Developed from 1974 to the late 1990s as Europe’s largest leisure complex, Vilamoura grew around a marina which is one of the biggest in southern Europe, with a capacity for over 800 boats. It’s surrounded by restaurants, bars, shops and luxury hotels, which are just steps from the beach. In the summer, it’s a lively place throughout the day and night, and the beach can become quite crowded in July and August. It’s a glamorous destination known to attract famous soccer players and other celebrities, and for those who want 5-star service by the beach and the convenience of entertainment, shopping and restaurants within walking distance. Although families are always welcome, it’s mostly a place for adults, with a casino, tennis courts, and golf courses. You have five excellent courses to choose from -- “Victoria,” “Old Course,” “Millennium,” “Pinhal,” and “Laguna” -- all with 18 holes and managed by Dom Pedro Golf.
The casino is the largest of the three in Algarve (the other two are in Monte Gordo and Portimão), and has over 500 slot machines plus tables for poker, blackjack and other games, and four roulettes. Casinos in Portugal are not allowed to operate for 24 hours, so it opens in the afternoon and closes late at night. It also hosts live shows and concerts, and houses three restaurants. On Friday and Saturday nights, there’s a club for late-night dancing and drinking.
It’s a modern town, so there aren’t any historic monuments, but you can visit an archaeological site called Cerro da Vila, with Roman ruins from the 1st century AD. They include well-preserved mosaics and the scant remains of a bath complex.
The beach stretches for about one kilometer, from the marina in the west to Quarteira in the east. The water is relatively calm and generally safe for swimming. There are lifeguards on duty in the summer, when you also can rent parasols, loungers, and equipment for water sports. It’s been awarded the Blue Flag for cleanliness and safety.
If you want a quieter spot at the beach away from the crowds, keep walking to the left when facing the sea. The crowded part is the western end close to the marina and the hotels. Here is also the trendy Purobeach club, which is usually open from April to November. It offers sunbeds and drinks for relaxing hours in the sun, accompanied by the chillout sounds of the resident DJ.
About a 10-minute walk from the marina to the west you’ll see a parking lot and a small footbridge leading to another beach. That’s Praia da Rocha Baixinha, which officially belongs to Albufeira but is essentially Vilamoura’s second beach. Backed by red cliffs, it’s never crowded, but has a couple of bars and restaurants attracting young people and offers more space for children to run around. It’s also better for water sports like surfing and jet skiing than the beach in central Vilamoura, since it has better waves. If you keep walking in a westerly direction (to the right when facing the sea), the beach will get quieter and even more beautiful.
Both of Vilamoura’s beaches are accessible to those with limited mobility or on wheelchairs. Although there are more attractions for adults than for children in Vilamoura, those traveling as a family can always take the kids to the water parks nearby. The closest one is the Aquashow, which is the largest in Algarve and just a 10-minute drive away. Open from May to September, it offers big water slides, a “tropical” pool, a pool with waves, and educational shows about reptiles and birds. About 25 minutes to the west is the similar Aqualand, and there’s also the Slide & Splash close to Lagoa (35 minutes). For more than just fun in the water, head to Zoomarine, which is close to Albufeira (25 minutes). It’s part zoo, part funfair, with dolphins, sea lions, and seals, plus swimming pools, water slides, and an artificial beach.
Nightlife in Vilamoura is varied and for all ages. There’s the entertainment at the casino, the bars around the marina, the beach bars (at both Praia de Vilamoura and Praia da Rocha Baixinha, where the partying starts at sunset, especially at the Purobeach club mentioned above and at the NoSolo Água), and the trendy club Bliss, which often attracts big-name DJs.
Beach for: Couples, Nightlife
Bar or Restaurant: Yes
How to Get to Vilamoura
Vilamoura is less than 30 minutes from Faro and its airport. As there is no direct public transportation, most tourists arriving at the airport use a private transfer service. Others choose a taxi or Uber (Uber is cheaper; about 25 euros). By car, you just have to head west on road N125, exit towards the N396 and follow the signs to Vilamoura. The closer you get to the beach, the more difficult it will be to find parking. Vamus bus number 9, that runs between the center of Faro and Albufeira, stops in Vilamoura. It takes about 50 minutes from Faro and 40 minutes from Albufeira. However, on weekends it only has half a dozen departures in each direction throughout the day. There is no train service to Vilamoura. For complete details about how to get to Vilamoura, look here: Vilamoura Transportation
Beaches by Vilamoura
To the west of the marina is Praia da Falésia, which is part of Albufeira and one of the most stunning beaches in Algarve. This beach’s eastern end is called Praia da Rocha Baixinha, mentioned above. It’s quite a long but pleasant walk to Praia da Falésia. By car it’s less than 20 minutes. To the east is Praia de Quarteira, one of Algarve’s most budget-friendly beaches. It’s about a 10-minute drive away. For a quieter and more exclusive atmosphere, head to Vale do Lobo (20 minutes) or Quinta do Lago (25 minutes).
Hotels in Vilamoura
Tivoli Marina Vilamoura
Perfectly located just steps from the marina and the beach, this 5-star hotel has rooms with balconies with sea or marina views. It features a large outdoor swimming pool, an excellent spa with a variety of treatments, two restaurants and a trendy beach bar.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Tivoli Marina Vilamoura
Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort
One of Algarve’s most sophisticated resorts is located between the center of Vilamoura and one of Portugal’s most stunning beaches, Praia da Falésia. It has a total of 280 contemporary-style rooms and suites with private terraces, many of them with families in mind, accommodating as many as six people. There are two swimming pools (heated from October to May), one of them with a bar and offering adults-only tranquillity between June and September, with cocktails, chilled wine, and snacks. At the four restaurants you can have meals of fresh seafood or reinterpreted traditional Portuguese cuisine. The spa offers Thai and Algarve-inspired treatments, and there’s a heated indoor pool exclusively for adult guests of the suites.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort
Domes Lake Algarve
This highly-rated resort is a short walk from Vilamoura’s marina and Falésia Beach. It was built around a lake, and has gardens with plants from every continent, three large pools (one of them with a sandy bottom), a spa with a variety of treatments, and a floating restaurant. Some of the 192 spacious rooms with balconies offer a sea view.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Domes Lake Algarve
Located by popular golf courses, this large hotel provides 5-star services for guests of every age. There’s a kids’ club for the younger ones and a huge spa and 24-hour gym for the grownups, lake-style outdoor pools with waterfalls, and four restaurants serving international cuisines. The contemporary rooms include a private balcony overlooking the gardens or the neighboring golf course. A complimentary shuttle takes you to Vilamoura’s marina and to Falésia Beach, where Hilton guests get free sunbeds, shades and towels.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Hilton Vilamoura
Crowne Plaza Vilamoura
Standing right behind the beach, this hotel offers a sea view from every room. The best views are from the suites, which are the option for families. It has an outdoor pool and a heated pool inside, connected to the spa. That’s where adults can relax, as children play at the kids’ club. The two restaurants serve Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Crowne Plaza Vilamoura
Vila Gale Ampalius
It’s one of Vilamoura’s biggest hotels, and it’s right by the beach. Almost every room and suite has a balcony with a sea view. Facilities include two swimming pools, a tennis court, a restaurant, and a health club.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vila Gale Ampalius
Pestana Vila Sol
It’s not within walking distance of the marina or the beach, but is about a 10-minute drive away. Its 189 rooms and suites have private balconies or patios, and many face the immaculately landscaped garden with swimming pools or the tennis courts. There’s another pool inside, plus a restaurant.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Pestana Vila Sol
Found in a quiet location, about 10 minutes by car from the marina, this is a more affordable option for those on a smaller budget but who still want the Vilamoura experience. It offers an outdoor swimming pool and apartments with one, two or three bedrooms, as well as 3-bedroom villas. It’s perfect if you’re traveling in a group or as a family.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Laguna Resort
Four Seasons Vilamoura
The highlight is the lagoon-style outdoor pool, but this hotel also stands out for its spacious rooms, apartments and villas. The biggest villa has 5 bedrooms, accommodating as many as 10 people. It offers a private entrance to an 18-hole golf course, a variety of treatments at the spa, a gym, a kids’ club, and two restaurants. It’s not within walking distance of the beach, but by car you’re there in less than 10 minutes.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Four Seasons Vilamoura
Vilamoura Garden Hotel
It’s not possible to walk to the beach from this hotel (unless you don’t mind walking for a half hour), but there’s a complimentary shuttle that takes you there. It’s divided into rooms and suites with balconies, some facing the garden and others the pool. The garden includes a children’s playground, while adults have access to a gym and a spa.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vilamoura Garden Hotel
Hotel Parque das Laranjeiras
The only thing close to budget accommodation in the vicinity of Vilamoura is this 3-star hotel on the N125 road. The marina and beach are a 12-minute drive away. Rooms vary in size and décor, and most have balconies. There’s an outdoor pool surrounded by lush vegetation.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Hotel Parque das Laranjeiras