Cerro da Vila Museum (Museu de Cerro da Vila)
Dating back to the first and second centuries AD, when the Roman Empire occupied the Algarve, these sun-parched ruins include the remains of a villa, a bath complex, a necropolis, and granaries. Exhibitions at the site also include excavated finds from the Visigoths and Moors, both of whom occupied the site after the Romans.
Cerro da Vila is often visited as part of day tours that combine a visit to the historic site with trips to local markets—such as those found in Quarteira or Loulé—and the swanky Vilamoura Marina. At the site, foundations give an indication of how large the ancient villa would have been, while mosaics hint at its decorative richness. Information boards placed around the site help visitors interpret the ruins. While there, stop by the on-site museum, which features Roman and Moorish objects uncovered from the ruins as well as illustrations showing what the villa might have looked like through the centuries.
Things to know before you go
- The Cerro da Vila Museum is a must for travelers looking for cultural enrichment and a break from the beach.
- The paths at the ruins are uneven and may prove challenging for guests using strollers or wheelchairs.
- Allow 1–2 hours to fully explore the museum and archaeological site.
How to get there
The ruins are about a 5-minute walk from Vilamoura Marina. Regular buses run between Albufeira and Faro, stopping at Vilamoura Marina along the way. Services are less frequent on weekends.
When to get there
Cerro da Vila is open daily year-round but closes for a couple of hours around lunchtime so it’s better to come in the morning or mid- to late afternoon. Even in peak season, when the marina is bustling in peak season, the museum and ruins are typically tranquil.
Roman Ruins in the Algarve
Other remnants of Roman rule can be found dotted around the Algarve. Visit the Milreu Ruins on the outskirts of Faro, which contain the remains of a once-grand and sprawling villa, and Abicada near Portimão, where the remains of yet another palatial ancient mansion can be seen. To see more artifacts uncovered at Roman sites around the Algarve, visit Faro’s Municipal Museum (Museu Municipal de Faro).
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