Portimão is primarily a fishing port and it is worth risking a headache to drink rough local wine while eating grilled sardines in the quayside area. It has many shoe shops, selling good quality international shoes at low prices. The riverside has been pedestrianised and boat trips can be taken from the quay down the river to Silves or along the coastline. Nearby Penina has been synonymous with championship golf since the famous course was designed by three times British Open champion Henry Cotton in the 1960s. There is plenty to do in this area with Lagos easily accessible, as well as many of the magnificent beaches for which the Algarve is renowned.
Ferragudo is smaller and more traditional than neighbouring Portimão and is located across the river estuary of the Rio Arade. The main cobbled square, Praça Rainha Dona Leonor, has lots of café’s serving delicious pastries and a variety of different types of coffee. Just around the corner is the quayside with lots of fish restaurants of varying prices serving the freshest of fish, barbequed in front of your eyes. At one end of the village is the impressive Fort of São João de Arade. It began life in the 15th century as a lookout tower and then was extended in 17th/18th century as part of the fortifications protecting the mouth of the river. On the opposite bank above Portimão Marina is the fort of Santa Catarina. At the beginning of the 20th century it was converted into a private home by the poet, Coelho Carvalho which is how it came by it’s present, rather romantic, appearance.
Pros: Some of the best golf courses are to be found at this end of the Algarve. Ferragudo has some of the best fish restaurants.
Cons: These resorts are further from Faro Airport so transfer by taxi is more expensive.