Located towards the western end of the Algarve, Portimao is one of the largest towns on this coast with a population approaching 40,000. As a tourist destination in its own right the town doesn't really jump out, as with much of south and west Portugal it was extensively damaged in the great earthquake of 1755.
Set on the Rio Arade estuary Portimao's economy has been dependent on fishing and its growth as a port since it was founded. The Greeks, Phoenicians and Carthaginians where all early trading partners before the Moorish occupation in the 11th century and the port flourished. The Rio Arade also provided sea access to the town of Silves, the then capital of the Algarve, several Km inland.
It was only in 1924 that the city and became known as Portimão. Previously it had been named Burj Munt and Porcimunt by the Moors and was then known as Vila Nova de Portimão.
Present day Portimao reflects its commercial roots. Up until the 1980's the town had a large fishing and fish processing industry, this however was hit by recession and was largely replaced by the construction industry as the Algarve tourism boom took off. The town still has a large port, some rather charmless civic buildings and plenty of shopping.
In terms of shops and markets there is a pretty good selection. For a bit of retail therapy there is Portimao Retail Park which...