Things to do in Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago

1-day itinerary

Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago are the most sought after locations in the Algarve’s Golden Triangle. Reminiscing of Beverly Hills, this area stands out with its rows of luxury mansions and curated golf courses.

Designed by the British golfer Henry Cotton in the late sixties, Vale do Lobo helped establish Algarve as a worldwide golfing destination, partly due to its privileged location near the seafront. Meanwhile, Quinta do Lago’s courses are immersed within the Ria Formosa Natural Park. These estates also feature a number of high-quality restaurants and stylish boutique shops.

Below are some of the top attractions in Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago, from golf courses to paradisiacal beaches and theme parks.

Day 1

Morning: Igreja de São Lourenço de Almancil

Begin your tour in the heart of Almancil with a visit to the Igreja de São Lourenço de Almancil. This 18th-century church is one of the Algarve’s most unique religious sites and a great example of Baroque architecture. Visitors are drawn in by its blue and white tiles covering the walls and the ceiling. The tiles, or azulejos, as the Portuguese call them, showcase the life of São Lourenço and were designed by Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes, one of the azulejo masters of the time.

Karting Almancil

Our next stop is the Karting Almancil, a theme park dedicated to motorsport fans. You can take a quick spin on the main track or experience a high-tech kart for a slightly higher fee. If you’re bringing your kids on your trip to the Algarve, this is a fun place to spend a couple of hours with them.

Afternoon: Quinta do Lago

In the afternoon, head to Quinta do Lago, one of the top luxury resorts in the Algarve. You’ll find yourself surrounded by imposing mansions and golf courses. Indeed, this is among the best golfing destinations in Europe. This large estate boasts three remarkable golf courses: North, South, and Laranjal. Those who pick the South course will be greeted with a view of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, and even the little ones can practise at the mini golf. Beginners can start with a private lesson before joining the more experienced golfers on the field.

Also in the area is a beach known as Praia da Quinta do Lago and a large lake popular among families as there are no waves. Surrounding the lake are two restaurants — The Shack and Casa do Lago — plus places to rent kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, jet skies and pedalos. Alternatively, you can rent a bike or go for a walk. Some popular walking trails are the São Lourenço and the Panal Pine Forest Trail, which crosses the salting tanks for fish from the Roman era, and the Quinta do Lago trail. This last one is a 5.15km walk, but the first 3km are also suitable for cycling.

Lastly, there is The Campus: a multi-sports complex featuring a high-performance gym, tennis and padel courts and a swimming pool. You can also book group classes, personal training sessions, recovery suites and sports rehabilitation.

Vale do Lobo

Just a few miles west is another luxury resort known as Vale do Lobo. Much like Quinta do Lago, it is a popular getaway for celebrities, filled with stunning mansions. There are two golf courses here: The Royal and The Ocean. The Royal is by far the most popular, with its clifftop 16th hole being considered the most photographed hole in Europe.

While you’re here, you should also visit Praia Vale do Lobo. This serene beach is enclosed by stunning reddish cliffs, forming a wall between the golf courses of Vale do Lobo resort and the shimmering waters of the Atlantic. Sit under one of the straw umbrellas and enjoy the last hours of sunlight. Vale do Lobo also has one of the largest tennis facilities in Portugal, featuring 14 courts.

Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago Tour Map

Day trips from Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago

  • Faro: Both Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago are only 30 minutes from Faro, the capital of the Algarve. It’s worth exploring the city’s old town, where you’ll spot a neoclassical arch, the cathedral and the bishop’s palace. In the summer, you can combine your day trip with a visit to the barrier islands within the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

  • Loulé: Head a few miles inland to visit the town of Loulé. The most famous feature here is the traditional market. Founded in the 20th century, it stands out with its striking Neo-Arab features. Other highlights include the Moorish castle and the Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, a small 17th-century chapel adorned with blue and white tiles.

  • Olhão: About 40 minutes east is Olhão, a small coastal town known for its bustling fish market. Take your time to explore the historic centre before venturing into the Ria Formosa Natural Park to spot flamingos or swim in the nearby barrier islands of Armona and Culatra.

  • Albufeira: If you’re looking for a bit more action, head west to Albufeira, a lively resort town packed with beaches, bars and restaurants. Check out the nightlife scene at The Strip, take a boat tour from the marina or simply unwind by the beach.

Best things to do with kids in Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago

Both Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago offer plenty of entertainment for kids. Indeed many hotels here have kids’ clubs with activities for all ages. Beyond regular golf, there are also mini golf courses catered for families.

You can stick to the resort’s pool or try out one of the many beaches in the area. Some of the best ones are Praia do Trafal, Praia do Ancão, and Praia do Garrão. Beyond swimming, you can enjoy water sports like jet skiing and parasailing. Other attractions include the go-karting circuit in Almancil and the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, which is home to a variety of wildlife.

Where to eat in Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago

  • 2 passos (Quinta do Lago):  Overlooking Praia do Antão, this restaurant is only a few steps from the sea. Fresh fish and seafood are at the heart of the menu, both sourced from local markets. They also offer homemade desserts and ice cream.

  • Casa Velha (Quinta do Lago):  Located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion, Casa Velha was among the first restaurants to emerge in Quinta do Lago. It is a fine dining spot serving contemporary dishes inspired by the regional cuisine.

  • Alambique (Quinta do Lago): On a sunny day, you can retreat to the lush terraces of Alambique. The restaurant serves high-end Portuguese cuisine, including specialities like the fish cataplana.

  • Gusto (Quinta do Lago):  This Michelin-star restaurant is located inside the Conrad Algarve. Behind the kitchen is German chef Heinz Beck, who has already gained three stars for his restaurant La Pergola in Rome. Visitors can order à la carte or choose one of the tasting menus.

  • Pequeno Mundo (Almancil): Set within an old Algarve estate, this restaurant stands out with is romantic patios and rustic interior. Many of the dishes are inspired by French cuisine.

  • Henrique Leis (Almancil): Brazilian chef Henrique Leis has been leading this fine dining restaurant since 1993. The tasting menu includes contemporary dishes using local ingredients like the Algarve lobster with bisque sauce.

  • Pizzeria Casavostra (Almancil): If you’re in the mood for a pizza, try Casavostra. There are a dozen types of pizza on offer, ranging from the most simple, the Margherita, to the most complex combos like the pizza Nova Don Corleone that includes grapes and pine nuts. All pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired oven.

  • Monica’s (Vale do Lobo):  This lively restaurant is famous for its delicious steaks and fresh fish, but they also feature a few veggie-friendly treats. Families can take advantage of the kids menu and the restaurant’s small play area.

  • U&Co (Vale do Lobo): Just a few minutes from the Vale do Lobo beach, U&Co offers stunning sea views from its terrace. The menu focuses on Mediterranean cuisine and includes options for lunch and dinner. You can also head here for an afternoon cocktail.

Where to stay in Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago

  • Conrad Algarve (5 stars): This luxury resort offers a mix of suites with balconies overlooking the pool and the surrounding woods. Facilities include three restaurants (including a Michelin-star option), two bars, three indoor and outdoor pools, a tennis court and a spa.

  • Vale do Lobo Resort (5 stars): Vale do Lobo is much more than a golf resort. The whole estate is home to a dozen restaurants and bars, tennis courts and swimming pools. Guests can choose between studios and four-bedroom apartments or townhouses with private pools and gardens.

  • Hotel Quinta do Lago (5 stars): This five-star hotel sits in the heart of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve. Most rooms offer balconies with panoramic sea or lagoon views. When you get tired of the hotel’s pools, you can walk straight to the beach. Other facilities include a spa, gym and tennis courts.

  • The Magnolia Hotel (4 stars):  Located in Quinta do Lago, this hotel offers 74 rooms and seven cosy cottages. There’s only one restaurant on-site, but there are plenty of other amenities, including a heated outdoor pool, tennis courts and bike rentals.

Fancy a vacation rental instead of a hotel? Here is our selection of the best vacation rentals in Vale do Lobo or Quinta do Lago.

The best time to visit Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago

The best time to visit the Golden Triangle is in the summertime. July and August are the hottest months, with temperatures reaching 30ºC. Luckily, there are plenty of beaches where you can cool down with a swim. If you’re coming for the golf, you should know the season is open all year round. However, spring and autumn are ideal for playing outside as the temperatures are a bit milder, and there are fewer crowds. Golf tournaments are also a regular occurrence, including in the winter season.

Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago Festivals

  • Vale do Lobo Amateur Week & Foursomes: Every year, Vale do Lobo hosts these two golf tournaments for both members and guests. The Amateur Week takes place around January, while Foursomes is usually held on the third week of May.

  • Festas de Verão e das Comunidades:  In August, Almancil hosts this lively festival at the Jardim das Comunidades. The event includes concerts, exhibits and gastronomic events.

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