The Algarve, Portugal’s southern-most region, is famous for its amazing beaches, beautiful cliffs, world-class golf courses and, of course, the 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder thousands of Brits escape to the Algarve and trade in the drizzly, cold British winter for a more tropical climate.
If you need further convincing, here are five reasons why the Algarve is the perfect winter sun destination:
1) The unbeatable weather
Just like the UK, December – February marks the winter period in the Algarve, but unlike the UK, the weather is wonderfully mild. Temperatures tend to be between 16˚C and 19˚C, which is still much warmer that London’s 7˚C. Plus, it will no doubt be a relief to holidaymakers who can’t stomach the Algarve’s summer temperatures, which can rise to as high as 40˚C!
You’ll still be walking around in a T-shirt and shorts during an Algarve winter, but you may want a jumper or two for those cool evenings.
2) No crowds
Winter is the off-peak season in the Algarve, meaning all the attractions and resorts tend to be pretty quiet. This is ideal if you want a long, relaxing holiday, rather than one where you’re having to get up early to beat the queues. Have a lie-in, take a gentle stroll down to the beach and pick any spot you like – they are all yours!
3) You can afford a longer holiday
Holidaying off-peak has many more benefits aside from the fact the usually tourist-heavy areas are much quieter. It’s a lot cheaper to travel to the Algarve in the winter – flights, resorts and even attractions tend to be discounted, meaning you may be able to afford a longer winter break in Portugal. Take this opportunity to see and enjoy as much of the Algarve as possible, for a very reasonable price.
4) There’s so much to see and do
Unlike some holiday destinations, the Algarve doesn’t shut down during the winter. The weather is still fantastic, after all! While there are lots of activities to try and attractions to visit, there are a few things we recommend:
• Explore the countryside on foot – The cooler weather makes walking in the Algarve a much more pleasant experience. Plus, the countryside really does look its best at this time of year, as wild flowers are starting to sprout and the land is becoming much greener.
• Enjoy the incredibly quiet beaches – It’s still warm enough to sunbathe and build sandcastles, so you and the family should definitely make the most of those all-but-deserted shorelines.
• Take part in activities you can’t enjoy in summer – Don’t fancy climbing up castles and churches in 40˚C heat? We don’t blame you. Winter is the perfect time to trek up any hills.
• Play golf – The courses are just as peaceful as the beaches in winter. Take advantage of the huge variety of golf courses in the Algarve while you have the green to yourself.
If you need more ideas, Rocha Brava has loads more advice about what you should get up to during your winter sun holiday in the Algarve.
5) Celebrate Christmas the Portuguese way
Portugal is a Catholic country, so Christmas is a big and important celebration. If you’re planning a holiday over the Christmas period, to escape the stress of having to cook for the in-laws at home, there’s no better place to enjoy some wonderful Portuguese traditions.
You’ll no doubt spot the many elaborate and beautiful nativity scenes (known as presépio) around the towns and villages. On Christmas Eve, Catholics head to their local church for the Missa do Galo (Mass of the Rooster) service. Attendees form a queue to kiss the image of baby Jesus before he is placed in the church’s own nativity scene.
When looking for Portuguese Christmas gifts, it’s a good idea to check out the many local markets. Here, you’ll find a wide range of local crafts and produce for sale. The sun might still be out, but the warm mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and sweet pastries will help you feel a whole lot more Christmassy.
There you have it – our five reasons for choosing the Algarve for your next winter sun holiday. It truly is one of the best times of year to travel to this fantastic destination.