Albufeira's name has Arab links dating back to the 8th century when the Moors were here. They called it Al-Buhera which translates as 'Castle on the Sea'. For 5 full centuries Al-Buhera, alongside Faro, was a hotspot for trade under the Arabs, particularly with North Africa. Wander around the old town in Albufeira, and make the link between the narrow streets here and Moorish influence.
Albufeira fell back into Portugese hands in 1250 and a new charter followed in 1404 from King Manuel. Although certainly not obliterated like Lisbon by the earthquake of 1755, Albufeira was considerably damaged. Later history reveals Albufeira as a centre of Liberalism, specifically during the civil war years of the 1830s.
Within the old town area of Albufeira look for the partial old remains of city walls around the main clock tower which once encased the town - the wall was all but destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. Other historic buildings in Albufeira include mostly churches and religious buildings. The main church dates from the 18th century with a statude of Nossa Senhora da Orada (Our Lady of Supplication?!) which dates further back from the 15th century. Continuing on the Albufeira church trail others on the list include the again 18th century Church of Sao Sebastiao with its particularly interesting Manueline styled side door.
See also the Mercy Chapel which sits on the site of a former Mosque. It was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake, but retains some 15th century gothic features.
Along the Albufeira coast, which is easily walked along footpaths you can also visit the Xorino cave where it's thought Moors took refuge in the 13th Century when Albufeira was under seige by Christians. If you do have Algarve Car Hire, and fancy pushing out inland from Albufeira, a sublime village to head for is Alte deep within the Algarve Barrocal. It's a winding road climb, but well worth it - Alte has been nicknamed the Garden of the Algarve . It's all citrus groves and fig trees here. Many visitors come to view the stunning azulejos adorned church and springs, and to walk the many footpaths in the area. Alte's equivalent pretty inland village to the west Algarve is Monchique which also has numerous springs.
Relatively new within Albufeira's City Hall is the Museu Municipal de Arqueologia, Praca da Republica, No1, 8200-081 Albufeira. Tel: 289 583 259. The collections in here focus on Albufeira's history. Well worth a look there are four different exhibition areas with prehistoric, Roman, Islamic and modern artefacts on display. Open Summer 14.30 to 20.00 and in Winter from Mid Sept to Mid June from 10.30 until 1700. It's closed on Mondays and National Holidays. Some refurbishment has been going on as its faced a period of closure, but hopefully will reopen again ready for your visit.
Checkout the Gallery of Art, Samora Painter Barros, Eng Plaza Duarte Pacheco, 8200 Albufeira, Algarve. Set in an interesting white building which was once a rather decorative old power plant, the art of Albufeirense painter Samora Barros is on display.
If you're planning to holiday in Albufeira around mid-August, specifically 14th and 15th August, you're well advised to book ahead as this is festival time in Albufeira. The Fest da Ourada held annually in August celebrates the Fisherman's patron saint Nossa Senhora da Ourada - which translates Our Lady of the Oracle.
This religious centric event includes a large procession from the main parish church which moves along the coastal promenade and culminates in a huge fireworks display at Praia dos Pescadores (meaning the beach of the fishermen aptly).