Portimao, the Algarve's second largest city (designated a city in 1924) after Faro, manages to combine being a true Portuguese commercial and industrial base with bustling tourist attractions and superb local Algarve beaches rather well. It feels like a mini city as you drive in. Portimao is the Algarve's main fishing port and both the fishing industry and tourist fishing trips thrive here. You've a choice of devine Algarve beaches around Portimao, including one of the best beaches on the Algarve - Praia da Rocha. Historic buildings and stylish architecture, including numerous art nouveau designs - a legacy of Portimao's 1920s boom years, sit with chic shops in Portimao's centre and you can hook into numerous boat trips either up the River Alvor to Silves or along the dramatic coastline upto Algar Seco east or towards Lagos west. Portimao also benefits from a developing new marina offering a choice of more chic restaurants, bars and shops.
Portimao Tourist Information Centre, Largo 1 de Dezembro, 8500 Portimao, Algarve, Portugal. Tel: (351) 282 419132.
Portimao's town centre is pleasant indeed as many buildings were decorated with stunning tilework during the 1920s - the style is distinctly art nouveau. Quality shopping is on the menu particularly around Rua do Comercio, Rua Vasco da Gama and Rua Direita with everything from shoes, cottons, an open air market (first Monday every month) and off the wall clothing here. There's a flea market too in Portimao on Avenida Sao Joao de Deus on the first and third Sunday of every month in the mornings. Well worth checking out!
If you're a fishing fan looking to take fishing trips on the Algarve, then Portimao will feature heavily in your holiday itinerary. Lots of fishing trips for both experienced anglers and beginners are offered around Portimao quay. Choose from River cruises or coastal tours exploring the caves around Algar Seco. Visit Portimao Marina (weblink right) and hook into Dolphin watching trips and pirate boat trips galore (see weblinks right, especially Dolphin Seafaris based at Portimao Marina).
In Portimao town centre the main hub is Praca Manuel Teixeira Gomes (named after the Portuguese President who granted Portimao city status in 1924) right next to the Riverside promenade. Moving up from Portimao Harbour around Largo 1 de Dezembro, the park area here is decorated with azulejo tiles.
Historic sights of interest include the Igreja Matriz church to the north on a high hill. Note its 14th century Gothic portal - this survived the earthquake. Portimao has an old town area around Largo da Barca. See the Visit Algarve Portimao Historic Tour guide website right for more details on Portimao's old town, and other historic sights such as the Jesuit College.
Leaving the mammoth Praia da Rocha beach, one of the Algarve's best beaches, aside for the moment, the Portimao coastline offers a wide choice of beautiful beaches, many with stunning rock formations such as Praia do Barranco das Canas at Alvor to the west of Portimao.
Peaceful estuary and wetland waters mingle with rugged rock formations and beach bays to great effect on this stretch of the Algarve coast. Around the Ria de Alvor estuary beaches such as Praia do Alvor Poenti e Nascente (blue flag) are part of a wide sand barrier and waters are extremely calm here. This area is also home to extensive wildlife from migratory birds to numerous species of fish and molluscs. Pretty tiny fishing town Alvor is a fishing hotspot.
Move closer to Praia da Rocha to discover smaller beach bay versions of it at Pria do Vau and Praia do Amado. Beach facilities for families are better here than the more remote estuary beaches around Alvor. A beach for every taste is to be found near Portimao. Check the Portimao beach guide weblink right for more details.
Dolphin Seafaris, Marina de Lagos & Marina de Portimao Praia da Rocha, Algarve, Portugal. Tel./Fax: ( 351) 282 799 209. (weblink right for details). Based at Portimao Marina, Dolphin Seafaris offer dolphin watching boat trips. Special packages for groups and families are available. Check their website right for details.
Santa Bernarda Cruzeiros, Rua Judice Fialho, 11. 8500-702 Portimo. Algarve - Portugal. Tel: 351 282 422 791. (see weblink right). The Santa Bernarda is a 75 foot mock pirate ship with Pirate bar, heated salon and more. Great fun for kids, they offer daily boat cruises from the Cais Vasco da Gama pier at Portimao Marina. Explore caves around Algar Seco, visit pretty Carvoeiro, or take a trip to Lagos. See their weblink right for details.
Portimao's spanking new marina development is located on the estuary of the River Arade occupying around 25 hectares. (follow signs for Praia da Rocha beach - Portimao Marina is near this beach to the west of Portimao centre). Numerous boat trips, watersports, bars, restaurants, luxury yacht mooring facilities and more are located here. (see Portimao Marina weblink right for listings). Its even got its own beach, Portimao Marina Yacht club, a diving school and sailing school!
Centro Nautico Offshore fishing & boat trips, Portimao Marina. Tel: 965 140 400. Leaozinho Arade River Cruises, Portimao Harbour. Tel: 213 714 300.
Another string to Portimao's bow is the huge choice of luxury golf courses and golf resorts in and around this Algarve West holiday hotspot. Some of these golf courses, such as the Penina Championship Golf Course, are championship golf courses.
Le Meridien Penina Golf & Resort, Penina, PO Box 146, Portimao 8501-952, Algarve, Portugal. Tel: 351 282 420200. This luxury Algarve West golf resort offes three glorious golf courses, including an 18 hole Championship golf course, a 9 hole Academy course and a 9 hole golf resort course. Penina Golf Resort Algarve is situated mid-way between Portimao and Lagos. As well as Algarve golf, there's a host of sports and spa leisure facilities available here including everything from a fully equipped gymnasium to bike rental, sauna and a beauty salon!
Not just championship 18 hole golf/par 73, but also stunning beaches around Alvor, 6 tennis courts, a football field and jogging circuit, meeting and conference facilities, watersports, outdoor swimming pool and plenty for the kids too. Checkout the weblink right for more on the all inclusive luxury golf package holiday here!
Alto Golf, Qta.do Alto do Pico - Apartado 1, 8501-906 Alvor, Portimao, Algarve. Tel: (351) 282 460 870. (weblink right for details). This course is an 18 hole/par 72 golf course set in delightful landscaped gardens within an all inclusive luxury golf holiday resort complex.
Morgado do Reguengo Golf, Apartado 293, 8500-000 Portimao, Algarve. (weblink right). There are two Algarve luxury golf courses here, both 18 hole golf courses. Check the weblink right for details. It's situated slightly inland of Portimao up towards Monchique.