Expats in Portugal: 5 Tips for Summer

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Expats in Portugal tend to have a love/hate relationship with the summer. While we look forward to the arrival of sunshine, atmosphere and things to do, we usually start to complain by mid-July when the roads get busy, restaurant service becomes shambolic, and timing a trip the supermarket badly can mean queuing like it’s Christmas Eve!

Crowded Praia da Dona Ana - Lagos
Crowded Praia da Dona Ana – Lagos

So, in honour of the fact that we’ve now arrived at the time when we all begin to complain, here are five lighthearted tips to help residents in the Algarve cope with the summer.


1.      Time trips to the supermarket carefully

The worst possible time to arrive at the supermarket is when everyone’s on their way home from the beach. Sunday afternoons can be pretty hateful too.

All you have to do is think outside the box. Go early, when the tourists are sleeping off their hangovers, for minimal queues and maximum choice. Late doesn’t work quite so well, as although there may not be many people there, there’s probably not much stock either. Right in the middle of a hot day can work too – if, of course, you don’t have to work!

Sunshine - it's here all summer
Sunshine – it’s here all summer

2.      Get out of the expat mindset

It’s hard to get used to the fact that the sun is guaranteed to shine every day in the summer, and break out of the expat mentality that makes you feel compelled to get outside so as not to “waste the weather.”

Four years on, we’re still struggling to break our conditioning, but we’re getting there. We just have to get our work done and trust that the sun will still be there tomorrow.


3.      Go off the beaten track

There’s no getting around the fact that you may resent the thousands of people on “your” usually-near-deserted beach, but the tourists are the lifeblood of the Algarve economy.

Solitude - it's there if you know where to look!
Solitude – it’s there if you know where to look!

Instead, you must learn to go to places that the tourists haven’t discovered. We know a river beach that is never thronged, and also plenty of busy beaches where solitude can still be found after a 15 minute walk.

Best of all though, get to know some people with a house in the hills and ideally a pool. Then, spend your weekends there and save the beach for mid-September. We’re very lucky to have relatives in the country!


4.      Put water under the air conditioning

We always thought that putting a bowl of water in an air-conditioned room was an old wives’ tale. It’s not. If you spend a lot of time with the air conditioning on, the extra humidity from the water will prevent the worst of the peeling lips and sore throats.

Summer festivities
Summer festivities

5.      Remember you’re not on holiday

If you’ve retired then go ahead and enjoy yourself. If, like us, you still have a hefty Monday to Friday workload, you’ve still got to get it all done, and doing it with sunburn, heatstroke or a hangover is no fun at all.


So, sad though it is to accept, you must get your head down and get it done – and what better incentive is there to hammer through it than a beach at the end of the road – even if it is really bloody crowded!


Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

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6 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. hello from my hot and steamy London office (its 34 degrees and rising in our room!). Anyway, great tips as usual. I was wondering if you have seen the pics of Brighton, Bournemouth etc beaches over the past weeks – well crowded. They make your pic of Donna Anna beach look positively peaceful. 🙂

    Roll on the weekend. Darn, its only Monday. Saz

  2. Hi Saz,

    Wow, that’s a hot office!

    Glad you like the tips. We have indeed seen the pictures of Brighton – it’s like that every summer, isn’t it? Crazily busy! So I guess it’s not just here in the Algarve that the beaches are being overrun 🙂

    Best wishes, Lou

  3. Thanks Lou, I sadly can’t think about retiring out there for another 10 years or so but seeing your mails keep me going and fill me with excitement when I imagine myself over there through what you tell us.
    Much appreciated,

  4. Hi Sam,

    Ten years might seem like a long time, but it means you have plenty of time to enjoy the planning and dreaming 🙂

    We will keep the updates coming to inspire you over the months and years ahead – and the sea, beaches and sun will still be here when you arrive!

    Best wishes, Lou

  5. Hi! We are in the throws of planning our move to Portugal in the next 18 months. It is so nice to find blogs like yours which keep us informed. We are concentrating on central PT and I am now in the process of learning to drive! as well as collect seeds, and make endless lists… we also have a cat to bring out with us.

  6. Hi Gandha,

    It sounds like you have a busy but exciting 18 months ahead of you! Good luck ticking tasks off your endless lists – I remember those days well. It will all be worth it once you are finally here and starting the next chapter of your life.

    Best wishes, Lou 🙂

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