With darker nights creeping in and temperatures dropping, who doesn’t love the idea of some winter sun?

  By our Travel Writer Naomi Houston   A winter holiday isn’t always a priority this time

The beautiful Algarve


By our Travel Writer
Naomi Houston


A winter holiday isn’t always a priority this time of year, especially with Christmas approaching but with the stress of the holiday season, some vitamin D might be just what the doctor ordered and where better to go than the Algarve, Portugal.

Imagine a place overlooking the Atlantic Ocean where you can bask in the “Mediterranean” way of life. With over 300 days of sunshine, The Algarve is a little Portuguese paradise. With flight prices beginning at £30 from Belfast International Airport to Faro, getting away this winter won’t break the bank either.

A Bit About the Algarve

The Algarve is the southernmost region in Portugal, framed by a 200km coastline. It boasts award-winning beaches, authentic cuisine, and a range of outdoor activities including a plethora of award-winning golf courses.

It is a region of hidden cultural delights; small, simple restaurants pull visitors back time and time again, while Michelin-starred restaurants attract international clientele.

Inland, old villages preserve a life that is historic and rich in culture. In villages of small, cobbled streets, you will find whitewashed houses, while sardines are grilled openly on the streets, as they have done for years.

Typical Algarve Apartment

Where to stay?

When it comes to accommodation, you are truly spoilt for choice, with the Algarve offering housing options for all tastes and budgets, from all-inclusive and luxurious 4 and 5-star hotels to great quality budget options, which you can search for on websites like Booking.com.

Villas and self-catering accommodation are plentiful as well for those who prefer the comfort and privacy of a home-from-home; you can also search for these on Booking.com or Airbnb.


Here are some newly refurbished Hotels that opened this year:





What is there to see and do?

Praia da Marinha, Lagoa

If you long for the beach, you won’t be disappointed as the Algarve has won ‘Europe’s Leading Beach Destination 2022’ at the World Travel Awards. This is the ninth (and eighth consecutive) time that the destination has won the nomination for this award, with no other destination having won this title so many times.


  • D. Ana beach, Lagos
  • Praia da Marinha, Lagoa
  • Praia da Falésia, Albufeira.
  • Meia Praia, Lagos
  • Tavira Island, Tavira

All year round, the region’s beautiful beaches, nature reserves, picturesque villages, golf courses, castles and fortresses can be enjoyed in all their glory. You won’t be stuck for activities; there is something for everyone, from the thrill seeker to the meditator.


Top 10 must do activities in the Algarve:

  1. Take a boat trip or snorkel in Ria Famosa Natural Park, a unique coastal lagoon in central Algarve, recently elected as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal. The area is home to several endangered species, including a large community of seahorses.
  2. Sagres Point

    Visit Cape St. Vincent, the southwest edge of mainland Europe, and enjoy a scenic drive up the Vicentine Coast, considered Portugal’s greatest coastal paradise.

  3. Hike part of the Via Algarviana Trail. The route offers the chance to discover the diverse natural landscapes and culture of the Algarve on foot.
  4. Learn to surf or bodyboard with the locals at Odeceixe Beach in Aljezur on the west coast. Whether a confident surfer or a beginner, the Algarve offers beaches to cater for both, with surf schools dotted along the coastline.
  5. Sip the finest local wines produced across the region on The Rota Dos Vinhos do Algarve (The Algarve Wine Route).
  6. Cycle on the Ecovia trail to discover the natural marvels of the region. Highlights include the lush greenery of the Costa Vicentina Nature Park, the birdwatching haven of the Alvor Estuary, and the breathtaking cliffs of Sagres Point, to name a few.
  7. Enjoy an alfresco lunch of sardines or fresh seafood in Portimão at one of the many riverside restaurants. Heading inland try the stews and meat with strong, aromatic flavours. For a sugar-fix, the almond, carob, and orange-based sweets are worth a try, as is the classic Dom Rodrigo dessert. And when in Monchique, the Medronho (traditional fruit brandy) is worth a try. For those with refined tastes, try one of the 8 Michelin-starred restaurants, where local produce is used to create stunning dishes.
  8. Play a round of golf on one of the beautiful courses in the exclusive ‘Golden Triangle’ of the Algarve: Vilamoura, Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo. You will discover why the Algarve was voted the World’s Best Golfing Destination by the IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators).
  9. Enjoy a day relaxing on one of the award-winning beaches like Falésia Beach, voted the best beach in the world by Trip Advisor. A trip to explore the impressive Benagil Cave and iconic Ponta da Piedade rock formations in Lagos is a must.
  10. Walk through Portuguese history. The Algarve’s numerous, white-washed parishes bordered with greenery, like the picturesque inland village of ‘Alte’ or the shore-lined ‘Alvor’ offer a glimpse into traditional rural and coastal living.


The historic town of Loulé

Exploring Faro

If moving around isn’t your thing, and you don’t want to travel too far from the airport, Faro is a fabulous place to explore.

Faro is a central area in the heart of Ria Formosa Natural Park. To visit this protected area, you can take a boat trip from the pier next to the city walls, and there are also ferry boats to Deserta Island and Faro Beach.

It is the largest city in the region. The Old Town is a key attraction for visitors; enclosed by sturdy defensive walls, Faro’s Cidade Velha sits on Roman and Moorish foundations.

The historic town of Loulé, 16km north of Faro, has origins as far back as 400 BC and has been a part of Portugal since 1249. Loulé is famous for its Saturday morning and daily market in the Arabian-style market hall on Praça da República.

Loulé Carnival is also famous across the Algarve. It takes place in February (over three days, the 3rd day being Shrove Tuesday) and is a highly colourful affair with celebrations of music and dancing.


Getting there

There are several different airlines that fly to Faro, including British Airways, easyJet, Wizzair, Ryanair, Jet2 and Aer Lingus. Many direct flights from Belfast operate throughout the year, too.

A flight from Belfast to Faro takes about 3 hours, and transfers from Faro airport to many of the Algarve’s major towns, hotels, and resorts are quick and easy to arrange.

Of course, the thought of a winter holiday can be off-putting with the cost of the Christmas season looming, but with Portugal being one of the most inexpensive countries to visit in W

Jet2 fly to Portugal

eastern Europe; what’s not to love?

So, with a fabulous range of accommodation, culinary experiences, and activities to suit everybody’s taste, why not turn up the heat and try the Algarve? You will not be disappointed.

For more go to www.visitalgarve.pt, and for a travel planner, have a look here https://www.visitalgarve.pt/en/travelplanner.aspx

You can also keep up to date with the tourist board at VisitAlgarve on Instagram.