The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
Vilamoura is a modern and sophisticated holiday destination that is situated on one of the finest beaches of the central Algarve.
Vilamoura was constructed in the 1980s as an elite golfing centre, and today boasts five exceptional golf courses, along with outstanding tourist facilities.
The focal point of Vilamoura is the marina complex, with its fine dining restaurants and chic bars that overlook a harbour filled with million-dollar yachts. Vilamoura is unlike any other Portuguese town; gone is the traditional-charm, to be replaced with striking perfection, the expectation of the super-rich who frequent the marina.
Vilamoura is situated on a picturesque coastline of beautiful sandy beaches. There is the gorgeous Praia de Vilamoura, the fashionable main beach of Vilamoura, while to the west of the marina, is the Praia da Falésia, an 8km stretch of golden sands and distinctive orange clay cliffs.
Vilamoura lies at the heart of the Algarve, with its waterparks, varied activities and fascinating day trips, such as the historic city of Faro and the market town of Loule. These varied sights and activities make Vilamoura the ideal holiday destination for families, young couples or groups wanting a golfing holiday.
This article will show you why you should have your holiday to Vilamoura and help you get the most from the region.
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The Praia da Falésia - The largest sandy beach of the central Algarve, backed by orange cliffs and pristine natural scenery. There are decent waves for surfing, scenic cliff-top footpaths and vast expanses of beach to escape the summertime crowds.
Vilamoura marina – The stylish centre of Vilamoura, where luxurious yachts moor and wealthy tourists come to dine. By day the marina is a hive of activity, and in the evening it is a fashionable setting for a cocktail or two…
Golf – Vilamoura is Europe's finest golf destination, boasting five world-class courses and outstanding golfing facilities. There is the magnificent "Victoria" course used for the Portugal Masters, the classic "Old Course", or the challenging water hazards of the "Laguna" course. If you want a golfing holiday, then Vilamoura is the destination for you.
Related articles: Sights and activities in Vilamoura
Vilamoura is the most refined of all the resort towns in the Algarve. It provides world-class hotels, trendy beach clubs, fine restaurants and a sophisticated holiday atmosphere.
All of this refinement comes at the loss of any real Portuguese character and an overall increase in holiday costs (food, socialising and activities).
Of the large Algarve resort towns (Albufeira, Lagos and Praia da Rocha), Vilamoura has the most mature atmosphere, and this makes it ideal for families and older couples. There is great nightlife in Vilamoura, but it does not tend to attract groups of overly-excited teenagers and twenty-year-olds (for this head to Strip in Albufeira).
Vilamoura is the best destination in the Algarve for a golfing holiday, and within the sprawling town are five excellent courses. Golfing holidays tend to be in the Spring or Autumn when the sun is less intense and the weather is slightly cooler.
Vilamoura is often considered as just a beach destination, but being in the centre of the Algarve, there is a wide selection of activities and sights. These activities include boat trips (dolphin watching, coastline tours and fishing trips), water parks ("Aquashow", "Slide and Splash" and "Zoomarine") and water-based activities (kayak tours, stand up paddleboard or surfing). There are also day trips to the historic towns of Faro, Silves and Loule.
A holiday to Vilamoura can be as relaxing or exciting as you choose it to be!
Related articles Day trips from Vilamoura - Vilamoura beach guide
The Praia de Vilamoura is a beautiful beach but expect it to be busy in the summer!
The Tivoli hotel has one of the prime locations in Vilamoura
There are many enjoyable and exciting activities within the Vilamoura region, some of the best offered by GetYourGuide include:
Vilamoura is not a common day trip, but an enjoyable day can be had by combining Vilamoura and Quarteira. Both towns are very different, Vilamoura is modern and stylish, while Quarteira is a fishing town with a distinctly Portuguese atmosphere.
For a day trip, the morning could visit Vilamoura Marina and wander around to the Praia da Falésia beach. In the afternoon, you could follow the scenic beach promenade that connects Vilamoura to Quarteira, and for the latter part of the day, you could explore Quarteira.
There are regular bus services to Vilamoura from Faro and Albufeira, and the main bus stop in Vilamoura is to the southeast of the town, close to the Dom Pedro Marina Hotel.
Below is an interactive map of the sights of the Vilamoura region and a suggested day trip to Vilamoura and Quarteira. The suggested tour (the green line) begins at Vilamoura bus stop and ends at Quarteira bus station and covers a distance of 9.5km. The centre of Vilamoura, where most of the bars and restaurants are found, is highlighted in yellow. (Note: zoom out to see all of the markers)
Sights of Vilamoura: 1) Vilamoura centre (bars, restaurants and shops) 2) Aquashow Park (Water Park) 3) Casino Vilamoura 4) Vilamoura Marina 5) Quarteira fishing port 6) Family Golf Park 7) Cerro da Vila (ruins of Roman Villa) 8) Quarteira (town) 9) Lick (nightclub)
Beaches: 10) Praia de Vilamoura 11) Praia da Rocha Baixinha 12) Praia da Falésia 13) Praia de Quarteira
Golf courses: 14) The Old Course 15) Victoria Golf Course 16) Millennium Golf Course 17) Vila Sol Golf 18) Pinhal golf course
Unique sights for a day trip
Vilamoura is a modern resort town but there are natural and authentic Portuguese sights within the town, and the best include:
The Cerro da Vila – The ruins of a Roman villa that include a bath house, residence, and a building to salt fish. Within the site is an informative museum.
The Parque Ambiental de Vilamoura – The reed beds and marshes along the Ribeira de Quarteira River. The waterways are a haven for birdlife and the footpaths provide a peaceful escape from the hecticness of Vilamoura.
The Mercado do Peixe – The reed beds and marshes along the Ribeira de Quarteira River. These waterways are a haven for birdlife, and the footpaths provide a peaceful escape from the hecticness of Vilamoura.
Percurso dos Falésia – The cliff top footpath along the most picturesque section of the Praia da Falésia beach (between the Tomates and Alfamar sections of Falésia beach). Make sure you have decent shoes as the path is rough, and always stay away from the edge of the fragile clay cliffs.
Most visitors come to Vilamoura to relax on the beaches or to play golf, but there is a lot to do and see within the surrounding region. A suggested 1-week itinerary that would make the most of your holiday to Vilamoura, could include:
Day 1 – Explore Vilamoura and Quarteira
Day 2 – A day trip to Faro, the historic capital of the Algarve
Day 3 – A boat trip that includes visiting Benagil Cave and a dolphin watching
Day 4 – A day trip to Albufeira, a bustling and lively resort town
Day 5 – A trip to the “Aquashow Park” waterpark or a coastal walk along the Praia da Falésia
Day 6 – A day trip to the market town of Loule (Saturday is the best day to visit)
Day 7 – A day trip to the fishing town of Olhão
Note: all of these day trips can be made without the use of a car.
Related articles: Day trips from Vilamoura
The historic quarter of Faro
Vilamoura has hot summers, pleasant spring/autumns and winters that are mild but unpredictable. 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 are popular months for couples without children, and September is surprisingly the busiest month in the Algarve. The weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from mid-May until mid-October. The peak months for golfing holidays is September and October, when the sun is less intense.
At the end of October, Vilamoura shuts for winter and fully reopens at Easter. There is a large permanent population in Vilamoura, and this means most restaurants remain open year-round, but during the off-season, the town will feel very quiet.
Related articles: When to visit Vilamoura?
Vilamoura is expecting a sell-out summer season for 2022, as visitors seek holidays to safe and established destinations within Europe.
In 2022, Vilamoura is expecting to attract many new tourists, and this will be in addition to the large number of returning visitors, who know just how great the Algarve is.
Due to this increased popularity, Vilamoura is expecting a sell-out 2022 summer season. We strongly advise you to book your flights and accommodation as soon as possible before prices increase and sell out.
The map below displays the best hotels and accommodation in Vilamoura; if you adjust the dates to your holiday, it will display current prices and availability.
Advice: Vilamoura covers a large and sprawling area, which encompasses many residential developments around the golf courses. If you are new to the region, it is advisable to be within walking distance of the marina, where all of the restaurants and bars are located.
Vilamoura is the best destination in the Algarve for a golfing holiday. Within Vilamoura are five golf courses; the Victoria (18 holes used for the Portugal Masters), the Old Course (18 holes Par 73), Pinhal (18 holes Par 72), Millennium (18 holes Par 72) and Laguna (18holes Par 72).
All of the golf courses in Vilamoura are owned by the Dom Pedro organisation, and they have a reputation for excellent standards and facilities: https://www.dompedrogolf.com
Green fees reflect the quality of the golf courses and are season dependent. Prices in June 2022 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.
Found in Vilamoura marina are golf shops, that hire clubs and provide transport to all the major courses throughout the Algarve.
Vilamoura has five wonderful golf courses
Vilamoura is a great holiday destination for families and young children. There are many excellent family-focused hotels, while in the town children will be welcomed in all restaurants, shops and cafes. We recommend Vilamoura and the central Algarve for a family holiday based upon:
• English is widely spoken by all who work within the tourism 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 everywhere
• Supermarkets stock all common items, and pharmacies are widely available for all minor ailments.
• It is only a short transfer from Faro airport to Vilamoura.
Faro Airport is the main international airport of southern Portugal, and is located 25km to the east of Vilamoura.
There is very limited public transport connecting the airport to Vilamoura, and the route requires two bus journeys (Bus 1; Faro airport to Faro city – Bus 2; Faro city to Vilamoura). The journey takes between 1.5-2 hours, and there are no night-time services.
Most visitors either pre-book a private transfer or get a shared transfer on arrival. Prices start from €50 for a private transfer or €15 for a shared transfer. A taxi hired from the airport will be very expensive (€90+), and there is very high demand for ride-hailing apps (such as Uber or Bolt) at peak times.
Related article: Faro airport to Vilamoura
There is a bus service from Faro to Vilamoura, but it takes a surprisingly long time
There are many interesting day trips from Vilamoura including the towns of Loule, Quarteira, Faro and Albufeira. All 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 ambience. 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 laid-back capital of the Algarve, and has a 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 of 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: Day trips from Vilamoura - Faro day trip - Loule guide - Albufeira guide
Portugal is a comparatively inexpensive country, with food, accommodation and transport much cheaper than many of the other established holiday destinations. This is especially true 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.
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