Portugal’s location on the edge of the Atlantic means it experiences milder winters than its neighbour Spain. Don’t let this put you off purchasing property here. Once you’ve figured out the best way to heat your home you can still hit the beach.
Portugal is a country that proudly boasts of over 300 days of sunshine a year, but it’s important to remember that the climate varies considerably across the country. Even the southern Algarve can experience a rather pronounced winter. Portugal is a country that proudly boasts of over 300 days of sunshine a year, but it’s important to remember that the climate varies considerably across the country. Even the southern Algarve can experience a rather pronounced winter.
Even the southern Algarve can experience a rather pronounced winter.
Although 20°C is not uncommon in the south during the winter months, it can get cold and wet, with chilly evenings and nights all but guaranteed across the country. While I don’t understand the science of it, I can personally attest that a 7°C night in the Algarve can feel as cold as zero in the UK!
So, with that in mind, here are five top tips for enjoying the winter in Portugal.
1. How to heat your home
Keeping your home warm in Portugal can be tricky, especially if it’s a traditional property designed to keep out the summer heat, rather than ward off the winter cold.
Getting the heating right will take some experimentation. Reverse-cycle air conditioning isn’t very effective and tends to only heat one spot, leaving the rest of the room cold. Central heating is rare outside of high-end properties, because of the warm climate during the rest of the year.
It’s always possible to heat your home by finding the perfect balance of plug-in heaters, open fires, blankets, throws and insulation. Bearing in mind of course that options such as electric heaters may drive up your energy bill.
2. Taste the Portuguese seasonal delicacies
Portugal’s markets and supermarkets are packed with interesting things to eat and drink in the winter, especially during the holiday season. Make sure you taste things like wood roasted chestnuts from a street stall, bolo rei (King’s cake) from a local bakery, and the seasonal bacalhãu (salt cod) dish. Winter is also a great time for shellfish, with supermarkets stocking huge prawns, crabs and lobsters for the festive season – produce that becomes harder to find once the decorations start to come down.
3. Hit the beach
The sea and air temperatures might dip slightly in the winter but so does the number of people on Portugal’s beaches. If you venture out on a sunny day, you’ll probably be able to find one almost to yourself. You probably won’t be reclining on a sun lounger or swimming in the sea for too long, but a long walk, and perhaps a paddle, is a wonderful thing to consider on a winters day.
The sea and air temperatures might dip slightly in the winter but so does the number of people on Portugal’s beaches.
4. Visit a city
If the weather doesn’t lend itself to outdoor activities, why not head off on a road-trip to your nearest city? For people in the Algarve this might be a two and a half hour drive to Lisbon or even across the Spanish border to Seville. In December you’ll be able to see the cities decked out for Christmas, and in January you’ll have sales to enjoy, on top of the fabulous bars, restaurants, architecture and attractions.
If you’re ready to buy in Portugal, contact the Property Guides Resource Team to plan your next move. We can introduce you to a trusted estate agent or lawyer, or talk to you about currency. Call us on 020 7898 0549 or email [email protected].
5. Finding cultural events
There are plenty of free concerts, recitals and other events taking place in Portugal throughout the winter, especially around the festive season and New Year. Unfortunately, they are often poorly publicised, so keep a look out for billboards and newspaper ads, and ask the locals. You’ll no doubt find some great entertainment if you’re willing to look.