Portimão is the western Algarve’s main commercial centre and the second-most populous city in the Algarve. The messy outskirts of the city hide a small, friendly hub, whose focal points are the Praça Manuel Teixeira Gomes, a pleasant waterfront, an assortment of outdoor cafes, and sizzling fish restaurants in the old quarter and quayside. You can also arrange a boat trip up the Rio Arade.
Located in the estuary of the River Arade, Portimão is known for its excellent sandy beaches with plenty of warm, calm waters, which make it a very alluring holiday destination.
Praia da Rocha is the main beach in Portimão but it is also a bustling holiday resort in its own right. It became a tourist centre at the end of the 19th century, when it was the favoured summer resort of families from, not only Portimão, but also the rest of the Algarve and Andalusia; and in the winter with English visitors. The Hotel da Bela Vista with its Belle Epoque architecture, dates from this time and stands out amongst the modern buildings along the beach front.
The beach itself is vast, even in the middle of summer there is always plenty of space. The avenue, Tomás Cabreira, which runs along the top of the beach, is full of restaurants, cafes, and shops and is particularly lively at night with a variety of bars, and clubs to choose from. At the end of the avenue is the Fortress of Santa Catarina de Ribamar, which was part of Portimão’s defences against corsairs and pirates. It was built in the 17th and 18th centuries and gives a wonderful view of the beach and the cliffs on one side and the marina on the other.