Once the gateway to Silves which, in the past, was the capital of Algarve, Portimão has long been a trading port. After near destruction by the earthquake of 1755 it took nearly 100 years for the town to recover. At the end of the 19th century it became a centre for exports and especially for the sardine industry.
Fishing industries have waned and the city now has become a leisure mecca with a large marina. There are many historical buildings to see. Indeed the College church, the largest in the Algarve, has some of the best Baroque carvings in the region.