Portugal has something to offer travellers all year round, so time your visit based on what you want to do while you’re there. Most people associate Portugal with summer - with pristine beaches, jaw-dropping cliffs and sea caves, and unrivalled surf, it is the perfect summer destination, after all. However, many summer activities can be enjoyed until late autumn, weather allowing, and the surf is up all year round.
Visiting in autumn, winter, and spring gives you the perfect opportunity to learn more about history and culture. Spend your time visiting museums and learning more about the musical art form of Fado and Portuguese tile work.
These seasons are also perfect for hiking, which can get a tad too hot in the summer. If you want to experience extravagant religious celebrations, make sure you go during Easter Week, as the streets fill up with religious processions. The Portuguese also take their Christmas vibes seriously, and you will be surprised how charming it gets in December with Christmas lights and Christmas markets in every little town.
Beach days without the crowds (in the south!)
Chasing fall colors
Christmas shopping and holiday festivities
Experiencing Easter Celebrations
Portugal has a dry and hot climate in the summer and does usually not see any rain in July and August. Average temperatures in southern Portugal are around 30 degrees Celsius in the daytime and around 18 degrees Celsius at night. Winters in Southern Portugal are mild and can be sunny with 20 degrees Celsius on a good day. You will notice that the Portuguese are very fond of using the beach all year round, particularly in the south.
The average winter temperatures are around 16 degrees Celsius during the day and about 5-10 degrees colder at night. In central Lisbon, the average temperatures are only a couple of degrees lower.
In Northern Portugal, the shift between the four seasons is much more pronounced. Summers are a little bit milder, and winters in the north tend to get a little colder with average daytime temperatures of 12 degrees and 5 degrees at night. You’ll see significantly more rain in winter and spring than summer, when it’s dry throughout the country. You can also go skiing in Portugal, at Serra da Estrela, just to the east of Coimbra.
Note that the days are extremely short in Portugal in winter as the country is in the GMT time zone, the same as the UK. This is one hour behind neighbouring Spain. To get the most out of your days in winter, make sure you get up early.
Portugal might not be as famous for their massive celebrations as Brazil or neighbouring Spain, yet the little country hosts some unique festivals worthwhile experiencing. So if you have the opportunity to time your visit for one of these, you might be up for some of the best travel memories of your life.
A tradition that roots back centuries ago when people would make a big feast by eating up all the meat before Lent fasting. Processions, music, dance, feathers, and glitter fill the streets.
When: February/March (starting the last Friday before Lent and ending on Shrove Tuesday)
Where: National, but the largest celebrations are found in Lisbon and the Algarve.
Large religious processions fill the streets and several religious traditions take place.
When: Easter Week
Where: National - Braga is particularly beautiful as the entire city is decorated with flowers and lights.
The 13th of May is the most important pilgrimage day in the sacred Sanctuary of Fatima. On this day, devotees wave white handkerchiefs in the air as the Virgin Mary is carried from the high altar to the Chapel of the Apparitions. The day before, a candlelight procession leads to the Sanctuary.
When: 12-13 May
This is the day of the sardines in Lisbon. Sardines and basil are grilled on the street. The celebration takes root in a 13th-century legend saying that the fish came out of the water to listen to Saint Anthony when the people of Lisbon would not.
When: 12 June
Where: Lisbon (in the Alfama district)
Planning a trip to Portugal? Read the rest of our travel guides