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Albufeira

Map of Albufeira location

Albufeira is a city and a municipality in the Faro District of the Algarve Region, in southernmost Portugal. It is a main tourist destination, due to its coastal location. The municipality population in 2011 was 40,828,[1] in an area of 140.66 km².[2] The city proper had a population of 13,646 in 2001. It is 250 kilometres (160 mi) from Lisbon, and is within close proximity of Paderne Castle. Lagos is located 30 kilometres (19 mi) to the west, and Faro 45 kilometres (28 mi) to the south-east. A tourist destination, Albufeira expands to approximately 300,000 residents during the summer and during New Year celebrations, owing to the number of hotels and lodgings in the district, that includes marina facilities, golf courses, restaurants and bar for the annual flood of visitors.

In the first decades of the 20th century, the export of fish and nuts represented the largest contribution to the local economy of the municipality. The town itself had five factories employing 700-800 people, mostly wives of fishermen working in local production. Yet, between 1930 and 1960, there was a considerable decline in fortunes, resulting in the closing of many of these factories, the reduction in fishing boats along the coast and the abandonment of many of the homes. The population was reduced by half and the fishing industry became a subsistence activity, supporting local consumption only.

The town started to become a hub for tourism in the 1960s, and has grown to accommodate this since, growing out into the surrounding hills to accommodate thousands of the 5 million tourists who visit the Algarve region each year.

The tourist areas are divided into two main areas, Areias de São João, known colloquially as ‘The Strip’, and the Old Town.

The Strip

The Strip’s main street is Avenida Francisco Sa Carneiro which is full of bars, restaurants and open-air discotheques. Unfortunately it is not a pedestrian street so cars pass through the crowd at all hours. It is a very nightlife oriented area, very popular with young people. The Albufeira Bull Ring is close by, as is the Kiss-nightclub.

The Old Town

The Old Town is situated right at the seafront and is predominantly a pedestrian area. Street-artists entertain the crowds and there is an incredible large choice of restaurants, bars and shops. There are open-air discothèques and many bars that have a live band every night (the most famous being Snoopy Bar on the seafront and Vertigo on the central square). Measured in number of bars and restaurants the Old Town is about three times the size of The Strip.

Beaches

Albufeira has two main beaches, Praia dos Pescadores, or the Fishermen’s beach, and Praia do Túnel, or the tunnel beach to the West, which is accessed through a tunnel through the cliffs. Access to the beaches is straight from the esplanade, for people coming from the higher areas open-air escalators (eastside) and an open-air elevator (westside) were built. The beaches are connected, and from the “Praia dos Pescadores” beachgoers can walk for miles eastbound and will find again and again a new beach. To the west the beaches are bordered by the Albufeira Marina, a harbour which offers a variety of boat trips along the Algarve coast.

Olheiros de Agua Doce

The Olheiros de Água Doce are freshwater springs that flow from the beach and only visible sea during low tide. During low-tide unsalted water springs bubble through the sand on the beach.

Despite the modern achievements and the millions of tourists that visit every year, Albufeira has maintained its moorish feel and is still the fisherman’s village it has always been.

Information courtesy Wikipedia