A weather map of endless suns sums up the situation across the whole of Portugal in summer, certainly between June and September, when the only daytime variation across the country is a degree or two further up the scale from 30°C. In July and especially August (the Portuguese holiday month), the coastal resorts are at their busiest and prices correspondingly reach their peak. It’s also a horribly hot time to tour the country or to expect to do much walking about cities, medieval towns and archeological sites. It’s a few degrees cooler in mountain areas but there’s little shade at altitude and, again, high summer is not an ideal time for hiking holidays.
With such a verdant landscape, it should be no real surprise that Portugal also has a fairly high level of rainfall. Most of it falls from November to March, though shifting weather patterns mean you can just as easily experience bone-dry winter months and downpours in May and June. The north of Portugal is particularly wet, and in the higher areas showers are possible more or less throughout the year. In central and southern Portugal, especially on the coast, it is mild all year round and, although it can be cloudy in winter, when the sun does break through it is delightfully warm.
Perhaps the best times of year to visit are in spring (ie, from February) – when dazzling flowers carpet hillsides across the country – and early autumn (October), when the weather is warm but not too hot and the summer crowds have thinned out. Swimmers, however, should note that the official swimming season in Portugal lasts from the beginning of June to mid-September; outside these months, outdoor pools and river beach facilities close, while some hotels, restaurants, campsites and water parks only open from around Easter to September.
In winter, in the north things can get pretty cold, especially inland where snow is common along the mountainous border areas. But, if you don’t mind the odd tourist facility being closed, then crisp, sharp sunshine makes winter a highly appealing time to visit the centre and south of the country. In Lisbon, Estremadura, the Alentejo and the Algarve there are dramatic reductions in hotel prices and, in February, the almond blossom lights up the countryside. This is the time when you’ll see the country at its most Portuguese, with virtually no tourists around.Read More