I spent a wonderful four months in the marina in Portimao which at the time was about a third of the price of Lagos (about 6 miles west of Portimoa) and they were prepared to negotiate wintering rates. When I left there (May 2004), there were rumours floating around that the marina in Albufeira (13 miles east of Portimao) was even more negotiable.
As for Portuguese hospitality, it's difficult to beat. I was very tempted never to leave.
Other choices further east are Olhao, new marina in the centre of the town, nice non touristy town with market etc,and definately no surge! Best to approach on a rising tide the first time as the channel is not deep.Villa Real San Antonio on the border is also a nice town. Inner berths in the Marina are fine, which is where they put the liveaboards,but approach at slack water as the tide runs really hard down the outside pontoon. Upstream from villa real under the bridge (22m clearance) you can go 20 miles or more. Lots of liveaboards at Alcoutim (at anchor, Portugese side has pontoon berths for short stay only) or Sanluca (Spanish side) has a pontoon, though it was full when we were there in November. To the east we found far more life in Lagos than Portimao, certainly in the marina. Nothing going on in Albufera Marina at all, soulless!
Hope that helps
Yes, I remember staying a couple of times at Alcoutim on our first trips down to the Med. and it was fine, but three or four years later when we went up there (R. Guadiana) there were a load of Brits in 'occupation' who seemed to resent anyone else being there.
It was only when we were spotted by one of our cruising friends having a change from the Med. that we were 'accepted' and welcomed alongside - others weren't so 'blessed'. It was then free and, as with so many of the free town-provided facilites on the French canals, being hugely abused by these Brit. scroungers.
We were glad to leave and will not be calling in there again. We explored both sides of the river thoroughly during our visits and would suggest there's very little to do, particularly if over-wintering. Lagos, while more expensive, is far better according to friends who've wintered there. Portimao marina is a hell of a walk from (IOHO) a very medoicre, touristy town though, when we were there, the marina had just opened but wasn't complete and we were made very welcome. They offered apologies for the electricity being 'variable'(!!) and told us that there would be no charge for however long we wished to stay, the only caveat being that we 'told all your English friends how nice it is here!'
Bet all that 's changed too!! /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif