The Algarve is known for being one of the best holiday destinations in Europe, with over 300 days of sunshine a year and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But if you’re visiting this region of Portugal outside of the high season, or even looking for other places to visit besides the beach, don’t worry, there’s plenty to do in the Algarve in winter too.
From visiting a cork factory, exploring historic towns or municipal markets, here are some of the coolest things to do in the Algarve during wintertime.
— Wine tasting
Portuguese wines have gained fame, recognition, and several awards around the world. Although the Algarve has only begun to revitalize its wine industry in recent years, you should have a taste and discover the best wineries in the region during your stay. On a tour to the wineries, you can also explore the Algarve countryside and historic sites.
— Visit a ceramist workshop in Porches
The history of decorative tiles in Portugal dates back to Moorish times. In fact, the word tile is derived from the Arabic az-zulayj, which means “polished stone”. Tile has been one of the strongest cultural expressions in Portugal since the 15th century and is commonly used on the facades of churches, palaces, and mansions. At Porches Pottery you can see artisans at work, buy an original Algarve souvenir and enjoy a light lunch at Café Bar Bacchus.
— Buy regional products at Loulé Market
Loulé, a traditional Portuguese commercial town, is one of the best places in the Algarve to take a day trip. Visitors are drawn to Loulé by its important historic center, genuine Portuguese atmosphere, and its vibrant municipal market, one of the Algarve’s most distinguished points of interest. The picturesque neo-Arab style market was built in 1908 and renovated between 2004 and 2007.
Once in Loulé, you can also visit other historical sites in the city, including the only Islamic baths in Portugal.
— Take a Surf Lesson
Winter has also the great advantage of being the best time for surfing. Whether you surf regularly or are just starting out, the Algarve will gift you with some of the best waves in the world. Big swells for the bravest and small waves with lots of foam for beginners, make it a must-stop for surfers from all over the world or curious people wishing to give it a try.
— Discover a traditional cork factory
One of the most unexpected and unusual things to do in the Algarve in winter, or any season, is to visit a cork factory. A little-known fact is that Portugal is the world’s largest cork producer, responsible for more than 50% of global production. A visit to the cork factory takes about 75 minutes and the price is very reasonable.
— Visit Olhão
If you’re looking for less touristy towns to visit during winter, don’t miss Olhão. Located just 15 minutes from Faro, the city has grown from a fishing village to a town with around 45,000 inhabitants and has the largest fishing port in the Algarve. Olhão has a beautiful and peaceful center with narrow streets, whitewashed houses with a Moorish influence, and beautiful churches. There, you can take a boat trip to visit several islands that are part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Pro tip: A visit to the Olhão market will certainly sharpen your senses.
— Have fun at Casino de Vilamoura
If you think gambling is the only thing you can do at Casino de Vilamoura, you’re absolutely wrong. You can have a drink, a great dinner, watch a show, or even go dancing until the sun comes up. The nightclub is very chic, with its impressive lighting system, go-go dancers, and themed parties. They regularly invite renowned artists to play. Dress up in your stylish clothes, book a table, and get ready to glow.
— Visit São Lourenço’s church
This baroque-style Roman church is covered from wall to ceiling in traditional blue and white tiles dating back to the 18th century. The eight tile panels designed by Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes are impressive and depict scenes from the life and martyrdom of São Lourenço. A visit doesn’t take more than 10 minutes, but it’s worth it — it is one of the Algarve’s best-kept treasures.
— Bird watching in Ria Formosa
Often overshadowed by the stunning beaches of the Algarve, the Ria Formosa Natural Park is one of the best places for outdoor activities in the region. It is one of Portugal’s 7 Wonders. Its labyrinth of canals, freshwater lagoons, swamps, and islands extends for 60 km along the Algarve coast, passing through the municipalities of Loulé, Faro, Olhão, Tavira, and Vila Real de Santo António. Navigating the beautiful canals of the Ria Formosa, you will learn about hundreds of native birds and will have the opportunity to see birds from northern and central Europe, as well as those migrating between Europe and Africa.
— Dive in the fresh waters of Pego do Inferno
One of the most unexpected things to do in the Algarve is to visit Pego do Inferno, a small waterfall and lake located in the parish of Santo Estevão, in Tavira. Pego do Inferno, the largest of the sequence of three waterfalls, flows into a beautiful emerald lagoon, with calm waters, surrounded by dense vegetation. Getting there is not very easy, so you’ll need to use Google Maps to find it. After parking, just follow the uneven path to a wooden staircase, where the pedestrian walkway begins, then descend for about 300 or 400 meters.
And now, you are officially ready to book your winter holidays with us 🙂
See you soon!