Welcome to Portimão, a city with great beaches and very popular rock formations! It is located at the very bottom of Portugal, on the dreamy Algarve and right at the Arade River mouth. Portimão sits only 30 km from stunning Lagos and Albufeira and has become the ideal holiday destination for sun and beach seekers. Surrounded by gorgeous nature, at Portimão, you can see what the strength of the tectonic plaques can do with pure rock. Combined with limpid water and a white sand strip, these make an unforgettable picture for the visitor. Come and explore Algarve’s iconic caves and beaches at Portimão!
A bit of history
The most ancient remains belong to the mysterious Neanderthals, who liked this area for its good weather and top-quality seafood - things you can enjoy today! Then, only 9 km away from Portimão, you can find the intriguing and rich Alcalar, a perfect spot to discover how people lived in pre-historic times. Many artifacts have been discovered around the six ancient villages plus the two dozen sepulchres, and you can see them at the local museum. You can also visit two of the tombs. They are huge and really impressive if you think they are 5,000 years old!
Since then, many civilizations have inhabited this area: Phoenicians from Palestine 3,000 years ago, Romans, Moorish… Its privileged spot at the Arade mouth was great for sheltering boats. Then, in the 15th century, Portimão was officially born as a city. It was right at the time when Portugal started its discoveries in Africa and America, which helped Portimão to develop very quickly. The 1755 earthquake was a bit of a step back, but then the fish canning industry and tourism has turned Portimão into one of the most important cities of the Algarve.
What to visit
At Portimão, the main religious buildings suffered various disasters - the 1755 earthquake, a fire… Some have been restored, some have been left more or less in ruins. Still, I would recommend not to miss the main church, Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, and admire the old Jesuit school!
Nossa Senhora da Conceição Church, PortimãoIgreja Matriz, R. da Igreja, 8500-597 Portimão, Portugal
Portimão, located at the Arade river mouth, was a very strategic spot, and as such, it had to be protected, especially from pirates. To this end, in the 17th century, the Saint Catarina fortress was built. Nowadays, it is one of the best viewpoints around Portimão; from here, you can spot da Praia da Rocha and Lagos’ bay.
Of course, you have come all the way to Portimão because you are seeking some of the best beaches of the Algarve. Well, here is a short list! No matter your liking, in Portimão, you will find what you are looking for.
The most popular beach is Praia da Rocha, one of the most emblematic beaches of the Algarve. A one-kilometre-long sand strip where you can find bars, restaurants, and a sports area… All this, right in front of Portimão, plus the beauty of the neat ocean, the whiteness of its sand, and the distinctive Algarve rocks in the middle, makes Praia da Rocha the perfect beach for anyone!
Praia da Rocha, PortimãoAv. Tomás Cabreira 5, 8500-802 Portimão, Portugal
One of my favourites is Praia dos 3 Castelos, the three castles beach. The access is a bit more complicated, but that makes it more worthwhile! You have to go downstairs from the viewpoint, so you get a beautiful view plus a not-so-busy beach surrounded by huge cliffs and other rock formations. Another must is Praia dos Careanos, similar to 3 Castelos. And last but not least, Prainha is great if you want to do some snorkelling around its rocks.
Praia dos Três Castelos, PortimãoR. da Falésia Praia da Rocha, 8500-802 Portimão, Portugal
Praia dos Careanos, PortimãoPortimão, Portugal
As you can see, the rock formations in this area are very capricious. However, if you want to see the most iconic ones, the Benagil sea caves, the ones you see in every travel guide, you need a boat. Hop on this tour to visit the famous Benagil sea caves and other beauties along the unique Algarve coastline!
Also, you are in the ocean! With so many cute dolphins nearby, you should not miss the opportunity to sail and see them playing on the open ocean. On this tour, you will learn everything about them and have a beautiful view of the Algarve shore.
You will need a place to stay. If you want to avoid the typical crowded hotel beach, I suggest a beautiful villa with a lot of charm: Villa Rio Guest House Suites, in Portimão’s city centre. This is the perfect base camp for you to go out and explore Algarve’s iconic caves and beaches at Portimão!
Want to plan a trip here? Build your own hotel+flight package with Live The World, or reach out for personalized advice from one of our travel experts.
Sara Rodriguez Romo
Plan a trip with Maya - your AI travel assistant