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The best time to visit the Algarve (south of Portugal)

I love the Algarve. It’s a privilege to live here. The south of Portugal has paradisiacal places and a lot of fun, keeping its position as a favourite destination for European tourists.

Cleverly and understandably, Portugal’s official tourism department promotes the Algarve as “Europe’s most famous secret.” There’s a beautiful, heart-touching video about this, and I recommend you watch it later (really, don’t miss it!).

Damas, I want so much to explore this Portuguese paradise. What’s the best time to visit the Algarve?

Oh, it will be a pleasure to see you here.

To get your answer, take your sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, and beach chair… and come with me.

Hurry! 😉

When to visit the Algarve: the four seasons

First, two notes for you.

It’s not convenient to point out the best time or season to visit the Algarve. Let’s talk about the best ones, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each. But one of them only has drawbacks, so I recommend you forget it.

The second note is about rain in the Algarve.

Climate instability does not allow us to specify periods of rain, as we easily did a few years ago. But rain is usually not a problem for tourists here, because it rains less and less in the region. (This is a nightmare for the locals. We need rain!)

Let’s take April as an example. Traditionally, it was a time of heavy rains, but in recent years we saw no water from the sky during this entire month.

If the rain comes, it will probably be in one of these months: January, March, April, October, November, and December. In summer, there’s a 99% chance of not seeing rain. This season is scorching and extreeeemely dryyyyy in the Algarve.

The best time to visit the Algarve and an example of Summer: Nosolo Água, in Portimão.
Nosolo Água, a bar in Portimão.

Winter

sad-face

Usually, winter is not severe in the Algarve. Temperatures are higher than in the rest of the country, rarely advancing to negative numbers.

This is not enough to attract visitors. They practically disappear from the Algarve during almost all winter. Tourism is so miserable that many hotels see the season as an opportunity for recess for all employees. Most attractions — bars, restaurants, parks, monuments, strongholds, castles — reduce opening hours or do not open. The beaches, a key interest in the region, are empty. And there’s more: The night arrives earlier, with the sky getting dark around 5 PM.

The Algarve in winter is depressing.

It’s sad to see and feel the doldrums, in contrast to the high spirits of other times. Some cities appear to have been evacuated. When I walk my dogs, sometimes I see no one on the streets.

Without a doubt, I say that winter is a TERRIBLE choice for tourism in the Algarve. Consequently, the Algarve is not a good idea for Christmas and réveillon. (Understand, please, that the other regions of Portugal are great for Christmas and réveillon. By the way, many people consider New Year’s Eve on Madeira Island the most beautiful in the world.)

Fortaleza da Luz, in Lagos
Fortaleza da Luz, in Lagos: a restaurant in a fortress.

Damas, you said above that “tourists practically disappear from the Algarve during almost all winter.” I noticed the emphasis on “almost.”

Oh, I love attentive readers!

Winter ends on March 21st, but from the beginning of March, with spring almost arriving, tourism begins to revive. It’s a feasible time to be here — calm, pleasant, with many places open.

Spring

very-happy-face

The Algarve comes back to full life in the second half of March.

All hotels are in operation, and famous places open their doors with pleasure. The number of tourists rises, but we still do not see the tumultuous days of summer.

The end of March and all of April bring mild temperatures. Thermometers go up in May and more in June but do not reach the extremes of July, August and September.

The best time to visit the Algarve is the opportunity to visit the summit of Serra de Monchique
Fóia, Monchique (950 meters / 0.59 mile / 1039 yards above sea level).
A street in Lagos.
Historic Centre of Lagos: It’s an excellent season for a visit, with more tourists in the region, but we still can find calm places.
Luz beach is a good point when tourists consider when to visit the Algarve.
The area of Luz Beach, in Lagos.

The season is also appropriate for golf players. Oh, yes, the Algarve still shines as one of the best places in the world for golf.

However, the super-ultra-greeeat-major attractions here are the beaches. The water is still cold, but the sand and the gorgeous landscapes are always a delight.

By the way, hold your breath because the Algarve features some of the world’s best beaches. A recent poll in the United States elected a beach in Lagos as the most beautiful in the world (the same beach we later saw as an official wallpaper in Google’s Pixel XL 2 smartphone).

The Algarve is also the land of fresh fish and seafood. How about finishing your day at a typical restaurant, eating what anglers caught a few hours or minutes earlier? (Not me, I’m a vegetarian, but most tourists appreciate this a lot.)

Summer

Summer is the climax in the Algarve. The entire region is in a frenzy.

The number of tourists skyrockets, coming in droves. Not only foreign tourists: The Portuguese themselves, from other areas of the country, usually spend their holidays here.

All touristic sites extend their opening hours. Everything is working.

Restaurants, bars and pubs get crooooowded. I say “pubs” because we have an intense British influence. British come here and open up their businesses in the style they already know.

You can now imagine how the beaches are.

Summer is full life in the Algarve.

Sea activities are limitless. Tourists live intense adventures on boats, ships, yachts, canoes, etc. Even a “pirate ship” comes every year to take people away! And how about a cruise to see caves, dolphins, distant beaches? Or maybe you prefer the skies instead of the sea? Go skydive in Alvor (Alvor is one of my favourite cities in the Algarve). And, if you like theme parks, visit the famous Zoomarine Oceanographic Park.

There are so many attractions and parties that you may get lost when selecting your favourites. For example, the famous medieval fairs make cities simulate life in the medieval era. I’m a fan of those medieval fairs! In the Algarve, they happen in August, in Silves and Castro Marim (this one, near the border with Spain).

To make everything better, night falls much later. The sky gets dark around 9:30 PM.

Beaches in Alvor may make Summer be the best time to visit the Algarve.
A beach in Alvor (also next photo).
This beach in Alvor is to be considered in the moment you decide when to visit the Algarve.
Crowded street in Alvor, Algarve.
Historic Centre of Alvor: there are lots of pubs and restaurants. This is how we see the streets on summer nights.
Nosolo Água in Portimão
Nosolo Água, in Portimão: a piece of Paradise on Earth (“água” means “water” in Portuguese).
Silves castle.
Medieval Fair in Silves. The castle is part of this party.

Oh my God, Damas! My favorite time to visit the Algarve is summer, period!

Intere—

I mean, very interested in summer in the Algarve? Ok, but it’s not all good news. Consider other things when deciding when to visit the Algarve.

Summer comes with lots of fun, which is lovely, but two problems arrive together: overcrowding and excessive heat.

The increasing number of tourists promotes a cheerful atmosphere. At the same time, we have to deal with overcrowded places, long lines, and headaches when parking cars (in case you rent a car, which many tourists do).

My major problem is the heat, especially in July and August. The real feel easily reaches (or exceeds!) 40 degrees Celsius / 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Many people don’t feel uncomfortable with all of this. What about you?

Autumn

good-face

Until recent years, autumn was a poor choice regarding the best time to visit the Algarve. Now, this destination being more and more popular, we receive lots of tourists during this season.

I love the Algarve in autumn because there’s still a lot of fun, and temperatures are mild (with peaks of cold and wind on some days). We see brave people who enjoy the beaches, although the water is cold.

December is an exception. With winter close, tourism flow drops heavily, and many places close their doors.

Ria in Alvor and the best time to visit the Algarve.
Ria de Alvor: a pleasant place to visit.
A restaurant in the marina of Vilamoura and the choice of when to visit the Algarve.
Vilamoura Marina, considered one of the best marinas in Europe, has a lot of restaurants and bars.
The hills of Sagres.
The impressive hills of Cape of São Vicente, in Sagres (also next photo).
Sagres.

Hum… Damas, maybe excessive heat is too much for me. Now I’m in doubt about spring or autumn.

I often see people in doubt about choosing spring or autumn to visit the Algarve.

Both seasons are plentiful here, I told you that already, but I have to admit that spring is better than autumn. Spring brings more fun… more energy. It’s also important to note that spring offers most of what summer has for us, with milder temperatures and less overcrowding.

An overview of when to visit the Algarve

Consider the following regarding the number of tourists and attractions and how much fun we feel in the air.

Winter is depression
Autumn is happiness
Spring is five times happiness
Summer is ten times happiness

Have a pleasant stay in the Algarve!


G. DAMAS
» I live in Germany, after several years in Portugal (Algarve).

» My first fiction books, for young adults, were published in the early 2000s in Portuguese. I also wrote books and guides about travel and technology. Screenplays are my greatest passion.

» This blog is the English version of my G. DAMAS (Portuguese language, online since 2008). || English is not my native language.

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2 replies on “The best time to visit the Algarve (south of Portugal)”

Ainda terei o privilégio de conhecer essa maravilhosa região de Portugal e se possível com Glauco me apresentando todas essas maravilhas. Parabéns pela matéria.

Oi, Tânia!

Obrigado pelo comentário tão gentil! Espero muito que você conheça o Algarve.

Cumprimentos.

Hey, leave a comment :-)