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Things to Do in Albufeira

Little more than a fishing village at the beginning of the 1960s, Albufeira is now the busiest vacation resort along the Algarve, which runs in a necklace of sandy beaches and pretty towns along the south coast of Portugal. It’s a cultured city with roots that stretch back to Roman times, but thanks to a devastating earthquake in 1755, much of the old town has disappeared.

Historic buildings that do remain in the once-Moorish old town include the 14th-century Capela da Misericórdia (Chapel of Mercy), which was formerly a mosque, but most of the whitewashed, Baroque-style churches have been replaced since the earthquake. A few fragments of the castle walls are still standing along with the castle’s landmark clock tower, but it is the squat, stone Torre da Medronheira, which was built in the 1500s as a watchtower for pirates, that has best stood the test of time.

A 30-km (18.5-mile) string of sandy beaches graces the Albufeira waterfront, with a stretch to suit everyone from deserted sweeps of sand at Praia dos Salgados or pretty cliff-backed coves such as Praia da Coelha. The most popular and crowded is family-orientated Praia de Pescadores (Fisherman’s Beach) in the heart of the city, where traditional fishing boats still bob incongruously in the water among the swimmers. To the west of Praia de Pescadores, Albufeira’s smart new marina is backed by brightly painted, smart apartment blocks and surrounded by the city’s best seafood restaurants. It is also the base for a range of water sports and tours from speed boating and scuba diving to paragliding and dolphin spotting.

Albufeira’s late-night clubbing scene lies east of the old town and is centered on the southern end of the notorious Strip, which is rowdy around Areias de So Joao but becomes progressively more staid as it heads north into Montechoro, where there are a sprinkling of designer shops and high-end restaurants tucked away in cobbled backstreets. 
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Praia Gale
15 Tours and Activities

Just steps away from the resort town of Gale, and a handful of kilometers west of Albufeira, stretches one of the region’s favorite beaches, Praia Gale. It’s a favorite because of its eastern rocky and cave- and cove-filled coastline, and probably even more so for its western stretch of soft sands and calm waters especially loved by families. This expansive stretch of shoreline is ideal for relaxing walks, watersports, and grabbing a bite to eat at one of the waterside restaurants and bars. Families relish in enjoying the calm beach but also the many tide pools. Meanwhile, those looking to explore further can take advantage of watersports, or go on a healthy walk westward toward other regional beaches such as Praia dos Salgados, Praia Grande, and even Armacao de Pera.

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Praia dos Salgados
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4 Tours and Activities

Golf, nature and a seaside resort — these are all things you’ll find just steps away from the sandy stretch that is Praia dos Salgados. This beach is where you’ll want to come for a seemingly endless and calm shoreline that offers all the amenities, including showers, lifeguards and rentable sunbeds. It is just a short walk away from other visit­worthy spots, too, such as the Dos Salgados Lagoon, and the nature reserve around it, famously home to flamingos and loads of other birds and wildlife. While in the area, you can also hit the links at one of Algarve’s best golf courses, Salgados Golf Course. Or wander in either direction down the coast to discover still more beaches, such as Praia Gale to the east, and Praia Grande to the west, and even beyond to Armacao de Pera Beach and its sweet resort town­-meets-fishing village.

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Armacao de Pera Beach (Praia Armacao de Pera)
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When it comes to beaches, Armacao de Pera has something for everyone. The beach, which stretches out in front of the fishermen’s village-meets resort town of the same name, offers everything from rocky coves, to rows of umbrella-shaded sunbeds, and fresh-seafood-serving restaurants.

Indeed, if you’re looking for rocky, natural wonders, head to the shoreline’s western end, which is filled with coves and craggy formations. Going eastward, you can take a stroll along the promenade-lined beach, slithering into the resort-style village, or stepping down onto the wide, sandy, family friendly shore. Or wander still farther east, where you’ll happen upon the city’s fishermen’s village. There, you can spy the fishermen arriving with their daily catch, or enjoy said catch at one of the waterside restaurants before grabbing an ice cream and exploring the sweet streets of the neighboring old town.

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