7 of the best days out from Albufeira

When you’re in need of some winter sunshine there is no better place to go than the Algarve.

Blessed with a picturesque coastline of sandy beaches and calm ocean waters, charming towns and some of the world’s best golf courses – it is a destination that holds an appeal for pretty much everyone. Albufeira is the undoubted king of the region welcoming thousands of visitors every year but if you fancy some time away from lounging by the pool there are plenty of exciting excursions and towns nearby.

Here are our pick of the best days out from Albufeira.

Zoomarine

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When you put a theme park, water park, animal sanctuary and acrobatic shows together you have all the ingredients for the perfect family day out. This is the Zoomarine experience. The Algarve’s most popular attraction provides a fun-filled day out for every visitor.

Marvel at incredible dolphin shows as these fascinating animals demonstrate acrobatic feats led by their trainers. Laugh along to hilarious seal and sea lion shows as they embark on an adventure to find lost treasure at Pirate Bay before taking the plunge on water slides and wave pools. Add in birds of prey presentations and learning about Zoomarine’s animal rescue mission and you have a must-visit attraction.

Ria Formosa Natural Park

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The Algarve’s real wow-factor moment with Ria Formosa Natural Park. This huge expanse of coastal lagoons, barrier islands and untouched dunes is enough to take your breath away – it is no wonder why it is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal.

A designated natural park since 1987, it is one of the most unique locations in the region and is home to thousands of aquatic birds such as flamingos. You can explore Ria Formosa on a guided walk, bike ride or even get up close with a boat trip. You may even see a Portuguese Water Dog, a native breed of the Algarve.

Silves

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Albufeira is surrounded by a series of charming towns and villages and among the most significant is Silves. This town was once the ancient capital of the Algarve providing a defensive stronghold during the Moors era.

Silves offers the chance to immerse yourself in authentic Portuguese life. Wander around winding streets and admire the imposing Moorish castle – which has stood here since the 8th century – before visiting the Se de Silves Gothic cathedral. And you simply can’t miss the Medieval festival in the summer which celebrates the Silves of a bygone era.

Benagil Caves

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Named by The Huffington Post as being among the ‘top ten coolest caves around the world’, the Benagil Sea Caves are one of the Algarve’s best hidden gems. From the quaint fishing village of Benagil, you can take a boat or kayak trip to the caves.

Explore the sandstone formations and weave through the various caverns until you reach the peaceful beaches – a location prime for that special picture to light up your Instagram account.

Loulé

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Photo credit: Theo K via Flickr

Life goes at a much different pace in Loulé compared to the coastal towns in the Algarve. The laidback town, much like Silves, provides a taste of traditional Portuguese life with a distinctive historic centre. Its focal point is the Castle of Loulé which has been expertly preserved since the 12th century.

While it may seem a little sleepy, Loulé comes to life every Saturday when it holds its Gypsy market. As one of the most important aspects of Portuguese culture, you can spend hours perusing the gifts, crafts, clothes and delicious street food from the plethora of stalls.

Cork Factory Tour

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Unless you happen to an in-depth knowledge about the industries of the Algarve, you probably won’t be aware that the region is the largest producer of cork in the world. That’s right, 50 per cent of the globe’s cork comes from Portugal and is even the country’s largest export.

The town of São Brás de Alportel – a 40-minute drive from Albufeira – has been producing cork since the 14th century and using it for everything from bottle stoppers to umbrellas to shoe soles. You can see how all this comes to pass by taking the factory tour in the town that started it all.

Seville

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One of the most popular day trips from Albufeira is Seville. The cosmopolitan Spanish city is around two hours away from the Portuguese coast and has a wealth of things to see and do to fill a day away from the busy resorts.

The jewel in the crown of Andalucia, Seville exudes a typical Spanish environment. Walk the cobbled streets and admire the Gothic and Baroque architecture. Pay a visit to Seville Cathedral and the stunning Alcazar before watching the world go by in the Plaza de Espana. Don’t forget to indulge in the local tapas and, of course, a glass of sherry for the full Sevillanos lifestyle.

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