The Portuguese Algarve is a true meeting point of the European mainland and the coast of Africa, the landscape has an exotic appeal that sees fig trees and orange groves nestling amid the vineyards that line the hillsides and lead down to the dramatic cliffs that line the shores of the Atlantic, complete with their golden sands and rock formations that define this beautiful part of the world.
Best known of the Algarve resorts is the charming town of Albufeira dating back to Roman times, until the tourist boom of the 1960’s and 70’s Albufeira was little more than a fishing village with breathtaking scenery and unspoilt coastline; although now booming, it still retains that magical appeal that first brought it into the spotlight. This is a resort that is more than just a holiday town, authentically Portuguese, immerse yourself in the local culture for an experience that delivers more than just sun and the sea.
Most of the accommodation in Albufeira has appeared since the beginning of the tourist boom, and although the large complexes do not tend to be high rise or appear cramped, lots of family friendly hotels and self catering resorts line the coastal areas, many with excellent facilities for all the family. Epic Sana, which although modern is set in attractive grounds with a light airy feel, and is a perfect example of accommodation that caters for children without compromising on style; the five pools and extensive sports facilities keep everyone moving, whilst the fantastic spa offers all the relaxation that you could need.
Holiday villas are particularly prevalent across Albufeira, and many are set within their own grounds with facilities similar to the hotels, this can be a great option for families, with the many family friendly restaurants offering plenty of alternatives to actually self catering!
The proximity to the waters of the Atlantic make it unsurprising that Albufeira is a great place to enjoy fish and seafood, brought in daily; restaurant and hotel menus generally include delights such as tuna, crab, sole and sardines. The bounty of the sea isn’t all that you will find in Albufeira though, the spice of the colonial days is evident in the much loved dish of chicken piri-piri, and sweet treats are just as popular using the fresh almonds and figs of the region.
Just off the main square in the old town is Os Arcos, fairly unassuming from the outside, this restaurants really has something quite special about it, local specialities are cooked perfectly and served to you by one half of the husband and wife team that have dedicated their life to great food and fantastic hosting (in case you’re wondering, the wife is the chef).
Albufeira is filled with attractions that appeal to the influx of families that arrive during the summer months; there are numerous water-parks throughout the area, along with the well loved dolphin show at the Zoomarine theme park.
Children aren’t the only members of the family that are catered for though, the wider region around Albufeira and across the whole Algarve, is well known for its fantastic golf courses, and for those that appreciate the wine of the region, many of the local vineyards offer tours, along with some rather pleasant wine tasting.
The Algarve and Albufeira in particular has a climate that allows the summer season to begin earlier and continue long after other destinations have shut up for the winter; boasting over 250 days of sunshine a year, the heat can be intense during the peak season, but with its fantastic the location the real excesses are tempered by the Atlantic breeze and the plentiful freshwater pools.
Winters are cool but rarely cold with the Gulf Stream creating a spring like feel throughout the worst of the season, Albufeira really is the one to beat when it comes to the very best of the European climate.