I’m just home from my first visit to Albufeira, Portugal and it was different to what I had imagined. The Algarve has become a massively popular tourist destination in recent decades for obvious reasons, particularly the gorgeous beaches and food. Thus, I didn’t expect Albufeira to be the quiet fishing village is once was. There were, of course, many enormous hotel complexes and other amenities specifically catered to the European tourist. However, between each garish 60’s building was a row of typically Portuguese bungalows, often brightly coloured. For every tourist there was a local doing some grocery shopping, and for every tacky neon-lit bar there was a modest restaurant serving amazing fresh seafood.
Albufeira has an old town, perched on a hill on one side of the beach, and a new town on the other side. The ‘new town’ was essentially focused around the strip, which was similar to one in any European party destination. And it was fun. The old town, despite urbanisation, still held its charm with its steep cobbled hills and winding side streets. The locals were extremely friendly, and apparently there are no mosquitos in the Algarve because I wasn’t butchered alive like I normally am, MAJOR PLUS. Another really nice aspect of Albufeira were the mix of people who visited- we saw couples young and old, families, groups of friends and the odd backpacker. There are few destinations which can offer so much to so many different tastes.