For a beach holiday with the bonus of fantastic golf courses and year-round sunshine, Vilamoura in the Algarve offers a great summer and winter sun holiday destination. Covering about 2000 hectares, it is one of the largest single tourist resorts in Europe offering plenty of hotels, villas, shops, bars and restaurants. Despite its mass market image, you’ll still be able to find pockets of unspoilt, natural beauty.
Getting there/around Vilamoura
Fly into Faro airport and Vilamoura is an easy 16 miles away.
To explore beyond this sprawling purpose-built resort, it’s straightforward to hire a car, bicycle, scooter or motorbike and head into the hills. The trains are clean and efficient and the buses good too.
The large marina dominates the waterfront and the beach is split into two main areas. The west side beach of Falesia is the prettiest with a rocky backdrop and pine trees. There’s a play area here too and it’s only a few metres from several hotels and bars. The water can be rather chilly, but that also means it is brilliant for sailors and windsurfers.
Grab your clubs and try one of the four championship golf courses, or gawp at the boats in the sprawling marina. Alternatively, visit the nearby preserved Roman site and Museum of Cerro de Vila where you’ll see the ruins of ancient baths and understand more about the history of the area.
Vilamoura family attractions
While most famous for its golf, this resort has activities for the whole family, whether that’s chilling on the beach or playing tennis, squash, swimming, windsurfing, bowling, shooting, riding, sailing or golf and mini golf.
The Portuguese love water parks and the largest one in the Algarve, Aqualand, is worth a visit. Most hotels cater for children with food they’ll eat, play areas and baby-sitting services.
Vilamoura day trips
A day-long boat trip deep sea fishing offers the chance to test your angling skills. Or head for a day sightseeing and shopping at Faro. This city is the capital of the Algarve district and near the Ria Formosa Natural Park. It has a well-preserved historical centre and fantastic nightlife.
Walk past the medieval wall and monuments such as the Roman-Gothic cathedral, Nossa Senhora da Assunção Convent and the São Francisco Church. Be brave and head into the lavishly adorned church Nossa Senhora do Carmo. It has a bone chapel with the skeletal remains of 1,245 former monks. Biker fans will love the party during the July Motorcycle Rally.
Anything from decent British style carveries and fast food to traditional Portuguese restaurants specialising in sardines and other fish dishes are available in Vilamoura. Maybe you fancy Thai, Indian, Italian or Chinese or the famous piri piri chicken – roasted with an olive-oil-infused chilli sauce – it’s all within easy reach.
There is masses going on here with a lively variety of bars and clubs, some with terraces overlooking the marina – ideal for spotting your ideal gin palace motor yacht. It’s easy to find somewhere to watch your favourite sports channel, or try your luck at the casino where the shows are likely to include high kicking dancers in amazing costumes, or head to one of the many nightclubs and late night bars.
Many hotels here have a busy programme of entertainment, but with such warm evenings, it’s good to stroll around the town bar-hopping and people watching.
There are a variety of shops from local stores to international favourites and good supermarkets. Some are open until 11pm. Head to Faro for serious shopping.
Most tourists take home at least one ceramic cockerel – Portugal’s national emblem, while hand crafted souvenirs available along virtually every street include copper and cork ware, tapestry, woodcarving, leather, jewellery, silver and ceramics and wickerwork.