Specially set up as a holiday destination, Vilamoura can lay claim to being the biggest resort in Europe. It’s a real testament to man-made development as every inch of the resort has been meticulously planned to bring the best out of sun holidays. So whether you love sports, nightlife or beaches, you’ll find your every need is catered for in Vilamoura.
When it comes to sports, Vilamoura really shines. There are six golf courses within the resort, and the perfectly manicured fairways with huge glassy lakes have led to the Portuguese Open being played here. Active types will also love the large, modern Vilamoura Tennis Club and the Vilamoura Riding Centre that takes you and your horse on trails through the peaceful Environmental Park.
Balmy evenings in Vilamoura are often based around the resort’s stunning marina - it’s big enough for over 1,000 gleaming yachts and is a great place to people watch as the rich and glamorous get dressed to impress, ready for a night on the town.
With most hotels just moments from the beach, such as the Crowne Plaza available with Jet2holidays, Vilamoura seems set up for sunbathing. The cotton-soft sand of Praia da Rocha Baixinha stretches across an open expanse, all the way to the local city of Albufeira.
Up in the hills, just five miles from Vilamoura, the idyllic whitewashed village of Loulé will give you the perfect Portuguese counterpoint to the bustle of the resort. Stop and admire the pristine townhouses and then when you’re ready to return you can head back for a quick round of golf before sunset. After all, holidays in Vilamoura are all about enjoying yourself!
Being a purpose-built resort, you may think that Vilamoura only offers modern activities. But in fact the excavation work in the town has ensured that there is an even greater variety of things to do, as you can even see ancient ruins at the resort’s museum.
However, it’s likely that on your holidays in Vilamoura you’ll be expecting a great game of golf, and that’s certainly what you’ll find. It’s actually not an exaggeration to claim that Vilamoura has some of the best golfing facilities in the whole of Europe, as there are six golf courses all within the resort. The most popular is the Oceânico Old Course, which has long, narrow fairways surrounded by densely forested trees. Created in 1969 by Frank Pennik, the course has been used for the Portuguese Open, highlighting its quality.
By contrast, the Oceânico Millennium has very wide, open fairways, large water features and deep sandy bunkers. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the name, it was opened in the year 2000 and is one of the newer courses in Vilamoura. Upping the difficulty level, the second course created by Frank Pennik, Oceânico Pinhal, is one of the toughest in the resort. Fairways are extremely narrow and feature overhanging trees, which means you have to play your swings with pinpoint accuracy. Pestana Vila Sol is one of the only golf courses in Vilamoura not owned by the Oceânico group. It’s an ideal place for beginners, as there’s a full coaching academy and driving range here, whilst the course is a lush oasis lined with trimmed cypress trees.
Lying on the north-west outskirts of the resort, you’ll come to the final two Oceânico golf courses. Designed by golfing legend Arnold Palmer in 2004, Oceânico Victoria is perhaps the most beautiful, as it features huge lakes and artfully designed bunkers. It’s open fairways and lack of trees may look forgiving, but you’ll need all your golfing skills to conquer the dog legs and island greens the course challenges you to. Finally, Oceânico Laguna sits close to a nature reserve, and some of its beauty seems to have rubbed off on the course itself. Like Victoria, Laguna features a number of large lakes that always add intrigue.
If you’re feeling suitably sporty after your time on the greens, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a whole range of ways to keep active in the resort. The Vilamoura Tennis Club is one of the biggest in the Algarve, and it features twelve hard surface tennis courts kept in pristine condition. And as the warm evenings in Portugal are perfect for tennis, five of them are floodlit so you can carry on playing well into the night. There’s also five floodlit five-a-side football pitches and full tennis coaching available for everyone, from experts to beginners.
Out to sea, the action continues in the form of big game fishing and deep sea diving. The warm Atlantic waters that surround the Algarve are a haven for sea life, from dolphins and whales to marlin and tuna. The crystal clear waters make scuba diving very special – at the seabed it’s likely you’ll see octopuses, conger eels and brightly coloured coral.
For exploring the beauty of the green countryside that engulfs the coastline of Vilamoura, you may instead prefer to go on a relaxing horse ride. The Vilamoura Riding Centre even offers lessons in their horse riding ring first, so you can get used to riding a horse if you’re a complete beginner. Once you feel confident, you can ride into the Environmental Park, protected green wetlands that cover over 200 hectares and attract hundreds of wild birds.
That brings us back to those ancient ruins. During the building work of Vilamoura, the foundations for a Roman villa and baths were discovered, named Cerro da Vila. Incredibly, the ruins date back to the 2nd century AD and the time of Augustus, the first Roman Emperor. At the site, you’ll also see salt baths and patterned monochrome mosaics with a modern museum just opposite that displays Roman, Visigoth and Moorish artefacts.
“Definitely go on a dolphin viewing trip – amazing.”