A holiday hot spot in Portugal’s western Algarve, Portimao sits on the Arade River and offers something for everyone: beaches, marine caves, dolphin-watching cruises, local wines, and more. Here’s how to spend three days in this picturesque port city.
Day 1: Classic Portimao
Get acquainted with Portimao, from its plaza-dotted old town to its riverfronts, beaches, and sea caves. A Segway tour is a quick way to get around, covering signature sights such as the lighthouse and Praia da Rocha beach.
After lunch, take to the ocean on a catamaran, stand-up paddleboard, or private cruise to see the nearby Benagil Caves, burrowed into cliffs east of Portimao. Trips leave regularly from Portimao’s marina, and usually include swim stops.
End the day with a drive west to the Algarve’s most scenic clifftops. Tours with round-trip transport typically visit Cape St. Vincent (Europe’s southwesternmost point) and Ponta da Piedade, renowned for their sunset views.
Day 2: Out and about
Cast your sightseeing net wider today. Head out on a private tour of western Algarve vineyards without worrying about tasting and driving. Alternatively, explore the countryside on a Jeep tour, bumping along off-road trails past old-school villages.
For a change of tempo, take a leisurely eco-boat ride along the Arade River, watching birds and wandering around the medieval town of Silves en route. Or for a fun twist, travel in the sidecar of a chauffeured vintage motorbike to see the surrounding coast, stopping by the resort town of Alvor and the whitewashed fishing village of Ferragudo.
Day 3: Beach and sports time
Finally, relax on Praia da Rocha or Praia do Vau, perhaps interrupting your idyll for a dolphin-spotting cruise. You’ll also find a myriad of water sports options along the shoreline to the east, from parasailing to Jet Ski rides. For maximum thrills, book a tandem skydive—you’ll be treated to sweeping views over the Algarve’s cliffs as you descend to the sands of Portimao.
If you didn’t visit the Benagil Caves earlier, swap a boat trip for something different. Board a scooter or convertible car with a guide at the helm, and zip by beaches before getting out and making the short swim to the caves. Then, conclude your stay in true Portimao fashion: feast on grilled sardines at a riverside restaurant before a final dose of nightlife in the old town or marina.