Catching the train from Lisbon to Albufeira takes about three hours and takes you cross country until you can just glimpse the sea before dropping back down between the hills. The trains are comfortable and easy to navigate. We caught the morning train and bought our tickets on the morning that we travelled which worked well. There are no announcements on the train so you will need to keep your eyes open the closer you get to your final stop. Also, the tickets give you an allocated seat and cost just over 20 euros each.
Albufeira is an interesting place a sort of multinational resort. We stayed just outside in a town called Villamoura which was much the same on a smaller scale. Villamoura is surrounded with beautiful public gardens and paths filled with colourful flowers so we decide to hire bikes and ride around to enjoy the area.
We also cycle up to another town nearby and then back down the paths along the beach. The beach is beautiful, sandy and clean. The water is cold but nice after a hot bike ride. There are families enjoying the day together, all round lovely place to sit and to swim. (The beaches are lifeguard patrolled as well so its great for kids).
The Algarve area is perfect for driving around and pottering amongst the beautiful towns and wonderful coastline. We hire a car and stop at a local market in Faro and walk along the old town walls and into a free museum which is lucky open on a Sunday (most things except the cafes and restaurants are closed on Sundays).
On another day we drive to one of the most picturesque beaches I have ever seen beliche beach. The steps down to the beach its self are steep and drop you down between the cliff faces of the coastline. There is nothing here except a small shack that sells cold drinks and BBQ chicken. We are told by locals that he shack is not always open so take your own water and snacks just in case.
The beach is…. just wow.
Not to be missed.