Albufeira, alongside Villamoura and Quarteira, is the Algarve's prime beach resort territory. Up until the 1960s there was just a small fishing village here, but as the Algarve began to open up after the exit of Dictator Salazar in the mid-1970s resort development took its course. Development here however is relatively low key compared to the resort meccas of Spain including the Canary Islands. Comfortably home from home, you'll hear more English and German (mostly English) voices here than Portuguese. Ideal as a budget family package holiday base on the Algarve, Alburfeira combines a certain character with its old town, stunning choice of beaches and its colourful contemporary marina sitting alongside all resort mod-cons including ample supermarkets, beach resort shops, bars, pubs, English chippys, restaurants and plenty of all inclusive in-house hotel entertainment.
Albufeira is centrally placed along the Algarve coast, with a short transfer time from Faro Airport (around 60 minutes max on the fast A22 motorway). You've enough family holiday attractions in and around Albufeira to keep the most active of tots happy, including the educationally slanted Zoomarine with dolphins, sharks, seals and tropical fish galore. A huge Aqualand waterparks is also located just outside this Algarve resort. Everything from Albufeira all inclusive hotels to self catering holiday apartments to all inclusive holiday hotels is here, with numerous day trips from Albufeira available to historic sites, shopping hotspots and more beautiful beaches and boat trips on the Algarve from Albufeira Marina.
The first important point to make about Albufeira is that the central old town, Guia to the west and the beautiful beaches there are quite a distance from the main tourist hub in Albufeira. This main tourist hub is to the east of Albufeira centre - called Montechoro, and the popular nightlife hub commonly called 'The Strip' moves down from Montechoro slightly inland for about one and a half miles culminating at beautiful Oura Beach. The Strip is lined with restaurants, bars, fast food outlets, a large supermarket and budget holiday shops, and has a great buzzing holiday atmosphere (particularly of appeal to families and couples) in peak holiday summer season especially.
What many holidaymakers to Albufeira discover actually when they get there (not before their trip as many tour operators don't advise on this) is that Montechoro, The Strip and Oura Beach are at least 2 miles from the centre of Albufeira. That's a challenging walk in the heat of the peak summer season!
If you're looking for an all inclusive resort based holiday on the Algarve, then staying within the Montechoro, the Strip and Ouro Beach will suit you fine. If however you want to move out and about a little, taking in Albufeira centre, Albufeira Marina, more glorious Albufeira beaches to the west - and perhaps pushing further out into the Algarve then consider car hire as an option. Check where your accommodation is located if in Montechoro. The walk down to the beach will be a long one if you've younger children or members of your group with mobility issues.
Alternatively, check out the choice of excursions available. Many dolphin watching trips, fishing boat trips and watersports companies are based on Albufeira Marina. If you are based in the Oura beach/Montechoro end of Albufeira to the east there are pleasant walking options actually from the beach along the coast, taking in a number of stunning rock formations and hidden beach bays. Joggers sometimes dart along here. The walking here though is quite tricky. You'll need some reasonable walking shoes and pathways are unmarked and run directly alongside the cliffs, so very young children will need to be carried on your back or not at all. The long distances between Albufeira's many beaches, and between Montechoro and Albufeira old town is an important consideration - Albufeira is a long, sprawling resort so you'll need to have either car hire, or tap into local excursions with hotel coach pick up if you want to push out of the main tourist areas, particularly Montechoro.