Portimão offers all the attractions of the modern tourist industry. Due to the areas re-construction, modern property is available in the style of apartments and town houses throughout the area for rent or sale.
The city was extensively developed in the 19th century to become one of the most important centres on the Algarve of the fishing and canning industry until the early 1980s when the recession drove the remaining factories out of business. The town with some 45,000 inhabitants and the entire municipality of 52,000, makes it the second most populated area in the Algarve. Essentially commercially orientated and was the main shopping town of the whole Algarve during the 1970s and 1980s.
The Municipal Museum is housed in an old sardine canning factory and here regular exhibitions are held that cover art, history, and general culture, all of a local and national content. A marina was recently opened adjoining Praia da Rocha and adds the fascinating sight of the many boats at anchor and a further choice of bars and restaurants in which to pass the evening. When approaching the town from the direction of Faro there is a choice of two bridges to cross. The old one runs along past the harbour but we would recommend take the new bridge. It is so well balanced in design that it can be seriously considered among the most pleasing bridges to the eye built in Portugal in the 19th Century. On the river front near the square with the cafés many different boat tours and deep sea-fishing outings can be booked.
Praia da Rocha, the beach next to Portimão marina, is 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.
Although this ancient coastal village is now a very popular holiday location the enclosed narrow streets have kept development to a minimum. Many of these streets now boast bars with live music and different types of restaurants but leading off from these there are still memories of the older fishing village. In the area are a number of holiday resorts from which the tourists enjoy visiting the town and its attractions. The village is well located facing a natural lagoon opening onto the sea. There is a choice of a long open sandy beach or a number of small coves tucked under the cliffs. The 16th Century Parish Church has a prime example in its main doorway of the great craftsmanship of the Manueline era of architecture and is the only building that survived the earthquake of 1755.