If you have a car or can arrange a group minibus, you can visit the cork facory just outside São Bras de Alportel, about a 40 minute run from Albufeira. I went with a group of about 20, last Thursday, 6th April.
It is fairly educational. The whole visit last about 90 minutes. The first part is a bit of a talk about cork, how it is grown, cultivated, harvested and then formed into the myriad uses to which it is put. The second part is a visit to the factory floor. Those who like machines that go whirr, hum, clank and bang will like it. There are also smartypants machines that do stuff grade the cork by laser eyes then, with a puff of air, shoot it into the correct bag. There are also ladies who sift through great piles of cork, just in case.
Their main product is the discs that go on the bottom of Champagne corks. No, I didn’t know that either, but next time you uncork a bottle of Dom Perignon or Pol Roger, look closely at the way the stopper is made! Apparently they turn out a million of these a week.
The visit ends in the souvenir shop, of course. A lot of things are rather pricey, but you can buy small bits and pieces.
You need to book in advance and it’s only open on weekdays. Their website is www.novacortica.pt and is in English.
Small warning – there are a dozen or so steps to deal with at the start and end of the visit. Inside the factory it is flat.
My picture set at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqgr91Pf5s_yFWHGZObg
Afterwards you can head into the town of São Bras and have a look around. I recommend the old church with its view all the way down the valley to the sea at Faro. There’s also a preserved section of Roman road to see and a nice little garden with an old bandstand and a mysterious sort of shrine and fountain.
(If you don’t have the use of a car while on holiday and want to visit, there are buses from Faro to São Bras de Alportel. However the factory is about 2km from the town centre.)