The Algarve in January?
With mild weather, a stunning coastline and plenty of culture, visiting Portugal’s Algarve in January is a lot more rewarding than you might think!
Mainly renowned as a summer destination, there are still plenty of fun things to do in the Algarve in January – and believe it or not, the surf is up all year round!
The Algarve is a fabulous place to soak in some winter sun, but it is also a great hiking destination with its golden cliffs cascading into the furious Atlantic Ocean below.
Besides a dramatic coastline, epic winter sunsets, and picturesque walking trails, January is an incredibly affordable time of the year to travel to an otherwise touristy destination where prices skyrocket in the high season.
If you are wondering if it is worth visiting the Algarve in January, you are in the right place. In this
post, we will go through the top reasons to visit this mesmerizing corner in Europe in January.
Reasons to visit Algarve in January
From golden beaches without the crowds to local post-Christmas celebrations to winter sunshine, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Algarve in January! Here are some of the best:
Experience Encontro de Janeiras in Silves
Encontro de Janeiras usually takes place on 5th January; it’s a celebration of the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the Three Kings.
The best place to celebrate in the Algarve? Silves, the Algarve’s ancient capital!
Local music groups will gather and sing songs in the streets of Silves.
The celebration dates back to Roman times and was originally a dedication to the God of Janus, known as the Gatekeeper of Heaven.
The Romans would sing songs to greet each other welcoming the new year!
It’s a really fun experience to add to your Algarve itinerary!
Off-peak season to explore Faro
Faro’s totally underrated: most travelers only arrive by plane, train, or bus to travel on to other more popular beachy destinations in the Algarve.
But the old town is an absolute delight – it’s also where you find the best places to stay in Faro along with many cute cafés and restaurants.
Capela de Ossoss, one of Portugal’s bone chapels or ossuaries is found in Faro Old Town. Moving bones to an ossuary was a fairly common practice in Catholic countries until recent centuries.
The Faro Sé cathedral, dating back to 1251, is also a must-visit.
Faro is located on the edge of Ria Formosa Natural Park – a nature area that boasts picturesque salt marshes, with trails that make up some of the most beautiful hikes in Portugal.
The most popular walk, a bird watchers favourite, is the Ludo Trail.
If you like sunshine and a dash of culture, Faro’s one of the best European cities to visit in winter.
The Algarve is a world-class surfing destination – and the waves are actually at their biggest in January!
It’s worth prefacing this to say that surfing in the Algarve in January can be intense – if you’re inexperienced, don’t go without an instructor.
That said, there are several places to go surfing in January in the western Algarve.
The area around Sagres has particuarly excellent swell and you find epic surfing beaches all the way up the coast towards Praia da Arrifana.
Not only are there fewer people in the water, but you’ll likely find great deals on hotels near the best surf beaches too.
As mentioned, his is the biggest season for Portuguese surf – meaning that swells can be challenging for the unaccustomed!
If you don’t fancy surfing yourself, it’s still a fantastic season for surf-watching!
Of course, one of the major reasons for visiting the Algarve in January is its glorious winter sunshine!
In much of the continent, January’s the coldest month of the year.
Editor’s note: Even further north in Portugal can be chilly – I visited Porto one January and it certainly wasn’t warm!
The Atlantic Ocean isn’t ideal for swimming for any length of time (although those accustomed to cold water swimming might be able to take a quick dip!) it’s an ideal time to soak in the sun on the empty beaches – which are among the best in Europe.
Perfect time for a road trip
Going on an Algarve road trip can be stressful in the busy summer months and around the holidays, with traffic, car rental costs and lack of parking spaces.
In January, however, the crowds have left, and you can drive around, stress-free and even park up close to top attractions like Benagil Cave, Ponta da Piedade and Algar Seco.
Traveling by car is also ideal if you experience any rain!
Going on a road trip means you can explore the Algarve thoroughly, covering a lot more places than if you were on public transport, and even reach off-the-beaten-path places where there are few bus connections.
You could even road trip all the way up to Lisbon, another fantastic January destination!
Accommodation is cheap
January is low season in the Algarve – meaning you’re guaranteed to find cheaper accommodations than during the rest of the year!
Whether you’re on a tight budget and are looking for hostels at a super-cheap rate or you want to splurge at a luxury hotel at an affordable price, you will save money by traveling in January.
(Flights are much cheaper too!)
Shopping season in Albuferia
Albufeira’s most famous for its busy party scene and summer water activities – but winter shopping makes January a wonderful time of year to visit!
It’s the complete opposite of summer – quiet and charming – and the shopping scene is perhaps even better in the winter, thanks to January sales!
Whether you want to stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town, browsing boutique shops and local handicraft stores, or escape a rainy day at one of the shopping malls, you’ll find some incredible souvenirs and excellent gifts at great prices in January!
Budget golf season in Vilamoura
Vilamoura’s known for its prime golf courses – it’s one of the most popular golf destinations in Europe.
But while it’s very esteemed in the world of golf, January’s the quietest month and prices are usually a lot more affordable than the rest of the year.
This makes it the perfect time to go golfing on a budget and enjoy near-empty courses!
Not only is golfing cheaper, but fancy golfing resorts come in at a more affordable price!
The best time to go hiking
With milder temperatures, January’s one of the best times to go hiking in the Algarve.
The most popular trails line the top of the region’s golden cliffs.
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail takes you from Algar Seco to the world-famous Marinha Beach.
There are several famous landmarks along the route, like the Alfanzina Lighthouse, the natural arches, and several sink holes.
You’ll also find a wealth of trails around Ponta da Piedade.
You can walk from Lagos and do parts of the Fisherman’s Trail up the coast from village to village.
For something completely different, head to the lush mountainous area of Monchique where hot springs, waterfalls, and hiking trails go hand in hand.
You’ll also find the Algarve’s highest point there, Fóia at 902 meters of altitude offering sweeping views.
It is perfect for wine tasting
Mild and sunny days are perfect for wine tasting in the Algarve.
Although it’s not quite as famous as the Duoro region near Porto, the Algarve has an excellent wine region!
Hot summers and cool winters make it the perfect place to grow vine grapes.
Wineries like Quinta da Tor offer tours of the vineyard where you can learn more about the production and the processes used to create their delectable wines – and try some, of course!
And why not purchase a bottle or two to bring back home?
Things to consider when visiting Algarve in January
While the Algarve is a dreamy January destination, there are a few key things to consider!
- Shorter days: In January, you’ll want to get up early to explore – winter days in Portugal are extremely short and night falls shortly after 5pm! Plan your days accordingly – you can of course take advantage of the short daylight hours by enjoying sunsets and exploring towns by night.
- Temperature differences: Mild and warm days can feel like 20 degrees Celsius and up in the sun during the day, but in the shade and once the sun goes down (which is early) the temperatures drop dramatically, so bring layers of clothes and always keep a jacket handy!
- Many activities are closed or restricted: Many of the activities that you may normally do in summer, like boat trips and kayak trips, aren’t available in January. Others might be but with restricted availability. Not only is this because of the low season, but the ocean has much more swell in January!
What’s the weather like in the Algarve in January?
If you’re planning a winter escape to the Algarve in January, you’re in for a treat.
While much of Europe is shivering, the Algarve is comfortably cool and reasonably sunny.
You’ll find days mild enough to explore the charming streets and enjoy some outdoor cafes.
Don’t pack away your umbrella, though; you might encounter a few rainy days.
However, like Lisbon, snow and freezing conditions are pretty much unheard of!
But that’s just a great excuse to duck into a local tavern for some delicious Portuguese cuisine!
Here’s a quick glance at what you can expect:
Are you ready for the Algarve in January?
It’s not as warm as the summer season, but the glimmers of winter sunshine and range of things to do make the Algarve an idyllic January destination. It’s the ideal destination to start the new year!