We are an active late 60's upper Midwest couple looking to spend a good portion of our cold January somewhere warmer. Portugal comes to mind. This is the first action of this thought. Having gone a couple of RS tours and loving both the structure and people on our tours, we thought this was a logical first place to put this idea out there. We would be looking for a seaside town with warm Jan weather and transportation availability for day trips. Not especially wanting a rental car for the entire time, We would be just as happy with a smaller city/town as the large city as long as there are transportation options. Any suggestions as to locations, lodging etc. would be welcomed. Thanks for any advice/observations/cautions etc!!
How do you define warm? You will most likely not get 20° weather even in southern mainland Portugal in January. So if that is important I'd suggest Madeira.
And I second Madeira since temperatures are normally in the 40s and 50s during the month of Jan. One thing about the Algarve during the off season is that not much is happening. Furthermore, PT gets more rain than Spain which makes their winter wetter.
Most places in the Algarve certainly don’t shut down for the winter, but January can be a cold, wet and windy month there. Madeira also gets lots of wind and rain in January. The only places with a reasonable chance of warmer weather in January are the Canary Islands or Cyprus. Some of the resorts on the west coast are closed for the winter.
Tavira has better public transport links than Lagos on the Algarve. Renting a car costs peanuts in January from Faro airport. It’s cheaper than using public transport. Personally, I don’t care for the central Algarve. There are many Americans and Canadians that winter in Cabanas near Tavira, which is a more modern, smaller resort.
I've been to Madeira twice. It is gorgeous. One of its weather advantages for a winter trip is that it doesn't usually cool off a lot at night. It is definitely not rain-free in January, however.
The Canaries, while not exactly Europe, is part of Spain. might work for you if you're not looking for a lot of activity, museums or fab food. Tenerife's January temps are in the mid-60s range, with little rain. I'd definitely recommend Tiede National Park, though. I think the best way to do it is a bus tour. The town is dull, but there are beaches and resorts. Gran Canaria has lots of water parks and resort hotels. For me, sort of the same on the dullness scale.
My husband and I are also planning 10 days in Portugal in January 2022, and thought that the Algarve would be a good destination for a few days. Rick says that Salema is the best place to stay, but I'm also wondering if the town is too small and if there will be any restaurants open in January. Would there be a better option?
Salema more or less closes down for the winter, albeit a couple of places stay open. The RS advice on Salema is a decade out of date and it’s been ruined by over development. You need a car here as the bus service is infrequent. Lagos or Tavira are better options for the winter.
Ok, it's not Portugal at all, but here's another vote for Tenerife (although I have not been to Madeira so can't compare). There is plenty to see and do for a week with some otherworldly landscapes. A car is helpful for at least a few days, and driving there is not a hassle at all - the roads, while curvy, are very good (better than most I've seen in the US).
If you have more than a week, you can throw in the nearby island of La Gomera.