Albufeira is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Algarve. Its central position makes it a good 'hub' for any exploring you may want to do. The downside is that it can be very busy, which makes Sao Rafael the better place to actually stay!
Albufeira existed as a town from very early times, and was visited by Phonencians, Greeks and Cathegenians. The Romans occupied the town and named it 'Baltum'. They established agriculture, mining and business activities. Much trade developed with North Africa, and many Moors came to live in Albufeira, renaming the town Al-Buhera and building a castle on the rocky headland over looking the lower part of the town. The town was put under siege in 1249 by the Knights of the Order of Saniago and the Moors were driven out.
Like many towns in the area, Albufeira was badly damaged by the earthquake of 1755, which also caused a tidal wave that destroyed most of the buildings. Recovery from this disaster was very slow.
By the 19th century, however, Albufeira had a booming fishing industry, and with the coming of tourism from about 1960 onwards the town was able to become a city in 1986.
Albufeira today is a busy and vibrant place with a multitude of restaurants, bars and clubs of all descriptions. There is also a fine beach and the 'Fishermans' Beach adjacent.