The beautiful fishing town of Portimão is ideally situated for exploring the Algarve region. It offers the visitor a rich heritage of historical monuments, the natural beauty of the Ria de Alvor, the charm of cultivated fields and fields covered in wild flowers. The coastline consists of sandy beaches, incredibly coloured rock formations, caves and protected nature reserves.
The town is located at the mouth of the River Arade and its harbour has made a popular trading port from as far back as Phoenician and Greek times.
A new marina has just been built adjoining the popular tourist area of Praia da Rocha giving you the opportunity to enjoy a multitude of new bars and restaurants while you watch the world go by.
If you like game fishing, Portimão is one of the main big game centres in the Algarve, offering the chance to catch fighting swordfish. You’ll also find places that offer sailing, wind-surfing, para-sailing waterskiing and scuba diving. The blissful climate and beautiful countryside, Portugal has become a golfer’s paradise and the area surrounding Portimão is no exception as you’ll find several golf courses each with its own charm and challenges.
Portimão itself is quite easy to get around. It’s small and compact enough to make everything within a five-minute drive or hire a car at a reasonable rate to explore this part of the Algarve.
Things To Do
- Spot the small statues along the harbour.
- Take a photo of the bridge – it’s made from metal left over from the building of the Eiffel Tower.
- Visit LG 1 De Dezembro park – famous for its blue tile pictures.
- Praca da Republica is an impressive square in the centre of Portimao.
- Don’t miss the storks nesting on the tops of the old chimneys.
- Take a little ‘Viking’ boat up the river.
- Have fun in the Slide and Splash waterpark.
- Catch a boat ride or fishing trip from town.
When the sun goes down why not head off to a vantage point from which to watch the sun disappear into the sea before heading off to enjoy the varied nightlife which includes a wide variety of attractions. If you enjoy the bright lights of a casino, there is an excellent casino in Praia da Rocha, which offers stylish restaurants and bars, a selection of musical and variety shows and gambling rooms with slot machines, poker, roulette, blackjack, dice and baccarat.
Festivals abound in the Algarve during summer time with many concerts, festivals and fairs to enjoy. You’ll find an assortment of music for all tastes from jazz clubs to piano bars and sophisticated discos. The highlight of the summer is probably the week-long annual sardine festival, held in Portimão.
If you’re looking for traditional Portuguese crafts, Portimão is the perfect place. Century old designs are crafted into palm and rushwork items, decorative copper and tin objets, baskets, footwear and lace. More modern items for sale include painted textiles and tapestries which are often decorated with regional motifs. In the bustling pedestrian streets of Ruas Comercio and Vasco da Gama you will find hand-knitted sweaters, hand-painted porcelain, leatherware, woodcarvings and pottery from factories and local artisans from all over Portugal. In Rua Direita you will find beautifullyembroidered local linens and cottons. For the most up to date merchandise visit the enormous Modelo shopping mall for every type of shop imaginable under one roof.
The best thing about the cuisine in the Algarve is its guaranteed freshness with locally grown fruit and vegetables and fish you can see being brought into the harbour and sold to the local restaurants to appear on your table that same day. Try the delicious regional fish specialities, razor clam risotto, baby fried cuttlefish, seafood rice or fish stew with clams. Try the other local meat dishes and delicious cakes and desserts and enjoy with a locally grown wine from the Penina region of Portimão.
Portimão is surrounded by many beautiful places to visit, but you might like to consider is Armacao de Pera with its small 18th century fortress or the small beach village of Alvor. Across the river is the unspoilt fishing village of Ferragudo, with the fort of St John of Arade, Portimão´s primary defence against pirates.
Hire a car and visit Mexilhoeira Grande an old village with its 16th century Renaissance church; Ria de Alvor a wildlife sanctuary for migratory birds; Abicada, a Roman villa with its wonderful mosaic work; Alcalar, an important Neolithic/ Chalcolithic burial ground dating back to 2000-1600 BC. Make sure you don’t miss the Castle and Cathedral in Silves or Cape Vicente and Henry the Navigator’s fort in Sagres. The castle at Silves was built in the 11th century and is the largest and best conserved castle in the Algarve. It still dominates the skyline and is a wonderful example of the magnificence of the Islamic empire – from its intricate defensive structures, enormous main gate and beautiful architecture. The town church of Our Lady of Conception dates from 1476 but underwent many changes from 1717 onwards. It has three naves and an impressive altar with carved and gilded baroque decoration.
Portimao also has some interesting museums: The municipal museum is housed in an old sardine canning factory where different art, history and general culture exhibitions are held on a regular basis. The archaeological museum at Alcoutim Castle has exhibits from around the castle while the Museum of Religious Art offers religious and historical artefacts.