Here’s the SandyBlue guide to spending Christmas and New Year in the Algarve, with tips on what to do, where to shop and where to party during the festive season.
Tradition isn’t what it used to be, so feel free to mould and shape the usual Christmas traditions and morph them into something chic and you. Keep something old, add something new and create a whole new tradition that is just right for you and your family. There are some Portuguese Christmas traditions though, that you might want to know about….
If you are planning on spending Christmas in Vale do Lobo or Quinta do Lago areas, you should know that the evening of the 24th, Christmas Eve, is the big event here. Traditionally, families come together for a long and leisurely meal. The Portuguese love their food and at Christmas, cod takes pride of place at the Christmas table. Food being a very important part of Portuguese culture, you will also find a big platter of roast meat, probably goat, as well as seafood, several starters and a mind-boggling array of desserts.
What this means for you is that in the Algarve most restaurants, shops and bars will be closed on Christmas Eve from about 6pm on, allowing local families to celebrate together. If you are travelling to the Algarve on the 24th, plan ahead and buy online before you arrive, arranging delivery to your holiday villa when you arrive. On the 25th, Christmas Day, on the other hand, most restaurants and bars are open for business with special menus and plenty of party atmosphere.
With luck, the weather in the Algarve at Christmas will be sunny – just right for time by the beach. No matter where you choose to eat, advance booking over the Christmas period is recommended, and we’re happy to help with that – give us a call.
Izzys at Garrao beach is the go-to place for fun, anytime of the year. Open for lunch during the winter months, enjoy lunch and one of their legendary sunset parties on Boxing Day. Bring your dancing shoes…or dance barefoot in the sand!
At Vale do Lobo Praça, Sandbanks will be open on 26th December so you can recover from the day before by the sea, enjoying the regular à la carte menu.
For a special Christmas Day lunch head to Parrilla Natural. Enjoy sumptuous food in great surroundings with live music from 1pm until 4pm. The menu includes traditional favourites like turkey but there is seabass on the menu this year as well as great beef, of course. Places are limited so advance booking is advised. €95 per adult, €45 for children.
Wildfire Smokehouse and Grill at Vila Sol resort is the new restaurant on the block everyone is raving about with some seriously tasty Uruguayan beef on the menu. Celebrate the festive season in style.
For gourmet treats, why not check out the festive options at Conrad Algarve. There is a huge range of menus and events to be enjoyed. Treat yourself to Christmas Eve or Christmas Day special menus at Gusto (the Conrad’s signature restaurant) or at Louro Restaurant. You can enjoy a 6-course menu at Gusto on Christmas Eve (€145 per adult, €95 per child) or a Christmas Eve menu at Louro (€95 per adults, €55 per child). Louro is also doing a Christmas Day Brunch Buffet (€95 per adults, €45 per child).
Should you fancy a little treat, how about Festive High Tea at the Lago Lounge – served every day from 2pm to 5pm, featuring Dilmah teas and delicious festive treats from the pastry chef. €35 per adult and €17.50 per child (6-12 years).
There are parties galore on New Year’s Eve across the Algarve with open-air concerts (one of the biggest is at Albufeira) and plenty of fireworks. In the Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago area you have plenty of options for a great night out. You can choose to mix ‘n match your venues or go all out for a special New Year’s Eve package.
At Vale do Lobo Praça, Montys is one of the most popular spots around, summer and winter, and its New Year’s Eve party is famous! Enjoy a great New Year’s Eve menu, with plenty of choice (€80 per person) then simply continue the party with some Montys cocktails, fireworks and great sounds from the DJs until 2018 is well underway. Dunas Douradas Beach Club is celebrating the New Year with live music, surprise entertainment, fireworks and a 5-course dinner. The theme is 'Casablanca' and the price is €110 for adults and €55 for children (up to 14 yrs).
Quinta do Lago has some great New Year’s Eve options. Visit Bovino Steakhouse, Quinta’s spectacular steakhouse for an exclusive New Year's Eve menu and live music from 10pm-3am (€150 per adult excluding drinks). Casa do Lago also has a special menu for the evening with live music from 10pm-1am (€125 per person excluding drinks).
Of course, New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without fireworks, and some of the best fireworks to be seen are at the Conrad Algarve. Welcome 2018 at the New Years Eve Gala, the theme this year is Grease so you can dance the night away to the sound of the summer of 1959 (€325 per adults, €180 per child). The price includes a five-course meal, wine pairing and Laurent Perrier champagne. There are also special menus available at both Gusto and Louro restaurants.
Quinta Burger – urban sister to beachside Izzys, will no doubt be throwing one of its infamous New Years Eve parties....details to follow.
Then recover the next day with a mellow (or maybe not) sunset party at Izzys – the first of 2018 – with DJ, drinks and friends.
Thai Beach Club in Vilamoura is holding a New Year's Eve dinner and party, theme is Dolce Vita with dresscode: 50's and 60's and at the bargain price of €85 per person (including drinks), it would be silly not to join in!
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a little shopping. The Designer Outlet Algarve opens at the end of November and will bring luxury brands to the Algarve with up to 70% off, all year round! Adjacent to the Designer Outlet is the new Mar Shopping complex and IKEA. Now there is no excuse for not finding that perfect gift!
If you need to do some last minute gift buying in the Algarve, check out Lewis Andrews Lifestyle store, which has just about everything you could want (including Christmas trees), featuring some great high street and exclusive brands.
Supermarkets are open in the Algarve during the Christmas period, except on the 25th, and the close early, around 6pm on the 24th.
There will be plenty of fun and family activities at The Campus in Quinta do Lago over the festive season. This fabulous lifestyle resort’s new sports centre has a packed programme of activities including tennis and padel tennis and, if you fancy a cycle ride or feel the need to burn off those extra Christmas calories, you can hire bikes from the Bike Shed!
There are plenty of fun days out to be enjoyed during Christmas in the Algarve. Weather permitting, you can’t beat some beach time. Golf, tennis and padel will help burn all those extra calories consumed – head to Algarve Tennis and Fitness Centre or Maria’s at Jardins do Golfe resort. Children will enjoy the mini golf at Quinta do Lago.
SandyBlue has some of the very best villas for Christmas holidays. Choose a villa with pool heating so you can enjoy a Christmas dip before enjoying that turkey. Imagine a fab 3 bedroom villa with a fireplace and pool heating plus a great lawned area perfect for the kids. Meet Casa Breeze. Superb inside and out, it is ideal for a family Christmas in the Algarve. Or stay at a stylish, heated Vale do Lobo apartment with a cosy wood burning salamander.
As mentioned earlier, the main gathering for families at Christmas is on the evening of the 24th, therefore many businesses, shops, services etc do close at lunchtime on the 24th. Supermarket chains such as Continente, Jumbo, Pingo Doce, Lidl and Aldi usually close around 6pm on the 24th. You'll be able to find lots of treats from home and gourmet goodies at Apolonia.
Many restaurants in resorts also close on the evening of the 24th. However, on the 25th most restaurants are open for business, although advance booking is recommended. Business, services and supermarkets are generally closed on the 25th. The 26th of December is not a Public Holiday in Portugal.