Portimão is the most important urbanised city in the Barlavento Algarvio (the western Algarve), supporting a sizeable population with harbour and a small airfield (Aerodromo de Portimão) of its own (the larger Faro International Airport is in the nearby district capital of Faro. Administratively, the municipality is divided into 3 civil parishes.

The Portimão coastline has also been host to the sport of powerboating. The Portuguese Grand Prix of the Sea run by Powerboat P1 as part of its international championship is also held in Portimão.

In the hills near Portimão stands the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. Finished in October 2008, it is a race and test circuit officially recognised for the highest categories both for cars and motorcycles. Superbike races, Le Mans Series races and F1 tests are scheduled.

There is also an annual grand prix of rhythmic gymnastics, with an individual all-round competition, a team all-round competition, and finals by apparatus and by group at senior and junior levels.

The Ocean Revival Project saw 4 Portuguese Navy Warships purposefully sank to form the largest single artificial reef structure in the world.