Portimão! The cosmopolitan Algarvian city with “all in”. Portugal’s third busiest shipping port unfolds into a city of richness that blends pure nature with urban development! Come with us!
There are 8km of beaches to be discovered accompanied by seaside avenues and Portuguese sidewalks in the shade of palm trees that take us back to a postcard paradise. From the calm waters, to the caves, the archaeological records, the extreme sports, the breathtaking trails, the fresh local food and drink that accompany the busy night. Portimão takes you along the way like the embrace of its river as it flows into the sea. Portimão has its own rhythm and accompanies those who walk there!
WHERE IS IT AND HOW TO GET TO PORTIMÃO?
This old town is located in the southwestern Algarve, belonging to the district of Faro. The city center of Portimão is only 2 km from the sea. The easiest way to get there is by car via the A22 motorway. There are also buses and trains from Portimão to Lisbon and from the Algarve to Spain. Faro airport is only 30 minutes away by car.
WHEN TO VISIT PORTIMÃO?
With mild temperatures all year round and little rainfall, the city maintains a constant pleasant climate. Between June and September the months are the hottest but also the most crowded for summer vacations. During the months of May and October the climate is equally pleasant with maximum temperatures around 20º and little precipitation.
WHAT TO VISIT AND DO IN PORTIMÃO?
Here is a map with the main attractions in the center of Portimão!
RIVERSIDE AREA AND STREETS OF PORTIMÃO
Portimão is a perfect place to combine nature, rest, art and commerce. As you walk along the Portuguese sidewalk of the large avenue, you can contemplate the Arade river while the palm trees shade you. Sit on a bench by the river and observe the statues that cross our path. Have a nice fish for lunch and spend the afternoon jumping from store to store in the huge (and good) local commerce!
Walking through downtown Portimão I came across an atypical square with a millstone in the center. Nothing more, nothing less than the millstone of an olive oil mill that once existed there. In this central place of passage, we pass not only by the city but also by the history of its people. Here we used to sell pitchers of water to passers-by, now we exchange them for a drink downtown!
This large, cool square is the ideal place to start exploring Portimão with direct access to the main veins of the city. On a hot day, you can cool off in the fountain, relax on a bench or enjoy the surrounding gardens. If you come by car, there is an underground parking lot on site, the perfect place to leave it.
MANUEL TEIXEIRA GOMES SQUARE
The square is named after Manuel Teixeira Gomes, a lover of Portimão who elevated it from a town to a city! A place that crosses the waterfront and invites us to stop at one of the esplanades around the lake for refuge from the heat or to enjoy the view and city calm of the place.
MAIN CHURCH OF PORTIMÃO (IGREJA NOSSA SENHORA DA CONCEIÇÃO)
As old as the town of Portimão, the Igreja Senhora da Conceição, a religious monument of public interest, dates its origin to the 15th century. Originally of Portuguese late-Gothic style, the church underwent major renovations after having suffered severe damage during the 1755 earthquake.
SANTA CATARINA FORTRESS
This military building was once used to defend the population of Portimão and Silves from corsair attacks. Strategically well located at praia da rocha in communion with the mouth of the river arade. Today it only keeps its original façade and serves to defend us from the sublime view with a viewpoint over the arade basin, the marina and the city and even has a staircase down to the beach.
Portimão tells its history by renewing it. Its museum was once the site of a cannery. Since 1996 it appears to tell the stories of the people and exploits of this land emerging as a pole of cultural intervention with emphasis on identity and territory. The centennial space also has an auditorium, multipurpose room and documentation center.
In the 1º de Maio square we find this Palace that was once home and property of a family that gave it its name and with a lot of political influence in the city. This neoclassical building is currently the City Hall.
JESUIT COLLEGE CHURCH
Visually striking monument due to its robustness and simplicity. It was here, in the current Alameda da Praça da República, that Diogo Gonçalves had this church and college built in gratitude for having found a safe haven after strong storms at sea. A property of municipal interest, it is open for visits during weekdays between 8am and 6pm.
THE 6 BEST BEACHES IN PORTIMÃO
To help you organize your walks, we have prepared a map with the location of the best beaches in Portimão.
PRAIA DA ROCHA
One of the most coveted beaches in the Algarve. As soon as I got there I realized why. It has a sandy beach that stretches for more than 1km. The beach has fine sand, calm, crystalline waters and a mild temperature. Along the shore we find bars, viewpoints, changing rooms, sports areas… You may ask: what doesn’t this beach have?
3 CASTLES BEACH (PRAIA DOS 3 CASTELOS)
Located near praia da rocha, follows praia dos 3 castelos or as it is also called, praia do branquinho. Equally beautiful and inviting, the beach has all the amenities and even a health center during the summer. Enjoy the views from the cliffs that cover it as well as the abundant nightlife.
PRAIA DOS CAREANOS
This beach precedes the Praia da Rocha beach and has an equally long stretch of sand. The access is by a steep staircase but completely worth it. When I arrived I found a stunning layer of colors from subtle ochre to fiery red that undulate on the rocks. Caves and recesses that sometimes penetrate the sea and sometimes are hidden by the cliffs! And beware, these are unstable and you should not sunbathe too close to them. Between this beach and the beloved one is not to lose the trail through the cliffs (signaled) that connects the two beaches and with unique views.
PRAIA DOS 3 IRMÃOS
Praia dos 3 irmãos beach or praia do alvor nascente is located in a paradisiacal bay surrounded by cliffs. Cut by cliffs, it is possible to cross over, with caution, during low tide to Prainha. One of my favorite beaches because of the formation of dunes that shelter several species of birds and plants as well as the rocks that cross the sea. It is the ideal place to enjoy the sunset.
The romantic and shy beach of Portimão. You reach it by a stone staircase that runs along the cliffs to the heart of the shell-shaped beach. You can also reach the sand of this small, intimate beach via the beach bar elevator (exclusive use for clients). Staying at this pearl of Portimão has its drawbacks as the cliffs are unstable and there is little place where you can lay your towel completely safely. From the sand directly into the sea, this is undoubtedly the ideal place for diving!
PRAIA DO ALEMÃO
One of the quietest beaches with a spacious sandy beach and a calm, translucent sea. Still, with easy access, bar and awnings. Here the red of the cliffs meets the blue of the sea and the green of the many pine trees on top of the cliffs. If you want to enjoy the sea from another perspective climb the “sea balconies”, a footpath that runs along the cliffs. It’s well worth it!
VIRTUAL TOUR IN PORTIMÃO
OTHER ACTIVITIES IN PORTIMÃO
NATURAL TOURS (Portimão’s natural routes)
The city does not live by the beach alone. What makes me love this city the most when it comes to spending my vacations is the opportunity to combine beach and nature. There are several pedestrian and boat paths, both by sea and by river, that make you immerse yourself in the city and never want to leave it.
Not to be missed the route of the Alvor river or the “delicate rock”, passing through salt pans, agricultural fields, bush and sightings of various types of birds. I chose to do the 8km route by bike, which is also an excellent way to explore nature.
The circular route of the “sea balconies” between Praia do vau and João de Arens is another trail not to be missed. Be careful when getting lost in the breathtaking views and watch where you put your feet because the path goes under the cliffs.
Portimão is a city that always overflows with color and energy. There is nothing better than ending your beach day with a cocktail by the sea at the Sunset bar, listening to live music in one of the many Irish pubs we can find in the city or still calmly enjoying the night at the Bolan Bar terrace. From downtown to the seaside, the choice is hard and rich.
Arriving in the riverside area of Portimão I spotted the beautiful catamaran. I admired it like a lifeguard looking at the sea on hot days, until I went on an adventure. It’s a trip not to be missed on the waters of the Algarve, with a view of the jagged coastline and sightings of caves.
To contrast with the maritime adventure, jeep tours are an excellent option to get to know the interior in a different way. Cross the mountains, rediscover the scents of nature, and lose yourself in it.
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR PORTIMÃO?
This small picturesque village on the other side of the river arade makes us travel back in time, in its nearly 500 years of history. A place of cultural and scenic richness, with a long stone wall separating the fishing houses from the water. The ideal place to rest as do the many small wooden boats on the sea. Walking to the lighthouse, visiting the São João do Arade fort, enjoying the panoramic view in front of the Ferragudo church or drinking a coffee in the Rainha Dona Leonor square are among the many activities to relax and explore the village.
Its name of Moorish origin reveals one of the characteristics of this village, which still preserves several traces of Moorish occupation, castles and medieval churches. A quiet place with narrow streets and houses tucked away by the sea. Canoeing, visiting the castle or even walking along the huge walkway that runs along the river estuary, the dunes and landing on the beach are activities not to be missed in this postcard from the Algarve, right next to Portimão.
HISTORY OF PORTIMÃO
The name of the city is in itself indicative of its greatness. Those who think that the Algarve is all about beaches and tourists should not be fooled. Portimão, a name very possibly derived from Latin, meaning “Great Port”, takes us back to what may have been the importance of the city. With archaeological remains, showing the presence of several navigators who over the centuries used this land as a route of North African and Mediterranean routes.
By looking closely at the chimneys we can travel back in time and understand the Moorish influences in the local architecture. Portimão grew exponentially at an industrial level in the early 20’s becoming a city and today is one of the largest tourist and commercial centers of the Algarve.
The sea in sight in this land of fishermen, brings us to the plate an experience that the palate can not miss. Here, with body, soul and mouth from Portimão, I tasted the famous grilled (and fresh) sardines of the region. The soft, loose wine from the region lulls the palate. To finish, a regional candy, commonly almond and carob flavored, may contain a filling of gila, fig, or egg jam. I made myself bold and didn’t refuse the sweet and full-bodied medronho brandy like the city.