Things to do in Quarteira and Vilamoura, 2-day itinerary
Quarteira and Vilamoura are two popular resort towns in Central
Algarve, both belonging to the Loulé district. For years, Portuguese
families have chosen these spots as their summer holiday destination,
but with the growing popularity of the Algarve, more tourists are
showing up by the day.
One of Quarteira’s best features is its
beautiful seafront, known as “Marginal”. Another popular attraction is
the local market, where you can find freshly-caught fish.
Vilamoura, on the other hand is famous for its marina, which is among the largest in Europe. From here, you can join a sunset cruise or a dolphin-watching tour. The area is also renowned for its world-class golf courses and nightlife scene. And there are even Roman ruins which provide an insight into the town’s past.
Below are some of the best things to see in Quarteira and Vilamoura, from golden sand beaches to bustling markets and local festivals.
Our tour begins in the town of Quarteira at the local market. The
fish market in Quarteira is not as striking as the one in Loulé, but the
fish is just as fresh. Some even say it’s where you’ll find the
freshest fish in the country. The selection is quite diverse, and many
locals would rather come here than head to the supermarket to get their
seafood fix. In the summer, the market becomes extra busy with
Portuguese vacationers coming here to buy lunch after a morning on the
beach. The fish used to be sold directly on the shore, but that
tradition ended when the market was founded around the 1980s. Now,
fishmongers present their fish in small stalls with narrow passages
between them, where buyers and sellers often struggle to get through
without getting splashed by a bit of water.
After the market, you can take a stroll along
the Praia de Quarteira, an urban beach stretching for nearly 2
kilometres. Alongside the beach, there is a large promenade with palm
trees on one side and several bars and restaurants on the other.
Gaivota Beach Bar is one of the best choices for fish and seafood.
The Gaivota Beach Bar, Quarteira, Portugal
the summer, the beaches are the most frequented spots in Quarteira,
thanks to their calm waters and golden sands. Praia de Quarteira is one
of the many blue-flag beaches in the Algarve, thanks to its nearby
facilities and the cleanliness of the beach itself. While easy access to
shops and services might be good for some, others might prefer a more
natural setting like the cliffs surrounding Praia do Forte Novo.
In the afternoon, head over to Vilamoura. Before exploring the centre,
stop by the Family Golf Park, one of the largest mini-golf parks in
Europe. It features two courses of 18 holes with a design inspired by
ancient Rome. You'll also find a snack-bar offering homemade burgers and
a games room for all ages.
Right next to the park stands the Roman Site of Cerro
da Vila, an unlikely find in the bustling town of Vilamoura. The Algarve
was one of the areas most populated by Romans in Portugal, partly due
to its easy access to the sea, the main trading route at the time. In
this historical setting, you can see the ruins of an old villa with
public baths, a necropolis and several salt tanks. After the Romans,
came the Visigoths and the Moorish, and many relics of these
civilisations can now be found at the Cerro da Vila Museum.
From the ruins, walk to the Vilamoura marina, the largest marina in
Portugal, with over 800 berths. It is surrounded by several shops,
hotels, restaurants, a yacht club and incredible beaches that tend to
get crowded during the height of summer.
A few steps from the marina is the Casino Vilamoura. You can try your luck at the slot machines, attend a show or simply grab a drink at the bar. At night, the casino gets lit up with red and green neon lights, a sight mirrored by the stunning colour reflections in the fountain ahead of the entrance.
Vilamoura has two beaches: Praia de Vilamoura and Praia da Falésia,
both certified Blue Flag beaches. Praia de Vilamoura is the closest to
the centre, but it’s worth driving a bit further west to visit Praia da
Falésia. The name, Falésia, comes from the bare cliffs that frame this
long stretch of sand that starts in Vilamoura and continues west to
Olhos de Água, a small town in the district of Albufeira. If you’re
feeling brave, you can walk from one end to the other in about two hours
or follow the hiking trail above the cliffs to enjoy a bird’s eye view
of the beach.
Vilamoura also offers several water activities,
including dolphin-watching tours, parasailing, jet skiing, fishing and
more. You can even rent a yacht and sail away for the day, the perfect
escape from the crowded beaches in the summer.
Spend the afternoon exploring Boliqueime, a quiet village nestled on a hillside that overlooks the ocean. The town has a population of around 5,000 people, and although it is a small village, it does have a great range of attractions for its size.
Among the most remarkable features are two churches, Igreja Matriz and Igreja de São Faustino, the museum, the water streams, and the traditional windmills once used to supply water to the Boliqueime residents.
The chimneys in this region are also pretty unique, so much so that they are part of the village’s coat of arms. It is said that the larger the chimney, the wealthier the family was.
Baskets made with palm leaves are a typical craft from this region, and you can still find them at some of the village's shops.
In the Spring, many people visit Boliqueime to see the almond trees in full bloom and capture its stunning pink flowers.
Loulé: If you need a change of scenery, head north to Loulé, a historic town home to a Moorish castle and a lively market housed inside a Neo-Arab building. Beyond these, you’ll also find a couple of art galleries and a tiny church decorated with blue and white tiles.
Albufeira: About half an hour west of Quarteira and Vilamoura is another popular coastal town called Albufeira. It also has a fair share of beaches, bars and clubs, most of which are located along The Strip. You can start with a tour of the old town, then spend the afternoon unwinding by the beach.
Faro: Drive a few miles east, and you’ll soon reach Faro, the capital of the Algarve. It is home to many historical attractions, including a cathedral and an eerie bone chapel. The city also serves as a gateway to the Ria Formosa Natural Park and its islands, which you can easily explore on a boat tour.
Olhão: A bit further from Faro is Olhão, one of the largest fishing ports in the region. Be sure to visit the local market and sample delicious fresh seafood at the town’s restaurants. Olhão is also bordered by the Ria Formosa, and you can take boat trips from here to the islands of Armona and Culatra.
Best things to do with kids in Quarteira and Vilamoura
Quarteira and Vilamoura offer many activities for families with kids.
In the summer, you can enjoy a swim at one of the local beaches like
Praia de Quarteira or Praia da Marina. The seaside promenade along both
towns is also ideal for a morning walk or cycle.
Vilamoura Marina, you can hop on a boat tour across the coastline.
Meanwhile, Quarteira is home to one of Portugal’s largest waterparks.
The Aquashow Park features a series of swimming pools and slides for the
Other attractions in the area include the Family Golf Park, a large miniature golf course and the Vilamoura equestrian centre, which offers horse riding lessons. For a bit of history, don’t miss the Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila.
Willie’s: Set amidst a golf course in Vilamoura is this fine dining spot
run by German chef Willie. Willie won Michelin stars while working at
many Algarve restaurants until he finally opened his own place. The menu
focuses on modern international cuisine.
O Arco: You’ll find this restaurant in Quarteira’s Old Town. Open since
1983, O Arco has unique features like tiled walls and exposed wooden
beams. The menu includes a mix of traditional and modern dishes.
Highlights include grilled fish, steak and homemade ice cream.
Anantara Resort (5 stars): This modern hotel sits in a residential area
surrounded by a golf course. Other facilities include a tennis court,
four swimming pools, three restaurants, four bars, a gym and a spa.
Families can also take advantage of the kids club.
Pestana Vila Sol (5 stars): About a seven-minutes drive from the beaches
of Vilamoura is the Pestana Vila Sol. Most rooms feature views of the
gardens or the hotel’s golf course. There’s also a restaurant, two bars,
a spa, and an indoor and outdoor pool.
Aquashow Park Hotel (4 stars): Attached to a water park, this hotel is
ideal for families. Most rooms offer private balconies overlooking the
pool. In the summer, there are live shows and activities at the kids
club. Breakfast is included in the stay.
Conii Hostel & Suites (3 stars): Just a five-minute walk from Quarteira’s beach, this hotel is ideal for those travelling on a budget. Guests can choose between suites or dorms. Other facilities include a shared lounge, kitchen and bar.
Petiscos do Pescador: This seafood festival in Quarteira takes place on
the closest weekend to May 31, which marks the fisherman’s day. During
the festival, visitors can taste delicious seafood dishes and enjoy live
Festa da Nossa Senhora das Dores: This traditional festival takes place in September in the village of Boliqueime. The event is held in honour of Nossa Senhora das Dores (Our Lady of Pains) and includes religious parades and live concerts.