Best Time To Visit Portugal – An Ultimate Guide

Portugal is recognized internationally for its stunning beaches, rolling vineyards, and cobblestone villages.
Porto, Portugal. Photo: Nick Karvounis | Unsplash

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One of Europe’s most popular vacation destinations, Portugal has become a mecca for world-class cuisine, pristine beaches, and hip nightlife. Another great benefit of travel in Portugal is its relatively low cost of living, making it a perfect destination for budget travelers.

Planning a trip to Portugal? Deciding the season of the year to visit is crucial. Here are the best activities or attractions in Portugal based on the season.

Winter (December-February): Try out skiing or surfing

Average temperatures: 48-60°F (9-16°C)
Serra de Estrela in the winter. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A surprising fact for many tourists is that Portugal receives snow in the winter, however, you can only see it in the mountainous regions. These areas get about 4.5 inches of snow during their peak winter season. Portugal is a great place for winter attractions such as skiing. The best ski resort in the country is located at Serra da Estrela, with an altitude of nearly 2,000 meters. This is a great option if you want to try winter skiing in Europe on a budget, as Portugal is not as popular of a destination for skiing as Switzerland and France.

For the surfing enthusiast, winter is actually the best time to visit Portugal for its surfing. The swells are highest during this time, although they may become so large that they are not friendly for beginners. For a rookie surfer, consider booking a class with a surf camp in Portugal.

Spring (March-May): Embark on scenic walks

Average temperatures: 55-68°F (13-20°C)
A spring landscape in Açores Archipelago. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Spring is when everything becomes alive in Portugal. This is a great time to visit the country for the outdoor enthusiast, as national parks and reserves have stunning views with the blooming of countless flowers. If you are staying near Lisbon, consider taking a day trip to Sintra, which is home to the Santa Maria Trail. This trail crosses through the famous Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, two very important historical landmarks in Portugal. With its lush walking trails, it’s the perfect hike to see the blossoming flowers.

For the more adventurous traveler, Portugal is also one of the countries in which the Camino de Santiago passes, a historical path that stretches 500 miles through Europe. To enter the path through Portugal, you can start near Lisbon or Porto. Porto gives you more scenic views with options to go by the Coastal Camino near the ocean, or Central Camino, which takes you through villages and countryside. Spring is a great time to do the Camino de Santiago, since the weather is milder in Portugal, and you will be able to witness the blossoming of foliage with the coming of the warmer weather.

Cherries are also in season during the end of the spring and are popularly grown in the Fundão region of Portugal. Many artisans in this region also sell cherry jam, liquor, and cherry chocolate.

Summer (June-August): Go to Portugal’s beaches

Average temperatures: 70-85°F (21-29°C)
Portugal is a popular summer destination due to its beautiful beaches. Photo: Dan Gold | Unsplash

Summer is Portugal’s highest tourism season, making it an extremely popular destination for European and foreign travelers. Temperatures climb during this season, sometimes going as high as 30°C. Because of this, summer is the perfect season to visit Portugal for its beaches, as is has some of the most visited beaches in Europe. Portugal’s coastline stretches nearly 1,700 kilometers, which offers endless possibilities for beach attractions. Some of the best coastal regions in Portugal include Albufeira, Lagos, and Porto.

Summer is also the best time to visit Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon. This iconic city comes alive in the summer with its outdoor markets, restaurants, and nightlife. Along with its charming city center, Lisbon also has access to several stunning beaches, such as Cascais, Costa de Capricia, and Estoril.

Fall (September-November): Visit a vineyard

Average temperatures: 60-70°F (16-21° C)
The changing foliage is one of the most stunning aspects of autumn in Portugal. Photo: Yaroslav Talyzin | Unsplash

Autumn is another great season to visit Portugal for scenic views with fewer crowds. With the lowering of average temperatures, the tree foliage in Portugal begins to change in color, offering stunning autumn views.

Fall is one of the best seasons to visit Portugal for its wineries. This is because September and October mark the grape harvest season in Portugal, known as vindima in Portuguese. During this time, vineyards come alive, and it is the best opportunity to sample some of the country’s best wines on a vineyard tour. Duoro Valley is one of the most popular wine regions in the country. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, fall is the best time to visit the valley to witness its vibrant rolling hills of orange, red, and yellow.

For the avid outdoors person, fall is also the perfect time to visit Portugal’s only national park, Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês. The nearly 500-square-mile park has breathtaking panoramic views with rolling hills, waterfalls, and small scattered villages. With the backdrop of fall foliage, the park is a must-see if visiting during October or November.

Final thoughts

Alfama, Portugal. Photo: Liam McKay | Unsplash

Portugal is an amazing European travel destination, thanks to its incredible diversity, endless coastline, and charming villages and cities. The variation of seasons offers a wide selection of travel experiences based on the time of the year you visit, whether it be skiing in the winter, going beach hopping in the summer, or walking the Camino de Santiago in the spring.


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