Looking to have a beach Christmas in the Algarve? You have come to the right place because here we are going to give you all the details you need for an amazing trip! Here I have put together a list of all the best Christmas markets in Southern Portugal, the best towns to stay in during the winter in Portugal, and the best things to do in Algarve in December!
The Algarve For Christmas
Traditional Portuguese Christmas Celebrations
Here are 6 tips for you to know before you arrive on your Portugal Christmas holiday! Keep these in mind while you are traveling around, and you are sure to have an authentic Christmas in the Algarve!
- Christmas Eve is the Main Celebration: In Portugal, Christmas is celebrated a little differently than back in the US. Here the main day of celebration is Christmas Eve. Families gather together to enjoy a feast and spend quality time together.
- The Consoada: One of the most important parts of the Algarve Portugal Christmas celebrations is the Consoada. Which is the traditional Christmas Eve dinner. The dinner menu typically features bacalhau (salted cod), which is usually served with boiled potatoes and cabbage. It’s a humble, but hardy meal that’s packed with flavors.
- Madeiros Bonfires: As night falls on Christmas Eve, communities across Portugal light up Madeiros Bonfires.
- The Rooster’s Mass: Once midnight strikes on Christmas Eve, many locals head to church for what is known as the Rooster’s Mass.
- Port Wine: And of course, no Portuguese Christmas would be complete without Port wine tastings.
- January 6 Celebrations: On January 6, another round of celebrations heat up, extending the Algarve Christmas holiday well into the New Year.
Algarve Christmas Markets
You cannot visit Europe during Christmas time, and not explore the markets. And luckily for you, the Algarve towns have plenty of Christmas markets.
Albufeira Christmas Market at Night
- Running Dates: Albfueria turns into a Christmas market the first week of December until Christmas Eve! Check out the amazing Albufeira nightlife!
- Special Features: The historic Albufeira square transforms into a winter wonderland in December. The market is full of color and magic, with giant snowballs and vendors set up selling treats. There are decorations, an ice rink, and even Santa.
- Things to Do in Albufeira: Browse the stalls, enjoy ice skating, and check out the concerts. There’s also a live nativity scene, and the palm trees are covered in lights.
Click here to see the best resorts in Albufeira!
Faro Christmas Market (Mercado de Natal da Baixa de Faro)
- Opening Hours: All of December but just on weekends. The biggest market can be found in the Passeio da Rainha area.
- Special Features: A beautiful big Christmas tree, lots of shops to explore, and keep your eyes out for Santa riding around on his bicycle!
- Things to Do in Faro: Shop for Christmas gifts, enjoy live music shows in downtown Faro.
Click here to see all of the best hotels in Faro!
Cacela Velha Christmas Market in Cacela Velha, Portugal
- Opening Hours: 8th December from 10.30 am – 5 pm daily.
- Special Features: The Cacela Velha Christmas Market is full of antiques and affordable second-hand items, perfect for those looking for special Christmas gifts to take home.
- Things to Do: Take your time looking through the Christmas stalls. Enjoy the festive atmosphere, and don’t forget to try and eat the local sweets.
Vila Vita’s Christmas Food Market in Porches Portugal
- Running Dates: Opens on the 8th of December.
- Special Features: This Christmas market in Porches is all about food! Try the Glühwein, or glow wine! Or try the Christmas teas, hot and cold drinks, and Portuguese sweets, and you can also sign up for workshops. Plus it is inside a Biergarten!
- What to Do: Explore the Christmas card-making table, learn to be a DJ, or explore the market full of food!
Little Christmas Market in Manuel Bivar Garden | Faro
- Special Features: This Algarve Christmas in the Faro market features small taverns and local handicrafts, offering a more intimate and traditional shopping experience.
- Things to Do: Visit Casa do Pai Natal (Santa’s House), enjoy a drink in one of the small taverns, and taste the flavors of the region!
- When to Visit: The first three weekends of December. You can visit from Friday to Sunday, from 10 am to midnight!
Christmas Market in Cascais Portugal
- Running Dates: From 30th November-1st January 2023
- Special Features: Transform Cascais into a real Algarve Christmas village full of lights and parades, and an Enchanted Forest display!
- Things to Do: Enjoy the festive Christmas lights, and shop for gifts at the Little Market. And the months of November and December check the schedule for the Gil Vicente Theatre and the Casino Estoril for Christmas plays.
Click here to see more about the historical center of Cascais where one of five Christmas markets in the Algarve will be!
Quarteira Christmas Market
- Running Dates: Starts at the End of December and runs until January 6, 2024.
- Special Features: Handicrafts, and Christmas ornaments made from natural and recycled products. There is also an ice skating rink in Quarteira at the Aqua Show Park Hotel in Quarteira.
- Things to Do: 20 stalls spread along Rua Vasco da Gama, Largo do Centro Autárquico will be the stage for music and dance groups.
Lagos Christmas Markets
- Opening Hours: Typically opens the first two weeks of December and runs all month.
- Special Features: Located in the municipal riverside market of Lagos, this market is known for its impressive nativity scenes, and Manta de Retalho live concert.
What to Do in Lagos: Explore the Lagos Zoo, it is transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland.
Find the Best hotels in Lagos Portugal!
Tavira Christmas Market
- Running Dates: Usually opens in early December
- Special Features: Several nativity scenes, an ice skating rink and Santa’s house, and live music.
- Things to Do: If you are visiting Tavira on a weekend before Christmas you will be able to enjoy live music in the historic square.
Loule Christmas Day Market
- Opening Hours: The Loule Christmas market is open on weekdays (except for Monday). As well as Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.
- Special Features: Ice skating rink, over 100 vendors are set up, and live music playing in the streets.
- Things to Do: Santa will be in Loule on December 10 for a special event!
Silves Christmas Market
- Running Dates: The Silves Christmas Market is open between December 6 and January 6.
- Special Features: This Algarve Christmas market is a treasure trove of handmade items and local produce.
- Things to Do: Ride the mini Ferris wheel, a carrousel, and there is even a train for the kids.
Weather in the Algarve in December
|Algarve at Christmas Weather||Average Tempatures for Christmas in the Algarve|
|Average Day Algarve Christmas Weather||15°C (58°F)|
|Average Night Temperature||13°C (55°F)|
|Average High Temperature||18°C (65°F)|
|Average Low Temperature||9°C (48°F)|
|Average Temperatures for Christmas in the Algarve||5 hours|
|Typical Weather||Mild temperatures with sunny and rainy days|
The weather in the Algarve in December and January offers a mild climate compared to many European cities. With daytime temperatures hovering around a comfortable 14°C.
The weather for Algarve Christmas is perfect for exploring the Christmas markets or enjoying a walk along some of the best beaches in the Algarve.
Keep in mind that the temperature dips at night, so it’s a good idea to pack some warm clothing. Although there are about 5 hours of sunshine daily, there’s usually also a 50% chance of rain. So, bring a waterproof jacket as well.
Christmas Eve in the Algarve
It’s finally time for the big Christmas Eve dinner, or “Consoada.” I was lucky enough to get invited to one, and man, was it a feast!
They usually have a Christmas dish called bacalhau, which is cod-cooked to perfection, along with a ton of other yummy stuff like potatoes and greens.
And the desserts, oh the desserts! From Bolo Rei, a kind of fruitcake, to Rabanadas, which is similar to French toast. It is the perfect way to end the feast.
After dinner another really cool about Christmas Eve in the Algarve is the Midnight Mass, or “Missa do Galo” as they call it. Even if church isn’t typically your thing, it’s still worth checking out. The churches are decked out with lights and decorations, and filled with the magical sound of Christmas carols.
Winter Restaurants For Christmas Dinner Algarve
You will find that a lot of shops and restaurants close down for a long holiday during December. But I have found you a few winter restaurants in the Algarve that stay open.
- Donaldo’s, Albufeira: If you are looking for a traditional Christmas dinner in the Algarve, Donaldo’s is the place to be. They serve a classic roast with all the best trimmings, plus a wide selection of Portuguese dishes.
Address to Donaldo’s.
- Johnny Hoopers Saxophone Bistro, Albufeira: Enjoy a jazzy Christmas at Johnny Hoopers. Here you will enjoy a festive menu with live saxophone music in the background.
Find the address for Johnny Hoopers.
- Adega Restaurant at Vila Vita Parc: Here you can enjoy a traditional Portuguese meal on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The dress code is a bit fancy, so don’t forget to pack a nice outfit!
Click here to find the address for Adega Restaurant.
- Arte Nautico Restaurant, Praia Dourada: Enjoy Christmas or New Year dinner with a view at this casually stylish restaurant. The special menu includes local seafood and traditional Portuguese dishes!
– Click here for the address to Arte Nautico Restaurant.
- Oliva Restaurant, Vilamoura: Celebrate Christmas Eve dinner buffet in the Algarve. For around 55€ per person, it’s a feast you won’t want to miss! This lovely restaurant is a clubhouse for one of the best golf courses in town.
- I have also compiled a list of the best restaurants in Albufeira with a view!
Where to Go in the Algarve at Christmas
You have to plan at least one of these Algarve day trips while you are visiting during Christmas time! The public transportation will be open almost every day in December except for Christmas Eve when they finish early, and Christmas Day! Find tickets below:
Lagos Portugal at Christmas
What makes this charming town so popular is all of the beaches in Lagos. My favorites are the Ponta da Piedade, Praia do Camilo, Meia Praia, and Porto Mos Beach.
Despite being the off-peak season, many places for Lagos nightlife will be open. For those interested in golf, the Morgado Golf Club is an excellent place to spend a day. The town also sees a host of concerts and music parties taking over in December.
- Check out my list of the best restaurants in Lagos with a view!
There are plenty of Christmas in Tavira events to celebrate the holiday in the Algarve.
Tavira is always beautifully lit with classy displays and colorful lights covering the Ponte Romana and the riverside. This creates a magical atmosphere for nightlife and walks after dinner.
One of the best things to do in Tavira during Christmas is the arruada or musical parade, which runs along Tavira’s pretty streets. Additionally, there are Christmas fairs with live music and ice skating. These are held at Jardim das Palmeiras on several days in December, including Christmas Eve.
- Click here to book a tuk-tuk tour of Tavira during Christmas.
Albufeira at Christmas
Albufeira is one of the biggest and best places in the Algarve during Christmas. The entire old square turns into a beautiful Christmas market.
I spent the month of December in Albufeira and I was lucky enough to hang out on one of the best beaches in Albufeira on Christmas day. Yes! In a bikini on Christmas Day.
- Find out more about Albufeira nightlife
Vila Real de Santo Antonio
If you’re looking relaxing, luxurious Christmas in the Algarve, Vila Real is the place for you! The Grand House, a beautifully restored period building, hosts a spectacular Christmas dinner that you will droll over for years to come!
Praça Marquês de Pombal where a ‘Christmas Village’ takes over with food stalls, bands, and a huge nativity scene!
Christmas ballet shows happening in Faro during the season. My favorites include Peter Pan’s Ballet and The Nutcracker!
You could also take a boat trip to the unique lagoon in Faro the Ria Formosa.
- Read more about Faro Nightlife!
Chirstmas in Silves Portugal
Silves is best known for its huge medieval castle in Portugal, which can be seen from the highway. Silves is always a magical place, but during Christmas, it takes on an extra special charm. The town hosts a variety of festive events, from live carol singers to sweet nativity plays.
The Christmas village in Silves will be open every day between 2 pm and 8 pm. Except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
Where to Stay Algarve Christmas Holidays
Try to spend about 4 nights in the Algarve, this way you can explore all the different towns, take a few tours, and get a really magical Christmas experience!
|Hotel Name||Location||Features||More Information|
|Conrad Algarve Christmas 5-star||Quinta do Lago||Classy rooms, world-class spa, festive decorations, special menus, visit from Santa||Click Here!|
|Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa||Porches||Christmas-themed events, holiday meals, beautifully decorated surroundings||Click Here!|
|Pine Cliffs Resort||Albufeira||Stunning cliff-top location, luxury amenities, festive meals, activities, entertainment||Click Here!|
|Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort||Sagres||Kid-friendly Christmas activities, visit from Santa, Christmas crafts, special Christmas Day lunch||Click Here!|
|The Magnolia Hotel||Quinta do Lago||Retro-themed Christmas events, Christmas movie nights, holiday-themed cocktail parties||Click Here|
Tours to do at Christmas in Algarve
- Explore the Caves on a Pirate Ship Cruise from Portimão: Take a unique adventure and explore at the stunning caves and rock formations of the Algarve coast. Click here to see more info!
- Discover Local Crafts on an Algarve Pottery and Winery Tour: Experience the Algarve’s rich cultural heritage by taking one of the pottery workshops and visiting local wineries. Click here to read more!
- Sail to the Benagil Caves on a Catamaran Cruise: This boat trip from Portimão takes you to the famous Benagil Caves, where you can admire the awe-inspiring natural architecture. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some dolphins along the way!
Free Things to do In Christmas in the Algarve
- Visit the Christmas Markets: The Algarve is known for its vibrant markets, and the Christmas ones are no exception. From Faro to Albufeira, you’ll find markets selling everything from handmade crafts to traditional Portuguese Christmas treats.
- Enjoy Some Beach Time: Yes, you read that right! With some of the best weather in mainland Europe, the Algarve’s golden beaches are a great place to relax, even in December. Just imagine strolling along the Algarve beaches on Christmas Day.
- Explore Historic Sites in Faro: Don’t miss the chance to explore Faro‘s historic sites, such as the Arco da Vila and Cidade Velha. These architectural gems, beautifully lit up for Christmas, add a touch of history to your festive getaway.
- Outdoor Activities in Algarve: If you’re an active traveler, take advantage of the best hikes in the Algarve‘s mild winter weather and go hiking or surfing. The region’s breathtaking landscapes and world-class surf spots are sure to make your Christmas holiday an exhilarating one!
Christmas and New Year in the Algarve
It may be low season during Christmas and New Year in the Algarve, but there is still plenty to do! One of the best things to do in Albufeira in December is the nightlife.
On Boxing Day in the Algarve, you can catch all the Premier League games at Dano’s Sports Bar and Restaurant in Quinta do Lago, complete with tasty pints of Guinness. Or enjoy a quiet day on the beaches. It won’t be warm enough to swim, but you will definitely be able to enjoy the sun during the Christmas period.
For an unforgettable New Year’s Eve, head to Praia dos Pescadores (Fisherman’s Beach) in Albufeira for Nightlife. There is an incredible fireworks display that is followed by a live concert where you can dance into the early hours on the beach, or at one of the many clubs.