‘What is the weather like?’ is I guess one of the most frequent questions we are asked when we mention we are spend our winters in the Algarve. My usual answer is ‘at least 10 degrees warmer than it is in England and much less grey’. However I’ve learnt that whilst my response is accurate it can be misleading for those who come out to join us. So I was nodding away when MrB read the following to me from Charles Wuerpel’s excellent ‘The Algarve, Province of Portugal’.Busy beach in winter!

To be sure, tourists lying in direct sunshine protected from chilling breezes on sun terraces of modern hotels, or in their private patios, are comfortably warm, but the open beaches and water are visited by only a few brisk strollers or hardy bathers.

Charles describes it perfectly, and the title is his too. Both his descriptions I could have used for our day on the beach last week. It wasn’t uncomfortably cold and we did enjoy a picnic sheltered in the dunes, however there were only a few other strollers on the beach. Can you spot them? It definitely was not a day for paddling in the sea nor was it one for sunbathing. It was though, with an incoming tide, perfect for copying the Sanderlings and playing ‘tag’ with the Atlantic!

I actually prefer beaches in winter as they are so much quieter and the skies can be incredibly dramatic. There was a strong northerly wind on the day I took these and for a while I thought we might get caught in a rainstorm. We didn’t albeit the skies were constantly changing around us. These next few shots I took one after the other, looking first north to the Algarvian hills, then west towards Farol, south across the Atlantic, then finally east towards Monte Gordo. Quite different skies from those above taken a little while later. All taken on Praia do Barril, and you’ll notice (with the exception of one shot) not a swimmer nor another walker in sight.

If you like me think this is perfection then start packing now. Make sure though you pack lots of warm layers as well as your sunglasses and suncream. You may be fortunate and arrive for a week of blue skies and sunshine, and very little need for your fleece, long trousers and socks. dscn9343However you could also arrive in a week of strong and chilling breezes accompanied by frequent heavy rain showers, interspersed with only the occasional day of sunshine and warmth. So be prepared, and remember even if there is glorious sunshine it is unlikely (unless your patio is very sheltered) to ever be warmer than 70F (21C). Generally the winter temperatures hover in the mid to high 50s (12 to 16C), perfect for walking, exploring and skywatching but maybe not sunbathing. And my final weather tips for your Algarvian winter, check out the forecast before you fly and bring something warm for the evenings and nights as central heating is not the norm and it is always chilly at night!