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BlogDestinationsThe best time to visit Portugal: Our season-by-season guide to exploring sun-kissed coastlines and historic cities
Destinations

The best time to visit Portugal: Our season-by-season guide to exploring sun-kissed coastlines and historic cities

Dec 20, 2023 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

With its golden coastline, rolling vineyards, and charming cities steeped in history, Portugal will welcome you with open arms, regardless of the season. Join us on one of our Portugal tours to experience the diverse landscapes and welcoming culture that make Portugal a year-round destination. “There is no place more beautiful, sensitive, and considerate than Portugal, and that’s because of the gorgeous scenery, dramatic historical sites, and the amazingly kind Portuguese people,” said traveler Kathy after joining us on our Portugal: Porto, the Algarve & Lisbon tour.

If you’re asking yourself, “When is the best time to visit Portugal?” check out our season-by-season guide below. We’ll break down the weather in Portugal by month and the distinct charms of each season. Whether you’re drawn to the blossoming landscapes of spring, the joyful festivals of summer, the rich colors of autumn, or the cozy comforts of winter, the best time to go to Portugal is as soon as possible.

Spring

Enjoy perfumed breezes and blooming countryside

Dreaming of exploring a magical place where warm breezes kiss just-blossoming wildflowers and locals savor the last few months of shoulder-season tranquility? Join us on a trip to Portugal in the springtime and watch your dreams come true. Spring is one of the best times to visit Portugal if you enjoy outdoor activities like admiring ancient ruins and hiking along coastal cliffs. The countryside bursts to life with colorful wildflowers and fragrant orchards, and the comfortable temperatures mean you can spend all day outdoors wandering, sightseeing, and dining al fresco—all without having to fight through peak-season crowds.

Months to experience spring in Portugal:

March, April, and May

Spring events and things to do in Portugal:

  • Spring is the best time of year to visit Portugal to see the country awash with blooming flowers. The Festa da Flor takes place in Madeira each spring and is marked by flower carpets and blossoming floats perfuming the air. If you’re planning a trip to Portugal and are in search of wildflower-strewn landscapes, join us on our Grand Tour of Portugal: From Porto to Lisbon to see the best the country has to offer. Add the optional Sintra & the Portuguese Riviera excursion to see the enchanting gardens of Sintra set against the town’s pastel-colored buildings. Or, continue on the tour extension to the Azores for scenic hikes through verdant meadows in full bloom.
  • If you’re wondering, “When is the best time to visit Portugal to make the most of the country’s many historic sites?” it doesn’t get much better than the spring. You’ll be able to explore the historic neighborhoods and monuments of Lisbon and Porto without the scores of other tourists and sizzling heat that summer brings. Join us on our A Week in Portugal: Porto, Évora & Lisbon tour in the spring to view the Baroque-style Clérigos Tower in Porto and the Manueline Belém Tower in Lisbon free of peak-season crowds. Plus, spend a pleasant afternoon strolling past Évora’s whitewashed buildings and admiring the UNESCO-recognized city’s intricate azulejo tilework. Read more about these fantastic and functional ceramic tiles.

Weather in Portugal in the spring:

The weather in Portugal by month doesn’t fluctuate quite as much as it does in much of the United States and Canada. Temperatures tend to be mild in the spring and range from 59–77 F.

Travel tip for visiting Portugal in the spring:

Spring is the perfect time to enjoy fresh, tender produce in Portugal. “Get a fresh salad at the Mercado Beira-Rio [in Porto],” said staffer Lindsey. “You’ll be eating so much cod on your trip; it’s nice to have a break.”

Travel to Portugal in the spring

Summer

Soak up golden sunlight and lively summer festivities

Summer is the best time to visit Portugal if you love long afternoons basking in the warm sunshine and feeling the cool ocean lapping at your ankles. When you join us on a summertime tour of Portugal, you’ll find the cities buzzing with festivals and the coastline beckoning to be explored. Stretch out in the summer heat with the revelrous locals, then head to the beach to cool off. “The summer is nice, of course, as you can escape to the sea if you want to,” said staffer Daniela in our Travel Guide to Lisbon.

Months to experience summer in Portugal:

June, July, and August

Summer events and things to do in Portugal:

  • If you travel to Portugal in June, chances are you’ll come across one of the country’s vibrant and lively summer festivals. Lisbon celebrates the Festas de Lisboa throughout most of the month with joyful street parties, parades, and fireworks. The streets are hung with colorful paper garlands and alive with the sounds of Fado and jazz music. Portugal’s cities also celebrate the São João festival in midsummer each June. “Portugal is beautiful,” said traveler Stephanie after returning from our Food & Wine: A Taste of Portugal tour. “We were there when the São João festival was taking place in Porto, and almost every city we went to had something going on. The food was great, and the wine and Port were amazing.”
  • While the weather may be mild year-round, summer is the best time to visit Portugal if you crave soft sand and golden sunlight. Portugal’s history and culture are deeply entwined with the country’s sparkling coastline, and the Algarve Region—with its dramatic cliffs and hidden coves—is one of our favorite places to soak up the scenery. When you join us on our Portugal: Porto, the Algarve & Lisbon tour, you’ll have the opportunity to stretch out on a secluded beach and visit the historic town of Lagos (one of the best towns in Portugal for solo travelers according to our solo traveler’s guide). You can also join us on our Algarve Coastal Cruise excursion for spectacular views of the coast from the water and the chance to spot dolphins. “The Algarve Region was certainly a highlight,” said traveler Monica after returning from the tour. “Highly recommend this trip. We fell in love with Portugal!”

Weather in Portugal in the summer:

The weather in Portugal tends to be hot and dry in the summer, with temperatures averaging around 77–95 F.

Travel tip for visiting Portugal in the summer:

Stay refreshed on the hottest summer days by sipping Vinho Verde, Portugal’s famous, slightly effervescent white wine. “Vinho Verde translates to green wine, but it’s actually a white wine and is typically a young wine, bottled after only two to three years,” said staffer Erin. “It’s fresh, fruity, and slightly bubbly!”

Check out our Portugal tours

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Autumn

Go for bountiful harvests and painterly landscapes

When is the best time to go to Portugal if you’re a foodie or wine enthusiast? The answer is autumn, hands down. While the country boasts incredible cuisine year-round, visiting Portugal in the autumn offers a unique opportunity to observe wine grapes, olives, cork, and many more of Portugal’s staple crops being harvested. The countryside is also at its most picture-perfect, with vibrant foliage set against clear skies, rolling hills, and rural expanses dotted with farm stands.

Months to experience autumn in Portugal:

September, October, and November

Autumn events and things to do in Portugal:

  • Autumn marks the start of the grape harvest season in Portugal’s UNESCO-listed Alto Douro wine region. Join us on our Grand Tour of Portugal: From Porto to Lisbon in the fall to observe the harvest and sample wines at one of the Douro Valley’s famous wineries. If you join us on the Douro River Cruise & Port Wine Cellar excursion offered on our Portugal tours, you’ll get to see the region’s trees ablaze with fiery colors as you float down the Douro River on your way to a Port tasting. “I did the Douro River excursion, which absolutely captures the beauty of Porto and includes the Port tasting part,” said traveler Desiree after our Portugal for Solo Travelers tour. “I have fallen in love with tawny port.”

  • Grapes aren’t the only thing harvested in Portugal in the fall—autumn is the best time of year to go to Portugal if you’re interested in learning about any of the country’s agriculture, including its world-famous olive groves and cork trees. Join us on the Olive Oil Farm, Alentejo Wine Tasting & Dinner excursion offered on our A Week in Portugal: Porto, Évora & Lisbon tour to learn about olive oil production (and taste some samples). Then visit Alentejo cork factory to see how the material is harvested and used to seal wine bottles. “The cork factory was so interesting,” said traveler Marsha after visiting on our Portugal: Porto, the Algarve & Lisbon tour. “You will see cork all over Portugal, but to see how it is processed is amazing.”

Weather in Portugal in the autumn:

Portugal sees increased rainfall in the autumn, with cooler, milder days—which makes it the perfect opportunity to duck into one of Portugal’s many museums or churches, like Porto’s São Francisco Church or the church at Lisbon’s Jerónimos Monastery. The temperatures in autumn average between 59–77 F.

Travel tip for visiting Portugal in the autumn:

If you’re planning a trip to Portugal in the off-season, make sure to pack comfortable footwear with grippy soles—Portugal’s gorgeously tiled streets tend to get slippery in the rainy season.

Experience autumn in Portugal

Winter

Bask in cozy comfort and holiday cheer

Winter is one of the best times to visit Portugal for tranquil beach walks, lighter crowds, and local festivities—and it’s also the best time to go to Portugal to get to know the locals. Fewer crowds and a generally slower pace of life make winter the ideal time to engage in friendly conversation with the warm, welcoming Portuguese people. Some northern regions do experience cooler temperatures, though for the most part, the weather in Portugal is mild in the wintertime. “Lisbon is one of the warmer European capitals, so even in the off-season you’ll be treated to sunshine and warm temps,” said staffer Emily in our Portugal Travel Guide. Winter is also the best time of year to visit Portugal to take advantage of off-season travel prices.

Months to experience winter in Portugal:

December, January, and February

Winter events and things to do in Portugal:

  • One of our favorite things to do when visiting Portugal in the winter is to cozy up with some Portuguese comfort foods. Take advantage of the less-crowded taverns in places like Porto to sample the foodie capital’s favorite comfort foods like bacalhau, or salt cod, and caldo verde, a hearty soup made with kale, chorizo, and potatoes. To dive even deeper into Portuguese cuisine, join us for the traditional cooking class offered as an excursion on our A Week in Portugal: Porto, Évora & Lisbon tour and our Food & Wine: A Taste of Portugal tour. Traveler Betty declared the experience, “An all-time favorite… [it was an] excellent facility and a whole lot of fun to make your own dinner.” For something slightly less hands-on, attend the Lisbon Home-Hosted Dinner excursion offered on our Portugal, Spain & Morocco tour to dine on classic Portuguese dishes prepared by a Lisboeta. “The in-home cooked meal in Portugal was delicious, fun, and a highly entertaining way to learn about local culture,” said traveler Lori.
  • The holiday season in Portugal brings with it a unique magic. Fado, the country’s traditional, soulful music, can be heard floating through the streets and is particularly evocative on hushed winter evenings. “Fado is sung so dramatically that even if you don’t understand Portuguese, it’s easy to understand the emotion behind the song,” said traveler Chadner in our solo traveler’s guide to Portugal.
  • As in many European cities, festive decorations and cozy holiday markets pop up in Portugal’s cities around the holidays—and designing a Customized Tour of Portugal’s most festive winter towns is the perfect opportunity to snag some of the best souvenirs from Europe’s Christmas markets. To celebrate the new year, locals take to the streets for singing, dancing, fireworks, and the São Silvestre Race, which takes place throughout the country on New Year’s Eve.

Weather in Portugal in the winter:

Portugal rarely sees snowfall outside of the country’s highest elevations. Winters tend to be mild and wet, with average temperatures between 50–59 F.

Travel tip for visiting Portugal in the winter:

In the summer, the Portuguese stay refreshed with chilled Vinho Verde, but in the winter, they warm up with local spirits. One of our favorite ways to stay warm on a chilly night in Portugal? Cozy up in one of the country’s historic Port cellars! We’ve also been known to duck into a friendly taberna to sip some ginja, a sweet and tart cherry liqueur, with the locals and our fellow travelers.

Spend winter with us in Portugal

Ready to unlock the magic of the seasons in Portugal? Join us on one of our trips to Portugal!


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About the author | The Go Ahead Tours Team
We’re a team of passionate travel experts, dedicated to helping people explore the world. From inspiring stories to tips for an amazing trip, the topics we cover are all about getting you out there and making discoveries.

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