it’s not uncommon to see groups of people drinking at midday or even before, and it usually continues until the early hours of the morning. Along the road, there are plenty of kebab shops and other cheap eateries where you can grab a bite to eat and refuel before you continue partying until the early hours.

You’ll see plenty of stag and hen dos in Albufeira, as well as groups celebrating birthdays and other special occasions. If you’re visiting Albufeira to celebrate, this is the place to do it.

The nearest beach, Praia da Oura, is roughly a 10-minute walk downhill from the bottom of The Strip. It’s a steep uphill walk to get back, which has earned this hill the nickname “cardiac hill,” but it’s a small price to pay for getting to enjoy Praia da Oura. 

Pros & cons of living here

Everywhere has its pros and cons and that’s true of Albufeira too.

Pros

  • Beaches – Albufeira has some fantastic beaches, both within walking distance of the town centre (both the old town and The Strip) and within driving distance
  • Location – Being in the centre of the Algarve makes it easy to explore the whole of the region
  • Year-round location – Although many bars and restaurants will shut during winter, Albufeira doesn’t become a ghost-town in the same way as other Algarve towns do

Cons

  • Touristy – Albufeira is one of the most popular locations on the Algarve, and probably the best known, which means it attracts a lot of tourists in the summer
  • Noisy – Although Albufeira attracts all kinds of tourists, it does attract a large number who come to party and have a good time. This means that the town centre can be quite noisy

Supermarkets & Shopping

Albufeira has its own municipal market, Mercado Municipal dos Caliços, which is perfect for buying fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, and meat. There are also a number of supermarkets in the area, including:

Albufeira is also a short drive from the Algarve Shopping mall in Guia. Here you’ll find a wide range of clothes shops, a food court, and a Cineplace cinema. Across the road, there’s also an Iceland Overseas store that sells British food, a Leroy Merlin for all of your DIY needs, and a Macro.

Healthcare

There are two large public hospitals within a short drive of Albufeira: Hospital de Portimão in Portimão (around 30 minutes away) and Hospital de Faro in Faro (around 45 minutes away). Naturally there’s also a centro de saúde (local health centre) in Albufeira. There’s also a private hospital nearby in Alvor: Hospital Particular de Alvor.

Public Transport

Albufeira does have a train station, Albufeira-Ferreiras. Unfortunately, like many train stations in Portugal, this isn’t located in the city centre: Albufeira – Ferreiras is roughly 6 km from Albufeira’s old town. From here, you can easily get to several other towns on the Algarve (including Lagos, Faro, and Portimão, among others). With a simple change, you can also take the train to Lisbon and then onto other destinations like Coimbra, Aveiro, and Porto as well. More information about travelling by train can be found here.

Albufeira also has a good bus station with links to other Algarve towns as well as cities like Lisbon and Porto. The main bus station, Terminal Rodoviário de Albufeira, is located on Rua Paul Harris. It’s a little closer to the town centre – roughly two kilometres (or 20 minutes on foot). For local bus tickets, visit eva-bus.com. More information about bus travel, including long-distance bus travel, can be found here.

While not public transport, the Algarve also has a regional airport called Faro Airport. From here, you can normally find plenty of flights to Northern European countries, especially the UK and Germany. If you want to travel to anywhere more exotic, you’ll probably need to get a connecting flight in Lisbon or consider flying from one of the larger Spanish airports like Madrid or Barcelona. Faro Airport is roughly 45 km from Albufeira or around 40 minutes by car.

Other locations

Not sure if Albufeira is the right choice? Here are a few similar alternatives:

  • Praia da Rocha has a similar vibe to Albufeira, but isn’t quite as busy
  • Carvoeiro and Alvor are both coastal resort towns, but much smaller and much more low-key
  • Lagos is a laid-back coastal town that’s popular with surfers, backpackers, and young couples
  • Vilamoura is an upmarket resort town with higher-end restaurants and bars

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Comments

  1. Moving from India to Albufera would love some advice!
    Hello! I (57F) have been planning to retire in Portugal and am considering settling there as it is a great opportunity except I've never been and know nothing about or anyone in Portugal. For legal reasons I will not be able to visit until I get my Schengen visa for travel and file for D7 visa eventually and make the move. Turning to Portugalist to help me out with some of the below:
    1. I will be living in an apartment and would love to have good neighbors and friends as I am pretty social and don't like living alone - how common is this and how hard is it to find one?
    2. How hard is it to meet people / other retired female professionals as a myself? I like Hiking going for long drives, dancing and listening to music, going on long walks on the beach, an occasional party, checking out events and activities in the city and am a health and fitness freak. I'm not very outdoorsy or the adventures kind but pretty much down for most things as long as I have good company.
    3. How walkable is the city? I will have a car for sure eventually but love being able to walk around and take public transport, so if I live in center city or other areas you might recommend
    4. What is the weather like? I will be moving in January and want to be mentally prepared. Do people usually stay indoors or is the city still lively?
    5. What is the safety and security scene for single women like me?
    6. Anything else I should be aware of or considering before filing for my D7 papers and relocating? I love what I read about Portugal specially the fact that I can still work on retirement unlike here in India and meet people so it is a very difficult decision but I think I will love the place, so as long as I am able to make friends and have a full life I think I am willing to make the move.

    Reply
    • 1. I would say living in an apartment by yourself isn't unusual. As for renting in Portugal, take a look at this article.

      2. Meeting new people takes a bit of work, but you'll find lots of meetup groups in the Algarve. Meetup.com is a good starting point as are the many expat Facebook groups.

      3. Very walkable, but obviously it's easier if you live closer to the town centre. The old town and the new town are a bit far apart.

      4. January varies (could be lovely or pouring with rain) but overall the Algarve has some of the mildest winters in Europe. Expect it to be in the high teens celsius during the day but possibly cold inside your apartment.

      5. Portugal is considered safe and I think you'll find it feels considerably safer than Portugal. However, that isn't to say it's crime-free so do take precautions.

      6. I would definitely recommend beginning to learn Portuguese. Although English is spoken everywhere in Albufeira, speaking Portuguese is recommended.

      Reply
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  3. Hi! We are arriving June 5th and have 3 nights to spend in the Algarve region! We are in out late 50’s early 60’s and still enjoy a lively atmosphere! Can you recommend any particular starting points on where we should stay and any other fun stuff to do!

    Reply
  4. Hi! We are arriving June 5th and have 3 nights to spend in the Algarve region! We are in out late 50’s early 60’s and still enjoy a lively atmosphere! Can you recommend any particular starting points on where we should stay and any other fun stuff to do!

    Reply
  5. Hi! We are planning to spend Christmas eve and day in the region ( but are flexible) and would like to know where we can find more of a "Christmasy" atmosphere. We are an active 60 y/o couple traveling with 30 y/o daughter and husband. I read somewhere that they have Christmas eve parties or bonfires at the beach, but can't recall the featured area or the website I read it at. We speak fluent Spanish and our daughter speaks Portuguese.

    Reply
  6. Moving to Portugal Made Simple is now available on Amazon
  7. Hi! We are planning to spend Christmas eve and day in the region ( but are flexible) and would like to know where we can find more of a "Christmasy" atmosphere. We are an active 60 y/o couple traveling with 30 y/o daughter and husband. I read somewhere that they have Christmas eve parties or bonfires at the beach, but can't recall the featured area or the website I read it at. We speak fluent Spanish and our daughter speaks Portuguese.

    Reply
  8. We are visiting between December 27th and January 1st. We would love a recommendation for dinner on NYE. We plan on eating around 9:00pm. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Trina,

      Albufeira is a great place for NYE on the Algarve.

      A lot of restaurants will have special NYE menus, but... they don't always make those menus available in advance. Take a look at TripAdvisor and see where you would like to eat and then contact them to see if they have a special menu for NYE.

      Some places mightn't have their menus done yet, but there's no harm in asking.


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      Reply
  9. We are visiting between December 27th and January 1st. We would love a recommendation for dinner on NYE. We plan on eating around 9:00pm. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Trina,

      Albufeira is a great place for NYE on the Algarve.

      A lot of restaurants will have special NYE menus, but... they don't always make those menus available in advance. Take a look at TripAdvisor and see where you would like to eat and then contact them to see if they have a special menu for NYE.

      Some places mightn't have their menus done yet, but there's no harm in asking.


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      Reply
  10. I’m really enjoying your site and finding it very helpful. We are visiting in September. Is it possible to get a cab to take a person up “cardiac hill”? As mobility can be an issue are cabs generally easy to get ?

    Reply
  11. Moving to Portugal Made Simple is now available on Amazon
  12. I’m really enjoying your site and finding it very helpful. We are visiting in September. Is it possible to get a cab to take a person up “cardiac hill”? As mobility can be an issue are cabs generally easy to get ?

    Reply
  13. Hi there,

    What is the nightlife like around Easter weekend (this year is 10th April). I have seen mixed reports of "lively" and "ghost town"

    Would most of the bars be open New town or Old? Which area would you recommend to stay?

    We are a small group of friends 35-40 celebrating a birthday who want a good atmosphere ion the day and night time.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi Andy,

      It's hard to say as it can often vary from year to year. The bars will be open in both the Old Town and New Town and, as towns on the Algarve go, Albufeira will probably be one of the busiest. I don't think ghost town is accurate, but it'll still be fairly quiet - at least in comparison to what it's like in the summer.

      Both the Old Town and New Town have plenty of bars, but the ones in the New Town (the Strip) tend to be livelier. Although you can get taxis between the Old Town and the New Town, I would recommend staying in the New Town if you expect to go out a lot. It's just easier than having to worry about taxis all the time.


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      Reply
  14. Hi there,

    What is the nightlife like around Easter weekend (this year is 10th April). I have seen mixed reports of "lively" and "ghost town"

    Would most of the bars be open New town or Old? Which area would you recommend to stay?

    We are a small group of friends 35-40 celebrating a birthday who want a good atmosphere ion the day and night time.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi Andy,

      It's hard to say as it can often vary from year to year. The bars will be open in both the Old Town and New Town and, as towns on the Algarve go, Albufeira will probably be one of the busiest. I don't think ghost town is accurate, but it'll still be fairly quiet - at least in comparison to what it's like in the summer.

      Both the Old Town and New Town have plenty of bars, but the ones in the New Town (the Strip) tend to be livelier. Although you can get taxis between the Old Town and the New Town, I would recommend staying in the New Town if you expect to go out a lot. It's just easier than having to worry about taxis all the time.


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      Reply

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