23km (14 miles) W of Faro; 307km (190 miles) SE of Lisbon
This once-sleepy fishing village between Albufeira and Faro used to be known only to a handful of artists who amused the local fisher folk. Now, with the invasion of outsiders, the traditional way of life has been upset. A sea of high-rise buildings has swallowed Quarteira, and the place is now a bustling, overgrown resort. The big attraction is one of the Algarve's longest beaches. In summer it's filled with vacationing Portuguese and other Europeans who supply a much-needed boost to the local economy.
Golfers who don't want to pay the high rates at Vale do Lobo or Vilamoura (both of which have 18-hole courses) can stay inexpensively in Quarteira. The courses are only a 10-minute drive away, and Quarteira lies about 11km (6 3/4 miles) from the Faro airport.
The largest concentration of quality hotels and restaurants is not in Quarteira or even Praia de Quarteira, but in the satellite of Vilamoura, west of Quarteira. Buses run between Quarteira and Vilamoura frequently throughout the day. Tourist information is available in Quarteira.
At a central point on the Algarve coast, only 18km (11 miles) west of Faro airport, Vilamoura is an expansive land-development project, the largest private tourist "urbanization" in Europe. Although the remains of a Roman villa were discovered when builders were working on the local marina, the history of Vilamoura is yet to be written. Plans call for a city larger than Faro and an interior lake linked with the bay and ocean by two canals. There's already a marina that can hold 1,000 pleasure boats. Vilamoura is now filled with "holiday villages" and apartment complexes.