Here are some facts and advices we believe will be good to know for those who come and visit Albufeira and the Algarve region for the first time. In this tourist guide, you’ll find a collection of tips, recommendations and contacts on diverse matters such as how to move around, average costs of things, precautions to take, a helpful phone book, links to websites of interest, etc.
- General Tips
- Local Transport
- Calendar of Events
- Useful Contacts & Links
How to get to Albufeira
After landing in Faro Airport, you can get to Albufeira by car (taxi, transfer bus or rent-a-car), driving West by the EN 125 main road or the A22 highway ("Via do Infante" - see below) for about 35Km (22 miles), the road is well sign-posted making it quite easy to get there.
If travelling by car from another country, coming down to the Algarve from the North, by motorway (A2), main road (IP1) or train, you will enter straight into Albufeira, as it is the main access to the region.
Passport & IDs
To spend their holidays in Portugal, all tourists that come from countries under the Schengen Agreement only need their Identification Card to travel.
All tourists from Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia need a passport to be able to stay in the country for no more than 3 months.
In other cases, a Visa is needed to be able to stay for any length of time in Portugal.
Each visitor to Portugal should be able to produce onward travel arrangements and proof of sufficient funds to support their holiday.
No vaccinations are required before entering the country unless coming from an area infected with yellow fever
Traffic & Driving
For those who normally drive on the left side of the road, we advise you to take extra care when driving in Portugal, for here the driving is done on the right side.
The roads are reasonably sign-posted and the speed limits for cars is 120 Km/h on the motorway and 90 Km/h outside the town limits and 40 or 50 Km/h inside the town limits.
The use of a seatbelt is compulsory for all passengers.
The alcohol level in the blood should not go over 0.5 grams/litre – if the level should exceed this, it is punishable with a very severe fine, confiscation of the driving licence or even arrested.
It is advisable to take extra precaution when driving, for the traffic is very intense in the Summer Holiday season. On roundabouts, cars going around have priority (except signed otherwise) and in case the roundabout has two or more lanes you should only remain on the right side if you exit on the first or second road.
You will naturally have to carry your driver license at all time.
Since April 2012, government has ended the free access to the A22, the main highway connecting the Algarve region (from Lagos to the Spanish border), and introduced an electronic payment method. Unlike on the A2 (highway to Lisbon), there are no manual tollbooth on the A22. Several electronic gates will detect license plates and payments can be done in different ways:
If you plan on using the A22 during your visit, it is recommended for users with a foreign license plate to purchase online or at the Portuguese/Spanish border (in Vila Real de Stº António) either a prepaid ticket or associate their license plate with a credit card, or rent an electronic device. Visit the following website for more info: www.portugaltolls.com.
If you pass through the gates without any pre-payment card or electronic device, you can still pay the toll at the local post office (CTT) after two days with a 0.75€ surplus.
If you rent a car, the rental company should explain the best method on pick-up.
For vehicles with Portuguese plates, owners can acquire a device from «Via Verde» and be able to use every highway in the country.
Tips: For the trip between Faro airport and Albufeira, exit the A22 at the Boliqueime (exit 11) and continue on the EN125. It's a shorter drive and sometimes even quicker, and it will only cost 0,50€, the price of gate between exits 12 and 11.
Coming down from Lisbon on the A2, you can continue west on the A22 and exit at Albufeira (exit 9) without any cost.
Local Date & Time: quinta-feira, 12 de Dezembro de 2013, 04:50
Portugal comes under the GMT (Greenwich Meridian Time), the same as London.
Summer Time (from the last Sunday of March until the last Sunday in October) comes under the GMT/UTC + 1 hour.
Be sure to set your watches correctly to local time to avoid any confusion or mishaps.
Currency, Exchange rates and ATM
Since January 2002, Portugal’s currency is the Euro. The Euro coins have one side that shows the value of the coin and the other represents the country to which the coin belongs, so it’s perfectly normal to find different looking coins, but with the same value. The notes are the same in all of the Euro countries. One Euro (€1.00) is equal to 100 cents. Bank notes are in denominations of €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 while coins are available in €2, €1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents
|Current Euro Exchange Rates|
|(GBP) British Pound Sterling||£ 1 = 0 €||1 € = £ 84640|
|(USD) US dollars||US$ 1 = 0 €||1 € = US$ 12864|
|(CAD) Canadian dollars||C$ 1 = 0 €||1 € = C$ 13133|
|(BRL) Brazilian real||R$ 1 = 0 €||1 € = R$ 25997|
|(CHF) Swiss francs||1 Fr. = 0 €||1 € = 12499 Fr.|
|(DKK) Danish krone||1 Kr. = 0 €||1 € = 74539 Kr.|
|(NOK) Norwegian krone||1 Kr. = 0 €||1 € = 75415 Kr.|
|(SEK) Swedish krone||1 Kr. = 0 €||1 € = 85960 Kr.|
|(RUB) Russian rubles||1 Руб = 0 €||1 € = 404920Руб|
|(JPY) Japanese Yen||¥ 1 = 0 €||1 € = ¥ 13204|
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Exchanging foreign money or traveller’s cheques can be done in banks, exchange bureaus and hotels.
The “Multibanco” (ATM) machines allow people to withdraw money using various types of credit cards like, Visa, American Express, Maestro and others. These cards are normally accepted in most commercial establishments.
Portuguese is the only official language. Someone that has any knowledge of Spanish and French will be able to understand a little of the language.
Many Portuguese people understand and speak English reasonably well, especially the ones used to deal with tourists of course.
Here are some of the most used common expressions:
|Yes / No||Sim / Não|
|Good morning||Bom dia|
|Good afternoon||Boa tarde|
|Good evening||Boa noite|
|See you later||Até logo|
|Please / Here you are
(or Drawing someone’s attention)
|Por favor / Se faz favor|
|Excuse me||Com licença|
|Thank you (man speaking)||Obrigado|
|Thank you (woman speaking)||Obrigada|
|Don’t mention it||De nada|
|How do you do? / Pleased to meet you||Como está? / Muito prazer|
|My name is…||O meu nome é…|
|What is your name?||Como se chama?|
|I don’t understand /
I don’t speak Portuguese
|Não entendo /
Não falo português
|Do you speak English?||Fala Inglês?|
|I would like…||Eu queria…|
|How much does it cost?||Quanto custa?|
|Expensive / Cheap||Caro / Barato|
|What time is it?||Que horas são?|
|Where is…?||Onde fica…?|
|How do I get to… ?||Como chegar…?|
|How long does it take...?||Quanto tempo leva...?|
|It is great/delicious!||Está ótimo!|
|I really enjoyed…||Gostei muito…|
|Where is the bathroom?||Onde está a casa-de-banho?|
|The bill, please!||A conta se faz favor!|
Suggestion: You can also use Google Translate to find online translations to more or less complex sentences
Clothes, what to pack
To gain maximum comfort whilst on holiday, here are a few tips about what kind of clothes to bring in your suitcase.
Cool and baggy clothing is ideal for daywear. In the evening, the temperature can come down a little, so it’s better to always keep a jacket or cardigan handy and wear long skirts and trousers. For a luxury evening out, for example to a five-star restaurant or the Casino, it is necessary to dress more formally like a suit or dress. Something that should always be very handy is your beach-towel and swimwear.
Rest of the year
Visiting the Algarve out of the summer will still garantee you some very pleasant days. You should pack conformly each season (consult our weather and climate page). In any cases it is always a good idea to bring a t-shirt and a pair of shorts to enjoy a walk whenever the sky opens as it often does in our region.
If you forget to bring any one of these items, you can always purchase some locally.
Taking care in the Sun
As can be seen on our weather page, during the Summer, temperatures in the Algarve can be very high and the periods of sun are long. It is common knowledge that excess sun can cause illnesses such as skin Cancer.
The safest procedure is to use plenty of high-factor sunscreen, especially children. A hat is an indispensable accessory, as are a good pair of sunglasses. It is advisable to avoid exposure to the sun during its strongest point in the day, between midday and 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
In the case of sunburns or sunstroke, do seek medical attention.
For more beach and sea safety information, visit our interactive beach guide.
Several public and private health facilities are available in the region should you require any treatment whilst on holiday. For medical emergencies, the first step would be to visit the local public health centre («Centro de Saúde») in Caliços, Albufeira or calling an ambulance (INEM) Phone: 112 for serious emergency. There are reciprocal health agreements with other European nations (E111 card) as well as the UK but it is advisable to have travel insurance to cover any large and unexpected medical expenses.
Albufeira has numerous pharmacies within the city which sell common prescriptions and over the counter medicines but you will need a doctor’s prescription to get antibiotic from the pharmacist.
Medical, dental and beauty treatments are of high standard here and can turn out to be much more affordable than on your own country for some cases as there is an increasing number of medical tourism lately. Consult our directory for local suppliers.
Go to our Emergency section for more detailed information.
People with disabilities
The Portuguese laws protect people with disabilities in many aspects. Access to public buildings, sidewalks, car parks, lifts are ensured by law but not enforced on private businesses. Some areas in Albufeira are difficult to reach for people in wheelchairs or walk with difficulties because of their high locations (some steep hills), space shortage or lack of investment in proper accessibility but there are many places where it is unproblematic to stroll around with little obstacle.
In the last few years, quite a few beaches in the region have earned a flag from a program aiming to elevate the quality of the available infrastructures for people with reduced mobility. The municipality has also been upgrading its facilities in some areas with this in mind. For instance, there is now an outdoor lift taking people directly to beach level at Praia do Peneco, and outdoor escalators also take people from sea level up the cliff at Praça dos Pescadores (Fishermen’s square), both in Old Town.
Security and Safety
Albufeira and the Algarve region are quite a safe place (crime rate in the country continues to be one of the lowest on the continent) although there are occurrences of petty theft, often involving pickpockets like anywhere else in the world. Be sure to take care of your belongings and keep important valuables and identification on your body to avoid any problems. It is advisable to remain careful if walking back to your accommodation late at night especially in dark and isolated areas, avoiding being alone or intoxicated.
Albufeira has a municipal police as well as the GNR (Guarda Civil Republicana), the portuguese "gendarmerie", to insure security and order. Go to our Emergency section for more detailed information.
Shops usually open around 9.30am until 1pm and reopen at 3pm until 7pm or later (week days). On Saturdays, many close at 1pm for the week-end although some remain open during the afternoon. During high season, many shops stay open at night in areas where most of the tourists are found.
They open from 10am until 11pm or midnight, every day of the week.
Normally open for lunch at 12am until 3pm and than reopen later in the afternoon (±6pm) until 10pm or later.
Bars, Pubs and Discos
Bars and Pubs must close at 4am. Discos stay open throughout the night and many are seen leaving after sunrise.
Most banks open from 8.30am until 3pm non-stop from Monday to Friday closing on week-ends and holidays. Some agencies have adopted a different timetable opening and closing at later times.
Most of post-offices open at 9am until 6pm without break.
CTT - Post Offices
Post offices in Portugal offer much more services besides mail and postage delivery. There are several shops in Albufeira area with slightly different opening hours.
|Rua 5 de Outubro (now closed)||9am - 12.30am / 2pm - 6pm||289 580 870|
|Cerro da Alagoa||9am - 6pm||289 580 880|
|Areias de S. João||9am - 6pm||289 580 860|
|Vale Paraíso||9.30am - 12am / 2.30pm - 6.30pm||289 582 054|
|Olhos d’Água||9am - 12.30am / 2.30pm - 6pm||289 510 160|
|Paderne||9am - 12.30am / 2pm - 5.30pm||289 367 020|
|Guia||9am - 12am||289 562 383|
|CTT Website in English||www.ctt.pt|
The electrical current in Portugal is of 220 Volts / 50 Hz and the plugs, using two rounded pins, and sockets are under European regulations.
In some hotels, it is possible to be supplied with adaptor plugs for 110 Volts. The best thing would be to equip yourself with a suitable transformer before travelling, to avoid damaging any electrical appliances.
Quality of the water
In Albufeira, tap water is considered perfectly drinkable but might taste different to what you are used to due to its mineral composition. Some people prefer to buy bottled water (which can be found for ±0,60€ for 5 litres) for daily consumption and only use tap water for making tea or coffee.
In Portugal, waste separation is identified by four main colors. Green for bottles and other glass recipients; Yellow for packaging, plastics and metal; Blue for paper and cardboard and Red for batteries. Organic matter and non-recyclable garbage is to be disposed in the regular grey bins. There are several collection points across town so please please try to sort your rubbish accordingly to help keep the place clean.
On beaches, there usually are small sponsored conic ashtrays that smokers can grab and use to avoid leaving their cigarettes butts in the sand.
Smoking is not allowed inside public places or inside commercial areas (bars, pubs, restaurants,...) unless there is an authorized smoke extraction system and "smoking allowed" signs are visible. The ban extends to all public transport, taxis, museums, theatres, indoor car park, sport facilities, schools and hospitals naturally.
Non-smoking signs are normally present where applicable but when in doubt, smokers should ask around before lighting a cigarette, a cigar or a pipe and not risk to be fined up to 750€.
Public toilets are free to use for everyone. No charge is taken from customers for using the W.C. at the bars and restaurant establishments or at the shopping malls. Unlike in some other countries, most public toilets are kept very clean and hygiene is regualy controlled.
Average cost of living
Portugal is well-known as an attractive and affordable holiday destinations. Although VAT is currently at 23% on the majority of goods, it is still a place to come across good quality products and services at low price.
For those who don’t mind cooking on their holidays, a good meal can cost very little. However, the temptation to try at least one good traditional Portuguese dish will be very difficult to resist – so, it’s better to give in and try one of the many quality restaurants scattered all over the Algarve.
From the most simple of dishes, to the most elaborate, the prices will vary between around 10€ and 50€ per person, this including drinks and desserts. It is frequent to be charged for "couvert" which consists of the extra bread, butter, paté, olives or cheese that is put on your table before you order anything but you can refuse it when they are presented to you. Visit our directory for suggestions of local restaurant establishments.
Having a drink at the many local cafés, bars and pubs is usually very affordable, as low as 1,5 euro for a large beer or 0,65 euro for a typical expresso café («Bica») at the "regular" portuguese bars. Obviously, the trendy and well located bars on the strip or in the old town with live music or other sort of entertainment will cost a bit more. Here's a list of bars in Albufeira and around..
All prices normally include taxes and service, but it is common to tip services like taxis ou restaurants around 5 or 10%, or just some change in case of small amounts like in a café.
Get more tips from our forum.
After many years of increasing prices during the last decade, property value has come down in general lately and some very good deals can be found if you're planning to purchase your dream house in the Algarve. As an example, there are used 3 bedroom villas for sale for under 250.000€. It's a "buyers market"!
Renting an apartment or a house is also a good alternative for long stays. Prices naturally vary and depend on property type, location and equipment. For instance, a two bedroom apartment can be rented for around 500€/month. Be sure to look at the local real estate agents here!
Shops for clothing, shoes, souvenirs, etc. can be found on the streets of town and also at the several shopping centers across the region where you'll find plenty of international brands and sometimes some irresistible sales. Liquor store remain very interesting to those coming from high taxed alcohol countries and so are cigarettes.
Prices for all type of items at local stores are not negociable but one can always ask for a discount if purchasing several items.
Here are some shops in the region.
Fuel, gasoline and diesel, are roughly the same price as the average price in Europe. It fluctuates according to the international markets but slightly different prices can be found at the pumps and small discounts are common and varied.
One can make calls at the few public phone booths around town, at the post office, at your hotel and even at some bars and restaurants, using either coin, phone cards (that can be purchased at local kiosks and shops) or even by using a credit card.
|National Information Service – Automatic Answer||118|
|National Information Service – Personalised Answer||12 118|
|International Calls with Operator Assistance||171|
|International Telephone Listings||177|
|Online Portuguese Yellow Pages website||www.yellowpages.pai.pt|
|Online Portuguese White Pages website||www.whitepages.pai.pt|
To dial a portuguese phone number from outside the country, first dial the international code 00 351. All numbers in Portugal are made of 9 digits and always include their regional codes without any preceeding 0, e.g. all numbers in Albufeira start with 289 but are necessary to dial even when calling from the same region.
To dial a number outside Portugal when in the country, first dial 00 followed by the country code. (e.g. UK: 00 44) then the area code (without the preceding "0") and then the phone number.
View a list of useful phone numbers here!
Mobile phones (GSM)
At the moment there are three main cell phone operators in Portugal:
TMN; Vodafone; Optimus. All supply roaming service and support 3G/4G data connections.
Like landlines, all mobile phone have 9 digits, generally starting with 91, 93 or 96.
The main Internet access providers in Portugal are:
Sapo/Meo; Telepac; Zon; Optimus; Vodafone, CaboVisão;...
There are a few "cyber cafés" spread around Albufeira where you can access the Internet comfortably.
In increasing numbers are "Hot Spots", where to access the Internet wirelessly on your laptop or tablet. Ask your hotel or apartment reception (and even several restaurants and cafés) to inquire if they supply this service!
A users updated list for Wifi hotspots is available on Albufeira.com Forum
Television, Cinema & Radio
There are 4 open signal TV channels in Portugal: RTP1; RTP2; SIC and TVI. All are emitting in TDT. Foreign films and series are always subtitled on Portuguese TV.
Channels like BBC World, SkyNews, CNN, German, Dutch, Spanish, French and many other channels are available and distributed by cable or satellite.
For movie lovers, there's a 8 theatres cinema at Algarve Shopping (in Guia) showing all the latest films, with 3D and Digital projection. Like on TV, films are subtitled and only "kids" movies are dubbed. Cinemas at Guia have closed down. There are other cinemas at Faro and Portimão.
Several local radio stations have news bulletins broadcasted in English. Albufeira hosts two local radio stations: Radio Solar and Kiss FM, both have British speakers.