You wouldn’t know it today, but Quarteira was once a tiny fishing community. It became a major tourist destination in the 1960s, thanks to its 2km-long beach, and grew from a small village to one of Algarve’s biggest cities. High-rise apartment buildings now face the sea, so it’s not exactly aesthetically pleasing and lacks the traditional charm of other destinations in the region, but it remains popular thanks to its more affordable prices. It’s an inexpensive alternative to the more exclusive Vilamoura right to the west and to the luxury resorts of Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago to the east.
It’s especially popular with Portuguese families, who choose it for their weeks-long summer vacations. Tour operators and guidebooks don’t even mention it, so there are fewer foreign tourists. This has helped it continue to be a budget destination, with cheaper restaurants and accommodation. Faro and Albufeira aren’t very far, so it’s also a good base to explore the region. It doesn’t have historic sites or monuments, so for a day of culture, a day trip to Faro is recommended.
The long beach is divided by jetties into six different sections, about 300 meters (close to 1000ft) in length. They’re named Praia da Rosa Branca, Praia Azul, Praia de Dom José, Praia do Vidal, Praia JV, and Praia da Gaivota or Praia do Forte Novo, but no one really uses these names. It’s all one long beach and simply referred to as Praia da Quarteira. It can be crowded in August. The water is usually calm in the summer, but it gets deep fast, so always keep an eye on children. There are lifeguards between June and September, when you can also rent parasols and loungers. It flies the Blue Flag, guaranteeing cleanliness and safety, and there’s access for the disabled.
Behind the beach is Avenida Infante de Sagres, a promenade faced by restaurants and shops and lined with palm trees, children’s playgrounds, and fitness stations for open-air workouts. Completely pedestrianized on the eastern end, it’s where everyone goes for a stroll, including at night, when there is often live music and other entertainment. While Quarteira is lively on summer nights, this is not a party beach town like Albufeira.
On the western end of the promenade you’ll find the fruit and fish markets. They occupy two connected buildings decorated with tile panels and are where local and tourist families get their fruits, vegetables and fish caught just a few hours earlier. There are a few exceptions, like the salmon, which are imported, but most of what is sold here was brought by local fishermen. You just have to go early in the morning as most is sold by lunch time.
The other main attraction in Quarteira is the Aquashow, Algarve’s largest water park. It’s open between the months of May and September, and you can expect big water slides, a pool with waves, a “tropical pool” with waterfalls, and educational shows about birds and reptiles. Best of all, if you stay at the connected hotel (see below), admission is free.
Beach for: Families, Budget Travelers
Bar or Restaurant: Yes
How to Get to Quarteira
By car, Quarteira is 25 minutes from Faro and close to a half hour from Albufeira. Take road N125 and follow the signs. There’s plenty of parking around the city, including close to the beach. Quarteira doesn’t have a train station (the closest one is in Loulé, about 7km or over 4 miles to the north). Buses operated by Vamus connect it to Faro, Vilamoura, Albufeira and Loulé. Number 87 goes to Loulé (taking about 30 minutes), and number 9 runs between Faro and Albufeira, stopping in Quarteira on the way, in about 40 minutes. The bus terminal is right in the center, on Avenida Francisco Sá Carneiro, within walking distance of most hotels and the beach.
Beaches by Quarteira
If you enjoy long walks by the sea, walk west (to the right when facing the sea) all the way to Vilamoura. This resort town built around a marina has a casino and Roman ruins in addition to the beach frequented by tourists staying at the luxury hotels behind it. About 10 to 15 minutes by car to the east is the calmer and more exclusive beach of Vale do Lobo.
Hotels in Quarteira
Most families that visit Quarteira stay for a couple of weeks or more, sometimes even the entire month of August. For this reason, staying in an apartment instead of a hotel is a very popular choice, allowing them to prepare meals and providing more space for children. If that’s what you prefer, take a look at your options here: Quarteira Apartments
Dom José Beach Hotel
Quarteira’s best hotel is right on the beach, where it has a private area with sunbeds and parasols. If you want to wake up with the sunrise over the beach, book a room with a sea view. For the sunset, head to the panoramic deck, where there’s a restaurant serving international meals. In between, dive in the pool or sunbathe to the sound of the ocean. There are also massage services, a gym, and a mini golf course.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Dom José Beach Hotel
Aquashow Park Hotel
You can save the admission cost to the Aquashow water park by staying at its hotel. It’s less than 10 minutes by car from the center of Quarteira and the beach, and has rooms of different sizes, including large family rooms. Every room has a balcony, some facing the outdoor pools and others the water park. Kids can enjoy hours of fun on the water slides, while adults can relax at the spa with a heated indoor pool, work out at the gym, and sip exotic cocktails at the two bars. The restaurant serves Portuguese and international cuisine.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Aquashow Park Hotel
These 1-bedroom apartments with balconies are about a 15-minute walk from the beach. They accommodate as many as four people and are a good value for families. Outside on the terrace are separate swimming pools for adults and children.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Solgarve Aparthotel
Hostel Conii & Suites Algarve
If you’re on a budget, this is where you’ll want to stay. It’s a highly-rated hostel with mixed dorms and twin rooms with private bathrooms. The building dates from 1896 but was carefully renovated with a very contemporary interior. Breakfast is served in the shared kitchen. The location is perfect -- right in the center of Quarteira, just a few feet from the beach.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Hostel Conii & Suites Algarve
Located on one of the main roads that lead to the center of Quarteira, this hotel is about a 10-minute walk from the beach. The rooms are bright and spacious, and there’s an outdoor swimming pool.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Zodiaco Hotel
Alba Moura Apartamentos
The apartments at this aparthotel accommodate 4 to 6 people. They have one or two bedrooms with single and double beds plus sofa beds. It’s conveniently located in the center, close to supermarkets and restaurants, and a short walk (less than 10 minutes) from the beach.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Alba Moura Apartamentos
Some of the rooms and suites of this centrally-located hotel offer a panoramic view over the beach. The superior rooms have a balcony with a Jacuzzi. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, a sauna, and a fitness room. It’s found on the city’s main avenue, just one block from the sand.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Hotel Quarteirasol