Quarteira was one of the first resorts to be developed along the Algarve coast. Apparently there was once a small fishing village here, but before you start imagining quaint whitewashed fisherman's cottages huddled around a little harbour that Quarteira has long since gone. Today the resort consists of high-rise apartment blocks along the sea front backed by a town that has little in the way of obvious charm.
Despite the developer's' worst efforts Quarteira does still have some undeniably good features. Chief among these is a fantastic stretch of sandy beach, the Praia de Quarteira. Stretching for nearly 2 kilometres the beach here runs from the harbour right to the edge of town. Beyond this, the name of the beach changes but the sand continues all the way to Faro and beyond.
Running the length of the beach is the bustling palm tree-lined promenade. Between, this and the beach there is little else worthy of exploring in Quarteira itself.
Quarteira differs from many of the other older resort towns along the Algarve, such as Albufeira, in that it has more of a Portuguese character. So whilst you will find the ubiquitous Irish Pub there are lots of Portuguese style cafes and restaurants. These include some good seafood options as there is still a thriving fishing industry in the town.
At the western end of town is Quarteira's harbour, which is very much a working fishing port. This can offer something of a welcome relief from the wall-to-wall tourist offerings on the main strip a hundred metres or so from here. It is quite enjoyable to walk out along one of the long pier arms and watch the comings and goings of the fishing boats. In addition there are great views back to Quarteira and Vilamoura from the pier ends.
Another Quarteira tradition that pre-dates the tourist boom are its markets. There is a fish market Monday to Saturday from 8am to 3pm and a vegetable market that runs 7 days a week. Both take place by the harbour. The town is also home to a weekly flea market which takes place near the bus station every Wednesday.