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.