Yachts, golf, up-scale accommodation and restaurants: This purpose-built Algarve resort is a stylish retreat with a scenic waterfront.
Since the mid 1970s, the luxury resort of Vilamoura has attracted wealthy sun-seekers, yachtsmen, and golfers. This tourist complex covers 2,000 acres (809 hectares) in central Portugal. Vilamoura’s center is its marina where you’ll find the majority of the resort's high-end hotels, restaurants, casinos and nightclubs. These days, there are a few cheaper accommodation options for those on a tighter budget.
Water-based activities around the marina are boundless; chartered deep-sea fishing, water skiing, dolphin watching and parasailing are just a few. Another popular experience is the Algarve Seafaris cruise. This takes you out from Vilamoura marina along the coast towards Carvoeiro. Here, you’ll explore sea caves by dinghy, and get to swim in them. You may spot dolphins along the route too.
There is a choice of two major beaches in Vilamoura. Praia da Marina, to the east of the marina, is a stretch of golden sand dotted with beach bars and sun loungers. Praia da Rocha Baixinha, to the west of the marina, has softer, whiter sand, and offers numerous watersport activities.
Some people come to Vilamoura for the golf alone. There are a number of championship courses in the resort, including the Laguna, the Millennium, and the Old Golf Course. Note that handicap certificates are required for all.
Be sure to check out Vilamoura’s handful of cultural attractions. Cerro da Vila, for example, is the remains of a Roman villa, located near Vilamoura’s center. Among the ruins are baths, fish salting stations, and remains of marble friezes and mosaics.
There are many great day excursions from Vilamoura. The city of Loulé is a 20-minute drive, and has an ancient castle, plus regular markets and carnivals. Close to Loulé is the village of Alte; picturesque scenes of whitewashed houses and cobbled streets await you here. The old part of Faro, about 30-40 minutes’ drive from Alte or Vilamoura, contains a number of beautiful historic sites.
Peak season in Vilamoura is in the summer, between June and September. The average temperature then is 70-75 F (21-24 C). The closest airport is Faro, from where a taxi or shared minibus takes approximately 30 minutes to get to Vilamoura.