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Vilamoura, Portugal tourism guide updated for 2018!
Vilamoura is one of southern Portugal’s finest resort towns, offering you so much more than just stunning beaches and glorious weather. Originally, Vilamoura was constructed in the 1980s as an elite golfing centre, and today the town has matured into a stylish and sophisticated resort, boasting world-class golf courses and outstanding tourist facilities.
Vilamoura is a sprawling town encompassing numerous parks, multiple tourist developments and five golf courses, but its true centre is the exclusive marina complex. Found at the marina are modern hotels, gourmet restaurants and chic bars, and from here it is only a short stroll to the pristine beaches of Praia da Falésia or Praia de Vilamoura.
Vilamoura is unlike any other Portuguese town, gone is the dilapidated charm, replaced with striking perfection, which is simply expected by the super-rich who moor their million-dollar yachts in the marina. This guide will provide an introduction to Vilamoura, and will explain why you should have a holiday to this wonderful region.
Highlights of Vilamoura
So why have a holiday to Vilamoura?
Vilamoura is the most refined of all the Algarve resort towns, and provides world class hotels, stunning beaches, and a fantastic tourist centre. There is a lot to do within the central Algarve region including boat tours, waterparks, historic towns, and of course, golf. The five 18-hole golf courses make Vilamoura arguably the best location for a golfing holiday in the Algarve.
The beaches of Vilamoura are beautiful, with soft golden sands and crystal-clear sea waters that are safe for families, while the motorised water sports (jet skis, banana boats and parasailing) will entertain “children” of all ages. The central Algarve is ideal for teenagers and older children, who will adore Zoomarine or the waterparks of Aquashow and Slide and Splash.
. For those tourists wishing a more cultural holiday could visit the historic city of Faro or the market town of Loule, both of which can be reached independently via the inexpensive bus network.
In summary, you won’t be short of things to do during your holiday to Vilamoura.
Related articles: Sights and activities in Vilamoura - 1 week holiday in Vilamoura
Who should visit Vilamoura?
Vilamoura is suited for visitors who are looking for a polished and refined holiday destination, with a preference to quality over cost. The resort is perfectly suited for visitors who wish to spend relaxed days on the beach and even longer nights in the waterside restaurants and bars.
Vilamoura does not (or want to) attract large groups who are on stag/hen holidays or purely after a drink fuelled holiday; for this sort of trip head to Albufeira. Certain visitors may find Vilamoura devoid of Portuguese charm and character, this is a purpose-built resort town that focuses on outstanding tourist facilities and services. If you are after a more authentic Portuguese experience, consider the historic city of Lagos or the charming town of Tavira.
Related Articles: Tavira guide - Lagos guide - Albufeira guide
Vilamoura for Families
Vilamoura is great destination for young children and families as there are many excellent family hotels, while in the town children will be welcomed in all restaurants, shops and cafes. Having children also, we would recommend Vilamoura and the central Algarve for a family holiday based upon:
• English is widely spoken by all who work within the tourist industry, and language will never be an issue.
• The beaches are safe, with clean and calm sea waters, and are supervised in the summer.
• The Portuguese are a very family focused nation and children will be welcomed in all restaurants.
• Supermarkets stock all common items, and pharmacies are widely available all minor ailments.
• There is only a short transfer from Faro airport to Vilamoura.
When to Visit Vilamoura?
Vilamoura has long, hot summers, pleasant spring/autumns and winters that are mild but unpredictable, with an equal number of bright days as wet days. The height of the tourist season is from July through to August and this is when the beaches are packed, and hotels are sold out. June and September tend to be popular months with couples, being outside of the school holidays and without the hordes of children, but there is still fantastic weather and a buzz about the town.
The weather of Vilamoura is suitable for spending time on the beach from mid-May until mid-October and the two ends of the season provide excellent value, with last minute deals and cheaper flights. Tourist facilities in Vilamoura close down for winter at the end of October and fully reopen for Easter
There is a large permanent population in Vilamoura so that most restaurants and cafes in the marina complex stay open year-round but during the off-season the region will feel very quiet. The one exception to this is Christmas and New Year, when there is a lively atmosphere.
The weather of Vilamoura Portugal
Vilamoura For 2018
The Algarve, and especially Vilamoura is experiencing an unparalleled resurgence with new businesses opening, massive investment and a re-discovered confidence not seen since the financial crash of 2007. Vilamoura is expecting a spectacular 2018 season, based on the sell-out 2017 summer, with thousands of new tourists discovering this outstanding holiday destination.
This does mean that to secure the best prices, accommodation and flights must be booked far in advance. Our advice is, if you are seriously considering a holiday to Vilamoura book your accommodation now, as the best places will sell out, for a summary of the best hotels in Vilamoura, please click here.
The following box lists any hotel deals for Vilamoura, and the best prices for last minute accommodation:
Vilamoura as a Golfing Holiday
Vilamoura is one of the best destinations in the Algarve for a golfing holiday and the town is ideal for golfers., There are five golf courses in Vilamoura and include the Victoria (18holes used for the Portugal Masters), the Old Course (18holes Par 73), Pinhal (18holes Par 72), Millennium (18 holes Par 72) and Laguna (18holes Par 72).
All of the golf courses directly in Vilamoura are operated by the Oceanico Golf company and they have a reputation for the highest standards and excellent facilities. Within the marina complex are golf shops which can hire clubs and provide transport to all of the major courses throughout the Algarve.
Green fees reflect the quality of the golf courses and are season dependent. Prices in June 2018 range from €145 for a round on the Victoria through to €90 for the Pinhal course. Generally, green fees are at their most expensive during October and November, when the weather is most suited for golf.
Day Trips from Vilamoura
There are many interesting day trips from Vilamoura including the towns of Loule, Quarteira, Faro and Albufeira. All of these towns are connected to Vilamoura by inexpensive bus services, and can be easily visited independently.
Loule is a bustling market town, with a distinctly Portuguese feel and ambiance. The covered market is Arabic inspired, and the diverse selection of stalls sell local produce, fresh fish and regional handicrafts. On Saturdays the town comes alive as a large gypsy market held on the edge of the town.
Faro is the laidback capital of the Algarve, and has charming historic centre surrounded by ancient Moorish walls, while the pedestrianised city centre is filled with cafes and restaurants. Departing from the harbour are boat tours of the Ria Formosa natural park, a series of saltwater lagoons and waterways that are a haven for migratory birds and marine life.
Albufeira is the largest resort town of the Algarve, boasting a beautiful beach and an attractive Old Town crammed full with countless restaurants, themed bars and shops. Albufeira is a buzzing and hectic town during the summer and has a very different atmosphere to the much more stylish Vilamoura.
Related articles: Faro day trip - Loule guide - Albufeira guide
There have been a number of sham residential letting websites, which have appeared on the internet, with bogus or copied listings (often of real apartments). These websites look professional (guarantees, refund polices etc) and often the comparative prices are significantly cheaper. Only ever book an apartment through a trusted website (booking.com, homeaway.co.uk etc) and never pay for accommodation by bank transfer. For more details please see the TripAdvisor forum post:
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Note: This type of scam is not just limited to the Algarve but is found in all major tourist destinations. The Algarve is just ripe for it, as demand for accommodation outstrips supply.
Vilamoura Airport and Transfers
The main airport of southern Portugal is Faro airport, which is located 25km to the east of Vilamoura. Faro is a major international airport with flights covering the whole of Europe, but there is a shortage of seats/flights in the summer so always book well in advance to secure the best prices.
There is very limited public transport from the airport to Vilamoura, and the route requires two bus journeys and takes between 1.5-2hours depending on connections. Most visitors pre-book a transfer and from the airport and these can be a private transfer or shared (minibus or coach), prices are €50 for a private transfer or €15 for shared transfer. .
Related article: Faro airport to Vilamoura.
Is Vilamoura an expensive location for a holiday?
Portugal is a comparatively inexpensive country; with food, accommodation and transport much cheaper than many of the other established holiday destinations, especially when compared to the Balearic Islands or Greece. Vilamoura has a reputation for exclusivity but is only marginally more expensive than many of the other popular resort towns of the Algarve.