Weather Averages for Algarve in January
Averages for Algarve in January
The Algarve is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal, and it is the most popular holiday destination in Portugal and also one of the most popular in Europe as a whole. Most of the region’s major towns, cities and tourist resorts are located close to the Mediterranean coastline. Tourism and food are the main contributors to the local economy.
The Algarve has a Mediterranean climate, with hot dry sunny summers and mild winters. Due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, it can be wet at times during the winter half-year, particularly during late autumn and early winter, and particularly when low pressure systems track further south than usual. Between November and April, measurable rainfall falls on an average of between 9 and 13 days per month at Faro, the region’s capital. In contrast, summers are very dry, with measurable rainfall on an average of just six days out of a possible 92 at Faro. The moist winters ensure that a fair amount of vegetation grows in the region.
Temperatures are mild in the winter months and very rarely fall below freezing. Even in January, the coldest month of the year, Faro has an average maximum temperature of 16°C. In the summer, temperatures are generally hot, with a mean maximum temperature of 29°C at Faro during July. The hillier parts of the north of the Algarve are a little cooler, as are the Mediterranean coastal fringes where there are often cooling sea breezes. Temperatures tend to stay close to the long-term average across the Algarve, due to modification from the seas to the west and south, but on rare occasions summer temperatures can climb above 35°C. Humidity amounts are consistent with rainfall amounts- broadly speaking the Algarve tends to be quite humid during the winter months, but humidity is mostly low in summer.
Sunshine totals are generally high throughout the year. Mean annual totals exceed 3000 hours close to the Mediterranean coast, and fall just short of 3000 hours in central and northern parts of the region. The mean daily sunshine duration at Faro ranges from 5 or 6 hours in January to 11 or 12 hours in July.
Those who like swimming, diving and snorkelling should come in summer or early autumn, for the mean sea temperature off the coast falls to an average of 14°C during February, which is rather chilly for swimming in, but rises to a comfortable 21°C during August and September.
Due to the Mediterranean climate and the vast expanses of beaches along the coastline, the beaches are by far the most popular attraction of the area with tourists, and some Europeans choose to set up holiday homes in the Algarve region. There are also numerous sites of historical interest and golf courses.
January is the coldest month of the year, but is usually a mild month at the Algarve, and it is usually mildest near the Mediterranean coast, and coolest in the hillier northern parts of the region. At the capital, Faro, the long-term average maximum temperature is 16°C, while the temperature typically falls to 8°C overnight. Temperatures drop below freezing on very rare occasions, but for the most part the winter months tend to be frost-free.
The proximity to the Atlantic means that rain crops up from time to time during January, particularly when low pressure systems track further south than usual, although there are usually significant fine spells too, and the daily weather can vary significantly from one week to the next. At Faro the average January rainfall is 59mm, falling on an average of 12 days out of 31. Despite the fairly frequent rain, sunshine totals are somewhat higher than in central and northern parts of Europe, with an average of just over 170 hours per January, which equates to between 5 and 6 hours per day, which is just under 60 percent of the possible total.
January is, however, not a good time of year to go swimming in the region because the average sea temperature comes in at a chilly 14°C.
Severe weather events are rare in the Algarve during January, but on rare occasions when the jet stream is further south than usual, deep low pressure systems can bring heavy rain, localised flooding and strong winds. On the 19th January 2013 a deep depression brought wind gusts of up to 80mph which led to some structural damage and considerable travel disruption.
Things to do
There are plenty of good sites of architectural and historic interest in the Algarve. Silves Castle at Silves is a popular site with spectacular ruins around the outside, and good views of Silves from the inside, and there is also a museum contained within the castle. In the city of Faro lies Old Town Faro which contains medieval-style buildings, an impressive cathedral and a central square, which is worth checking out.
January is also a good time of year to check out the various museums in the Algarve region. The region’s capital, Faro, houses the Faro Archaeological Museum which has Roman, Medieval and Manueline exhibits. There is an impressive Roman floor mosaic, and there are numerous paintings to sample, including paintings based on old Portuguese folk tales.
A good alternative is the Museum of Portimao at Zona Ribeirinha, Portimao. This museum is especially popular with visitors, housed in a former fish canning factory. There are numerous exhibits covering the history of the location and the fish canning industry, and displays of the old machinery. There are also displays of other local attractions such as Portuguese guitars. Many of the exhibits do not have English translations, but most should be readily understandable.
Alcoutim Castle and Archaeological Museum at Alcoutim has an indoor exhibition showing excavations and artefacts, and the castle boasts good views of the surrounding area. For the benefit of children, a more “interactive” museum is the Centro Ciencia Viva de Lagos at Rua Dr. Faria e Silva, Lagos, which has varied exhibits and some good views around the premises, and also a couple of children’s playgrounds.
Dates for the diary
The Festival of Sausages and Saints takes place at the village of Querença, near Loulé, on the 30th January each year. It honours Sao Luis who is the patron saint of animals, and there are special displays of sausages to try and buy from 11 in the morning and a religious procession goes through the village at 3pm.
The Janeiras Festival takes place in Silves, welcoming in the New Year with singing, to celebrate an old tradition where Romans would greet each other to bring forth the god Janus, who represented the gateway to heaven.
Where to eat & drink
There are many restaurants in the Algarve region. For local cuisine, the Restaurante Malveiro at Vale de Eguas, Almancil, is very well-received by visitors and serves a wide range of locally-sourced wines as well as some classic Portuguese cuisine. For a European and British themed restaurant, a good choice is The International Cafe at Rua Antonio Barbosa Viana, Lagos, which is particularly popular for its Sunday roast dinners.
The Sports Cafe at Rua Frederico Ramos Mendes, Alvor, Portimao provides numerous TV screens broadcasting major sporting events- particularly useful for those who are concerned about missing important matches while they are away on holiday. It also serves cocktails and pub meals and has entertainment including karaoke during the evenings.
Hamburgueria Casavostra - Casavostra Burger & Bistro at Av. 5 Outubro no. 360, Almancil, serves pub food, and the burgers are particularly popular with customers.
Hit the beach
The Algarve also contains numerous beautiful beaches, although January is rarely a good time of year to try sunbathing or swimming. Holidaymakers can consider Praia Gale, 4 kilometres west of Albufeira, which has a range of reasonable restaurants nearby, and Meia Praia at Lagos is a large and popular beach which has a range of restaurants and also opportunities for boat hire and water sports.
Where to stay
Accommodation options in the Algarve are many and varied, and there are numerous high-quality options. For those with a large budget, Aparthotel Sagres Time at Rua de Taipa, Sagres has is recommended for its overall quality of service and facilities, and luxury apartments. The hotel is usually quiet at this time of year, though the large outdoor swimming pool may be on the cool side.
The Real Marina Hotel & Spa at Olhao is relatively inexpensive for a 5-star hotel, and contains good accommodation and an on-site bar and restaurant, and it also offers golf facilities. For those who do not fancy eating at the restaurant, there are numerous good restaurants in the local area.
The three-star Velamar Hotel at Olhos d'Agua, Albufeira is of higher quality than its three-star rating would suggest, and it offers a range of good facilities including a swimming pool, a bar and restaurants, at low prices.