Visiting the Algarve in Winter

With 300 days of sunshine per year and temperatures that reach the early 20s during many winter months, it’s not surprise that many people are searching for a winter rental in the Algarve. Rental prices are cheaper, there are less tourists, and it’s warm but not unpleasantly hot — what’s not to love?

Winter can be a good time to rent medium to long-term and see if Portugal is right for you. Not only is it a more affordable time of year to visit, but it’ll give you an opportunity to experience a winter in the Algarve. Winters here are a unique experience, particularly for anyone from North America or Northern Europe, as houses are often cold inside despite it being reasonably warm outside (unless your house has good heating, of course).

The winter season or low-season on the Algarve traditionally runs from the start of November until the start of March. During this period a lot of tourist-orientated businesses close up for the winter, and many apartments and houses are left empty. It does mean that many coastal towns can have a ghost town feeling,

This is starting to change as more and more airlines put on winter flights, but that feeling is definitely still there.

Long Term or Short Term?

During winter, it’s usually much easier to find good deals on hotels and apartments. Airbnb and Booking.com are two of the best places to look.

But, if you’re planning on staying long-term, you’ll probably want a house or apartment rather than a hotel room. Be sure to read Portugalist’s guide to finding winter rentals in the Algarve.

When to visit

Although the summer months are the most popular time of year to visit, The Algarve is actually a year-round destination with good weather, festivals, and other things to see and do throughout the year.

Read more about visiting the Algarve in each of the off-season months:

What to do in Winter

While many of the Algarve’s top things to do can be done year-round, there are some things that are especially worth doing in winter.

Walking

The Algarve is a fantastic destination for walking, with lots of day hikes and several long distance walks like The Algarve Way and the Rota Vicentina.

Winter is a fantastic time to do many of the walks as the weather is mild, but not impossibly hot.

Sightseeing

The Algarve doesn’t have a huge number of historical attractions, at least when compared to Lisbon and Porto, but there are definitely a few. And sightseeing can be tiring, especially during the summer months when temperatures can reach the mid 30s or higher.

A few historical and cultural attractions that you should visit include Capela dos Ossos (bone chapel), the Ria Formosa, and Silves Castle.

Golf

Although people come to play golf year-round in the Algarve, the majority of people visit during Spring, Autumn, and Winter.

March and November, the beginning and end of the tourist season on the Algarve, are two of the best affordable months for golf. Other months, like January and February, can be even cheaper, but the weather is often more temperamental.

Surfing

The Algarve is a popular surfing destination, particularly the West Coast around Sagres and Aljezur.

Winter, with its milder temperatures, is typically much better for surfing than July and August. Serious surfers normally stay along near one of the Western Algarve towns like Sagres, Aljezur, or Vila do Bispo, but some stay in nearby Lagos, which is the biggest town near the Algarve’s West Coast.

Beaches

Can you visit the beaches in winter? Absolutely. Temperatures are usually anywhere from around 15-20°C. This might be a little too cold for sunbathing, although plenty of people do, but it’s perfect for walking or visiting a café.

Rainy Day Activities

With 300 days of sunshine, it isn’t surprising that most of the things to do on the Algarve are designed for warmer weather. Besides visiting one of the few museums or going to the cinema, there isn’t a lot to do when it rains on the Algarve besides curl up with a good book or watch an interesting film on Netflix.

Will you need a car?

You can visit the Algarve without a car, and get around by public transport, but renting a car will make it much easier to get around. It’s also worth noting that where there is public transport, it usually only goes to other towns and cities rather than to the beaches or rural parts of the Algarve.

As with accommodation, it is possible to find cheaper car rentals during the winter. Car rental comparison sites like Rentalcars.com and Skyscanner.net are a good place to start but, if you’re staying longer than a month, it might be worth contacting companies directly.

Read more about: renting a car long term on the Algarve.

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