Winter sun: escape the cold in the Algarve's most beautiful fishing villages

Dreamy Algarve villages to visit to escape the cold
Dreamy Algarve villages to visit to escape the cold / Photo by Francois Olwage on Unsplash
18 January 2021, Redaction

The Portuguese Algarve can be one of most touristy areas in Europe, but at the same time, it has a traditional past related to the art of fishing and is home to several quaint fishing villages and small towns. In times as strange as 2021, with travel restrictions in place, tourism in Portugal is much less busy than usual, and with a cold snap leaving us all longing for some sunshine, a trip to the Algarve seems more ideal than ever. If travel is a possibilty, then 2021 could be the perfect time to visit the Algarve for some winter sun. But don't worry, as you can also enjoy our tour and take in the coastal and fishing charm of the Algarve from the comfort of your own home.

Several of the towns on the Algarve coast are home to beautiful little fishing villages that are halfway between modernity and the purest seafaring tradition. These charming little fishing villages are the places we all need to escape the cold, and you will be able to wake up every morning to sea aromas and enjoy a diet rich in the freshest fish if you're lucky enough to visit.

Let's have a look at several quaint fishing villages in the Algarve that you can't miss in 2021.

Carvoeiro

Carvoeiro beach by night / flickr.com/photos/baetho/
Carvoeiro beach by night / flickr.com/photos/baetho/

Carvoeiro, in the municipality of Lagoa, is a town known for its spectacular beaches, cliffs and coves, which still retain much of their traditional maritime charm. This former fishing village has become a popular destination for tourists visiting Portugal who appreciate its impressive sunsets and the unique shapes of its cliffs and caves.

If there is one thing that sets Carvoeiro apart from other towns in the Algarve, it is its sense of tranquillity which we all need in 2021. The houses in this wonderful village, mostly white, are low in height but being located on a steep cliff, it seems like they are almost hanging over the Atlantic. In addition, their decoration with blue, red and orange details make for a beautiful contrast that will be perfect to light up your Instagram account and start the year on a high.

Salema

Salema Beach / Wikimedia commons
Salema Beach / Wikimedia commons

This tiny parish in the area of Budens is one of Portugal's greatest treasures and ideal for winter sun. Nowadays, you can still see some fishermen working and looking after their small boats on the coast. It has a beautiful white sandy beach that is tucked between cliffs that almost surround the village. Don't forget to walk along its streets to appreciate its curious and colourful tiled facades.

In its day, fishing was the only activity in this charming village, but in recent years, the area has become more popular with tourists and expats. In spite of this, the area does not become crowded making Salema one of the best places to disconnect from the stresses of daily life and escape the cold in 2021.

Olhão

Enjoy the quiet beaches of Olhão / flickr.com/photos/pthread/
Enjoy the quiet beaches of Olhão / flickr.com/photos/pthread/

Olhão is another charming town close to Faro which was originally a fishing settlement heavily influenced culturally by the trade routes between Portugal and North Africa. Its port, which is one of the most important in the Algarve, is well worth a stroll through, and is one of the gateways to the Ria da Formosa Natural Park. Several ferries depart from the port to the islands of Farol, Culatra and Armona, where you can enjoy views of the crystal-clear waters.

To enjoy the winter sun at its finest, it is worth taking a walk through the picturesque historical town centre and letting yourself be carried away by the rhythm of the city which overflows into the estuary. Don't miss Avenida 5 de Outubro, where all the restaurants and main shops are concentrated.

Alvor

Alvor village and beach / Wikimedia commons
Alvor village and beach / Wikimedia commons

This Portuguese town was occupied by the Arabs in the year 716, and it originally went by the name "Albur", which means "uncultivated land". Due to its location in front of a natural lagoon open to the ocean, it served for centuries as a military fortification to defend the area from pirates.

To all this history, we must add that its inhabitants have devoted themselves to fishing for generations, to the point that a sculpture in homage to the fisherman proudly stands in its port. Therefore, if you want to enjoy a delicious dinner based on fresh fish and shellfish, Alvor will be one of the best options in Portugal for a visit in 2021, coronavirus permitting.

If you're after the perfect sun and beach combo this winter, then we highly recommend Praia dos Três Irmãos, the largest and most famous in the area, or Praia do Submarino and Prainha.

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