Nightlife in Albufeira

Dear Editor,

As a frequent visitor to the Algarve (Albufeira in particular), I feel I must express my sadness and frustration regarding the policy of local authorities this season towards live music in the Old Town.

Given the fact that Portugal is virtually bankrupt and you and I (tourists/customers from abroad) are supporting this country with EU bailouts, you would think Albufeira’s Town Hall and those promoting tourism would be doing everything within their powers to welcome tourists and stimulate the industry, but instead they seem hell-bent on destroying the character of the Old Town and making things even more difficult for local businesses.

Since The Strip in Oura transformed itself into a shabby, neon backdrop for drunken Brits and stag/hen parties, the Old Town of Albufeira has regained its former popularity.

It’s the place where tourists (and locals) enjoy meals outside, drinks on a terrace and perhaps a dance in the street on a warm summer evening.

Of course there are also karaoke bars and “noisy” venues for the younger visitors, but not everyone is charmed by this type of entertainment.

Until recently, there were fantastic alternatives for the rest of us offering outdoor live music until midnight.

The live music was never really loud (certainly not as loud as the “piped” music pumped into the streets from the “trendy” establishments) and added character and liveliness to the nightlife of the Old Town.

Recently I spent the evening on the terrace of a bar; it was warm and busy. There was live music, the drinks were flowing and people were even standing in the street because there weren’t enough tables and chairs to accommodate them all.

The atmosphere was great; dancing, clapping, laughing, everyone expecting the live music to continue as it always did (at very modest levels of volume) until midnight, then perhaps a few more drinks until the early hours…

Unfortunately, a rather over zealous “uniform” from the Polícia Municipal decided to stop the live music just after 11pm.

The amazing thing is, “piped” music from inside the bar, at least twice as loud as the live music, was allowed to continue until 1am!

We were disappointed, baffled, and the atmosphere was completely destroyed.

I spoke to two Belgian couples; they (like me) have been coming to Albufeira for years, staying for three weeks at a time. They were really looking forward to dancing outside and enjoying the music, but only managed two songs before the live music was abruptly brought to an end. They told me how much they love Albufeira but swore they would never come back again.

Part of being on holiday is enjoying the nightlife, and if people are dissatisfied with the lack of entertainment choices, they will go elsewhere.

Why is Albufeira doing its utmost to destroy this aspect of tourism? Is it because a handful of tourists/residents complain about noise and spoil it for the thousands of others?

No, if it was simply a noise issue, the loud “piped” CD music from bars would be subject to the same rules and regulations.