The Algarve is a great option if you are looking for some winter sun! It maintains good temperatures of around 16 to 20 degrees Celsius during the day (that can be a good summer’s day in some parts of the UK). Even at night, temperatures usually hover somewhere between 5 to 10 degrees celsius and very rarely ever drop below freezing!
Because it will be low season, it will be much quieter and much easier to explore the region. The more moderate temperatures compared to summer will likely make it much easier for a lot of people to spend more time exploring the area!
Be sure to pack a good lightweight, waterproof jacket, Portugal averages 50 days of rainfall a year – nearly all of which are within the winter months, so while it may be mild temperature-wise, it will likely also be wet at some point during your visit.
Here is our guide to some fun things you can do in the Algarve during winter:
If you are an adrenalin junkie, then this could be a good option for you. Wintertime sees some of the best waves in this region for surfing! Some of these waves can get pretty big, so may be better suited to more experienced surfers, but there will still be times and spots that will be better for beginners! There are a plethora of good surfing spots throughout the Algarve and many good surfing schools also, where you can hire surfboards, wetsuits etc. These schools will know the best times and areas to take you to based on your abilities. Sagres is a fantastic winter surfing spot, it tends to maintain the highest temperatures in winter, within the Algarve and most definitely has the best waves! We have previously written about surfing in Portugal, so if this is something you may be interested in, do check out our other articles!
Perhaps surfing’s not your thing and you want a way to get a bit of an adrenaline rush, while also being able to explore what the Algarve has to offer! Jeep tours make a fantastic option. You can see more than if you were on foot or on a bike and during the winter, the rain will dampen down all the dirt and dust that will be around during the summer, meaning that you will actually be able to travel further and see more!
With an experienced guide driving you around, it’s a brilliant way to take in some of the incredible landmarks and wildlife of the Algarve.
There are several places from which you can begin your tour, including Portimao and Albufeira. A great website for more information on booking jeep tours is trip advisor: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g189120-d4586068-Reviews-Algarve_Jeep_Safari_and_Boat_Tours-Portimao_Faro_District_Algarve.html
The above tour starts at £38.25 per adult for a 2-hour tour. It is always advisable to book ahead to ensure you get the day and time you want and trip advisor even offer a flexible buy now, pay later option.
Enjoy some good food
After some exploring of the area, you’re going to need somewhere to stop off and have a good meal. As winter is the low season in the Algarve, many cafes and restaurants do close up for this period, however, you can still find some lovely authentic restaurants that stay open during this time to cater to the locals.
Often, it can actually be really nice to go to a restaurant in the Algarve during this time. They won’t be as busy, or as noisy, you’ll be served quicker with little to no waiting times and the prices will be good value.
One fantastic restaurant in the Algarve area that does stay open in winter is Flor do Arneiro in Faro, serving up traditional Portuguese food. It is closed on Sunday and opens for lunch and dinner from 12 pm every other day and the seafood, in particular, is incredible and all served at very reasonable prices!
Christmas event at Lagos zoo
Unlike many other parks etc that attract tourists, Lagos zoo remains open during the winter months, and, in the lead up to Christmas transforms into Natalȃndia or Christmas Land.
From the 5th to the 27th of December each year, from 10 am to 5 pm, as well as being able to see the zoo’s amazing range of animals, you can also visit the Christmas village and Santa Claus’ house! There is a Christmas tree exhibition, a toy factory and of course, a nativity scene. Little kids (and big) can even write their letters to Santa if they haven’t done so already. There are also stall offering face painting and traditional funfair games.
On some days, a theatre show puts on performances that everyone can enjoy, regardless of age!
Of course, seeing the animals is important too and there are opportunities to participate in feeding times with some of the animals – these take place at 11.30 am and 3 pm for the pelicans and 3 pm for the primates, so if this is something you’d be interested in, you can plan your trip accordingly.
Ticket prices are €18 for adults, €14 for children 4-11, €16 for seniors and free for children under 3. You can purchase tickets upon arrival at the zoo, however, there are many different websites online from which you can buy your tickets in advance, some of which may even offer helpful little discounts, so it’s always worth shopping around!
See a ballet show
There are always some incredible ballet productions on over the winter period, it could be a fantastic way to spend a rainy afternoon. The popular ones at this time of year tend to be The Snow Queen, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. Depending on where in the Algarve you’re planning on visiting, there will be a town or city near you with a theatre where you will be able to catch a performance.
In Faro in 2021, for example, it was Sleeping beauty. Tickets were relatively cheap, starting at only £10. A brilliant website for shows in Faro is:
Perhaps ballet isn’t your thing, but this website has all shows listed and there’s bound to be something to suit everyone’s tastes!
Party at a Carnival
As you may be aware, Portugal is a highly religious country and many carnivals take place during the winter, particularly in February in the lead up to Shrove Tuesday with it being the last day before many will begin fasting for lent. The carnival will usually start the weekend before and finishes on Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday as it is known in Portugal!
Every town and village throughout the Algarve will put on a celebration but Loulé has long been considered to have the grandest carnival within the Algarve.
Most of the festivals are now more Brazilian in style and as such there will be a lot of samba music, flamboyant outfits and dancing from dawn till dusk. There will usually be parades, with floats, everyone will be in costume. There will usually be a King and Queen of the carnival. Sweets and confetti and party streamers will be thrown into the crowds and it will really feel like one huge celebration that starts early in the morning and carries on well into the night!
If you’re a bit of a party animal, this is not to be missed!
There we have it, some fantastic options if you’re thinking of visiting the Algarve during the winter. Whether you’re looking for some winter sun and a bit of peace and quiet or the liveliness of a great carnival, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during the winter season in the Algarve.