The Algarve enjoys on one of the best climates on the continent with only a short period of rainfall and long hours of sunshine. It is region endowed with beaches of fine white sand all olong its extensice coastline and calm sea with water temperatures of around 22 degrees in the Summer. Air temperatures vary from 15 degrees (Winter) to 31 degrees (Summer).

The Atlantic makes its presence felt at Armação de Pêra

A fiery sunrise turned the sky into a palette of reds and oranges burnishing the ragged cliffs and colouring the wet sand, left as each wave receded, an iridescent coral.

As the dawn show faded and the morning light took over, a single line of footprints was revealed in the sand winding around the cliff headlands. Later there would be the trails of more beach walkers, but not too many – stunning but uncrowded beaches are one of the real attractions of Portugal’s Algarve off-season.

Our hotel’s terrace was the perfect viewing spot. Sunset from the terrace is just as spectacular. You will be joined by many more guests then, in toasting the end of a lovely day.

Of course the weather between November (when we were there) and March isn’t always perfect. When an Atlantic squall brings the waves pounding in, you can watch the white water explodeon the rocks from the comfort of the panoramic bar.

Temperatures average between 59°F and 64°F (15°C and 18°C) so when the sun is out you can bask around the sun-trap pool or take a comfortable stroll.

There are more spectacular cliff formations along the Algarve coast than the beach at Armação de Pêra but this is still beautiful, quiet and easily accessible from the hotel. A promenade above takes you along to the beach where the fishing fleet is based. Here you can sit in the sun and watch the boats and the men working. It isn’t high-octane stuff but just the job for relaxing and you soon adjust to the pace of life. We found it fascinating watching the local cats patrolling the boats and feasting on discarded fish, competing with the gulls. No half-starved strays these. Their fish diet made them sleek, bright-eyed and in top condition.

Yes, the Holiday Inn Algarve at Armação de Pêra is ideal for winter rest and recuperation. A relaxed buffet breakfast continues until 11am if you want a lie-in or a spot of sea air before you eat. All the meals are buffet-style, with a wide selection of dishes and culinary styles.

And if you fancy a change, the hotel has its own Indian restaurant, a very good one, too. Or down by the boats there are fish restaurants if you like an evening stroll.
Of course the Algarve has plenty to offer outside the relaxing charms of Armação de Pêra, which is is about 30 miles west of the regional capital and international airport of Faro. We picked up a rental car at the airport so we could explore a bit.

The motorway just back from the coast allows access all along the Algarve if you want to head for a specific place quickly. Or you can take the coast road and see all the little towns and villages and many of the beaches as you meander along.

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Algarve Tourist Board, Avenida 5 de Outubro, 18-20, 8000-076 Faro, Portugal, tel: 00 351 289 800 400, OR Click here to visit their website