Portugal is an ideal destination 365 days a year: its climate is always pleasant, with hot but not too sultry summers and mild and sunny winters, especially in the southern Algarve region. Rainfall is mainly concentrated in the winter, between November and the end of February, but mainly affects the regions of the far north and the mountainous area of the Serra de Estrela, inland.
Although there is no best time to visit Portugal, there are months more suitable for certain activities and excursions: for example, if you want to ski in the mountains of the country you have to opt for the period between January and March, while if you want to visit the archaeological sites and cities or go trekking, the best seasons are autumn and spring, approximately around the months of May and October, when it is not too hot and the climate is dry. Summer is the best season to visit the seaside resorts along the coast, which in July and August are particularly crowded, but if your destination is the Algarve, here you can go to the beach until late winter.
If you are planning to visit Portugal, here is a complete guide on what to expect in every season of the year, with some information on the main events.
The best time to visit Portugal in general
The climate in the country is mild and temperate. There is therefore no ideal time for a trip to Portugal: any time of the year is fine. However, it is more pleasant to make the trip in autumn and spring. In fact, winter is often very cold inland and summer is very hot almost everywhere. To fully enjoy the country with mild temperatures, opt for the middle seasons. The Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal, can be visited all year round. Portugal’s south-west coast between Alentejo and the Algarve, locally known as the Costa Vicentina offers magnificent beaches and the temperatures never drop below 10 degrees!
Trip to Portugal in spring
The Portuguese spring is characterized by higher temperatures than in Italy. The days are getting longer and so are the outdoor activities. The month of June, for example, is famous for the many local festivals that are held throughout the country: the best known are those held during the days of Santo Antònio (June 12-13) and Sao Joao (June 23-24). These days are characterized by festivals where dancing and street food enliven the evenings. Spring is also a good season to visit the cities of the country, which, although discreetly crowded with tourists, show themselves in their best appearance. In the cities in the evening the clubs are open until late, and the evenings come alive in the streets; if you are in Lisbon, mingle with the young Portuguese in Bairro Alto, where the nightlife of the capital comes alive.
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Travel to Portugal in summer
Summer is certainly the best time to visit Portugal if you want to have a beach vacation. Summers are in fact hot, windy, with long days and blue skies. The beaches and seaside resorts of the Algarve, the region south of Portugal, are stormed by tourists from all over Europe. Even though it is the high season, prices are low compared to other international beach destinations like Spain, so much so that it remains a more than advisable destination for budget-conscious people. The location of the Trojan peninsula is also an excellent choice to spend days of sea and sun. In contrast, you can think of visiting Lisbon or Porto, which tend to be less hectic during these summer months, and more suitable for families and adult couples.
Trip to Portugal in autumn
Along with spring, autumn is considered the best time to visit Portugal. For those who are still looking for a bit of sun and sea and want to keep the prices of their stay low, you can think of exploring the Algarve in September and October: the prices of accommodation and the availability of these are in fact lower than in July and August. In addition, the beaches are less crowded and you will also get to know a more authentic and traditional Portugal. Autumn is also a good season to take a tour of Alentejo, the region of Portugal famous for its medieval villages, countryside and wines.
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Trip to Portugal in winter
Choosing to travel to Portugal in winter with good probability will not make you find cold and rainy days, but spring days with pleasant temperatures and beautiful sunny days. The climate is mild, only north of Lisbon and in the inland areas, near the Serra de Estrela, there are colder winters. Visiting cities like Porto and Lisbon in winter will allow you to avoid the months stormed by tourists, and to visit popular attractions without crowds and chaos, with very cheap prices. If you are traveling during the Christmas holidays, you can not fail to taste, on Epiphany day, the famous “crown” cake, in memory of the arrival of the Three Kings. Lisbon during Christmas is filled with lights, decorations and traditional markets where you can go shopping for the holidays, all under a cloudless sky. If you are looking for a seaside holiday in the middle of winter, how not to consider choosing Madeira as your destination. This period is in fact the high season for the island, a destination chosen by many Europeans to escape the rigours of continental winter.
What is the ideal time to visit Lisbon and its surroundings?
Lisbon is located in the south of the country and can be visited all year round thanks to its mild climate. In summer, however, it can be very hot so it is best to leave in the mid-season to find the ideal temperatures. The old part of the city is beautiful and not to be missed: after a day of sightseeing under the sun, you will appreciate the restaurants in the Bairro Halto district. The Belem neighborhood is also worth a visit. If you have chosen to leave in the summer and you want to cool off a bit, go visit the troglodytic caves of Sintra: fun guaranteed for all ages and it’s cooler!
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What is the ideal time to visit the North of Portugal?
The city of Porto is located on the Atlantic coast. It has a Mediterranean but also a continental climate: sunny but very humid. The historic center of Porto, inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is really worth a visit in a cooler period! It is better to choose spring or autumn when the climate is mild and pleasant and it is possible to visit, without suffering too much from the heat, the Cathedral of Self, the Crystal Palace or even the Museum of Contemporary Art.
And the best time to visit the Center of Portugal?
In the Center, temperatures are cooler. For this reason the best time to visit Portugal could be even in the middle of summer without suffering too much from the heat. This region of Portugal has a diversified topography: mainly mountainous with the Serra da Estrela chain but also with numerous flat expanses. Here you can visit, almost all year round, the national forest of Buçaco, near Coimbra, and the Dominican abbey of Santa Maria da Vitoria, in Batalha. If you are cold, avoid the winter, but otherwise you can visit the center of Portugal, as well as the rest of the country when you prefer. And don’t miss the ancient city of Viseu, the capital of the region with its famous wines.
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What is the best time to visit Alentejo?
Better to avoid the month of August because there is a large influx of tourists in this region. Then opt for the months of April and May, if you love flowery landscapes and September and October to attend one of the many festivals held here. You can also enjoy the region in June and July before the peak season. The Alentejo offers beautiful marble towns, vineyards and endless flatlands and the inhabitants rely on the tradition of local craftsmanship. The cuisine in Alentejo is excellent and you can also go hiking, which is particularly enjoyable in the middle season.
When to go to the Algarve?
The Algarve is a corner of paradise where it is never cold: the winter is mild and since February the countryside begins to smell of almond and orange blossoms. Moreover, in April and May, the first wildflowers are born that embellish the nature of this region. In summer, you run the risk of running into hordes of tourists and the entire coastline of the region is totally transformed to welcome them en masse. But this is not the main attraction of the Algarve. Discover the most hidden part of the Algarve: historical villages and hills covered with flowers, to visit why not with an excursion at any time of the year and with a splendid climate.
And the best time to attend the Portuguese festivities?
Portugal is a Catholic country and also very festive, especially during the summer. Starting in May, the students of the famous University of Coimbra celebrate the end of the academic year with various festivals, concerts and exhibitions. In June, a whole day is dedicated to the celebrations in honor of St. Anthony: the patron saint of Lisbon, which is celebrated throughout the city. St. John is also celebrated with concerts and bonfires and other festivities are held in Porto and Braga. In July, the medieval market of Obidos offers ten days of festivities with a medieval theme. In August, finally, the music festival “Festival de Sudoeste” enlivens the South of the country.