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Now virtually merged with Quarteira, VILAMOURA is a complete contrast, a constantly expanding resort (which will eventually cater to over half a million visitors) with a bewildering network of roads signposted to upmarket hotels and exclusive leisure facilities, including five renowned golf courses. It's perhaps the place in the Algarve to come and practise your swing, while another indication of the kind of clientele Vilamoura attracts is the ritzy marina, bristling with yachting hardware and lined by pricey international cafés. Various stalls offer boat trips which range from local excursions (from 15 for a two-hour trip) to dolphin-watching (up to 50 for a full-day excursion).
The only historical sight in Vilamoura is just to the northwest of the marina, where the Museu Cerra da Vila archeological site and museum (Tel:289 312 153; May– Sept Tues– Sun 10am–1pm & 3–8pm; Oct– April Tues– Sun 9.30am–12.30pm & 2–6pm; 2) displays the vestiges of a late Roman, Visigothic and Moorish colony. You can make out the foundations of a Roman mansion, baths and a fish-salting tank, together with well-preserved Roman mosaics laid out in a scrubby field.
The bus drops you next to the casino, one block from the impressive beach, the Praia da Marina. The enormous Tivoli Marinotel (Tel:289 303 303, Web: www.tivolihotels.com ; breakfast included; Price: Over 201) is typical of the accommodation here, a five-star place with every conceivable comfort, overlooking the marina. For a drink, meal or late-night action, Sete (Tel:289 313 625) in the marina is a fashionable chrome-and-steel café-bar part-owned by Portuguese soccer star Luís Figo, and named after his shirt number (sete, seven). Plasma TVs show the latest soccer action and guest DJs and karaoke nights feature. Even livelier, on the outskirts, opposite the Mobil garage on the Vilamoura-Albufeira road, Kadoc (Web: www.kadok.pt ; 11pm–6am: June– Sept daily; Oct– May Sat only) – the Algarve's biggest club – pulls in up to four thousand revellers a night, and often hosts guest DJs from all over Europe.
The Renaissance Vila Sol Algarve is an expanse of 150 hectares of countryside, including one of the finest 27-hole golf courses in the country. The hotel is ...