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QUARTEIRA has a very different feel to the deluxe resorts on either side. It was one of the first fishing villages to be developed in the Algarve, and remains high-rise and downmarket. Stick to the palm-lined seafront promenade and the attractive stretch of beach – Praia de Quarteira – and it's a pleasant enough destination, and at least it remains largely Portuguese in character. The main attraction is the bustling fish and vegetable market (Mon– Sat 8am–3pm, Sun vegetable market only 8am–2pm) by the working fishing harbour, to the west end of town, though there's also a good weekly flea market each Wednesday, a couple of blocks east of the bus station. You can also tour Quarteira on a road train which trundles along the seafront every hour or so (daily 10am–11pm; 4). Heading a few kilometres inland, Aquashow (Web: www.aquashowpark.com ; daily April– Oct 10am–5.30pm; 18, children 15) at Semino, out on the Loulé road, makes a change from the beach, with water slides, pools and crazy golf along with tropical birds and Europe's largest "watercoaster".
The bus terminus is a couple of blocks back from the beach, on Avenida Dr Sá Carneiro. The local turismo should be able to help with finding accommodation if there's no room at the very pleasant Pensão Miramar, Rua Gonçalo Velho 8, off the seafront (Tel:289 315 225, f289 314 671; Price: 36-55) – some rooms here have sea views, while others face a charming plant-lined internal terrace. There's also a well-equipped campsite (Tel:289 302 821, Web: www.orbitur.com ) 1km east of town, with a pool, shop and restaurants; any bus to or from Faro will stop outside it.
Quarteira boasts one of the Algarve's top seafood restaurants, O Jacinto at Avenida Dr Sá Carneiro (Tel:289 301 887; closed Mon), on the north side of the main road through town; it's the best place to try Quarteira prawns, rated as some of the best in the world. For something decidedly less expensive, Rosa Branca (Tel:289 314 430), at the market end of the seafront, has decently priced fish and grilled meats and outdoor tables facing the sands.
Dom Jos Beach Hotel in Quarteira/Vilamoura totally renewed in January 2011. This unit is one of the most well located in the Algarve, with beachfront location and an absolutely beautiful view over the deep blue ...