I was tempted to choose “weather” for the W part of my Portugal A-Z, but decided against it. However, I suspect it will feature greatly in my chosen topic anyway!
W is for Winter.
Believe it or not, this is late December weather. 2012
It is entirely not unusual to end an outing, during the Algarve winter, with jackets and jumpers removed and sleeves pushed up.
It’s become a tradition for us, since moving to Portugal, to do a Boxing Day trip to Alvor, walking along the beach front (and new promenade) to the end where we then climb up the hill and walk along the estuary.
The above photo was 2012. The below photo is 2011.
Alvor Boxing Day Riverside Walk 2011
And this one below is from 2010 – you can see that the weather is fairly consistent throughout!
Alvor walk 2010
Suffice to say, that winters are rather milder in the Algarve than in the UK – one of the main reasons that some people like to spend their winters here, of course.
And that’s something we notice – a complete shift in the type of visitor that the Algarve tends to get in the winter.
In summer, the towns and beaches are filled with every genre of person: from families to back-packers and from young couples to pensioners.
During the cooler, winter months, however, there are far fewer families and couples, and there is a general shift towards the “older generation” who appear, at times, by the coach load!
Some come just on bus trips, enjoying the significantly milder weather (compared to their native countries, that is) and the quieter pace of the Algarve winter (in comparison to the craziness of the Algarve summer season). They pull up in their fancy coaches and pile out en masse, following chirpy tour guides. It always makes me smile to see a large group of people making a special day of a trip to the town where we live. It’s nice to think that our hometown is somewhere worthy.
Some, of course, come for much longer, with many retired apartment-owners visiting for the entire winter. Quite how these people then drag themselves away again, at the end of it, I’ve no idea!
Outside the weather rarely drops into single figures during the day and even more rarely below freezing at night. There might be a light frost on high ground but we have never noticed it. The sun, through glass, gives the impression of being sat in a conservatory during an English summer, which is actually rather nice! Some days, it reaches the 20s, some nights it might hover in the mid single figures, but overall, it’s pretty pleasant.
Average temperatures throughout the year.
When you compare that to England (I’ve chosen Leicester, being sort of fairly middle-ish in the country from the list I could choose from!)
It’s rather chillier! I know where I’d rather be (no offence, Leicester!)
Obviously, the winter isn’t all warm sunshine and statuses to make your Facebook friends envious. We do, in fact, get some pretty horrid weather too occasionally.
Sometimes, it’ll rain and rain and rain for days on end, and we moan about it. We complain about one full day of rain, not because we are generally wont to moan, but just because we forget how horrid it is and we feel cheated when it rains! We get over it pretty quickly when the sun comes back out again though
Barragem da Bravura (Dam) in January
One thing that we do suffer with in winter is very cold homes! Many Algarve homes don’t have central heating, with most only having a wood-burning fire in the main room. We have one which kicks out fabulous heat but, of course, only in the lounge! The rest of the apartment feels even colder in comparison and we often spend our evenings snuggled up by the fire before shivering off to the bedroom where we will then snuggle into the electric blanket (shhh, don’t tell the kids – they don’t have them! That said, they rarely even sleep in pyjamas!).
The rooms get cold though! Very cold. I can often be found wearing my big fleece dressing gown over my clothes, during the day, or begging Nik to light the fire early!
Our wood-burning fire. Ambient AND warm.
Another thing that changes as we reach the Algarve winter, is the sunset. We go from clear orange sky sunsets to a stunning kaleidascope of reds, oranges, yellows and pinks.
A summer sunset over town, from our balcony.
A slightly cloudier-looking early winter sunset
And, of course, in the winter, it’s a much more sensible hour in which to see the sun RISE! (It does that too!)
So, while we may shiver and moan a bit indoors, during the winter, we probably actually spend MORE time outdoors, where the weather is more bearable than the searing heat of the summer. Of course, Autumn is the season with the better weather, I think. Spring tends to be a bit unpredictable (think British summer-type weather! Boiling one day and tipping it down the next!) before it heats up for summer and then tapers off for autumn.
This is a “winter” post, of course, so I shan’t dwell on those. Maybe if I’d chosen weather…
Something else we do more of in winter is bake! It’s quite nice for the kitchen to be bearable, with the oven on for hours, as I cook hearty teas (that’s dinner for you Southerners) and bake scrummy cakes. Pies, casseroles and bakes are all back on the menu. Yay!
Winter pies take over from plates of salad (yay!)
There’s one thing I will say about winter in the Algarve though, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Looking out from Silves Castle in early February.