Here’s our SandyBlue guide to spending Christmas and New Year in the Algarve's Golden Triangle, 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 6 pm 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.
Let the festive season begin with our Christmas lights switch-on event at Dano's, in Quinta do Lago! On the first of December, switch on the lights of the Quinta do Lago Christmas tree and enjoy mulled wine from 17:00 to 18:00 and Christmas music in the plaza. This special event is free for the whole family. More info here
The Vale do Lobo Christmas Market is returning to the resort for the 10th consecutive year and promises to be the perfect event to get you into the spirit of the season! It will be taking place on Saturday, 7th December 2019, between 10:00h and 17:30h within the Parque do Golfe complex and Auditorium – a fantastic location which works whatever the weather.Be there to shop traditional products and handi-crafts, eat, drink and truly get into the Christmas spirit while supporting the Wolf Valley Charity Fund (WVCF). More info here
From 6 to 29 December, hang out at Aldeias dos Sonhos (Dreams Village) in Loulé for some Christmas fun! Considered one of the biggest Christmas villages in the south of Portugal, it will host plenty of activities for children and adults, exhibitions, music shows and of course lots of traditional food and drinks. It closes on Mondays. More info here
Saudades Restaurant & Bar at Dunas Douradas Beach Club is organizing a special Christmas dinner followed by a chill-out cocktail party. More info here
Quinta da Calma is hosting a very special Christmas dinner in their Gaiasol vegetarian canteen with a vegan menu. The dinner will include the presentation of a very different personal development book - “The Power of Sacred Sounds” – by the author and Yoga teacher Carla Sananda. More info here
Spikes Restaurant in Vale do Lobo invites you for lunch this Christmas, so you can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year to the fullest without lifting a finger. More info here
Simply Tapas e Vinho in Almancil is the perfect spot to celebrate Christmas Eve together with family and friends. Here is the full menu
Izzy's at Garrão 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.
Dano’s, in Quinta do Lago, is open on Boxing Day for bruch and beers. The perfect spot to watch the Boxing Day Premier League games with the whole family. More info here
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.
If you are looking for some serious partying, The Backyard Bar near Vale do Lobo invites you to enter the new decade by raising a large glass of fizz. The event includes a gourmet buffet, sparkling drinks and live entertainment. More info here
Alecrim Restaurant in Almancil is hosting a gourmet dinner to start the new year with glamour. See the menu here
At Vale do Lobo Praça, Monty’s 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 then simply continue the party with some Monty’s cocktails, fireworks and great sounds from the DJs until 2020 is well underway. More info here
Start 2020 and the new decade with fantastic food, music and celebration at Quinta do Lago. With a gourmet feast at Bovino Steakhouse, sublime fine dining at Casa Velha and all your foodie favourites at Dano’s, plus live music and fireworks at all three events, this New Year’s Eve will be one to remember. More info here
Get ready for a traditional night of live music and entertainment in Quarteira, at Praça do Mar. Portuguese singer Aurea will be the lead performer of the renowned party. Fireworks are included! The free event starts at 21.30. More info here
Possibly the most well-known open air party in the Algarve, the NYE show in Albufeira takes place at Fishermen’s beach. Join the crowd for live entertainment, music, fireworks and more! More info here
Supermarkets are open in the Algarve during the Christmas period, except on the 25th, and the close early, around 6pm on the 24th. Shop at Apolonia for gourmet treats and luxury hampers, also available online. If you decided to host your own party, Apolonia is also offering a catering service for the holidays. Make sure to place your order in time here
Visit the Christmas Village at Mar Shopping mall - Santa will be there until the 24th to greet the whole family. In the weekends, special children's activities will take place as well as the presence of the Loulé Children’s Choir. More info here
Loulé Market on Saturdays is also a good place to visit for some of the best fish, meat and local treats. Open in the morning from 8am to 13pm in Loulé old town.
There will be plenty of fun and family activities at 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 or hit the gym at The Campus.
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 SandyBlue has some of the very best villas for Christmas holidays. Contact us, we will help you find your dream accommodation.
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.