Hotels in Vilamoura, Portugal
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Vilamoura – The Jewel in the Algarve’s Golden Triangle
Vilamoura is one of the most lavish holiday destinations on the sunny Algarve in southern Portugal, right in the heart of an affluent zone known as The Golden Triangle. Some quaint fishing villages in this region have evolved naturally into upscale resorts over time. It is no accident though that hotels in Vilamoura are amongst the most luxurious in Portugal. This privately-owned development has been purposely built since the 1960s around a huge marina – the largest in the country – and hosts six golf courses. It is little wonder then that it has become a playground of the rich and famous.
If you’re hankering for an authentic feel of the Algarve, you will need to try elsewhere; Vilamoura is purely devoted to the good life. This exuberant resort has the highest concentration of upmarket four and five-star hotels in the vicinity. Vilamoura’s focal point is its colossal marina; the biggest in Portugal, with around a thousand vessels moored. Massive yachts regularly dock here so that the rich businessmen or celebrities on board can lap up the fine dining and golf or stretch out on the golden sands. If you don’t have your own boat, you can charter one and indulge in big-game fishing or just take a simple cruise or dolphin-watching trip along the coastline.
Vilamoura is well-known for its vibrant nightlife, with tourists coming from miles around to get a taste of the action. The marina, lined with exquisite restaurants and a variety of themed bars, is the hub. Vilamoura Casino encapsulates the grandeur of the resort and hosts elaborate shows and dances as well as a large range of gaming opportunities.
To pass away the sun-filled hours of the day you could try a spot of tennis, lawn bowling, horse-riding or even parascending. That is if you’re not a golf fan. If you are, it’ll take a lot to keep you away from the six glorious championship courses within the confines of the resort. If your swing is in need of a bit of work, you can get some lessons in a local academy or with a private coach or practice in a driving range.
Dual Beaches and Roman Remains
Vilamoura has two long stretches of sand, either side of the marina. Both are decked out with sun loungers and equipped with beach bars, so you can relax in complete comfort. Praia da Marinha on the east side runs to Quarteira whilst Praia da Falésia goes as far as Olhos de Agua near Albufeira. Praia da Falésia is a supervised and accessible beach – meaning that people with mobility problems can get down there easily – with a boardwalk running along it from the Marina for quite some distance.
A life of luxury, it would seem, hasn’t been reserved exclusively for modern tourists. Romans also appeared to enjoy a lavish lifestyle on this spot a couple of thousand years previously. Just inside the marina you can visit the remains of a nobleman’s villa: Cerro da Vila. For a nominal entrance fee, you can explore the remnants of a Roman spa, port and burial tower, and view a collection of artefacts in the museum. It won’t take you long to go around, but it’s definitely worth seeing.
If that little bit of history in Vilamoura gives you a craving to discover a more typical or traditional side to the Algarve, there are several quaint villages that you may wish to get to know. Loulé with its thirteenth and fourteenth century castle makes for a nice little excursion, if only to visit its markets – including the fabulous Saturday Gypsy Market. Alte, another pretty Algarve village up in the hills, with its whitewashed houses is also a lovely place to discover.
Many travellers to Vilamoura fly into Faro, but mistakenly overlook this fascinating walled city steeped in history. It has a splendid cathedral and exudes a more authentic feel of ancient Portugal.
There are also some interesting places hidden within the former fishing village and now vibrant holiday resort of Albufeira, a 25 minutes’ drive away, such as its landmark clock tower and quaint churches.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for nothing but the ultimate in luxury, Vilamoura has some of Portugal’s best hotels, especially around the marina or golf courses. However, if you seek more reasonably priced offerings there is also a selection of mid-sized three or four-star hotels, as well as self-catering apartments in the village. You could alternatively opt to keep Vilamoura’s attractions and nightlife at arm’s length and take advantage of a wide selection of better-value accommodation in the more down-to-earth resort of Quarteira just a few minutes along the coast.
Price rangefrom NZ$25to NZ$1,170
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