The Algarve’s main event
Albufeira is the place that put the Algarve on the map. The picturesque old town teems with pavement cafes and boutiques, and the modern resort is lined by a main strip, which sparks into action at sundown. The whole scene is framed by a 30-kilometre coastline of unspoilt beaches and little bays.
Albufeira’s supersized coastline notches up no less than 25 different beaches. The old town is home to Praia dos Pescadores, otherwise known as Fisherman’s Beach, where family-friendly bathing is supplemented by great dining options. At the bottom of the strip, meanwhile, is Praia d’Oura, a 5-kilometre, Blue Flag-winning beach made for watersports fans. Further east is Praia da Falesia, which is sheltered by ochre cliffs. And that’s only scratching the surface.
Old town charm
In the midday sun, light bounces off the whitewashed walls of Albufeira’s old town. You can take refuge in its churches, which date back to the 1500s, or explore the warren of cobbled alleyways that provide a cooling antidote to the heat. Come evening, the main square bursts into life and is the focal point for diners and casual drinkers.
Close to Lagos
About an hour’s drive west is Lagos, the old hub of Portugal’s maritime past. It was from the harbour here that Henry the Navigator lit the touchpaper for the Age of Discovery. Another must-see is the site of Europe’s first slave market. It’s set under the arches of Customs House and acts as a reminder of the town’s more sombre past.