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.

Day 1

Morning — Quarteira: Mercado da Quarteira

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.

Quarteira Beaches

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.

The Gaivota Beach Bar is one of the best choices for fish and seafood.

Gaivota Beach Bar, GaivotaThe Gaivota Beach Bar, Quarteira, Portugal

During 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.

Afternoon — Vilamoura, Family Golf Park

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.

Cerro da Vila

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.

Marina de Vilamoura

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.

Casino de Vilamoura

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.

Day 1 - Quarteira and Vilamoura Tour Map

Day 2

Morning: Vilamoura Beaches

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.

Afternoon: Boliqueime

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.

Day 2 - Vilamoura Tour Map

Day Trips from Quarteira & Vilamoura:

  • 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 de Vilamoura. The seaside promenade along both towns is also ideal for a morning walk or cycle.

From the 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 whole family.

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.

Where to eat in Quarteira and Vilamoura

  • O Retiro: Located in Boliqueime, this traditional restaurant serves a great selection of meat and fish meals and has a fantastic wine menu featuring Portuguese and international wines.

  • 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.

  • Rafael: In the heart of Vilamoura is this casual restaurant focusing on traditional dishes. It is open from breakfast till dinner, making it a convenient stop for any time of day.

  • 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.

  • O Jacinto: Not far from Quarteira's waterfront is this fantastic seafood restaurant. You can try anything from shrimp to clams and stuffed crab. They also serve the traditional cataplana.

Where to stay in Quarteira and Vilamoura

  • 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.

Fancy a vacation rental instead of a hotel? Here is our selection of the best vacation rentals in Vilamoura and Quarteira.

Vilamoura and Quarteira Festivals

  • Vilamoura Carnival Regatta: Every year around February, Vilamoura welcomes this sailing tournament. Participants take off from the marina and fill the sea with their colourful boats.

  • 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 musical performances.

  • Festa dos Santos Populares: This month-long celebration in June attracts locals and tourists to the streets of Quarteira. There are parades, live gigs and food stalls selling freshly-grilled sardines.

  • Feira do Livro e Artesanato de Quarteira: The book and crafts fair is held every August, occupying Quarteira’s promenade with numerous stalls selling books and local crafts to passersby.

  • 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.

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