A fishing with history

The current name of Alvor comes from the Arabic albur (heath, wasteland), dating back to the Muslim conquest in 716 d.C. This village in the municipality of Portimão has fishing traditions deeply marked in its matrix.

The origin of the settlements on Ria de Alvor bank is lost in time, dating back to the cradle of mankind. Since the Stone Age (Palaeolithic) mankind chose this place for shelter and sustenance. There are traces of the Neolithic, the Metal Ages and other people who wrote here part of their history: Lusitanians, Carthaginians, Phoenicians, Ligurians, Celts, Romans, Goths and Arabs.

However, there are strong evidences showing that the founder of Alvor was the great Carthaginian general Hannibal, in 436 b.C., giving his name to it: Portus Hannibalis.

Sixteen years ago, there were about 54 boats with 91 registered seafarers in Alvor; this counteracts with the current figures: 27 boats and approximately 63 active fishermen. Nowadays, and after the closing of the fish market, the first fish sale takes place in Portimão.

Within the Algarve context, and as a result of the proximity to its Ria, Alvor still maintains a strong fishing activity with long line, using natural, easily accessible and cheap baits; yet they require a significant amount of work. Here, women have a prominent role as they participate in the assembling of fishing gears, which in local slang is safar o aparelho. In the present, baits are mainly cheap frozen cephalopods (squid and shortfin squid) which ease logistics in baiting operations while providing an effective catch. Some of the top catches with this gear are: axillary seabream, common two-banded seabream (or safia), pandora and gilt-head bream.

Fish traps, namely octopus pots, are also significant in this harbour. Baited with mackerel and often with a lure of aluminium foil, pots are masters in the art of deceiving octopuses, for the joyfulness of Portuguese gastronomy lovers.

The three docked seiners are a reminder that this fishing technique still has a key role in Alvor. They maintain the tradition of supplying sardines, mackerel and horse mackerel to locals, to Portuguese people from other regions and to holiday makers from all over the world.

The Alvor curses, customs and sayings of Alvor, are famous in Portugal and they owe a lot to the wisdom of its people.  Nicknames are also an ancient practice and those fishermen who do not have one are rare.

Local fishermen and their association (the fishermen’s association of Alvor) form a cohesive group. Their most recent achievements are the acquisition of a cold storage room, a lorry and a crane which support and ease the fishermen’s life.

The community faces problems related with the fishing itself and with silting of the navigation channel and bar. This recurrent issue, worsened by the high numbers of shellfish farms, burdens the regular fishing activity.


According with this fishing community tradition, gastronomic suggestions are invariably prepared with natural and fresh ingredients from Ria de Alvor, such as cockles and razor clams. Some examples of its dishes are: cockles with olive oil and garlic; fish stew (caldeirada) and broth porridge with cockles; razor clams rice/pasta/bread porridge.


The main celebration happens in the first week of August when a boat procession carries the image of Our Lady.


Ria de Alvor, sand dunes, Praia dos Três Irmãos, Praia do Submarino, Praia de Alvor, the nature trail Ao Sabor da Maré (AT, Algarve Tourism), water sports, scuba diving at “Ocean Revival”.

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