Portimao, which is located in the district of Faro in the southern Algarve region in Portugal, was once a fishing and shipbuilding center. Through the years, it has developed into a highly commercial and popular tourist center in the region. It is a complete opposite of its neighbouring town, Lagos. Where Lagos is full of glorious and historical past, Portimao is full of present day modernization. Lagos exudes with natural charm; Portimao, with commercialism. Lagos has these charming buildings and narrow cobbled streets; Portimao is full of high-rising commercial and residential buildings that dominate its skyline. Needless to say, we naturally prefer the authentic charm that Lagos has than the busy touristic happenings in Portimao.
The only thing the two cities have in common are their beaches! Both cities have wonderful beaches – from small intimate ones with rocky islets and gorgeous rock formations to long sandy ones. It is for this reason that we also spent a couple of days in Portimao – to see its famous beaches! And since it is winter time, it was the perfect time to visit the beaches as they would not be overflowing with parading and sunbathing tourists!
PRAIA DA ROCHA
The most popular beach in Portimao , and probably one of the most famous in the Algarve, is Praia da Rocha (Rock Beach). Indeed, it is a beautiful long beach, with wide expanse of fine brown sand and calm water with clear torquise color. Main access to the beach is via a winding steps either from the Miradouro or from the Fort, where you also have the best views. There are lots of beach bars (which were all closed when we were here) and small cabins on the beach where sunbeds, chairs beach umbrellas are kept. And there is a long wooden boardwalk from the Santa Catarina Fort up to Miradouro, enabling one to take a beach stroll without even touching the sand!
PRAIAS TRES CASTELOS, AMADO AND VAU
Next to Praia da Rocha, on the western part, are three small beaches which are equally beautiful! These are the beaches of Tres Castelos, Do Amado, and Vau.
Praia Tres Castelos derived its name from the three isolated huge rock formations in the sea. Access to this tiny beach is via a step down the cliff.
Praia Do Amado is just right next to Tres Castelos. It has amazing rock formations which are best to be explored during low tide. It has also high cliffs which are red and ochre yellow in color, which made the beach more stunning than it already is. These cliffs are slowly eroding, and there are warning boards found attached to some parts of the cliffs.
Not far from the two beaches is the Praia Do Vau. It is a long sandy beach sheltered with cliffs and huge rock formations. It has some secluded coves along the area; and a 5 –km trail on top of the cliff called Terraces Over the Sea begins at this point.
These three beaches have all separate access via steep steps or from the street, as in the case of Do Vau. There is a foot trail that runs from Miradouro up to Do Vau which offers wonderful views of the bay. But the best way to explore these beaches is to walk on the beach during low tide. Then you can just walk from one beach to another, and at the same time you’ll be able to explore most of the rock formations which are by then easily accessible.
The last beach I want to include in this blog is Praia da Alvor. It is a located in a small charming and lively village of Alvor, which is part of the municipality of Portimao. Actually, coming from Lagos, it was the first beach in Portimao that we have visited. The beach is very beautiful and long. You look left and right, and all you see is long sandy beach! It is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, long beach stroll, or even for fishing! It is , in our opinion, more attractive than the famous Praia da Rocha. In Praia da Alvor, you can have your relaxed day in the beach without the commercial background of high rising buildings and busy beach bars behind you!
Portimao is one of the busiest and most commercial cities in the Algarve. If you are wishing to have a beach-cation coupled with active nightlife or surrounded with lots of touristic amenities like lots of souvenir shops, cafes, bars and the like, then Portimao is the right place to be! But for us, we prefer the quiet part of the Algarve, where we can appreciate the region in all its calm, serenity and beauty. And Portimao is definitely not our place to be!
- ALVOR : Parking, Praia da Alvor
Coordinates : N : 37.12340 W : 8.59596
It is a mix-parking by the beach, near the Alvorensee Snack Bar and opposite the official Camper parking in Alvor. Town center and harbour is about 200 meters. The beachwhich can be accessed via a wooden boardwalk, is just a stone throw away. On our second day, local police came and informed us that it was not allowed for overnight stay here so we moved about half kilometre and parked one night in other parking area, with an intention of parking back at the beach during the day.
Alternate Parking : Travessa da Nau
Coordinates : N : 37.12385 W : 8.58884
- PORTIMAO : Mix Parking
Rua dos Tres Castelos
Coordinates : N : 37.12021 W : 8.5465
Two spacious mix-parking area just before entering the city center. Beaches of Praia da Rocha and Tres Castelos are about 150 meters. It was still allowed to camp here when we were here. But the municipality was planning to put a height barrier on both parkings that would probably make the area not accessible for campers in the future. The other big official Camper Parking at Avenida Rio Arade was already closed. We have heard that an investor has bought the place, and maybe plan to add one more high rising building in the city, as if what they have now is not yet enough.
Our customary pictures together:)