Guide to what to do in Portimao, including the best Portimao attractions and activities and exploring Portimao Old Town
Looking for an Algarve vacation that is more than just the beaches as you travel Portugal?
The vibrant Portimao set on the Arade River estuary is an ideal destination, and there are plenty of things to do in Portimao for all types of travelers.
Whether you are a history buff, adventurer, nature lover, or foodie, this destination will spoil you for choice.
Portimao is the perfect example of how old-world charm can coexist with modern tourist amenities.
While on the one hand, it displays cultural heritage, it lets you vibe to the lively nightlife on the other.
The pleasant weather and opportunities for relaxation make it a sought-after destination throughout the year.
Here is a curated list of the best things to do in Portimao on your next vacation.
Psssst…!!?? You can’t get enough of Algarve? Have a look at my other posts:
- Winter in Algarve: Fun Things To Do near Faro, Portugal
- Hiking in Algarve: Best Algarve Hikes
- Best Airbnbs in Algarve, Portugal
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Table of Contents
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Overview: Top 5 Things to do in Portimao
- Explore Praia da Rocha
- Visit the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição
- Explore Museu de Portimao & Alcalar Megalithic Monuments
- Discover the Fort of Santa Catarina
- Enjoy Watersports
1. Explore Museu de Portimao
Museu de Portimão is a must-visit destination to delve into the town’s rich maritime and industrial history. Located on the banks of the Arade River, this building was initially a fish canning factory.
It is one of the top Portimão attractions that has won multiple awards nationally and internationally.
The museum provides a glimpse of the traditional fish canning techniques and the journey of its workers. You can also spot some of the original equipment used like the fish conveyor belts.
The old cistern used for collecting rainwater now displays moving images of underwater life.
There is also a reception and Interpretation Center for Alcalar Megalithic Monuments. Here you’ll find artifacts from different ancient monuments of the town.
You can take a guided tour here and indulge in fascinating activities like pottery, weaving, stone carving, and more.
These are some of the best things to do in Portimao to learn about the life of prehistoric communities.
2. Visit Marina de Portimao
Surrounded by gorgeous beaches, the Marina de Portimao is a destination in itself. It offers more than 600 moorings for rental along with state-of-the-art services.
It’s a paradise for luxury yacht enthusiasts and boating lovers. From a relaxing ambiance to lively nightlife, this marina offers the best of both worlds.
The Marina has amazing restaurants and shops and is perfect for soaking up the holiday vibes. Its bar offers a classy beach club experience with cheerful music and your favorite drinks.
I recommend taking a sunset cruise to enjoy an unforgettable beach party with barbeque. It is one of the top things to do in Portimao, Portugal with your group of friends.
A walk along its promenade will let you appreciate the stunning waterfront views. It also has a swimming pool facing the sea for a relaxing dip.
3. Explore Praia da Rocha
Praia da Rocha is one of the most popular tourist places to visit in Portimão. This gorgeous resort town is located along one of the best beaches in Algarve.
The golden sands, crystal clear water, and impressive cliffs offer a treat to the eyes. You can relax on the beach or take a stroll while enjoying the stunning natural beauty.
This destination attracts everyone from families and couples to solo travelers.
The region offers plenty of interesting Portimão activities like boat tours and water sports. It also has secluded coves for those who prefer a peaceful and relaxing beach day.
Praia da Rocha is also known for its cafes and vibrant nightlife. Visiting its theme bars and clubs is one of the best things to do in Portimao at night.
4. Discover the Fort of Santa Catarina
A Portimao sightseeing tour is incomplete without a visit to the Fort of Santa Catarina. This iconic fortress from the 17th century was built by the renowned military engineer Alexandre Massai.
It played a significant role in protecting Portimão from pirates and military invasions. You can still spot the centuries-old canon here.
The fort also has a small chapel dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria that has existed since the 15th century.
Located on the eastern edge of Praia da Rocha, this fortress is accessible from the beach by a staircase.
The panoramic views of the beach and the marina make the climb to this fortress even more worthwhile.
A visit here feels like traveling back in time. Clicking some fantastic pictures here should be on your list of Portimao things to do.
5. Enjoy a day of shopping at Aqua Portimao
Aqua Portimão is an exciting shopping destination that attracts more than 6 million visitors every year.
With more than 120 brands, this mall makes shopping one of the most exciting things to do in Portimão, Portugal.
From fashion, accessories, and beauty products to technology, this mall caters to the needs of all shoppers. You can also choose from the 22 restaurants for an exceptional dining experience.
The modern design, open spaces, and greenery make this shopping center stand out.
It also offers entertainment options, events, and activities to make your visit memorable. The mall also has a dedicated children’s area with games to keep the little guests busy.
If you are searching for things to do in Portimao for families, visiting this mall is an excellent idea.
6. Enjoy Watersports
Portimao is counted among the best places in Algarve for enjoying water sports. From parasailing, jet skiing, and paddleboarding to kayaking, the list of thrilling water activities in Portimão is impressive.
You can embark on a kayak tour to discover the secret caves, cliffs, and hidden beaches.
I recommend joining any tour group from Praia do Vau to paddle to lesser-known spots. The expert guides will share their knowledge and give useful tips for your safety.
The crystal-clear waters make snorkeling a delightful experience here, even for beginners. The beauty of the underwater world will amaze you.
Take a tour guided by marine biologists to learn more about different sea species.
If you are feeling more adventurous, you can try wakeboarding. In this sport, you’ll be pulled behind a boat on a wakeboard. It is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Portimao, Algarve.
7. Relax at the Spa
When it comes to relaxing things to do, Portimao has plenty of choices. Treating yourself to a rejuvenating session at a spa is one of them.
There are many luxurious spas to choose from to unwind after a busy day of exploring the town.
It offers soothing massages and facials to therapeutic body treatments to pamper you.
I recommend enjoying an Aqua Spa treatment at The Soul Spa in the Jupiter Algarve Hotel. Their hydrotherapy circuit with water jets is truly a treat to the senses.
The facilities like multi-sensory showers, Turkish bath, and sauna offers utmost relaxation.
If you are looking for romantic things to do in Portimão, you can book the spa experience package for couples.
They offer special romantic massages and little surprises to make your love blossom.
8. Have fun at the waterpark
Slide and Splash Waterpark has been a major Algarve attraction since it opened in 1986. It offers fun-filled slides and water activities for visitors of all age groups.
This water park in Estomber is just a 10-minute drive from Portimao.
Slides like the Big Wave and Tornado are sure to give you an adrenaline-pumping experience. There are also foam slides and pools suitable for younger children.
The park also offers opportunities for relaxation with services like fish spa and massage. You can also sit back and relax on the sun loungers while enjoying your favorite ice cream.
There are also many food outlets in the park to grab a quick snack.
Make sure to use the professional photography services in the park to cherish this visit forever. You can also collect souvenirs from the gift shop here.
Reliving your childhood here is one of the best things to do near Portimao.
9. Take a trip to Alvor
Alvor is a picturesque resort town located close to Portimao. This old fishing village attracts visitors with its authentic Portuguese ambiance.
It oozes a laid-back vibe and is perfect for day trips from Lagos and Portimao. Everything from its traditional whitewashed houses and cobbled streets to fishing boats reflects Portuguese charm.
The region is popular among families, seniors, and couples seeking some peaceful time.
Enjoy your time relaxing on the beautiful Praia de Alvor which is a beautiful sandy beach.
You can also take a stroll along the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve, the fishing harbor, and the town center.
Alvor has brilliant restaurants and cafes serving typical Portuguese cuisines.
10. Visit the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição
The Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição holds a high religious and historical significance. This Gothic style Church traces its history to the 15th century.
Although most of its original structure was damaged in the 1755 earthquake, it was restored. The church thus displays a mix of various architectural styles from different centuries.
You will get a glimpse of Renaissance and Manueline influence in its design. This church is among the most outstanding things to see in Portimao to get familiar with the town’s glorious architectural past.
To this day, it is one of the most important churches in Portimão for the local communities.
11. Take a boat trip
A boat trip is one of the best things to do in Portimao to connect with nature. You’ll get to witness the splendid views of the Algarve coastline.
A boat ride to the magical Benagil Caves is popular among visitors here. The stunning natural rock formation and crystal-clear waters will leave you in awe.
The experienced guides make the journey even more interesting by sharing stories about the Algarve and its beaches.
You can watch out for dolphins on the way and click pictures if you get lucky enough. Most of the boat rides make a stop for swimming if the weather conditions allow.
I recommend opting for the boat tour to Benagil caves at sunrise to avoid crowds. The view of the sun rays falling on the beach through the cave is an incredible sight.
12. Relish the local food
The dining scene in Portimao is exceptional with plenty of restaurants serving Portuguese cuisines. The delectable fresh fish and seafood varieties will pamper your taste buds.
The grilled sardine is the local favorite food that you must try here. It’s so popular that there is even a sardine festival held in August every year in Portimao.
Many waterfront restaurants here let you choose from the catch of the day. The most popular seafood options here are clams, whelks, and oysters.
Relishing these dishes paired with local wines is one of the finest things to do in Portimao.
Maria do Mar, Dona Barca, and La Dolce Vita are some of the popular restaurants you must visit.
You can also opt for a guided food tour and visit local eateries with a group. On your way enjoy delicious tapas and socialize with fellow travelers.
13. Explore the Portimao Markets
Visiting the markets is one of the best things to do in Portimão to experience life like a local.
The municipal market located close to the Portimão Old town is frequented by locals and travelers alike.
The market offers a wide range of fresh fish, vegetables, fruits, flowers, bakery items and more. This is the place from where restaurants and cafeterias sources the freshest local produce.
You can visit here as early as 7 in the morning and there is also a restaurant nearby to enjoy a delicious breakfast. Keep in mind that this market remains closed on Sundays.
There is a flea market you can visit on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. It is held in the area of fairs and exhibitions in Portimao.
It’s a great place to buy antiques and souvenirs like postcards and stamps.
14. Take a wine tour in a van
Portugal is known for its wines and a wine tour is among the best things to do in Algarve. There are many tours arranged from Portimao to impressive wineries nearby.
These tours happen throughout the year, and you get to travel in a classic Volkswagen van. It’s a unique way to explore the beauty of Portimao and the nearby regions.
You can visit the wonderful Quinta do Francês winery in the hills of Silves. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the vineyard and head to taste the local wines.
You can also enjoy a guided tour of the cellar and can purchase the products.
Monte do Além is another famous winery that visitors love to travel to.
If you are wondering what to do in Portimao on a group holiday, this road trip is a brilliant option.
15. Visit the Algarve Motorsports Park
The Algarve Motorsports Park hosts many international racing championships.
The complex consists of challenging racing tracks, karting tracks, and off-road tracks for a thrilling experience.
It’s home to the Kartódromo Internacional do Algarve which is an excellent destination for entertainment.
It allows leisure kart rentals for a fun-filled competition with your family and friends. This place is also popular among corporate groups for team-building activities.
The complex even has one of the top 5-star hotels in Algarve with views of these world-class racing tracks.
If you are a motorsports enthusiast and wondering where to stay in Algarve, this place has you covered.
Attending a racing event is one of the most exciting things to do in Portimao. I suggest you check the race calendar before planning your trip to attend an event.
I am sure that these amazing things to do in Portimao have already inspired you to travel to this town.
From visiting the beaches, and museums to wandering through the old town Portimão, diverse experiences are waiting for you here.
Visit with your partner, family, or friends, this town will offer you many unforgettable moments.
FAQs About Things to Do in Portimao
Is Portimao worth a visit?
Portimao is definitely worth a visit. There are many amazing things to do in Portimao year-round for every type of traveler from relaxing beach holidays to cultural expeditions for history buffs.
What is Portimao known for?
Once a canning town, Portimao is known for its delicious seafood, as well as its stunning beaches.
Is it expensive in Portimao?
The cost of traveling in Portimao is similar to most of the Algarve. It is not the cheapest holiday destination, but is considered affordable compared to a lot of Western Europe.
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries. Consider trying some of these eco-friendly vegan hiking boots.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case. Pack smart with these organic cotton clothing companies.
- Be environmentally friendly and get one of these awesome backpacks made from recycled materials.
- Get in the mindset with these amazing wilderness survival books.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel is protected against all odds with HeyMondo.
Hola! I am Paulina, a fervent travelette who crossed the Atlantic Ocean by Boat HitchHiking. On my blog, I help you to make the most of your holiday. Get ready to enjoy outdoor and sustainable travel like hiking, cycling or sailing. Let’s hit the road!