Portugal. One of those places where I’ve never heard anyone say they don’t like, right? Portugal is a great destination for a holiday and it’s funny that I found myself there not once but TWICE in the span of 3 weeks. One trip to the north, in Porto, to visit some family members travelling around Europe and the next one a trip to the south to Albufeira in the heart of the Algarve with Jet2holidays. The north and south of Portugal are very different – from the weather to the cuisine – and it had been raining heavily the whole time while we were in Porto. Hence, we were happy to see sunshine in Albufeira rather than the rain that had dampened our holiday to Porto. It was time to explore the best things to do in the Algarve, starting with Albufeira.
Albufeira is located in the Algarve and if you haven’t been to the Algarve then I suggest you book yourself a trip. I had been there previously and stayed at Quinta da Lago in Faro so I had already dipped my toes in the wonderful world of the Algarve, hence was excited to explore a new region within it – Albufeira. So if you are looking for the best things to do in the Algarve, keep reading!
I think people assume that the Algarve is just one small place but in fact it’s a region, with multiple cities dotted throughout and therefore there are so many choices when considering where to stay. The Algarve is perfect for a couple as well with so many restaurants and nice beaches – it can be a very romantic destination.
Jet2 flights from London Stansted to Faro only take about 2.5 hours so it’s a very easy flight. I love Jet2holidays just because they make everything so easy for you. I booked a Jet2holidays trip myself previously to Tenerife and everything was so organised – from check-in to pick-up at the hotel. It’s a hassle-free holiday so if you just want everything to be sorted from the moment you land then it’s worth looking into. I’ve been very impressed with the Jet2holidays service and holiday packages on trips I’ve booked and paid for myself.
Once we landed at Faro Airport, we were directed via Jet2holidays staff with signs to our driver where a small minibus was waiting with only 2 other couples. It takes about 45 minutes to get from Faro Airport to most destinations within Albufeira and you can take in some nice scenery along the way. The sun was shining and felt glorious even in November so the Algarve in November is definitely something to consider. The reason being because you beat the crowds but the weather is still nice – kind of like sunny autumn weather. You can most definitely get away with a light jacket at most times.
For our Jet2holidays trip we were staying at Hotel Baltum in Albufeira which is right in the heart of Old Town. If you do go to Albufeira and you are a couple who wants to wander around, go to nice beaches and eat at quiet, local restaurants then the Old Town is where you should be (as opposed to the New Town which caters for hen/stag parties). Albufeira was once a little fishing village and there are so many restaurants serving fresh local seafood!
Hotel Baltum is literally steps from the Praia dos Pescadores (Fisherman’s Beach) – about a 1-minute walk so it’s such a fabulous location if you want access to the beach. The rooms are nice and airy with plenty of room and a very large king-size bed. The Rooftop Cocktail Bar Lounge (B ROOFTOP) opens in the evening but during the day you can catch the sun in the sun lounger area or soak in the open-air jacuzzi with a sea view. So if you want somewhere to relax during the day but don’t want to go far then that’s definitely an option.
Another key benefit of Hotel Baltum as mentioned is the location. It’s right in the heart of Old Town so you can easily explore the area by foot. As soon as we checked-in and had a look around the hotel we headed out to get some lunch. When I travel, I like to eat at local restaurants and I like to eat only local food. Being so close to the sea I was looking for seafood in particular and after wandering around we stumbled across Restaurant Prazeres which is run by a couple and has a lovely menu including my favourite Portuguese dish which is simply grilled sardines. The prices are really reasonable and the food is delicious at Restaurant Prazeres – we were really happy with it and just happened to stumble across it. The local wines are really good as are the coffees so with my grilled sardines, a glass of wine and a nice latte I was as happy as could be.
Once we finished eating, we decided to wander along Praia dos Pescadores. The sun was getting lower in the sky so it was golden hour, the best time to visit the seaside. You can walk up a small hill that overlooks the Fisherman’s Beach and the views are absolutely stunning. You can see so many white rooftops and in fact the name Albufeira came from the Arabic “Al-buhera” which means “sea castle”. It used to be used as a defensive fortress for the Arabs and this is also reflected in the architecture.
We watched the sunset from the beach and as it started getting chillier, we headed back to Hotel Baltum which wasn’t very far. I wanted to get an early night so I could enjoy a full day of exploring the following day – there wasn’t a minute to be wasted, after all.
The next morning, we awoke early to take advantage of the light. It was nice and sunny – thank goodness the weather was on our side. Hotel Baltum has a complimentary breakfast from which you can either choose from a continental breakfast or a hot breakfast which is catered to British travellers so it’s an English breakfast that comes with coffee and fresh orange juice.
After a full stomach we set out to have a look around. The good thing about booking a Jet2holidays Algarve trip in Albufeira is that you can also take day trips to Faro by using local buses. Unfortunately, on the day that we went to the local bus station no express buses were running (which usually take an hour one-way) so the only thing available was the slow bus which could take up to 2 hours each way. We decided against it and to stick around Albufeira Old Town to explore the local area.
If you like history, architecture and old churches there are a few places to see whilst in Albufeira one of which is Sant’Ana Church, a chapel built in the 18th century. There’s also the São Sebastião Church which is constructed in both the Manueline and Baroque style. If you like museums there is the Municipal Archeology Museum and the Museum of Sacred Art.
Exploring gives you a good appetite so we decided to scout out lunch, settling on Restaurante Ti Gracinda which is a short walk from Hotel Baltum, where we had circled back to from our walk around Albufeira Old Town. I like what I like so for the second day in a row, I chose the fresh, grilled sardines of Portugal. Honestly, they are so good! Fresh from the sea and grilled simply with a bit of oil and sea salt – sometimes it’s the simple things in life, right? The owner of Restaurante Ti Gracinda speaks hardly any English so that’s when you know you are in the right place! However, they do have a menu in English so it’s easy to choose what you want. The food is delicious and simple and again I would always recommend the local Portuguese wine – it’s fantastic!
After lunch we headed for a walk on Praia dos Pescadores (Fisherman’s Beach). There’s something so soothing and calming about being near the sea. You can walk all along the beach and when you reach the end there is a coastal walkway that you can follow that hugs along the sea cliffs which is very nice. After our walk we stopped for some hot herbal tea at Sal Rosa, which overlooks the beach. Although we didn’t order food there it’s a great place to go for cocktails and tapas – the atmosphere is very romantic and intimate. The views of the beach are also beautiful – what a place for golden hour and the sun setting into the distance.
After tea we decided to head for dinner at Restaurant Prazeres, our favourite. You know when you find a real gem right? We decided to switch it up and change from our usual grilled sardines to the locally-made mixed paella which came with mostly seafood. If you do go to Albufeira I would definitely recommend Restaurant Prazeres for both lunch and dinner – the food was excellent. The paella was also delicious and perfect to share between two people. With a full stomach, it was time to head back to the big king-size bed at Hotel Baltum for a bit of rest.
The next day we had an early breakfast and then set out for the beach for a morning walk. We were being picked up around midday to be taken by private transfer to Faro Airport so we only had the morning left to enjoy Albufeira and I wanted to spend it on the beach. The sun was shining and I dug my toes into the sand to enjoy and soak in the atmosphere for the last time before it was time to go.
Again, Jet2holidays makes everything so much easier for you because they tell you exactly when they are going to pick you up to take you to the airport. Our driver arrived on time and we were taken straight to Faro Airport where I grabbed one last pastel de nata and then boarded the flight back to London Stansted. All the Jet2 Flights from Faro were on time and everything was smooth going back home. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be back to Albufeira again soon.
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @beautyrocksblog where you can follow all my travel adventures and best things to do in the Algarve. I’ve also created a highlight with all my videos from my trip on my Instagram bio called ‘Albufeira’. I hope you give them a watch!
For other Jet2holidays to Portugal make sure to visit their site!
*This post is part of a press trip with Jet2holidays but all opinions are my own, as always