When you think of the Algarve, you might assume that it’s only a destination to be visited in the height of summer. But what if I told you that this stunning stretch of Portugal’s coastline actually boasts more than 300 days of sunshine per year? This makes it the perfect place to visit to escape the cold and miserable British weather and enjoy a well-deserved bit of winter sun.
You won’t be short of things to do in the Algarve either. Check out my pick of the five best activities to try in winter and book yourself on the next flight out of here.
1) Explore the region’s historical towns and villages
The Algarve’s mild but pleasant winter temperatures mean it’s a lot easier to explore the different towns and villages than it would be in the blistering heat of summer. The picturesque resort of Lagos with its beautiful harbour and the ancient town of Silves, with its towering castle at the top of the hill are both absolute musts.
2) Enjoy a round of golf
The Algarve is famous for its incredible golf offering, with a huge number of superb courses to take advantage of at any time of year. But nobody likes to be rushed around the course, with other parties hot on your tail. Just as nobody wants to be held up by anyone mid-round either. So why not enjoy a leisurely game when it’s less busy, but still warm and sunny? The luxurious resort of Vilamoura boasts no fewer than six impressive golf courses and you’ll find that many of the hotels offer shuttle buses to and from them, for easy reach.
3) Birdwatching and walks in the countryside
Summers in the Algarve can mean that much of the countryside is dry and dusty. But come winter, the landscape begins to turn lush, green and covered in wild flowers again, making it perfect for enjoying scenic afternoon strolls in the sun. It’s during the winter months that many rare and exotic birds appear in the area on their migration down south. You’ll find rich woodlands to explore around the Sagres peninsula, which is located just a short drive from Lagos and is the ideal patch to spot some of the local wildlife.
4) Party with the locals at the carnival
The month of February is when you’ll find lots of carnivals taking place in the Algarve, all in the run up to Shrove Tuesday. If you want to join in on all the fun and live life like the locals, head to the town of Loulé, which has the best reputation for its excellent party atmosphere. The carnival here is similar in style to the Brazilian Mardi Gras, so you know you’ll be in for the time of your life.
5) Make the most of the beaches
The bookends of summer are the perfect months to visit the Algarve. It may technically be winter and classed as ‘out of season’ by some, but you’ll find that it’s definitely still shorts and t-shirt weather. The temperature often reaches the mid-20s in March and April, but the resorts will still be calm and peaceful. What better time to venture down to the beach and soak up the sun in relaxing surroundings with not a care in the world? The popular resort of Albufeira has a stunning, sandy beach, perfect for doing just that. See what else you can get up to in our Albufeira destination guide.
Have you ever thought of enjoying a winter break in the Algarve? Or maybe this is the first time you’ve considered it? Let me know in the comments below.