Best time to visit Portugal

Best time to visit Portugal


temperature & rainfall

With the centre and south getting 3,200 sunshine hours per year there's no best time to visit Portugal. In summer, inland Alentejo hits 40C but coasts are cooler. Spring and autumn averages around 20°C. May brings wildflowers, while autumn has glorious colour plus harvest bounty. Even midwinter sees 4-6 hours of sun, albeit with occasional morning frost. In February, almond blossom lights up the Alentejo and Algarve. Snow-lovers, meanwhile, should head for the Serra de Estrela, snowcapped from October to May.

When to visit Portugal & when not to


a month by month guide

Head to Portugal at the start of the year, in January or February, and you’ll find not only wetter and colder days but also spring like blossom juxtaposed against, often, clear blue skies. 6th January is when the Three Wise Men arrive - known as Dia de Reis - when crown-shaped cakes are eaten. Look out for the lucky bean inside...

With strong ties to Brazil, Carnival is also celebrated, particularly in Lisbon and the Algarve. With fewer formal parades than its South American counterpart, but plenty of street parties and fancy dress.

North of Lisbon, in particular, experiences the worst of the weather but this is still only relative as temperatures are never freezing unless you’re heading to the higher plains of the Serra de Estrela where snow lasts into March and April.

May and June finds temperatures rising and rains ceasing across the country with inland areas still accessible for activity makers although getting hotter around the middle of the day. June sees local festivals across the country - with two of the biggest being the days of Santo António (12–13th) and São João (23–24th). Each city and town celebrates in its own way, but bonfires and grilled sardines are common features of each.

July and August are busy times of year in Portugal with beaches and seaside resorts around the Algarve and Troia peninsula often rammed whilst cities offer quieter alternatives with alfresco dining lasting well into the warm summer evenings. There are always plenty of beaches to go round here though - head away from the towns and onto wild, windswept suns to find space far away from the summer crowds.

September and October often represent the best time to go to southern Portugal as sea temperatures are still warm and beaches are a lot less crowded as day to day life along the coast gets back to normal.

November and December signal the start of Portugal’s rainy season although there’s still plenty of space in between showers to make the most of the relative warmth and sporadic sunshine. There's nothing like a spot of Christmas shopping in Lisbon, with festive decorations glinting, surreally, in the sunshine beneath a cloudless sky.

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Best time to visit Portugal


responsibletravel.com recommends

Inge Keizer, owner of our supplier Quinta Alfarrobeira, shares the best time to visit Portugal – especially the Algarve hinterland:

“With small children avoid the hot and busy summer months of July and August. May and June, plus September and October are wonderful, and the sea is often warmer then. Winter can be wonderful in the Algarve: crisp blue skies, sun, almond trees in blossom. After sunset the temperature drops (we can go from 24º to 5º) – but then you light the fire and drink a glass of nice Portuguese wine!”
Andrew Winter from supplier Vale de Moses tells us the best time to visit Portugal, especially the central inland region where his tranquil retreat nestles in the foothills of the Serra de Estrela:

“The time to visit the central regions is April, May and June when wild spring flowers are at their best. July, August and September are much hotter - in the high 30 degrees - but fresh and cool at night and early mornings in higher mountain areas.”

Festivals & events in Portugal


Our cultural pick from the Portugal calendar

Did you know about...?


Carnival! Can't get to Rio? Portugal's February festivities offer historic tradition as well as spangly thongs. Alongside pork-led feasting, different regions add distinctive spins. The Algarve goes in for egg-throwing, while in northern Portugal – most famously, Lazarim – wood-masked locals (caretos) indulge in street japery before the burning of giant Godfather and Godmother figures linked to ancient fertility rites.
Photo credits: [Wildflowers on the hill: Andy Maguire] [Algarve: Melenama] [Serra de Estrela - Magical Forest: Vale de Moses Yoga Retreat] [Lazarim festival: Pedro Ribeiro Simões]
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