How to do Christmas & New Year in the Algarve

There's plenty to keep you and the family occupied in the Algarve over Christmas and the New Year


While you certainly won’t be waking up to a white Christmas, and you may not find too many partridges in pear trees either, you’ll have no trouble finding plenty to keep you and the family occupied in the Algarve over Christmas and the New Year.  Of course, in the spirit of the season, we’re happy to share some of our favourite things to do in Algarve with you, so check out our definitive festive list for the Twelve Days of Christmas below.

Day 1 

Swim for Shoes Christmas Day Special – Start a day of indulgence with a bracing swim in the Atlantic. It helps raise money for children in need of new shoes and will help build up a healthy appetite for a Christmas of gluttony. 

Day 2

Shopping – Need some last minute presents? There are some great shopping centres in the Algarve, which will be decked in their best festive livery. And don’t panic if you forgot to bring the mince pies, you can get them at Intermarché!

Day 3

Christmas Lunch –Enjoy a Christmas lunch cruise with Alvor Boat Trips and let the galley take care of the cooking on the calm Rio Arade that runs through the countryside from the Moorish town of Silves to Portimão. A Christmas lunch to remember above all others, and we promise there will be no sprouts.

Day 4 

Christmas Fairs and Markets – No Christmas would be complete without a visit to a fair or two. Naturally, Christmas is one of the biggest events in Algarve's calendar. There is the famous Vintage Fair at Portimão, and Taste Restaurante is hosting a traditional fete complete with mulled wine and children’s entertainment.

Day 5

Jeep Safari – Indulge yourself in an unorthodox and brash Christmas this year; take a jeep safari off the beaten track straight into the Algarve’s rural heart. Stopping at farms along the way to taste the local specialties, like Algarve honey and the fruit liquor medronho; it's a guaranteed festive day out.  

Day 6

Build a Sandy Nativity Scene – The Holiday Inn in Armação de Pêra is hosting a special charity sand castle building competition, so why not recreate Bethlehem in sand? Open to adults and children, but you’ll need to book your bucket and spade in advance.

Day 7

New Year’s Eve – Prepare yourself to bring in the New Year the Portuguese way. You will need some Vinho Verde, some friends – new or old – and a bunch of grapes for the traditional challenge to fit 12 grapes in your mouth in 12 seconds when the clock hits midnight. Wherever you end up, you’ll get treated to fireworks and parties well into New Year’s Day.

Day 8

Get Your Skates On – An old sentimental chestnut for Christmas time, but still just as fun as last year and the year before.  Skate under the stars at this open air ice rink at the Forum Algarve shopping centre, which will gladly get you on the ice this winter for just €2.

Day 9

Be a culture vulture –There are so many great concerts over the festive period in the Algarve, you will be spoilt for choice. Enjoy a series of Christmas concerts by the Orquestra do Algarve or the Portimão Philharmonic Society, while the kids see a local puppet show.

Day 10

Eat – On Christmas Eve, Portuguese families tuck in to “Bacalhão com todos” (codfish with vegetables) so book one of our recommended traditional restaurants to give it a try.  Or if you’ve got a spicy Christmas palette, try a traditional Indian Christmas at Real Indian Magic.

Day 11

Christmas Detox – Take some time out from feasting and boozing for some gentle pampering and rejuvenation. The Almond Tree Spa is a luxurious kick start to your new year’s resolutions to live healthily and live forever.

Day 12

Go to My Destination Algarve and plan it all again for next year!