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Rocha Brava

Carvoeiro, Portugal

Winter in the Algarve

Posted by Luci Ackers on Dec 15, 2015
Silves Castle
Silves Castle
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Explore the Algarve in the low season and see so much more.

Take advantage of fewer crowds and manageable temperatures to explore the Algarve more thoroughly this winter. See all the things you may not have had time to do in the summer, what with all the beach trips...

Down in the south of Portugal, December and January may be a bit wetter, but it's not unmanageable and the temperature is still pretty good! It can even get as high as 16-18°C and this makes getting out and about easier and even more rewarding than during the scorching summer months.

There are so many things to see and do (don't rule out the beaches, you may have a couple of really good days that beg to be spent on the sands), there's a whole array of historic locations and nature spots to enjoy.

Wildlife

The Ria Formosa Natural Park is an incredible place. Classed as a coastal lagoon, this large area is made up of a collection of large, shallow pools and waterways. It is a constantly changing environment of brackish water, thanks to the tides and winds, making it fantastic for the local birdlife. You can explore by boat or on foot, and there are guided walks available. So lots of options.

Unlike the Ria Formosa which is sandy and shrubby with dunes and marshes, the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park is on the western coast of the Algarve and has a much rockier environment. Here you will find steep cliffs and inland forest areas, along with a good range of other habitats. The area is an important one for migrating bird species and the coast is home to an otter population too. Being where it is, the Alentejo Coast Natural Park always promises fantastic sunsets.

The Algarve has an incredible coastline to make use of no matter the weather. Even if you're not visiting beaches, the cliffs are ideal for spotting migratory birds and seabirds.

Tours

Less people in winter = more room on tours!

What's more: the slightly damper air means things are much less dusty. A jeep safari is always good fun for seeing a whole range of new landscapes you otherwise wouldn't have ventured to. These big vehicles can notoriously kick up a lot of dust as they wind you round hidden tracks and up steep mountainous paths, so if you're in the Algarve when it's a little bit wetter out chances are you will actually see more!

There are many jeep safari companies available.

History, heritage and tourist hot-spots

Surely one of the major draws in winter is the peace. The Algarve is such a popular holiday destination that during the summer months, it is bound to be incredibly busy. The beaches are teaming with people and the tourist hot-spots are constantly crowded. During winter this is much less of a problem. You can visit all of those incredible places, and take endless beautiful pictures, without a bunch of other people standing in the way trying to do the exact same thing.

Faro is a town close to the Rio Formosa Natural Park and its old quarter is worth a wander. You'll be able to see the Medieval cathedral, wonder lovely little streets and visit the archaeological museum or stunning gardens of Estoi to see the Milreu Roman ruins.

Silves Castle was built between the 8th and 13th centuries and remains a fantastic example of Moorish architecture. Visitors can wander the extensive walls and admire the archaeological excavations that have been revealed.

Silves Archaeological Museum is also not to be missed if you're in the town.

Castle of Aljezur, located on the west coast of the Algarve was built around the 12th century, though excavations have proved the area was actually occupied as early as the Bronze age!

Castle of Castro Marim is a Medieval Castle that was built to defend the mouth of the river Guadiana. It overlooks the town of the same name and provides views out over the river.

Vilamoura is home to the fantastic Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila. Graves here date back as far as the Bronze Age.

Lagos Castle has changed much over the years, due to various inhabitants. But the extensive structure is certainly worth seeing today.

Activities

Golf is a very popular activity in the Algarve. There are many incredible courses, designed for all levels of player and each one with stunning views. Why not take to the greens while there are less people around to hassle you along?

Some places to try if you're a golf fan:

 

Same goes for shopping. Less crowds means you can really go crazy in the bigger shops. The major towns all have good opportunities – Portimão, Lagos and Faro all have something to offer.

If you're after a more traditional experience there are a number of fairs and markets in Albufeira and a daily market in Loulé.

The lead up to Shrove Tuesday is always a time of celebration and a carnival is held in many of the towns. Loulé's carnival is a colourful parade of floats and dance that is taking place from the 6th - 9th February. 

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Luci Ackers
Author: Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.


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