Portugal is one of the most interesting and frequently visited countries in Europe. The excellent Mediterranean climate, a variety of original attractions, and a great range of hotels attract tourists who want to explore new cities and countries. A trip to Portugal will open up new horizons of fascination: Lisbon museums and Porto wineries, unusual cathedrals and mysterious castles, and, of course, beautiful beaches on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite its relatively small size, Portugal is a very charming and beautiful place. This country is one of the most desirable vacation destinations due to its centuries-old history, rich cultural heritage, unspoiled nature, and developed travel infrastructure.
Portugal is like a solid big historical monument — there are not only castles, cathedrals, and palaces, but the entire areas are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The country captivates us from the start; there are so many things that this country can offer us! Splendid medieval towns neighboring traditional villages, well-maintained beaches carefully surrounded by rocky mountains. Wandering through the intimate Portuguese streets, filled with the scent of eucalyptus and oranges, to the sound of Fado music, you can forget about the rush of big cities, because Portugal is created for comfortable and relaxing holidays. Even the most jaded traveler will be captivated by the homeland of the great seafarers and ports: you can not only relax on the famous beaches of the Portuguese mainland and the island of Madeira, but also play golf, taste great local wines and national cuisine, go shopping, or go fishing.
The best time to visit northern Portugal
The northern areas of the country are better to visit from May to September. During this period, it is moderately hot (+17-26 ° C) and dry (20-80 mm of precipitation per month, that is no more than 9 rainy days), while during the rest of the year it is cool (from November to March, +5-15 ° C) and rainy (150-180 mm per month). In addition, during this period, strong winds from the ocean are coming to ruffle your hair — quite warm in themselves but causing a feeling of humidity. At the same time, the valleys may be quite dry at any time of the year, but the higher you get into the mountains (or closer to the coast), the more precipitation there will be.
The best time to visit central Portugal
The best time to visit the center and the capital of the country is from April to October. The temperature here is always slightly higher than in the north (in summer up to +27 °C), but the rainfall is noticeably less (2-6 rainy days per month). Winter is also cool and windy, but a little more comfortable than in the north.
The best time to visit southern Portugal
The southern parts of the country are closer to the Mediterranean climate, but you can clearly feel the hot breath of Africa. Winter temperatures in Faro, for example, rarely fall below +8–10 ° C, and summer temperatures reach +26–28 ° C with little precipitation (1–7 mm per month from June to August). The occasional drying south winds are noticeably "diluted" by the invigorating coolness of the Atlantic, so the overall weather here is even more comfortable than on the Spanish Costa Calida, lying at the same latitude. In winter, however, you'd better come here only with a well-defined goal, as even the bright sun and relatively warm weather (up to +16 °C in December and February) can hardly make up for the fairly strong winds from the Atlantic and low night-time temperatures (+6–8 °C).
The best time for the beach rest in Portugal
Thanks to its excellent geographical location, the country may offer beaches for all visitors' tastes, both for relaxing family holidays with children and for lovers of active leisure. The coastline of Portugal stretches for 1800 kilometers, on which there are more than 450 beaches, from white sand to golden, from pebbly to volcanic. The country has two categories of beaches: municipal and wild. Municipal beaches are the best choice – clean, neat, and the entrance is free. The wild is not as comfortable for recreation, but it is usually abandoned. One of the most popular among travelers is the Algarve coast. There are four luxury water parks, an entertainment park with a famous oceanarium, many restaurants and cafes on the beaches, as well as playgrounds for children. Also on the Algarve coast, there is a popular resort surrounded by beautiful beaches and pine trees — Albufeira. Vacationers here enjoy comfortable and clean beaches, a vibrant nightlife with restaurants, clubs, and discos, as well as various water activities, from windsurfing and diving to water-skiing, jet-skiing, and paragliding. One of the largest in Europe and perhaps the most developed resort on the coast is Vilamoura. It was originally built as a luxury resort, so it has everything for a great holiday: luxury spa centers, hotels for every taste, the best golf clubs, numerous tennis courts, and Europe's largest yacht club. In a very picturesque place on the Algarve coast, next to the national reserve of Ria de Alvor, there is a small fishing village, Alvor. Not only tourists, but also the Portuguese themselves love to relax here.
The Lisbon Riviera boasts many other attractive resorts: Estoril, with its many beaches, many restaurants and stores; Cascais, a favorite destination for young people because of its many discos and nightclubs; Costa de Caparica, the closest resort to Lisbon, which offers delicious local cuisine and body-boarding; and Carcavelos, with its excellent conditions for windsurfing and golfing and its proximity to famous historical monuments. The island of Madeira offers lush landscapes, an abundance of flowers and plants, evergreen forests, and volcanic cliffs. There are practically no sandy beaches. Mostly, there are small coastal strips covered with volcanic pebbles or rocky shores with natural lava baths. Because of the small number of beaches in Madeira, there are lots of seawater pools, balneotherapy centers, and special stairs to descend into the water.
The best time for surfers in Portugal
Surfing in Portugal is very developed. Not without reason, Portugal is often called the European wave capital. You can surf here all year round. Almost the entire Portuguese Atlantic coast creates quality waves for surfers of different levels of training. Surfing in Portugal for beginners is possible all year round, while professionals come here in October for the ASP Surfing Championships. If you are only a beginner, Portugal offers a wide range of schools and trainers to make you fall in love with surfing. Although the surfing season in Portugal lasts all year round, conventionally, you can choose between warm and cold seasons. The warm surfing season lasts from mid-May to mid-September, during which time there are the longest number of sunny days, the least chance of rain, the warmest water temperatures, and the warmest air. During the warm surfing season, the waves are best for beginners and intermediate surfers. Professional surfers in Portugal can get bored during this time.
The cold season for surfing lasts from late September to May. Water and air temperatures are quite low at this time (the average temperature in January is 14 degrees), and the weather can be rainy and overcast. The waves at this time are suitable for surfers of all levels — there are small waves for beginners and big waves, wrapped in pipes, for masters. October, November, and April are the most comfortable months of the cold season for surfing in Portugal, as these months have warmer air and water temperatures than December, January, February, and March. Between May and September is the best time to learn how to surf in Portugal, because the weather is extremely warm, and the waves are small enough to practice on. The period from September to May is the coldest time of year, so it may not be really comfortable to get into the water. But the conditions are fine for surfing for all levels of training: from beginners to professionals.
Portugal in spring
The advantage of a holiday in Portugal in the spring is that it is warm enough as the heat comes here in February. During this time, the water of the Atlantic Ocean warms up to +14–+17. As for the air temperature, the coldest weather in Portugal in spring is in Porto (+17), and the warmest is in Madeira and Algarve (+19 - +20). With the beginning of the spring months, the beach resorts of the country attract enthusiasts of active sports, including surfing.
Festivals in Portugal in spring
Freedom Day (April 25).
Holy Week (March/April).
Festival de Sintra (mid-May).
Fatima Pilgrimage (May 11 to 13).
Portugal in summer
Officially, the high season in Portugal starts on June 15 and lasts until September 15, but the brave travelers start the beach season long before that date. If you want to know the details of the weather in Portugal in summer, it is characterized by a dry, hot, and sunny climate with rare rain. If you are planning a beach holiday in Portugal in summer, you should know that in June the ocean warms up to +18, and in August it warms up to +20. In the southern regions, the water temperature is usually higher by a few degrees. Bathing is not recommended in the northern regions of Portugal, even in summer. There can be quite strong winds, so the climate is only suitable for sightseeing, sunbathing and enjoying the local scenery.
Festivals in Portugal in summer
Feast of Saint John the Baptist, or Festa de São João, (June 23 to 24).
Portugal Day (June 10).
Portugal in autumn
The weather in Portugal in the fall is very similar to the spring one. October is one of the greatest times of the year to visit Portugal. The flow of travelers decreases, which means that each traveler has the opportunity to enjoy the excellent nature and colorful scenery of the country. An autumn vacation is better to spend on the island of Madeira or the Lisbon Riviera. There are still more sunny and warm days in this part of Portugal. November is considered the month when it is not recommended to go to Portugal due to the beginning of the rainy season.
Portugal in winter
The weather in Portugal in winter is rainy and cloudy, but it is still suitable to enjoy a vacation here. The southern regions of the country let you sunbathe, and in the northern regions you can go skiing. Due to ocean currents, the water is always colder here than on the Mediterranean coast. With the onset of the winter months, Portugal enters its low season. Despite this, hotels offer discounts for those who dare to come to Portugal in the winter, and you can still get a tan on the Algarve's beaches.
Festivals in Portugal in winter
Christmas (December 25).
Dia de Reis, or Three Kings’ Day (January 6).