Christmas Holidays in Bewitching Algarve, Portugal

Christmas Decorations Portugal

Christmas holidays for schools in England are scheduled to commence from 24th December 2018 and will last till the 4th January 2019. Algarve is a great place for a family Christmas holiday and also a popular getaway from cold winters.

The temperature is 16°C-18°C in the shade during December, and warmer in the sun. Evenings are cooler and pleasant. Pack a jumper, cardigan, and coat and you’ll be fine when you step out at night.

You’re a 3-hour flight away from a soul-warming Christmas with your family in Algarve.



There is an impressive fireworks display and music event along the riverfront on New Year’s Eve. Shops may remain closed on Christmas eve. So, shop before that. Consider this as a rule of thumb for wherever you are in the Algarve.


The Philharmonic Association of Faro performs at one of the most popular Christmas concerts in Algarve.


Being a large resort with a substantial British expat population, Albufeira is perfect for a jolly Christmas with shopping, open air concerts at Fisherman’s Beach, fireworks, the decked up Old Town, gala dinners, and eating out. 


The  Jardim das Comunidades, Rua do Centro Comunitario hosts a popular Christmas Market with entertainment, games, stalls selling local produce and art, and much more.

You immediately get used to a Christmas under clear blue skies and sunny days. And, you’ll love it. Christmas is nowhere as commercial an event in Portugal as it is in the U.K and the U.S.A. 

Expect shoes to be laid out for infant Jesus, and not socks for Santa. Nativity scenes are a big thing, and you’ll see some very creative ones wherever you happen to be in Portugal.

Christmas sweets in Portugal

Azevias do grão e amendõa, which is a pastry made of fried chickpea and almonds, is a Christmas staple.

The traditional Christmas sweet of Portugal is the Bolo Rei, or King Cake. Topped with candied fruit, it is a tasty treat enjoyed by both young and old. It has a feminine counterpart; the Bolo Rainha or Queen cake, which is topped with lots of nuts. Both are delicious bread-based cakes.

Flan and arroz doce are other sweets worth sampling.

Christmas dinner in Portugal

The traditional Christmas dinner, called Consoada, in Portuguese invariably consists of the bacalhau…which also happens to be the country’s national dish. No meat is served. There are many bacalhau recipes in Portugal, but on Christmas Eve, when the Portuguese celebrate Christmas, the recipe followed is that for the Bacalhãu de Consoada

The food on December 25th is a subdued affair with lamb, turkey, rice, and leftover bacalhau.


The best last minute holiday deals – flight plus hotel – are available with TUI. Avail discounts on these bookings because, with only four weeks to Christmas, the late deals booking season has well and truly arrived.

Silves Market during December

Combine last minute savings with the discounts available for all inclusive hotels. But, it’s easier said than done. The Algarve is a really popular holiday destination, and deals disappear real fast.

You have to keep an eye out for them. But, sign up for alerts or download the TUI app, and you could score a real money saving deal.

Thomas Cook and Jet2 are other holiday providers worth considering. You’re likelier to get cheaper accommodation a little away from the Old Town areas of Albufeira, Lagos, and the other resort destinations.

Enjoy festive brunches at hotels and restaurants. Chefs present traditional Portuguese cuisine and five-course menus that will sate your taste buds and warm the cockles of your heart.

Choose an all inclusive deal that bundles on-premise indoor activities into the package, so that you can enjoy activities on days you choose to stay in or if it rains. A few of the restaurants in your area may be closed because it’s not tourist season, but there’ll be enough to offer you options should you wish for a change from the all inclusive menu.


If you’re a little adventurous, you can wade into the waters in December or you may sit and sun yourself at the beach. You’ll have wide open expanses for yourself, it’s a totally different feeling. And there are a lot of activities to enjoy over a week’s stay in December in Algarve.

Wherever you go, with a little research online or by asking locals, you can plan for excellent local food. Exploring local eateries, especially when it’s not tourist season, is a great culinary experience for seafood lovers.

Here are five things to do when in Algarve in December – 

  1. Visit the famed Sagres Castle. Gaze into the sea and the wind from the craggy cliffs. You are at the southwestern tip of Europe. It’s unforgettable.
  2. Visit Lagos Zoo. The animals are not caged, and in a very natural environment. There’s a petting area, a small beach, a nice collection of birds, and the setting for a great day out with the family. The zoo organizes special events for Christmas and New Year.
  3. Enjoy a jeep safari into the Algarve countryside. Enjoy clear skies, orange and almond groves, cork groves, beautiful architecture, sublime regional landscapes, and great food. Autumn and beyond are great times to discover the REAL Algarve.
  4. The towns, and there are so many of them…Silves, Caroveiro, Portimao, Monchique invite with their castles, churches, museums, and other attractions. There’s more to Algarve than the beaches, and December is a great time to experience these interesting facets of an incredibly rich and varied region.
  5. The markets of Algarve are special. Each town has its own weekly / fortnightly market. Fresh produce and catches from the sea are the highlights of these markets in Tavira, Quarteira, Albufeira, Alvor, Alte, Raposeira, Guia, and other places. Some markets reviewed here, on Tripadvisor. If you choose a self catering holiday apartment instead of a hotel, you’ll save money by knowing what’s available and where.

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