High-rise apartment buildings now face the sea in Quarteira, so it’s not exactly aesthetically pleasing and lacks the traditional charm of other destinations in the region, but it remains popular thanks to its more affordable prices. It’s especially popular with Portuguese families.
Tour operators and guidebooks don’t even mention it, so there are fewer foreign tourists. This has helped it continue to be a budget destination, with cheaper restaurants and accommodation. Faro and Albufeira aren’t very far, so it’s also a good base to explore the region. It doesn’t have historic sites or monuments, so for a day of culture, a day trip to the surroundings is highly recommended.
As Quarteira caters to a large number of Portuguese tourists and locals, it provides some of the best value restaurants and bars found within the central Algarve. Quarteira is also renowned for its excellent seafood restaurants, with fresh fish being caught by the town’s fishermen and being sold in the fish market every morning.
During the summer, Quarteira has a lively and social atmosphere and is an enjoyable holiday destination. If you want a beautiful beach, sensible prices, and great weather for your holiday, then Quarteira could be the ideal location for you.
The long beach is divided by jetties into six different sections with different names, about 300 meters (close to 1000ft) in length. But no one really uses these names. It’s all one long beach and simply referred to as Praia da Quarteira. It can be crowded in August. The water is usually calm in the summer, but it gets deep fast, so always keep an eye on children. There are lifeguards between June and September when you can also rent parasols and loungers.
Behind the beach is Avenida Infante de Sagres, a promenade faced by restaurants and shops and lined with palm trees, children’s playgrounds, and fitness stations for open-air workouts. Completely pedestrianized on the eastern end, it’s where everyone goes for a stroll, including at night when there is often live music and other entertainment. But Quarteira is not a party beach town like Albufeira.
On the western end of the promenade, you’ll find the fruit and fish markets. They occupy two connected buildings decorated with tile panels and are where local and tourist families get their fruits, vegetables, and fish caught just a few hours earlier. There are a few exceptions, like the salmon, which are imported, but most of what is sold here is brought by local fishermen. You just have to go early in the morning as most are sold by lunchtime.
The other main attraction in Quarteira is the Aquashow, Algarve’s largest water park. It’s open between the months of May and September, and you can expect big water slides, a pool with waves, a “tropical pool” with waterfalls, and educational shows about birds and reptiles. Best of all, if you stay at the connected hotel, admission is free.
What to see and do in Quarteira
Praia de Quarteira – The gorgeous sandy beach that extends along the entire front of Quarteira.
The fishing heritage of Quarteira – With the colorful fishing harbor, lively fish market, and excellent seafood restaurants around the Largo das Cortes Reais plaza.
Avenida Infante de Sagres – The pleasant beachside promenade, where all of Quarteira’s restaurants, bars, and shops are found.
Golf – Algarve is famed for its outstanding golf courses and many of the finest are within the sprawling town of Vilamoura, which is just along the coast from Quarteira. These are the Millenium, the Old Course, Vila Sol, Pinhal, and Victoria, among others.
Quarteira makes from a great destination for a golf holiday, which is free of exclusivity and unnecessary trendiness.
Quarteira daily market – Quarteira has a lively fish and food market, which is a great place to experience normal Portuguese daily life. The fish sold in the market is freshly caught that morning by the local fishermen while the fruit and vegetables are locally grown, and are delicious and inexpensive. On Sundays, the market does not sell fish.
There is also a popular gypsy market on the edge of Quarteira, held on Wednesdays, which sells local handicrafts.
Nightlife – For a stylish night out take a taxi to the marina complex of Vilamoura, which boasts some of the trendiest bars and restaurants of the Algarve. There is no better place for a special or romantic meal of freshly caught fish, than overlooking the marina which is filled with multi-million Euro yachts. Vilamoura has an extensive selection of bars where you can party until the sun rises.
Eating out – One of the main attractions of Quarteira is the selection of restaurants and bars that line the beachfront and the welcoming atmosphere that they provide. An enjoyable afternoon can be spent savoring the delicious fish-based meals or drinking locally produced wines under the glorious climate of the Algarve. Eating out in Portugal is significantly cheaper than back at home and all restaurants have lunchtime offers, such as meal of the day.
When choosing a hotel, it is advisable not to go all-inclusive as this will severely limit the options of when and where to eat.
Quarteira offers some of the best seafood restaurants in the Algarve. Portuguese foods tend to be hearty and filling, and Algarve specialties are based around freshly caught fish or shellfish. One dish to try is Cataplana, a seafood rice stew, that is both cooked and served in a large copper dish that resembles the key ingredient, clams. Cataplana is designed to be shared, with the copper dish being placed in the center of the table. Locally produced wines are the perfect accompaniment for any meal!
Aquashow Park – This is one of the Algarve’s best waterparks and is located within Quarteira. This waterpark is great not only for children and teenagers but also for adults, contained within the well-maintained complex are gravity-defying flumes, wave pools, and near-vertical slide rides. Perfect for the adrenaline junkie! For more details on Aquashow Park, visit their website here: http://www.aquashowparkhotel.com/en
Boat trips – Departing from the marina in Vilamoura (5 min by car, or 20 min walk) are an assortment of different boat trips, which include tours of the coastline, dolphin spotting, and deep sea fishing. For the more adventurous are speed boat tours or jet skis, while for a total indulgence charter a private yacht for a sunset cruise.
Zoomarine – This is a wonderful marine park that specializes in dolphins, marine life, and tropical birds. In the marine park, there is a diverse selection of activities including dolphin shows, aquariums, and a good water park with slides, wave pools, and rapids. The animals of Zoomarine are kept in modern facilities and all are well cared for.
The variety of attractions means Zoomarine is ideal for both families and young couples. Further information can be seen on their website: https://www.zoomarine.pt/en/
Beaches by Quarteira
The main draw of Quarteira, and the original reason the town developed as a tourist destination, was due to the wonderful sandy beach. The golden sands extend along the entire length of the town and then blend into the pristine beaches of Vale de Lobo.
Along the Quarteira section of the beach, there is a pleasant beach-front promenade. If you enjoy long walks by the sea, walk to the right when facing the sea, all the way to Vilamoura. This resort town built around a marina has a casino and Roman ruins in addition to the beach frequented by tourists staying at the luxury hotels behind it. And about 10 to 15 minutes by car to the east is the calmer and more exclusive beach of Vale do Lobo.
The sea waters of Quarteira are clean and calm, and suitable for children to swim in. During the summer, the beach is supervised by lifeguards, and it can get busy, but there is usually space to be found within the Vale de Lobo sections of the beach.
Day trips from Quarteira
From Quarteira, it is only a 15-minute walk to Vilamoura, and departing from the marina in Vilamoura are boat tours, dolphin-watching trips, and speed boat rides.
Quarteira’s nightlife is laid back and social, but it is easy to travel to ‘The Strip’ in Albufeira for a drink-fuelled party night.
Outside of the peak season, Quarteira is an excellent alternative to Vilamoura for a golfing holiday, due to its sensible prices and close proximity to outstanding golf courses.
How to get to Quarteira
The main airport of southern Portugal is Faro Airport, and this is located 20 km to the east of Quarteira. There is very limited public transport from this Airport to Quarteira, and the journey requires two buses (Faro Airport to Faro City, and then Faro City to Quarteira).
Taxi journeys from the airport are very expensive, and there can be very high demand for Uber at peak times. So, it is highly recommended either to pre-book a transfer or get a sharded transfer from the airport.
By car, Quarteira is 25 minutes from Faro and close to a half hour from Albufeira. Take road N125 and follow the signs. There’s plenty of parking around the city, including close to the beach.
Quarteira doesn’t have its own train station, the closest one is in Loulé, about 7 km (over 4 miles) to the north.
Buses connect it to Faro, Vilamoura, Albufeira, and Loulé. The Vamus bus n° 87 goes to Loulé (taking about 30 minutes), and the n° 9 runs between Faro and Albufeira, stopping in Quarteira on the way, in about 40 minutes. The bus terminal is right in the center, on Avenida Francisco Sá Carneiro, within walking distance of most hotels and the beach.
Why choose Quarteira?
Quarteira is a fantastic location for a holiday if you are seeking a relaxing, low-key holiday destination; where the majority of the day is spent lounging on the beach and evenings are spent socializing in restaurants and beach bars. This type of holiday perfectly suits young families, slightly more mature couples, or retirees.
The nightlife of Quarteira is calm and bar-focused; this will be too tame for you if you are part of a party-focused group. For these types of holidays, head to Albufeira.
Quarteira has few historical monuments or sights and is not the destination if you want a Portuguese cultural experience. To discover the historic and authentic side of the Algarve, plan a holiday to Tavira or Lagos.
In the low seasons, Quarteira makes for a great base for a golfing holiday, as it is very close to the golf courses of Vilamoura, but without the exclusive costs.
Quarteira could be classed as a budget destination, as the prices for eating out and socializing are significantly lower than many of the other resort towns of the Algarve. These lower prices are in part due to the popularity of Quarteira with Portuguese tourists, who demand similar prices to their hometowns. Outside of the summer season, Quarteira provides excellent value for accommodation.
Accommodation in Quarteira