Time to continue our babymoon and change location/hotel! Next stop: Albufeira. Mostly known as a party destination with its own “Strip” (you know, like the Las Vegas one), but smaller. Of course we weren’t going there to party, but also the nature around seemed to be pretty impressive. And it was! Let me show you…
Albufeira: from working on your tan during the day to working your booty at night.
Being a coastal city, Albufeira is of course one Praia (beach) next to the other. So the party people can also work on their tan during the day whilst sleeping off the hangover on the beach 😉
Our Hotel: Sao Rafael Atlantico
We stayed 5 nights in this hotel and I have to say it was the least of the 3 for me, it felt more like a 4-star hotel. Maybe because it was such a huge hotel and everything felt less personal. Also for example the gym was not opened 24/7 but only from 10 AM until 8 PM, so if you are like me and want to get your workout done first thing in the morning and before breakfast, that is kind of impossible. Anyway.
The room was quite nice, you walked in and had closets on the right, and on the left your sink separate from the shower (handy so you can do your make-up while the husband already showers ;-)). Also the toilet was separate. I forgot to take pictures, so here’s screenshots out of a video I took:
Rest of the hotel
I have to say the wellness and gym were the nicest of all 3 hotels – but the wellness was not included in the room price. So even as a hotel guest, you had to pay 10 euro per person per day to make use of the sauna/turkish steamer/jacuzzi etc, which I find ridiculous. Only the big pool area was for free. Also a swimming cap was mandatory, and if you didn’t bring one had to be bought for €5.
Special mention for the hotel beach, because that was really really beautiful! Since it was off-season and covid, the beach bar was closed, but I can imagine this is fantastic to spend a day with the family since it’s an enclosed beach.
What to do in and around Albufeira?
Visit the Old town
The party zone (“The Strip”) and the old and authentic part of Albufeira are actually not in the same place. So both audiences get to enjoy their preferred district. We took a walk in the Albufeira Old Town, what Google describes as “Elegant district of whitewashed buildings housing shops & restaurants, plus traditional plazas.”
For your convenience, here’s a possible route that you could take (including free parking)
Make a day trip to Benagil to visit the caves
The Benagil cave is probably the most famous and one of the most beautiful caves in the Algarve. It’s a cave with a hole on top, and a secluded beach underneath. If you are in the area, I would really recommend a visit. It’s as beautiful as it is tricky, because it can not easily be reached. Here’s your options, depending on your budget, time and adventurousness 😉 :
- By boat
- By kayak
- By SUP (stand up paddling)
- Walking (only view it from the top)
We wanted to go there by kayak (so we could really go into the cave and on the beach) but they would not allow me to rent a kayak because of my pregnancy. If the kayak would collapse and land on me, it could be dangerous. Pity, but I understand. So we booked a boat tour via Taruga Benagil Tours (can just be booked on Benagil Beach) for an Express visit. This tour takes you past 6/8 caves and they also take the time to take some pictures of you, which is nice!
Before or after your visit, you can chill out a bit on Benagil beach. There’s free public toilets and some restaurants around, so easy to spend a few hours there.
Do (part of) the Seven Hanging Valleys Walk
If you are near the Benagil caves anyway, you could make it part of the day to do at least a partial hike here. The Seven Hanging Valleys is a beautiful nature trail following the coastal line from Vale Centianes Beach to the Marinha Beach. Benagil is somewhat in the middle, so it could be your lunch break or end point. It’s 5,7 km one way, so if you would go back and forth it would be 11,4 km and take you about 6h. This was a bit too much given my condition, so we started in Marinha Beach and went only to Benagil and back. But it was amazing, and not too challenging!
TIP: If you can, time this hike around sunset (probably easier in November when the sun sets at 5PM). By the time we got back to Marinha beach, the sun was setting and it was SO BEAUTIFUL. I mean look at this:
Have a drink (or two, three,..) at The Albufeira Strip
Now during COVID times, most of the places were closed (plus it was low season), but I can imagine this is a very lively party scene otherwise! We’ve been to Las Vegas, so we can compare 😉 Even if you are not down to party, it was nice to have seen the Strip.
Walk the Carvoeiro Boardwalk and stop at the Algar Seco
Ok, last tip for Albufeira region but also soo worth it! The Carvoeiro Boardwalk is a wooden, 570m-long boardwalk along a the coastline with rock formations & steps leading to caves. You can actually walk down the cliffs, through the caves and get some truly magnificent views. This was one of my favourite sceneries of the whole trip! I wish we explored a bit more there, in hindsight 🙂
Where to eat in Albufeira
Again, Corona and low-season limited the options since quite a bit of places in Albufeira were closed because of this. However, there’s 2 restaurants that I would highly recommend you go to:
Pizzeria Georgina €
Yes yes I know, why eat Italian in Portugal? Because this place has damn good Neapolitan style Pizza made in an actual wood oven, and the owner is a really friendly lady that deserves this advertising 😉 Address: R. do Município lote 31, loja 2
This one is on the way to The Strip, so maybe you can combine it 🙂
We both had an amazing pizza (try the Cruella Devil) and shared a dessert called Nutella Ring (we ended up ordering a second one, haha). So. Damn. Good. And this dinner only cost us like € 45 (we just had a bottle of water so no alcohol)
WINE & SUSHI €€€
Situated in the Marina (harbor) of Albufeira, I feel this place also deserves a special mention. It’s not Portugese, but it still counts as eating fish, right? 😉 Address: Passeio dos Oceanos, R. Marina de Albufeira lt 2 loja.
The alcohol-free Mojito was super nice, and they even had a special pregnancy-safe sushi platter on the menu. How awesome is that? No need to worry if you could or could not eat certain things. And the presentation: wauw! The only point of improvement is the service: they were very slow…
Alright, I think that’s enough yapping about our stay in Albufeira! Next up and the last part of our stay is Lagos and Sagres. Stay tuned for more panorama’s and food pics 😉