The Vale de Parra area is to the west of Albufeira and has some of the Algarve’s finest beaches. The best known is probably Galé, a vast expanse of golden sand with restaurants and water sports, including jet-skiing and parasailing; there is also a ‘banana’ – great fun for the kids! Galé can be busy in the summer but turn down any of the tracks along the coast road and you are likely to find a quiet beach or bay. Some, like Praia da Coelha, are a fair walk from the nearest parking area but worth the effort. São Rafael and Praia do Castelo are more accessible and have good beach bars. To the west of Vale de Parra, Quinta da Saudade is a mature estate of privately owned villas with a restaurant and bar. It is only five minutes from the beaches and just above Salgados Golf with a club house and restaurant. Guia is close by; slightly inland and famous for its modestly priced restaurants serving chicken piri-piri (dry cooked, with a spicy chilli marinade). The nearby Algarve Shopping Centre, located just to the north of Albufeira near Guia. It has numerous and varied shops, fast food restaurants, cinemas showing English speaking films and ten pin bowling, as well as a large hypermarket.
Pros: Close to some of the best beaches with a varied selection of restaurants. Most of the villas are in country positions, just a short drive from towns.
Cons: This area is very popular and so the larger beaches tend to be crowded in the height of the summer.