Portimão is the second biggest city in the Algarve, Portugal, and famous for its fresh fish restaurants, grilled sardines being the most famous dish. One of the most well known beaches in the Algarve, Rocha ("Praia da Rocha") "Rocky Beach", is very close to Portimao, and there are numerous others nearby.
Portimão (poor-tee-MOW - rhymes with "cow", /puɾ.ti.ˈmɐ̃w/) is former fishing and shipbuilding centre has developed into a strong tourist centre oriented along its beaches and southern coast.
Trains on the rather slow regional line between Lagos and Faro stops here, it's about a 1½ hour journey from Faro, for connections to Lisbon change trains in Tunes just over half an hour to the east. Most trains continue on to Vila Real de Santo António on the Spanish border after a short layover in Faro. The train is the cheapest way to get here from Lagos (Portugal) and only takes half an hour.
Eva Bus offers numerous daily connections from Faro. There are also 5-6 daily connections from Lisbon (3 hours, €19) on the Expresso Qualidade service, and once daily from Seville (6 hours, €19) on the Lagos-Sevilha service. The bus station is on Largo do Dique a bit north of the centre, about 500 m south of the road bridge.
- 1 Aeródromo Municipal de Portimão (Portimão Airport, PRM IATA), ☏ , [email protected]. Air service to Portimão is provided by Sevenair from Bragança (BGC IATA), Cascais (CAT IATA), Vila Real (VRL IATA), and Viseu (VSE IATA).
The main beach area, Praia da Rocha, is 3.5km away from the tourist centre of town. You can walk between them but you'll see only motorways and apartment blocks for half an hour.
There is a pretty reliable and cheap (around 1.5€/ride) public bus system for travelling around and outside the city. Google maps contain the timetables, handy for an easy navigation.
- 1 Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Mother Church), Largo da Igreja. Built in the 15th century and almost completely destroyed in the 1775 earthquake. Later, its portico (Gothic with capitals decorated with vegetative motifs) was rebuilt. ) comes from the original church.
- 2 Convento do Colégio dos Jesuítas, Praça da República 25. Built in the 17th century by Diogo Gonçalves, it is located on the corner of Rua do Comércio. On the façade, three bodies are distinguished, the highest corresponding to the church. The church has a single nave, one of the largest in the Algarve. The altars are in gilded wood carved from the 17th century.
- 3 Fortaleza de Santa Catarina de Ribamar (Fort of Santa Catarina), Praia da Rocha. It was built in the 16th century, with the objective of defending the coast against piracy attacks. The fortress also belonged to the small chapel dedicated to Santa Catarina, still visible today. With a magnificent view over Praia da Rocha and the Marina, it is one of the most visited spots in the region.
- 4 Portimao museum. In the museum there is a reconstruction of the daily functioning of fish unloading, with life-sized mannequins of the workers. Also canning industry, shipbuilding, fishing, stowage and others are shown.
- 5 Alcalar. A group of around 18 burial tombs from 3000BC, that comprise a Calcolithic necropolis, located on a hilltop. The smallish museum area contains a showcase of the history of the area, two burial tombs and one (broken-down) lime kiln.
- Wild dolphin watching trips sail from Marina de Portimão in Praia do Rocha.
- Watch football at Portimonense SC, who play soccer in Primeira Liga, the country's top tier. Their stadium, Estádio Municipal de Portimão (capacity 9,500), is just south of city centre.
- 1 Algarve International Circuit (Autódromo Internacional do Algarve). A motor-racing course that hosts Formula One, motorbikes and other races. Outside the public events, it's not really accessible for visits and none of the racetrack is visible.
- Visit 2 Benagil Cave (one of the most popular maritime caves of Portugal) with or without an expert guide. You can rent a paddle board on site.
- Take a catamaran cruise and have a barbecue on the beach after visiting caves.
- 3 Praia da Rocha (a 30-minute walk from the centre of town or a 70-cent bus ride). The beautiful beach.
- 4 Praia do Vau (walk west, along the scenic cliffs). The less known beach, but what a gem!
- 5 Praia de Alvor. a nice walk along the river, with a nice long beach. The beach is full of shells, especially during low tide.
The main street shopping area has a wealth of nice shops supplying clothes, jewelry, and ornamental objects.
- 1 Pizzeria Bulli & Pupe, Rua da Falésia (Praia da Rocha), ☏ .
- 2 Terezinha, Rua Direita 97, ☏ . The oldest restaurant in Portimao and provides a fantastic seafood meal at very reasonable prices.
- 3 Vista, Avenida Tomás Cabreira 1, Praia da Rocha, ☏ , [email protected]. Michelin-starred restaurant with superb ocean views, specializing in fish and seafood. €150.
- 1 Casa Inglesa, Praça Manuel Teixeira Gomes 2 (River front), ☏ , [email protected]. 08:00–20:00. Dixieland jazz every Thursday at 20:30.
- 1 Clube Praia da Rocha, Avenida das Comunidades Lusíadas, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00.
- 2 Mirachoro Apartments II, Urb. Alto do Quintão 64/65, ☏ . Inexpensive 3-star hotel.
- 3 NAU Morgado Golf & Country Club, Morgado do Reguengo Resort, ☏ .
- 4 Penina Hotel & Golf Resort, EN 125, ☏ , [email protected]. A "luxurious" hotel and golf resort, part of the JJW Hotels & Resort Group, comprises an 18-hole championship course and other amenities.