Where to Stay on the Algarve Coast

In April 2016, we had allotted three of our eight days in Portugal (Click here) to explore the south coast (Algarve region).

We decided to base ourselves in Albufeira for 3 main reasons:

  • There are direct trains from Lisbon – the train took us about 3 hours.
  • It is centrally located in the Algarve.  We had planned to rent a car to explore the whole region so staying in the center seemed logical.
    • Plethora of affordable accommodations. We got a super steal rate at a nice hotel within walking distance to the old town, where you’ll find hundreds of restaurants and bars.

So there you have it folks: Three great reasons to stay in Albufeira if you want to explore the Algarve for a few days. And why we don’t regret our choice to stay there TOO much.

albufeira algarve beach portugal
Beach in Albufeira, on the Algarve coast, on another cold, drizzely day. Albufeira was generally overrun with British tourists (i.e. chavs 😉 ). Even in April It was easier to get a kebab or an english breakfast than anything remotely Portuguese


Now for the ONE reason why we disliked Albufeira? 😉

The city is completely overdeveloped, dominated by very tacky bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. The “old town” doesn’t contain anything that looks remotely old.  It more closely resembles a northern England seaside town than one in Portugal. The city is overrun by British tourists who are looking for a holiday to a warmer destination offering cheap beer, British food, and British sports on the telly (we believe the technical term is “chavs”). If you think the “old town” is tacky, wait until you see the “new strip” that is located about two kilometres away. This long strip is jammed with bars, nightclubs, and very non-Portugese restaurants.  Think of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, but without the history (or the strippers).

Old Town Square in Albufeira
Old Town Square in Albufeira


Albufeira "New Strip" in the distance - note the miniature Statue of Liberty on the roof of one of the bars
Albufeira “New Strip” in the distance – note the miniature Statue of Liberty on the roof of one of the bars

So yeah, it’s a bit of a toss-up.  Centrally located and great for exploring the region, but less great if you want an authentic Portuguese town to explore and relax in.  If or when we go back to the Algarve, we may try staying in Lagos.  That town, contrary to our expectations, felt much less overrun although requires a train connection to get to.  Lagos, although not as centrally located, is also closer to the western end of the coast, which in our mind is the nicer area.

Additional pictures are available in our Portugal gallery (Click Here).

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  1. posted by
    Sandy N Vyjay
    Dec 17, 2016 Reply

    The Algarve coast looks so beautiful and a perfect place to spend some tranquil time. Good pointers on where to stay, would definitely help us when we are planning a trip to Portugal.

    • posted by
      Trevor and Christine
      Dec 17, 2016 Reply

      Thanks Sandy. Glad you found the post helpful.

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