Portugal is an incredible destination to enjoy a holiday! With a spectacular coastline, romantic medieval cities, and delicious seafood, it’s a place you must visit. With so much to do in the country, it’s no wonder Portugal tops the lists for places to travel. Visit stunning sacred sites, discover the local neighbourhood culture, and explore magnificent national parks! Deciding on the best time to visit Portugal may be tricky since every season has plenty to keep you entertained. Find out which season suits you best and set your travel dates. Then, get ready to experience this wonderful European destination! Depending on which time you pick to visit, you could be enjoying scenic cruises through the country’s port wine region, or surfing big waves. Whatever it is you’re looking for in a holiday package, Portugal has it all!
Portugal is coolest in the north, with rainy weather. As you head south, it gets warmer and drier. The interior, which is near the border with Spain, is the hottest part of the country. The country has hot summers, wet and moderate in the north, and drier to the south and the interior. Winters bring some rain to the southern areas and especially more to the north. Summer in Portugal sits between June and mid-September while the winter season falls between December and February.
While Portugal does have four distinct seasons, the respective conditions of summer and winter do tend to linger on in autumn and spring. During the autumn season, enjoy the gradually decreasing heat of summer, although rains pick up in the north. The northern region sees the rains continue into spring, but the south offers drier conditions with temperatures gradually warming up for summer. Autumn falls between late-September and November, while the spring season sits between March and May.
Summer in the north, in the coastal city of Porto, is where you can enjoy temperatures around the mid-20s. Towards the south in places like the capital, Lisbon, or the historic Faro, it gets somewhat warmer, close to the 30s. Summer is the best time to visit Portugal to enjoy a refreshing swim, and you can look forward to wading into the waters off the coast, with temperatures above the 20s. If you head inland to places such as Beja or Évora, expect the hottest conditions with scorching temperatures, reaching past the 30s. Find some relief by watching theatre performances and exploring the vineyards throughout the region. Take note that the summer season is the busiest time to be in Portugal, so make sure to book your accommodation well in advance.
Spring and Autumn
You might end up thinking the spring and autumn seasons are your best times to visit Portugal. In the rainy north, you can discover dazzling flowers carpeting the hillsides and almond blossoms in the countryside. Tourist volumes are low during this time, giving you more freedom to explore at your own leisure. Early in the autumn, you can still soak up the warmth of summer, as the swimming season comes to a close. Outdoor pools and beach facilities will be closed.
Most of the rain falls from November to March, especially in the north. But you can find relief from the rain towards the south. In the interior, it may snow, especially around the mountains. With the dry and cool conditions in the south, it’s a great time to be exploring the country if you’re into outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling. Temperatures in the north can dip below 5°C while further south they are closer towards 10°C. The winter season is the best time to visit Portugal if you want to go skiing!
Average Temperatures around Portugal
Summer: 06:00/07:00 – 21:00
With the various climate types in Portugal, you can expect long days on the mainland and somewhat shorter ones on the island of Madeira. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the variety of attractions in various cities and towns. Take beautiful pictures from the Ponte de Dom Luis bridge in Porto. Soak up the sun on Barreta Island near Faro. Discover the magnificent religious site of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga.
Winter: 08:00 – 18:00
Why not check out the local nightlife? Explore the Montechoro Strip in Albufeira, hit the clubs in Lisbon, or go dancing in the pubs and bars of Porto. Off the coast in the distant island of Madeira, enjoy spectacular 3D illuminations and exciting parades in Funchal.
How Much are Flights to Portugal?
Peak Season: June to mid-September
Since the summer season is the busiest time of year in Portugal, flights and accommodation are pricier. Make sure to book at least three months in advance to skip the high costs of last-minute flights. Prepare to spend around 25% more on your flight tickets and accommodation than any other time of the year.
Shoulder Season: late-September to November/March to May
The shoulder seasons are a great time to be in Portugal since the weather conditions will be great and the crowd levels will be much lower. Make sure to book at least three months ahead of your travel dates to make sure you get the best ones! The shoulder seasons are a great time to visit Portugal since you’ll be spending up to 10% less than in peak season.
Low Season: December to February
While the Christmas and New Year celebrations sit in the winter season, the price of accommodation is at its lowest. These months make up the best time to visit Portugal, since you’re paying 20% less on flights and accommodation, compared to the peak season.
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Carnaval – February or March (47 days before Easter)
Watch as the cities of Portugal come alive with colour, music, and a celebratory spirit! This festival serves as the build-up to Lent. From the mid-afternoon, make sure you have a good vantage point to view the streets so that you can enjoy the street parades, theatre performances and other forms of entertainment. Carnaval takes place in only select venues, including Lisbon, Funchal, Loulé, Nazaré, and Ovar.
IndieLisboa International Independent Film Festival – late April
This 11-day festival highlights the finest of independent film production throughout Portugal and around the world. Late April is definitely the best time to visit Portugal for movie enthusiasts. Indulge in a variety of films in English and many special features, documentaries, experimental fare, and short films. You’re more than likely to see films you’ll never see in your local cinema! If you’re in Lisbon in late April, don’t miss out on this entertaining festival.
Festival de Sintra – May or June
Classical music lovers and dance enthusiasts should definitely make their way to the mountain town of Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage site with Romantic-era architecture. Once you’re there, get ready to enjoy an exciting two-week festival. The Festival de Sintra is the pride of the town and has taken place for more than 50 years.
NOS Alive, NOS Primavera Sound & Super Bock Super Rock – June & July
If you’re into the rock music scene, June and July are the best times to visit Portugal. First up, there’s Nos Primavera Sound, a crazy alternative music festival that takes place in Porto. Then in mid-July, head to Passeio Marítimo de Algés in Lisbon for NOS Alive, a vibrant music and arts festival that takes place along the Algés riverside. Stick around in Lisbon until late July, then make your way to Parque das Nações for Super Bock Super Rock. One of the biggest festivals in Portugal, it draws numerous rock and metal fans.
Noite Branca – end of August
The summer season is such a popular time in the Algarve region that the locals even have a celebration to end it! You’re invited to join a street party in Loulé (completely free of charge) as long as you wear white. Even the shop windows and the Antigo Convento do Espírito Santo are decorated in white! From 20:00 to 02:00, enjoy exhibitions of fine art and music, as well as street performances of juggling, fire eating and more.
Feira de Outubro – October
Make your way to Vila Franca de Xira, outside Lisbon, to discover the exciting Feria de Outubro. Check out thrilling activities such as bull-running and bullfighting. Besides such hair-raising entertainment, the event has also grown into an arts, food and crafts fair.
Festa dos Rapazes – December
Experience a taste of the ancient Celtic culture in the remote Trás-os-Montes region on Christmas and the next day, with Festa dos Rapazes. This two-day festival takes place to celebrate the winter solstice or the start of the agricultural cycle. Watch as the towns come alive with music, see the residents dress up in masks and costumes, and treat yourself to a wealth of traditional food!
New Year’s Eve in Madeira – December
While it is a small island several kilometres off the coast of Portugal, Madeira hosts one of the largest New Year’s fireworks displays in the world! In 2006, the island earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest pyrotechnic display ever. Don’t miss out on this spectacular feast for the eyes. Late December is definitely the best time to visit Portugal for New Year celebrations.
You’ll discover Portugal to be an amazing destination with so much more to do and enjoy. Find out why the country is such a leading tourist destination and popular amongst South Africans.
Have you been to Portugal recently? Let us know the highlights of your trip in the comments!
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