Located just 25 minutes from Algarve’s international airport in Faro, Quinta do Lago was built around a lake between the 1970s and 1990s to become one of Europe’s finest resort towns. That mission was accomplished, with opulent villas owned by the rich and famous, some of Portugal’s best hotels, and the continent’s largest golf area (with three world-class 18-hole courses; see below). Its pine-covered beachfront and sandy beach are public but feel exclusive and are a favorite retreat of international celebrities and heads of state.
It’s part of the so-called “golden triangle,” the trio of luxury resort towns to the west of Faro (the others are Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura) and one of the most expensive areas in the country. Although the most popular activity is golf, it’s also possible to play tennis, enjoy water sports and walk around part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Here you can follow a trail called São Lourenço, which takes you past salt marshes and lagoons and offers you the opportunity to spot different bird species.
In addition to the 5-star accommodation, there are sophisticated restaurants and an upscale shopping mall, the Quinta Shopping.
Quinta do Lago Beach
Quinta do Lago’s beach is quite long, stretching for about 3.5 kilometers (over 2 miles). It’s right to the west of Praia da Ilha de Faro, which is the most popular beach in Algarve’s capital, but is very quiet and never crowded. It’s backed by dunes and accessed via a wooden 300m-long footbridge that crosses the Ria Formosa (the sunset view from the bridge is particularly beautiful). The sand is white and soft, and the water is usually relatively calm. There are lifeguards on duty in the summer.
This is a very clean beach, as certified by the Blue Flag. Most people who come here are tourists staying at the hotels nearby. There are parasols and loungers for rent, but if you prefer social distance, just keep walking to the right or left for a few minutes, and you’ll be all by yourself.
More active visitors choose water sports instead. The Artur Watersports Academy rents jet skis, banana boats, kayaks and paddles for stand-up paddleboarding. Hikers can also follow the São Lourenço trail which starts by the parking lot by the access to the beach. To go and return, you’ll need to walk for 3.4 kilometers (2.1 miles), taking about one hour and 30 minutes. It’s quite an easy walk, just don’t forget to take water and sunscreen.
For meals, there’s a very famous restaurant right on the beach. It’s called Gigi’s, is known for its seafood, and was one of the first in Quinta do Lago. After decades in business, many people now refer to the beach as Praia do Gigi.
Beach for: Couples, Families
Bar or Restaurant: Yes
Golf Courses in Quinta do Lago
The world’s golfing elite place Quinta do Lago among their favorite destinations. Publications such as Golf Digest and Golf World have awarded it titles like “Europe’s best golf destination” and ranked its golf courses among Europe’s top 100.
Singled out as Portugal’s best golf course at the World Golf Awards, it was designed with 18 holes in 1974 and renovated in 2021. It’s set among 6.5 kilometers of pine trees and lakes, and overlooks the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Although it hosted the Portuguese Open several times, it’s for golfers of all levels, not just pros.
Redesigned in 2014, it’s 6.1 kilometers long and surrounded by pine trees and undulating greens. It has 18 holes and is also for players of all levels.
Two years after it opened in 2009, it was voted Portugal’s best golf course. Originally an orange grove, it’s now covered in orange, oak and pine trees, and there are five beautiful lakes. It’s 6.5 kilometers long, has 18 holes, and is quite challenging, so for more advanced players.
How to Get to Quinta do Lago
There’s no public transportation to Quinta do Lago. Most people staying at its hotels use private shuttle transfers to get there from Faro Airport. By Uber, the trip from the airport should cost less than 20 euros. If you’re driving from Faro or any other towns nearby, take road N125 and exit towards Almancil. You just need to follow the signs to Quinta do Lago from there. If you’re just going for a day at the beach, you’ll find parking by the footbridge.
Beaches by Quinta do Lago
As mentioned above, Praia da Ilha de Faro is right to the east, about 25 minutes away by car. It’s quite the opposite of Quinta do Lago -- it’s frequented by budget travelers and locals. For a luxury resort atmosphere similar to Quinta do Lago, head to Vale do Lobo instead, less than 15 minutes away. Alternatively, drive for 20 minutes to Vilamoura, the other upscale resort of the “golden triangle,” but with a much more crowded beach and slightly less exclusive.
Hotels in Quinta do Lago
Named “Europe’s leading luxury resort” at the World Travel Award, this was once advertised as Algarve’s “6-star hotel.” While there are no hotels rated 6 stars, it can be said that this is a superior 5-star resort. It offers a wonderful spa with an adults-only indoor pool, all-day dining at three restaurants, and 154 elegantly-designed rooms, many of them facing a large infinity pool, which was once considered the best one in the entire Iberian Peninsula.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Conrad Algarve
Wyndham Grand Algarve
Consisting of 132 magnificent suites with one, two or three bedrooms, this hotel provides luxurious accommodation for couples or families with children. There’s a kids’ club and a children’s pool, but also an adults-only pool, spa with indoor pool, and a state-of-the-art gym. The three restaurants serve regional and international cuisine. The beach is within walking distance.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Wyndham Grand Algarve
Hotel Quinta do Lago
The only hotel in Quinta do Lago facing the sea has its own private area at the beach. The 141 classically-designed rooms feature marble bathrooms and private balconies overlooking the Ria Formosa Natural Park. More panoramic views can be enjoyed from the terrace of one of the two restaurants and from the bar. There are outdoor and heated indoor pools, and a spa for rejuvenating treatments.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Hotel Quinta do Lago
Martinhal Quinta Family Resort
With its golf courses and sophisticated restaurants, Quinta do Lago wouldn’t be the first destination you’d think of to go with the kids, but if you’re traveling as a family, you might want to stay at this resort. It’s made up of townhouses with two, three or four bedrooms and private swimming pools, and there’s a kids’ club.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Martinhal Quinta Family Resort
Vilar do Golf
This is where many golfers stay for several days with their families. Its villas are surrounded by tropical gardens and there’s a view of the golf course from the restaurant (which serves international cuisine). Facilities include indoor and outdoor pools for adults and an outdoor children’s pool, a gym, a sauna, and a bar for cocktails.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vilar do Golf
Encosta do Lago Resort Club
Found by the lake, this is another resort meant for families to enjoy a few days in the sun in peace. It has apartments and villas with one, two or three bedrooms, and the villas and some of the bigger apartments feature private pools. Those staying in an apartment without a private pool, still have access to the resort’s main pool, which is quite large and surrounded by palm trees. Each unit has an equipped kitchen, but when you just don’t feel like cooking, you can head to the international restaurant.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Encosta do Lago Resort Club
Lakeside Country Club
As the name indicates, this property is by the lake. The beach is less than 10 minutes away by car, and its apartments accommodate two to eight people. All guests have access to a restaurant serving international cuisine, indoor and outdoor pools (one of them for children), a sauna, a gym, and a tennis court.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Lakeside Country Club
Four Seasons Country Club
This highly-rated resort offers apartments and villas with one or two bedrooms. Although it’s not within reasonable walking distance from the beach, it’s just 5 minutes away by car. The restaurant serves every meal of the day, including breakfast. It has a large swimming pool outside and another one inside, a hammam, a gym, tennis courts, and a children’s playground.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Four Seasons Country Club
Quinta do Lago Country Club
Located a short walk from the beach, this resort has apartments with lake, garden or sea views. Guests can relax at the outdoor pool or at the indoor pool and sauna, or work out at the gym or head to the golf courses.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Quinta do Lago Country Club
It’s rated four stars, so it’s the only non-truly-luxurious place to stay in Quinta do Lago. It was inspired by a 1950s Palm Springs hotel, but the interior is contemporary. It features a heated outdoor seawater pool, a movie theater, a restaurant, a spa, a gym, a tennis court and a game room. You may stay in standard rooms, suites or 2-bedroom cottages.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Magnolia Hotel