Feliz Natal –  Happy Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in the Algarve…

If you’re visiting the Algarve in December, you’ll see that the Christmas theme is well underway with hundreds of poinsettias planted alongside the roadways in Quinta. The Quinta shopping area is stylishly decorated with pretty lights and festive goods are beautifully presented in the stunning Christmas window displays.

Moving on to Faro at the forum, the fabulous Christmas tree is in place and the ice skating rink has opened for the children. With a whole host of festive treats for all the family, it’s no wonder more and more families are choosing to celebrate this special time of year in the Algarve.


Spending Christmas in the Algarve is an exciting way to discover the culture of this beautiful country. There’s so much more to the Algarve than the stunning beaches and long lazy days in the sunshine, and it’s no surprise that Christmas is a very important part of the Portuguese religious calendar.

Living on the Algarve has given us the chance to embrace the traditional Portuguese Christmas and we enjoy sharing this experience with our customers too.

Did you know that the nativity scene is the traditional Christmas decoration in Portugal and some people say that presents are brought by baby Jesus rather than Father Christmas (Pai Natal)?

Pai Natal’s list comes from letters the children write to baby Jesus with their requests. A shoe from each of the children is placed next to the chimney or fireplace instead of a stocking. Some families open their presents on Christmas Eve at midnight whilst others wait until the morning of Christmas Day.

As with so many other countries, festive food and drink plays a big part at Christmas time in the Algarve. The Portuguese begin their celebrations with Coscoada, the celebration of the family dinner on Christmas Eve. This supper is cooked using the traditional Portuguese fish Bacalahu (salted cod) which after soaking to remove the salt, is boiled and served with potatoes and vegetables.

On Christmas Day roast meat dishes are a firm favourite and the tradition is goat or cabrita!

The Portuguese don’t have a Christmas pudding, instead favouring traditional pastries called Sonhos (Portuguese dreams), which is a Choux puff pastry, Filhoses a more complicated risen dough variety and the famous pastel de nata, a delicious egg tart.

All of these Christmas treats are often accompanied by delicious wines, Porto, Licor de Alfarroba and Medronho, a very strong liquor.

As well as Christmas traditions and Portuguese cuisine, there’s no better way to experience Christmas in the Algarve than to attend some of the local celebrations in the resorts and local towns.

There’s a whole host of events taking place during the festive season, and here’s a few of them for inspiration this Christmas time:

1st to 18th December. Making the most of Fish in Portimao – Fazer Render o Peixe em Portimao

This is held in the Portimao museum and is an exhibition of visual art. It also showcases original seafood recipes from the Algarve region. Visit the website

Throughout December The Conrad Hotel in Quinta do Lago offers a Festive High Tea in the Lago lounge. The traditional high tea with sandwiches, cakes, pastries and sweets with specialist teas are all available with a champagne upgrade for some festive fizz. Reservations are required.

On the 3rd December, there’s a Charity Christmas market in Vale do Lobo. This market takes place inside the main Vale do Lobo Parque do Golf complex from 11am. There’s also a Father Christmas Parade charity walk, from 10am to 12.30 along the promenade in Armando de Pera.

Vila Vita Biergarten has a Christmas market from Saturday 3rd December to Sunday 18th December from 1pm to 8pm, over the weekends. The market is packed full of festive foods, drinks, gifts, crafts and music as well as seasonal workshops such as gift wrapping and table centre pieces. There’s also wine and beer tasting and a chance for the children to meet Santa well as face painting and games.

The 4th to the 5th December sees the Vale da Pinta Golf Course, Lagos, Christmas Charity Classic 2016 tournament. €55 for members which includes green fees, three course dinner in the club house and a donation. 351-963-980-092 or

There’s no better time to soak up the culture of the Algarve and join in the festivities and celebrations of this beautiful country. BOAS FESTAS from everyone at The Real Algarve!