Portimão is the Algarve's second most important commercial town after Faro, and its second largest port after Olhão. It is a town of great antiquity but you wouldn't know it. The oldest building is its much modernised parish church. It contains 17th-and 18th-century tiles, but the only really old bit is the 14th century portal. Carthaginians, Romans and Moors lived and worked here, but unfortunately there is no archaeological museum, and there are no relics.
Portimão is popular for the great shopping possibilities. One of the best shopping streets is Rua do Comércio, a pedestrian mall which begins from the old market square near the parish church in the highest part of town. Beyond the far end of Rua do Comércio, acres of stalls are set up, as one of the Algarve's biggest and best roving markets hits town on the first Monday of each month. It is to be found down by the railway station.
The river, of course, is and always has been the town's life-blood. The fishing fleet ties up on the far bank, although much of its catch is brought over to Portimão's most popular open-air eating area. This is on the quayside by the old iron bridge. There are more restaurants, in converted boat houses, in the little square, just behind, serving a variety of seafood, from expensive tiger prawns to the cheapest of dishes, a plate of grilled sardines.
The Praça Teixeira Gomes, with its cafes next to the waterfront, is a local meeting place during the summer months. Nearby, a smaller square in front of the tourist information office, Lago 1 de Dezembro, is notable for its 19th-century tiled panels depicting 10 of the greatest events in Portuguese history.