With its picturesque coastal position, Albufeira, in Portugal’s renowned Algarve region, is a magnet to holidaymakers on the hunt for the ubiquitous sun, sea and sand experience. And it certainly doesn’t disappoint, with its magnificent beaches and vibrant social scene. Once a sleepy fishing village, today Albufeira is one of the Algarve’s most popular tourist destinations, but there is still a hint of the authentic way of life in evidence if you take the time to explore the Old Town and visit these two important historical museums.
Museu Municipal de Arqueologia
A cool, quiet haven away from the bustling town centre, the Museu Municipal de Arqueologia is home to a collection of notable archaeological finds excavated around the extended region of Albufeira. Set on a hill overlooking the harbour, it’s worth visiting for the view alone. While small, the museum is very well curated and has an entrance fee of only one Euro, including use of an English guide. The museum focuses on pieces dating from the prehistoric era through to the 16th century and includes relics from a castle in the nearby village of Paderne, and a showpiece of an intact Neolithic vase dating from 5000 BC. It’s a wonderful way for anyone interested in the history of the Algarve region to spend a quiet afternoon.
The Museum of Sacred Art
What this tiny museum lacks in size it more than makes up for with style and substance. Situated within the meticulously restored 18th century Chapel of San Sebastian, the museum is the stalwart gatekeeper of its exhibits of sacred 15th, 16th and 17th century art salvaged from a number of churches in the region that fell victim to the earthquake of 1775. Along with its spectacularly embossed gold wooden altar, the north room of the chapel (the former sacristy) exhibits a number of artefacts and a large bell (which is no longer in use), while the south room holds a collection of documents, photographs and a marquette of the old castle.
As well as these two important museums, those who want to learn more about the history, art and culture of Albufeira should take the time to explore its many beautiful churches, including the Chapel of Mercy, the Church of St Ann and the Chapel of Our Lady of Orada.
How to Get to Albufeira
While there are various ways to reach Albufeira, the easiest and most convenient is to fly into nearby Faro Airport, which services the central and southern Algarve region. From there it’s easy to organise Faro airport transfers to your accommodation in Albufeira.
Private Shuttle or Taxi: A private taxi or shuttle service will get you to Albufeira in around 40 minutes, taking the fastest and most direct route without any stop offs.
Shared Shuttle: To save on transport costs, sharing a shuttle with other passengers is the ideal option. Depending on the number of stops, you should still arrive at your accommodation in Albufeira in under an hour.
Where to Stay
Hotel Mar A Vista – For excellent, comfortable, budget accommodation in Albufeira the Hotel Mar A Vista offers panoramic views over the city and is just a two minutes’ walk from the beach. Rooms feature private bathrooms and excellent amenities, including a refrigerator. There is an onsite bar and the hotel is just a 10-minute walk from the town centre and a host of restaurants.
Vila Sao Vicente Boutique Hotel – The adults-only Vila Sao Vicente Boutique Hotel is in a prime position just 200 metres from the beach and very close to the Old Town in Albufeira. Situated within a converted 19th century palace, the hotel features a stunning roof terrace with views over the Atlantic Ocean. Rooms are well appointed, with air conditioning and satellite TV. There is an onsite restaurant and breakfast is included.
Sao Rafael Atlantico – The luxuriously appointed 5-star Sao Rafael Atlantico is set overlooking the ocean with private access to the stunning Sao Rafael beach. The spacious rooms feature private terraces, free Wi-Fi, ensuite bathrooms, elegant décor and beach or garden views. There is an excellent onsite restaurant as well as a fitness centre, two indoor heated pools and three outdoor pools.