Christmas in the Algarve

Natal no Algarve

During the Christmas season, the sun still shines, and the weather is mild in the Algarve! But that doesn't keep away the magic from this special season, as the Algarvian people celebrate Christmas with great joy and authenticity.



At the beginning of December, cities, and villages are decorated with Christmas lightings, Santa Claus villages arise, and dozens of Christmas cribs appear - from the biggest to the smallest, modern or traditional – perfect for children and adults. And, a delicious scent from the fireplaces, pastries, and cakes cover the streets into a magical combination. At the same time, local shops fill up with the Christmas spirit.

Christmas markets and fairs are another highlight of the season, entertaining and perfect to find handmade products or buy those last-minute presents.

Here, the little ones can write and deliver a letter to Santa Claus, dance with elves, take a ride on the carousel, and delight with sweet cotton candy or traditional French toasts, while the regional coral groups rejoice the ears of all with Christmas musical concerts.

On the kitchens, in family, traditional sweets are prepared – "filhós", pumpkin "sonhos" or sweet potato "azevias" – a tradition passed from generation to generation. It's also in the family that the traditional decorations of this season are made. Decorate the Christmas tree, make the Christmas crib, place the outside decorations, prepare the table for the Christmas Eve dinner - nothing is left to chance!

Traditional Christmas Crib



On December 24th, Christmas Eve, families gather across the table, and the traditional roast rooster or the famous "Bacalhau com Todos" (codfish with Portuguese cabbages, potatoes, carrots, and chickpeas) are served. For the sweet teeth of the family, the "Bolo Rei" (traditional rounded shape cake with dried fruits and sweetmeat) or the classic sweet rice can't miss on the Algarvian tables.

After dinner, all get together to tell stories, sing Christmas carols, play board games or watch a classic movie. And, around midnight, some families go to the local church for the midnight mass.

For those who sleep has not come yet, returning home is the moment to open the presents. For others, that special moment happens at midnight or on the morning of the 25th.
To the little ones, this is their favorite time of all season, and for the bigger ones remains the glee of seeing their happy faces unwrapping the gifts.



On Christmas Day, December 25th, families meet again for the Christmas lunch. Usually, the choice falls over turkey or octopus, both on the oven. But some do not give up on the traditional "Roupa Velha de Bacalhau", made with the codfish leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas Lunch - Oven Roasted Octopus

Christmas Lunch - Oven Roasted Turkey








On this day, many families reserve the day for a seaside or mountain walk, celebrating Christmas Day while enjoying the best of the Algarve.

The Christmas spirit remains until January 6th, Three Kings Day, when local carols are sung - the traditional "Janeiras" - wishing a Happy New Year, and the Christmas decorations are stored.

"Janeiras" - traditional carols to wish a Happy New Year.


And in your area how is Christmas celebrated?



At Christmas or any other time of year, we invite you to bring some of the Algarve to your table. Try one of these delicious and traditional recipes collected on the book "Algarve Regional Cooking" by the Algarve Tourism Board:



On behalf of the 3HB Hotels team, we wish you a Merry Christmas and look forward to your visit in 2020!!