A Vilamoura holiday is a great idea – it’s a quieter resort than it’s nearby neighbour Albufeira with a little more greenery and space around it. It’s a great base for exploring everything the Algarve region has to offer and it is within easy reach of Faro airport.
Keep reading to check out my review of two Vilamoura hotels plus things to do in Vilamoura – ideal for helping you to plan your Vilamoura holiday.
Vilamoura Holiday – Getting There From the UK
The main airport in the Algarve is Faro airport. It’s set a little outside the town of Faro, which is worth a visit if you get the time.
Jet2 have lots of holidays flying into Faro. Given the popularity of Algarve holidays it’s no surprise to see plenty of flight availability.
Skyscanner currently have direct flights listed to Faro from the UK flying from the following airports;
Cheapest flights for the upcoming year currently range from £19 to £73 one way.
Faro Airport is small and therefore easy to navigate.
The flight time is 2 hours and 50 minutes from Luton.
As you can see there is plenty of flight availability which makes a Vilamoura holiday a good option.
Hiring a Car at Faro Airport
For our Vilamoura holiday we hired a car from Faro airport.
We hired it from Goldcar and I have to say it was a pretty grim experience collecting the car. Firstly, there was quite a long delay. At the collection desk the reservation agent was pretty grumpy that I wasn’t taking the car hire excess insurance cover, but that’s because I always buy a policy in advance which is much cheaper.
Having received the keys I went out to find the car which had a large number of scratches and dings. Given that no one had come out with me to the car I took photos and headed back into the office to let them know about the state of the car – I didn’t fancy a large bill at the end of the hire period. Again there was another long queue.
After what seemed like a very long time we finally got the keys and headed off to our hotel.
Getting to the Vilamoura Garden Hotel
The Vilamoura Garden Hotel was 30 minutes away from Faro airport. However, it took a bit longer than expected to get there because there was a huge rainstorm just after we set off from the airport which reduced visibility.
We stayed off the motorway and took the IC4 and the N125 to Vilamoura.
Arrival at the Vilamoura Garden Hotel
The Vilamoura Garden Hotel is located near a golf course and not far away from the older part of Vilamoura and the harbour area.
The hotel had parking and because it was November the hotel was very quiet so we were able to park practically at the front door.
The Vilamoura Garden hotel is located at the corner of a junction with the hotel facing inwards and set around a pool area.
Checking in the Vilamoura Garden Hotel
Check in was very straighforward. We chose the hotel as it was part of a package that we booked. 4 nights at the hotel including flights from the UK was £250 for the two of us.
On arrival we upgraded to a suite which gave us a separate bedroom as well as a lounge area and of course a bathroom.
Our Room at the Vilamoura Garden Hotel
The hotel was very clean and spacious. The separate bedroom was large with a Kingsize bed. The linen was crisp and clean.
The whole room was spotless.
The room faced the front, overlooking the road and the roundabout.
Vilamoura Garden Hotel Facilities
- The hotel had a nice reception and bar area which overlooked the terrace and the pool.
- On the ground floor beside the bar was the restaurant.
- The pool was pleasant with loungers set around it.
Due to my earlier than expected check out I didn’t get to try any of the facilities other than having a breakfast which was very nice.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 Excellent from 306 Reviews
- 4 out of 5 for Location
- 5 out of 5 for Cleanliness
- 5 out of 5 for Service
- 4.5 out of 5 for Value
Check out the Vilamoura Garden TripAdvisor reviews
Moving to the Pestana, Vila Sol
Thanks to the wonders of the Booking.com app I was able to search and find a great hotel deal nearby so I could continue my holiday – albeit solo.
I checked out of the Vilamoura Garden late morning and headed up to the Pestana Vila Sol.
Arriving at the Pestana Vila Sol
The hotel was a short drive from Vilamoura, set infact the other side of the golf course from my original hotel.
There was plenty of parking at a large communal car park on site.
Checking in at the Pestana Vila Sol
Check in was very easy and I was delighted when, despite arriving during the middle of the day, the receptionist handed me a key and said I could check into my room.
The reception area itself was a large, bright space with lots of seating beside the water features and gardens outside.
My room was infact in a little two roomed bungalow set around a garden area. Facilities included;
- A lovely comfy bed in a colonial style
- Tea and coffee facilities
- Ensuite bathroom with nice fluffy towels, robe and slippers plus toiletries
- Lovely terrace with loungers and a great view across the garden area
- The room had free WIFI
Pestana Vila Sol Facilities
The hotel was quite large, with low level accommodation spread around the grounds. These were bungalow type bedrooms similar to mine.
The gardens were lovely and filled with tropical type plants including palm trees.
Water features dotted the gardens and my room looked over a pond with a waterfall and palm trees.
There was a large pool outside with an area for children
There was also an inside pool which had a jacuzzi beside it. This was located about 2 bungalows down from my room so it was very easy to access.
There was a gym onsite.
In the main building where reception was located was a bar, which did light meals through the day.
There was also a restaurant in the main building that did evening meals. This has a nice terrace area which looked over another water feature outside.
As it was November the outdoor pool wasn’t in use but the weather was still warm and pleasant. It was nice enough to sit outside in the evening – although that might just apply to those of us from the Highlands as I was the only person doing so!
Summary of My Stay;
- I really enjoyed my stay at the Pestana Vila Sol. It was really relaxing, which was perfect after such a bumpy start to my trip.
- The staff were friendly and welcoming which is always especially appreciated when travelling on your own.
- It was lovely to be able throw a robe over my swimsuit and take a short walk to the indoor pool. I spent lots of time in the pool and the jacuzzi and enjoying lounging beside the pool reading a book.
- I also enjoyed lounging overlooking the gardens. The resort was very quiet so it was lovely to see the birds coming to the pond and to sit and read.
- I stayed for 3 nights at the hotel and the cost was around £120 which I thought was good value for the room and because it was a 5 star hotel.
Rated 4 Very Good out of 1559 Reviews
- 4 out of 5 Location
- 4.5 out of 5 Cleanliness
- 4 out of 5 Service
- 4 out of 5 Value
Check out the Pestana Vila Sol TripAdvisor reviews
Find The Best Prices in Vilamoura Quickly with Map View
Vilamoura is a small resort set in the Algarve area of Portugal.
It is 25km from Faro airport.
Vilamoura is popular with golfers and it also has marina area with restaurants, cafes and shops around it. A Vilamoura holiday gives you a great location to get to everything in the Algarve area with a slightly quieter feel compared to other locations in the Algarve.
Vilamoura has plenty of things to do and is within easy reach of all the main attractions of the Algarve area.
Vilamoura Things to Do – Museo De Cerro Villa
I decided to spend some time exploring Vilamoura itself. My first stop was the Museo De Cerro Villa, where you could visit Roman remains. The remains are actually of two Roman villas, and date from the time that the Romans were in their heyday in the area, around 27BC.
There is a small museum next to the remains themselves with some interesting interpretation boards. It was very quiet when I visited, with me as the only visitor until a school group arrived.
Looking round the museum and the site took just over 1 hour.
The entry fee was 3 Euros and the museum is open in the mornings and the afternoons with a lunch break in the middle of the day.
The Marina was quite quiet, given the time of year I guess as I was there in November.
By the number of restaurants it was clearly a busy place in the summer season, with all sorts of cuisines available.
Given the fewer restaurants available I took a wander around the old streets and shops.
I then headed further along the marina and found a hairdresser where I got my haircut. It was, as it always is when having a hair cut abroad, an interesting experience and I learned a bit about local life.
Vilamoura Things to Do – Circular Drive!
If you have seen some of my other posts already then you will know I am a big fan of a circular drive!
Having got my map out I planned a circular drive from Vilamoura, travelling on the smaller and more rural roads.
I was a little nervous about driving, having not done so much driving overseas for a few years but it really was like riding a bike.
I headed North out of Vilamoura and picked up the local road the N125 and headed West. This road runs to the South of the main motorway, the A22 which links the East and West areas of the Algarve.
The N125 is a normal single lane carriageway road, so it is a little easier to enjoy the views along the way.
I then headed North on the N270 heading towards Paderne.
It was lovely to get away from the more touristy areas and out into the hills where I felt like I was seeing a bit more of local life. The villages I passed through were pretty and I stopped in a couple to take some photos.
I then turned onto the N124 and started to head East towards Alte.
I don’t know what made me stop at Alte, I hadn’t researched it too much and kind of stumbled into it. I managed to park up beside the river and walk back into the small town itself.
The river had a variety of terraces, bridges and a bar set right beside it. It was clearly a popular spot for locals to walk as well.
It was extremely quiet and very pretty.
I followed my nose into the centre of the small town and found a tiny cafe that was open and serving coffees. It was run by two very sweet elderly people and it was clearly a local’s cafe, given the chatter that was going on between the owners and the customers.
I sat outside, with the sun on my face and I have to admit I had a little cry.
It was such a beautiful spot and I was enjoying a lovely coffee. I had managed to find my way there, in my own little car, and having been a bit terrified at the thought of solo travel initially I felt a huge sense of freedom and knew this was something I wanted to do more of. It was a really memorable moment in my travelling life.
The town had a few small shops, and again because it was November it was very quiet. I can imagine Alte has a great atmosphere in the summer when it is busier, although I loved it when it was quiet.
I continued through Benafim and Salir, still on the N124. The road had climbed higher and the views were really lovely. The Algarve countryside was lush, green and the road gave views across it.
I turned South on the N396 and headed down through Querenca and continued into Loule.
Loule is a lovely town, which I had visited before when I had taken a coach trip there from a nearby hotel that me and my group were staying in.
This meant I was able to navigate through Loule and find my way through to continue on the N396 which brought me back to Vilamoura.
It was a very pleasant and easy drive, which took most of the day (starting around 10am and getting back around 4pm).
It was a fantastic way to experience the local area and I really enjoyed it. Infact it was the highlight of the trip for me.
If you are staying in Albufeira there is a great trip that takes in Loule market on a Saturday and Vilamoura! Check out the details below
Walking from the Pestana Vila Sol
I decided to spend a day exploring on foot so headed out of the Pestana resort to try and reach the local town. I walked South and headed through lots of holiday accommodation, these seemed to be mainly holiday villas.
There were a couple of restaurants and shops along the way before I reached the Pingo Doce supermarket.
From here I headed along the road, which several people seemed to do as there was no pavement. This was slighty terrifying given the speed of the drivers!
This brought me down into the fish market area of Quarteria and the beach. I have to say I wasn’t such a fan of this area. It was clearly popular with visitors in the summer so after having some breakfast I headed back to the hotel.
On the way I found a nice coffee at the Vila Sol Cafe. Infact it was so nice I went back for breakfast the next day!
Heading Out to the Beach
For my final day in Vilamoura I decided to head out in the car again.
I headed out to Praia Do Almargen which is a local sandy beach popular with locals. It had a cafe right on the beach which I was looking forward to visiting.
The beach was reached by travelling down a tiny, bumpy and pot holed road. There were little farms along the way together with plenty of cats!
Unfortunately the cafe was closed due to it being November but it was still nice to see the views.
I looked for somewhere to eat but couldn’t find anything that suited me open, so I headed back to the hotel after stopping off at Pingo Doce and getting in some things to eat and drink so I could spend the rest of the day relaxing on my lounger with nice snacks and drinks!
Summary of My Vilamoura Holiday
Despite the bumpy start I absolutely loved this holiday. It was my first solo exprerience and it gave me the confidence to start solo travelling. I even thanked the guy I had an argument with because without that argument I might never have!
Vilamoura Holiday – Some Places to Visit
I’ve been lucky enough to take several Algarve holidays, but also to take guests on Algarve holidays when doing tours of Portugal.
It’s a really interesting part of the country with lots to discover including;
The Eastern part of the Algarve – Tavira, Olhau and the Ria Formosa area. Lovely beaches, lovely town and nice markets too! There are some good spots for birdwatching – I still remember seeing a Hoopoe from the coach when in this area.
The Western end of the Algarve Sagres is very interesting, particularly the maritime school set up by Henry the Navigator. Lagos is also lovely with a very interesting museum and a very pretty town centre also. It’s well worth a day at least.
Loule is lovely and on Saturdays they have a large market sprawling through the town centre with both gypsy and farmers markets. There are lovely restaurants and the market hall building is lovely too. It’s a great place to pick up some treat and souvenirs at the same time.
If you do want to get out into the hills then why not do a circular route like I did? It’s easy to drive and you are bound to find some interesting villages along the way.
Vilamoura Holiday – Top Hotel Deals
This guidebook describes 33 walks in the beautiful Algarve in southern Portugal. Boasting good weather, easy access, stunning scenery and some great hiking trails, the region is a perfect destination for a walking holiday. It is best known for its spectacular coastline: the coastal trails presented here afford ample opportunity to admire the plunging sinkholes, striking sea-cliffs and rock-hugged beaches. However, the interior is every bit as beautiful and other walks explore the forested slopes of Monchique and the tranquil countryside between the mountains and coast.
Marco Polo Pocket Guide Algarve: the Travel Guide with Insider Tips Explore the Algarve with this handy, pocket-sized, authoritative guide, packed with Insider Tips. Discover boutique hotels, authentic restaurants, the region’s trendiest places, and get tips on shopping and what to do on a limited budget. There are plenty of ideas for travel with kids, and a summary of all the festivals and events that take place in this southern area of Portugal. Let Marco Polo show you all this wonderful region has to offer…
Travel Inspiration Series
This is a series of articles if you are looking for some travel inspiration or trip reviews. Other articles include;
- Istanbul City Break – With Things to Do and How to Get Around
- Birmingham City Break – Review including UK’s Oldest Cinema, Coffin Museum & Chinese Food
- Grasmere, Lake District Guide – including things to do and places to visit
- Newton Stewart – Guide including things to do, trips out and super cute cottage beside river
- Azores Holidays – everything you need to know about these undiscovered rural gems
Hotel Reviewer Articles
- Sabiha Gokcen Airport Hotel, Istanbul – A great hotel beside the airport terminal
- Suitel Bosphorus Taksim, Istanbul – A somewhat different hotel stay in Istanbul
- Courtyard by Marriott, Inverness – The new Inverness Airport hotel
- Village Hotel, Aberdeen – Resort hotel located on a business park
- Gatwick Airport Hotels, London Gatwick – Reviews of several Gatwick hotels
- Ibis, Birmingham Airport – Great budget hotel very close to the airport terminal
- Ibis Birmingham – Good city centre hotel beside the Chinese Quarter
- Vidamar Resort, Algarve – Resort hotel with dine around meals
- Hotel Sol E Mar, Albufeira – Hotel right on the beach at Albufeira
- Vilamoura Holidays – Reviews of the two lovely Vilamoura Hotels in the Algarve
If you are interested in how to find the cheapest hotel deals then check out my guide to cheap hotels booking