Written by Ben Taylor,
Last Modified: 16th December 2021

Looking for a part of Portugal’s Algarve that offers beautiful beaches and access to city amenities? Why not consider moving to Portimāo? In this article, we break down the area for anybody thinking of moving to Portimāo. You may want to add Portimāo to your shortlist after reading it!

One of the most wonderful things about Portugal’s Algarve is that it’s packed with a huge variety of amenities and landscapes – all in a relatively compact area. The area around the city of Portimāo is a great example of this.

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The Portimāo region comprises a working city, a vibrant marina, and several nearby beach resorts. All of these things are within easy reach of each other, so you can enjoy city conveniences and low-key village life in the same morning.


The basics

Portimāo is a small city towards the western end of the Algarve. The municipality has a permanent population of around 50,000 people. Like all of the Algarve, this region enjoys plentiful good weather, with over 3100 hours of annual sunshine, hot summers and mild winters.

Portimāo makes full use of its position by the sea, for everything from food to leisure. The Algarve’s ubiquitous grilled sardines are often at their very best in Portimāo, and the marina is well used for fishing, travel and water-sports.

Getting there

Portimão is just under an hour from Faro airport, and accessible via the main A22 motorway or the (slower) N125. The city also has a train station on the main Algarve line, with connections to Lisbon. There’s also a tiny airport, though this is more often used for parachuting expeditions than passenger flights.

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We begin our tour in the seaside town of Ferragudo, located just to the east of Portimão. Ferragudo faces the city from the other side of the marina and has a friendly, low-key vibe. There’s a pretty village square, plenty of restaurants, and lots of the Algarve’s trademark cobbled streets. The population here is just 2000, but with plenty of overseas residents among that number.

Even in high season, you can find quiet beaches here, with a couple along the river estuary with surprisingly warm water at times. Ferragudo is an interesting option for those who want to enjoy a village pace-of-life, but within convenient reach of the city and marina.

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Property Options

Small apartments and townhouses from €180,000. Detached villas from €450,000.

Portimão City

The city of Portimāo isn’t really a key part of the Algarve tourist trail – which will be great news to some! Although there are some popular fish restaurants geared to travellers, primarily in a pretty square off the river-front called Largo da Barca, Portimāo has the feel of an authentic Portuguese city.

Although the city is small, amenities are plentiful. A large shopping centre, Aqua, opened in 2011, and the area around it is well stocked with retail parks, DIY stores, and other conveniences.

Portimão’s river front is wide and attractive. The rest of the city isn’t particularly beautiful, with plenty of high-rise sprawl. However, a pleasing flip-side to this is a wide choice of affordable property, especially in older apartment blocks.

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Property Options

Small (older) apartments from €95,000. Apartments in more modern developments from €165,000.


Praia da Rocha and the Marina

Praia da Rocha is – without doubt – one of the Algarve’s finest beaches – and there’s a lot of it. It’s broadly split into two, with a mass of soft sand to the east, and lots of sports facilities, from volleyball courts to banana boat rides.

At the far end of this section is the marina. This is the most up-scale part of Praia da Rocha, with luxurious restaurants and the stunning No Solo Agua beach club. The marina is a busy one. As well as serving private boats and fishing fleets, it occasionally hosts cruise ships and ferries to Madeira and Tenerife, although the latter service isn’t in operation at the time of writing. There’s a development of attractive, modern properties as part of the marina.

The western section of Praia da Rocha (actually named Praia dos Três Castelos) features steep cliffs and beautiful coves. Behind the entire beach area is a tourist “strip,” with hundreds of restaurants and bars, and a casino. There are a lot of high rise resort hotels and apartment blocks here.

Praia da Rocha is certainly an area with a peak holiday season. But while some bars and restaurants close for winter, the area never feels completely “dead.” There’s always plenty open all year round and the beach is stunning, whatever the weather.

Praia da Rocha is – without doubt – one of the Algarve’s finest beaches.

Property Options

Property in this area is mostly apartments and there are lots of modern complexes complete with pools and other condominium facilities. A two-bed apartment in one of these starts at around €180,000. There are cheaper options in older blocks and also some super-luxurious options for those with a higher budget.


Portimão City

Praia da Rocha

Praia do Vau


Praia do Vau

Praia do Vau begins where the Rocha tourist strips ends. There are yet more beautiful cove beaches here and a rewarding cliff-top walk. This area does feel more “closed” off-season. Much of the property here, which is generally more “low rise,” is on holiday apartment complexes, although there are plenty of year-round residents.

Property Options

You find mostly condominium apartments here, with two-beds starting at around €220,000.

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Alvor, a small resort in itself, offers a good compromise between the frenetic energy of Praia da Rocha and the more sleepy Praia do Vau. It’s the kind of place families return to year after year.

It has a population of around 6000 people, plenty of bars and restaurants, and an attractive river estuary area to complement the large beach. There’s also a castle, several churches, and a swimming complex. One big plus for Alvor is its location. For those seeking more life and more amenities, it’s as convenient for Lagos in one direction as it is for Portimāo in the other.

Property Options

From villas and townhouses to apartments, you can find a variety of property in Alvor. You could find a two-bedroom apartment for around €295,000.


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