Sometimes it rains in the Algarve, something many people find hard to believe. Yes, outside of those summer months, it can rain in the Algarve. And, sometimes the rain can be incredibly heavy as well.
In October 2015, the rain was so heavy that it parts of Albufeira were submerged. Shops and homes were flooded, causing millions of pounds worth of damage. All of this happened with just ten hours’ worth of rain. In previous years, other parts of the county, such as Madeira in 2010, have been on the receiving end of torrential rain.
Thankfully, it usually doesn’t get that bad. The rain can be heavy but, in most of the country, it’s usually just a nuisance for tourists and a blessing for farmers. So, if you’re not a very happy farmer, what’s there to do in the Algarve when it rains?
Go to the cinema
Going to the cinema is a convenient way to pass the time. In Portugal, films are generally shown in their original language with Portuguese subtitles, which is a much better cinema experience than dubbed films.
The Algarve has two cinemas: one in Algarve Shopping (near Albufeira) and the other in Forum Algarve (near Faro). You can keep up-to-date with the films showing at Algarve shopping here and Forum Algarve here. Both websites are in Portuguese.
Cure the blues with a little retail therapy
Browsing the shops is another easy way to pass the time on a rainy day. Two of the main shopping centres in the Algarve are Algarve Shopping (near Albufeira) and Aqua in Portimão. Both the shopping centres have a selection of international shops (such as H&M and accessorize as well as large supermarkets (Continente in Algarve Shopping and Jumbo in Aqua). Algarve Shopping also has an expat supermarket nearby (called Iceland, although it sells a lot of Waitrose products) offering British favourites like teabags, baked beans, and Cadbury’s chocolate.
Algarve Shopping has the benefit of also having a cinema, so you can combine two activities in one. It’s also near the little town of Guia, the birthplace of piri-piri chicken. If you haven’t already tried piri-piri chicken (frango assado) in its native Guia, you could also include lunch at Ramires restaurant. Combined with some shopping and a cinema trip, that should be enough to pass the time until it stops raining.
If you’re staying closer to Faro, there’s also Forum Algarve. Like Algarve Shopping, this is a large shopping centre with a cinema.
Go souvenir shopping
Porches Pottery on the EN125 near Porches sells handmade pottery, which make perfect gifts for others or souvenirs for yourself. There’s also a café on site offering light lunches, cakes, and coffees.
Visit a museum
There are plenty of museums on the Algarve, but often they get overlooked in favour of the beach and other outdoor activities.
Some of the most interesting museums on the Algarve are the Museu de Portimão, the Viva de Lagos Science Centre (perfect for kids), and the Wax Museum of the Portuguese Discoveries. Note: most museums are closed on Mondays so be sure to check first.
Take the kids swimming
For kids, the idea of going shopping (and maybe even to a museum) may not be very appealing. One thing that tends to keep kids occupied, though, is the swimming pool. There are several indoor swimming pools on the Algarve including one in Silves, Vilamoura, and Albufeira. They’re all affordable, and the perfect place to take the kids for a few hours.
Go to a nice restaurant
The streets in Portugal tend to be very quiet when it rains, and the restaurants even more so. If you’ve had your eye on a restaurant that’s always busy, a rainy day is the perfect day to visit. You’ll find the restaurant is at least half (if not completely) empty so getting a table at any time of day won’t be a problem.
This doesn’t just apply to restaurants: the Portuguese don’t go anywhere when it’s raining. If you need to go to the Post Office, the council (Câmara), or just about anywhere else, this is a great time to go.
Note: When the Algarve is wet, it becomes slippery. This applies to both the cobblestones on the streets and the roads. The former isn’t usually a major issue but the latter is. Most of the accidents in Portugal tend to happen on wet days so be careful if you’re driving.