With 300-plus days of sunshine each year, rain tends to take southern Portugal by surprise. You won’t find country pubs with log fires like in the UK, so what do you do when the rain comes down in Portugal?
Do like the locals do, gather under a bar or cafe awning, order a drink and enjoy the spectacle.
Find an awning
When it rains in Portugal, especially in the autumn on the Algarve when summer finally breaks, it really rains. We’re not talking about the kind of dull and persistent drizzle that falls over the UK (sometimes interminably) this is serious rain that means business. It’s rather enjoyable to watch. So do like the locals do, gather under a bar or cafe awning, order a drink and enjoy the spectacle. It’s not just the British who enjoy talking about the weather!
Shop till you drop
The Portuguese love their big shopping malls, so if the weather forbids a day on the beach or by the pool, it’s time to take advantage of the retail paradise. Portugal’s shopping centres typically have large food courts with dozens of options, often including good sushi bars and Chinese buffets.
Just be aware that some malls in the Algarve are partially open to the elements (such as the modern “Aqua” centre in Portimão), so you may still need to dodge a spot of rain.
Catch a movie
If you’re going to visit one of the Portugal’s malls, the chances are you’ll find a modern 3D cinema there – so why not stick around and watch a movie? Most films are shown in English (with the exception of children’s movies which are usually over-dubbed). If you keep an eye on the subtitles, you get a free Portuguese lesson too.
It’s also worth noting that Portuguese cinema prices are low, and there are often promotions that combine a cinema ticket with a food-court meal at a really low price, making for an extremely low cost afternoon out.
There are often promotions that combine a cinema ticket with a meal at a really low price.
Take in some culture
Portugal is a country loaded with history, but when the sun’s blazing the idea of exploring a church, gallery or museum isn’t particularly appealing. So why not take advantage of the rain by topping up on some culture? You could also spend a few minutes reading your Portuguese language book – a little learning every day will really help you communicate.
Find a spa
There are some great spa facilities across Portugal. Many are located within hotels but it’s usually no problem gaining access as a non-resident. Massages and other treatments are usually inexpensive by UK standards. Furthermore, with the majority of Portugal’s outdoor pools being unheated, this can provide a rare opportunity to swim in warm water if you identify a spa with an indoor pool.