5 fabulous ways for families to enjoy the Algarve in winter

Antonia Windsor

Antonia Windsor

By the end of October, the crowds have left the Algarve, the beaches are quiet and the flights are cheap. While some days see rain, many can be mild with blue skies and sunshine.

Enjoy the peace and quiet of the Algarve in winter
Enjoy the peace and quiet of the Algarve in winter © Smartin69 - Adobe Stock Image

The hotspots of Albufeira* may be closed until the spring, but you can enjoy the Algarve's fabulous food, get those prize Instagram shots without having to queue and hit the flumes of an indoor water park on a rainy day if you want to take an off-season break to Portugal* with the family.

Getting to the Algarve: browse the latest online offers on seasonal escapes for some winter sun in the Algarve with Jet2holidays*.

Learn to make cataplana

Cataplana is to the Algarve* what Paella is to Valencia. This warming fish stew is prepared in a traditional copper pan and you'll find it on menus throughout the region.

Learning how to cook it in the heat of the summer can be a sweaty affair, but in winter it's the perfect activity to while away a cloudy afternoon.

Delve into a warming bowl of cataplana
Delve into a warming bowl of cataplana © HLPhoto - Adobe Stock Image

You can book a class at the restaurant Tertulia Algarvia in Faro* where their English-speaking chefs will take you to the market to explore the local products and purchase the ingredients before heading back to their show kitchen to chop and season and stir until you've created your own cataplana lunch.

Splash about at a water park

If you think water parks are only for scorching summer days, think again. Aquashow*, which opened in 2022, is the first and only indoor water park on the Iberian Peninsula, which means you can enjoy slides and waves, hydro jets and water playgrounds all year round.

Shoot down the flumes at Aquashow
Shoot down the flumes at Aquashow - photo courtesy of Aquashow Park Hotel

One of the most exciting slides is the Tornado, a 26-metre-high tower where the descent is done with a buoy, leading down to a giant cone with a diameter of 16 metres creating a sensation of free fall.

There's also a spa area for teens and adults, which includes sauna and steam rooms, ice buckets, sensory showers and a relaxation pool with Jacuzzis, water jets, waterbeds and a counter-current swimming area.

Take a Jeep safari

Grab your jumper and head high into the Serra de Monchique mountain range with an Extremo Ambiente Jeep safari. The half-day tour takes you deep into rural Algarve, through sleepy villages and onto dirt tracks where you will cross streams, stop for passing goats and breathe in the heady scent of wild thyme and mint.

The tour includes stops at traditional villages where they still produce the Portuguese liquor known as Medronho and you can also sample local honey and jam. You'll also make it to one of the highest points in the Algarve to enjoy a bird's eye view of the coast.

Cruise to the famous Benagil Cave

You may not want to jump into the Atlantic Ocean in winter, but that's no reason to avoid the sea altogether. Instead, try a coastal catamaran tour, where you can whizz along with the wind in your hair and admire the dramatic rock formations in the golden sandstone cliffs that line the coast.

Eyes open for dolphins on the catamaran ride
Eyes open for dolphins on the catamaran ride © Alfredo - Adobe Stock Image

If you're lucky you might spot either the common dolphin or the bottlenose dolphin, both of which can be seen frolicking in these waters.

A boat trip is a fantastic way to see the Benagil Cave with its dramatic circular opening that lets in the light; the spot has been made so famous by Instagrammers that the Portuguese government is trying to find a way to restrict access in the height of the season to avoid overcrowding.

Get creative in Loulé

The municipality of Loulé in central Algarve has become a member of the International Creative Tourism Network and has created a programme of creative activities for you to experience the art and culture of the region.

Perhaps you might like to experiment with fresco painting with lime and natural pigments or paint your very own Portuguese tile. Alternatively, you could try your hand at basket weaving or make clay nativity figures for your Christmas crib.

Cooking classes include making traditional bread and fig cake. It's a great way to create handmade souvenirs to take home.

Climate in the Algarve

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

The above guide shows the climate by month in Faro. You can find out more about conditions across the region in our complete guide to the climate in the Algarve.

Ready to go off-season? Find the best value break to southern Portugal with Jet2holidays.

Jet2holidays: Low holiday deposits from £60 per person

More about the Algarve

Algarve by month

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Antonia Windsor

Antonia Windsor

Posted on Friday 8th December 2023 in: Europe Family Winter sun

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