Portimão is a major fishing port, and significant investment has been poured into transforming it into an attractive cruise port as well. The city itself is spacious and has several good shopping streets—though sadly many of the more traditional retailers have closed in the wake of the global economic crisis. There is also a lovely riverside area that just begs to be strolled (lots of the coastal cruises depart from here). Don’t leave without stopping for an alfresco lunch at the Doca da Sardinha ("sardine dock") between the old bridge and the railway bridge. You can sit at one of many inexpensive establishments, eating charcoal-grilled sardines (a local specialty) accompanied by chewy fresh bread, simple salads, and local wine.
For ceramics, porcelain, crystal, and handmade copper items, visit O Aquario.
There are many reasons to visit Ferragudo, a fishing hamlet across the river from Portimão. It has character, quaint cobblestone streets, quality restaurants, and one of the region's finest beaches—Praia Grande, a long stretch of sand that offers plenty of space for towels even in summer. The 16th-century Castelo de São João (St. John's Castle), built to defend Portimão and now privately owned, is right on the beach; and in summer there's live entertainment. Since many boats dock here, the water can have a slight petrol smell, but it is crystal clear and good for snorkeling. When it's time to dry off, sit and watch the cruise liners glide by as they dock in Portimão. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (no fee); showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; sunset; windsurfing.