Vilamoura is situated in the western Algarve, an area of Portugal best known for its unrelenting focus on tourism, especially northwest of Faro. You will see if you drive along the coast towards Vilamoura that hotels, villas, apartments and various beachside developments stretch ad infinitum and that there are marinas, golf courses and tennis courts everywhere you look. These purpose-built developments are what make Vilamoura one of Portugal's most popular holiday destinations because, once you are there, everything is to hand. You need not get in a car or walk further than a few hundred metres if that is the kind of holiday you are looking for.
If, however, you just happen to be passing through and want to see some unspoilt Algarve coast, then head further west as Vilamoura will not be to your taste. If you do have a car and want to escape the crowds whilst staying near the beaches, try booking accommodation in nearby Loulé or Silves, traditional market towns further inland, and just drive to the beach during the day. That is where you will find 'old Algarve', as the coast is reserved strictly for shameless tourism.
Vilamoura itself is pretty much inseparable from Quarteira, and a toy train links the two with an hourly service during the summer. Quarteira is good for food shopping if you are self-catering as there is a weekly market there, and for those who wish to dine out in style, the celebrated seafood restaurant O Jacinto is on Avenida Sã Carneiro. Though the two towns are in such close proximity, Vilamoura and Quarteira are quite different in style. Vilamoura is very much a resort, and one that continues to grow apace, and there are new hotels and tourist facilities such as golf courses cropping up every year. The beach manages to impress in spite of the crowds. There is a huge nightclub called Kadoc on the Vilamoura-Albufeira road with a capacity for eight thousand and some renowned DJs playing there.
Vilamoura's marina is pleasant enough and there are cafés in which to break up your stroll and watch the world go by in their fashionable nautical gear. You can go on boat trips from the northwest end of the marina, to watch dolphins or go fishing. Also northwest of the marina is this town's only historical spot of interest: the Museu Cerra da Vila. It is the usual archaeological stuff with late Roman and Moorish artefacts, the foundations of a Roman mansion and good mosaics on display for less than €5.
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