The upmarket vibe of Vilamoura offers a very appealing and popular choice among holiday makers. Owing largely to its great selection of things to do, it is one of the Algarve’s favourite destinations and, given the fact it’s located just 20 minutes from the airport, you’ll find yourself in holiday-mode almost as soon as your feet hit the ground.
With the Algarve, you’re likely to find the sweet-spot in terms of climate, which is one of the many reasons it’s such a popular destination. Rarely is it so hot as to be uncomfortable, and with year-round lows of around 15°C this really is a place you can visit at any time of the year.
If you’d like to increase your chances of avoiding a spot of rain, June through to August are what you should be looking at, though the low rainfall too is appealing even at wintertime.
The upmarket feel of Vilamoura comes mostly from the lively marina -- which is the largest in Portugal -- lined with million-pound yachts and jammed with elegant Portuguese restaurants and chic bars.
For a carnival atmosphere to rival Rio, the 10-minute drive to Quarteira is where you’ll find the Marchas Dos Santos Populares festival. Celebrating the saint’s days of Peter, John and Anthony, you’ll get to witness traditional dress and feather-clad outfits, with barbequed fish in one hand, local beer in the other.
The two golden beaches of Praia da Marina and Praia de Falesia are yours to chose from. Both have an abundance of umbrellas and loungers, and the long promenade which separates them is chock-full of restaurants and bars.
Heading to the marina is your best bet for a wide variety of eating options. It is the culinary centre of Vilamoura and an international assortment is at your feet, as well as authentic Algarve cuisine.
If Portuguese fare is what you’re looking for, Braganca Mar is by the marina but tucked away and has a cosy, traditional ambience.
The waterfront of the marina is again the setting most likely to suit your needs, this time with its selection of sophisticated bars. Luis Filipe Figo, the Portuguese football legend, even has a bar here – check out Bar Sete for beer, cocktails and lots of pics of one of Portugual’s greatest ever player. The trendy nightlife setting isn’t restricted to the bars, either. Checking out a cabaret show in the surroundings of a captivating casino isn’t something you get to do every day, so be sure to stop by.
Just a short walk from the cutting-edge marina comes the stark contrast of the Roman fishing village, complete with ancient bathing complex.
For a taste of local life, but in the present day, the Gypsy Markets, held once-a-week in Quarteira village, is not to be missed.
There really is plenty to do in Vilamoura, from fishing and shooting; tennis and golf (six different courses); parasailing, water skiing and snorkelling. You could head under sea with the dive centre, or cruise along it on a chartered yacht.
A local bus connects Vilamoura with Quarteira, and taxis are also available.