Author Matt May
Vilamoura is located around half an hour's drive to the west of Faro Airport, and is one of the busiest resorts the Algarve has to offer. The centrepiece of Vilamoura is the upmarket Tivoli Marina which is arguably the most picturesque in the entire Algarve.
Being a purpose built resort Vilamoura lacks something in the way of charm and antiquity, but for many people the beaches, bars and restaurants, nightlife, shops, entertainment, watersports and golf more than compensate for the somewhat sterile surroundings. If you are looking for a scenic, natural resort with breath-taking scenery you would be advised to head further west to Lagos or Portimao, but for a beach holiday in modern surroundings Vilamoura ticks most of the boxes.
Unlike some of the larger Algarve resorts, Vilamoura has retained a significant amount of green natural park land consisting of native pines and other trees and exotic plants. Although there is some irrigation, many of the species survive on the seasonal rain which occurs from September to May. The green areas gives the visitor an idea of how the area would have looked before the developers moved in.
Vilamoura Marina is the place to go if you are looking for a bars, restaurants and nightlife. The busiest months are June to early September, but be aware that the resort is fairly quiet outside the summer season, although things generally liven up at weekends when locals boost the numbers.
Two of Portugal's most renowned footballers Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo own premises in Vilamoura Marina. Ex-footballer Luis Figo owns SeteCafe Vilamoura which is a restaurant by day but at night transforms into a lively disco-bar. The sister of Cristiano Ronaldo manages a small boutique "CR7" which sells clothes, designer bags and perfumes.
A short walk from the Marina are some of the longest stretches of sandy beach in the Algarve. To the east the sandy "Vilamoura beach" stretches to the nearby resort of Quarteira. To the west "Praia de Falesia" is large enough to ensure that a short walk from the marina guarantees prime real estate beach space even during August. Enthusiastic walkers can walk from Falesia beach to the neighbouring resort of Albufeira (the walk takes around half an hour).
The water gets deep fairly quickly on both beaches and the waves can be large so Vilamoura is probably not the best choice for families with small children - towards the Spanish border the beaches are flatter and more suited for families.
Golfers are spoilt for choice with golf courses in and around the Vilamoura area. To the west of Vilamoura the Arnold Palmer designed Oceanico Victoria course has hosted the Portuguese Masters, and the Oceanico Old Course to the east of the town is considered by many golf connoisseurs to be superior.
The marina has a range of restaurants including Indian, Thai, Chinese and Italian, but one of the most popular with locals and tourists is "Don Alfonso" located close to the marina and offering traditional Portuguese menus.
A very popular local fresh fish restaurant is "Casa do Pescador" located on the road to Aquashow and offering excellent prices. If you want to eat conservatively there is a Mcdonalds located just outside the marina.
For children the Aquashow water park just outside Vilamoura has an impressive array of slides and pools, but is only open from May to September.