• Photo: Ljupco Smokovski / Shutterstock


Portimão’s crown jewel is a 1-km (½-mile) stretch of sand backed by a curtain of ocher-red cliffs, along the top of which stands a series of striking hotels, restaurants, and bars. In summer it buzzes; in winter the locals promenade along the wooden walkway that runs the entire length of the beach, inhaling the invigorating sea air. Year-round Praia da Rocha is popular among youngsters looking for a place to party (though it’s nothing like the scale of Albufeira).

Away from the beach, Portimão is an attractive cruise port. There's a lovely riverside area that begs to be strolled. 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.

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