The biggest town in the Western Algarve, Portimão is packed with shops, appealing restaurants and cafés, and a handful of historic sites and attractions. Explore the city streets on foot and absorb the laid-back atmosphere, then hit the beach just south of town for a fix of sun, sea and sand.
Up until the 1980s, Portimão’s docks would have been packed with fishing boats, with the town serving as a center for sardine fishing and processing. Today, however, the fishing industry has been overtaken by tourism and retail, and the town draws visitors who want to shop and dine amid pleasant surrounds.
Start by strolling around the historic center of town, where much of the architecture dates back to the 19th and 20th centuries. Look for historic religious buildings such as the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, parts of which date back to the 15th century. Venture inside to inspect the hand-painted azulejo tiles up close.
Find out more about the town’s fishing heritage at the award-winning Museu de Portimão. Set in the building that once served as the town’s fish cannery, the museum tells the story of the town’s fishing industry as well as documenting the human history of the region from prehistoric times to the modern day.
If you need somewhere to rest, stop for a break in the Jardim Visconde Bivar on the riverfront. Many restaurants along the riverfront Ribeirinha serve delicious fresh seafood. Grilled sardines are considered a local specialty.
Just south of town is Praia da Rocha, one of the most well-known beach resorts in the Algarve. Spend days on the golden-sand beaches, sunning and swimming, then experience the resort’s nightlife in its many bars and clubs.
The nearest commercial airport to Portimão is in Faro, about 43 miles (70 kilometers) away. Trains and buses connect Faro to Portimão. Portimão itself is walkable, with the beach of Praia da Rocha just a 30-minute stroll or a short bus ride from town.