Best time to visit Portugal

Put simply, the best time to go to Portugal depends on what you want from your trip, with spring and early autumn of-cited as being the most favourable periods by repeat visitors. For more detail, read on for a bigger picture of the weather in Portugal, along with intel on what to expect from visiting in different months of the year.

Weather in Portugal at a glance

  • Best time to visit? In spring (March to May) or autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild, and crowds are smaller.
  • Consider the crowds: Peak tourist season in Portugal is during the summer months, from June to August. Expect busier crowds — and higher costs.
  • Rain? The rainy season in Portugal generally runs from October to April, varying slightly by region.

Keen to start planning your trip to Portugal? Contact our local experts who will tailor a unique itinerary to meet your needs. 

When is the best time to visit Portugal?

If you want to cover a bit of everything on your trip – sightseeing, outdoor activities, lazy days on the beach with dips in the ocean — the best month to visit Portugal is September. It’s still hot, but far less intense than summer, and the sea will be at its warmest.

April to early May are also wonderful. Although sea temperatures are bracing, the landscapes are beautiful — lush, and alive with flowers, before the dry months of summer roll in.

You can almost rely on sunshine and heat wherever you are in Portugal in the summer months, with July seeing very little rainfall in the Algarve and up the coast to Lisbon

At the same time, Central Portugal can be fiercely hot and dry, with rain far more likely in Porto and the Costa Verde.

It's important to note that summer is also Portugal's busiest season. Though this makes for a lively atmosphere, it also means beaches, resorts and popular tourist destinations will be very crowded.

At the other end of the spectrum, winter is quiet and cooler and can be rather stormy. That said, there are still plenty of hours of sunshine, which makes Portugal an appealing year-round destination. 

The Algarve, in particular, has bright days and mild temperatures around the year. Note that the north is rather cold with temperatures sometimes dropping to 8˚C around Porto, and snow likely to fall in the mountains that border Spain.

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Temp (°C)101113141619212220171311
Rainfall (mm)11010080705020101040100110120
porto-covo-beach-portugal-shutterstock_568587973

Beach at Porto Covo © Shutterstock

Best month to visit Portugal 

Do you crave the lively buzz of summer crowds, or the quiet charm of off-peak exploration? Are you seeking warm beach days or cool, crisp adventures in historic sites? Read on to discover the best month for you to visit Portugal

January: best for winter sports and bargain breaks

Though best known as a summer sun destination, Portugal also offers opportunities to enjoy winter sports with a different kind of backdrop.

With the season running from December to February, we recommend January as being the best month for winter sports in Portugal.

You'll need to head to Serra da Estrela — the highest mountain range in mainland Portugal, and home to its only ski resort, which is located near the town of Covilhã.

If you’re more into history and culture than skiing — and are looking to travel on a budget — January is one of the best months to take a cheaper city break in Portugal. This being a low season month, flights and accommodation will be at their most affordable.

February: best for festivals 

Though February still sits a in low season — which means it’s generally a quiet month to visit — it’s one of the best months to visit for lively festivals.

Top of the festival tree is the Lisboa Carnival — a spectacle of costumed parades and music that sees the capital’s streets burst with colour and energy.

Torres Vedras is also known for its exuberant carnaval festivities. It features thirteen huge allegorical floats and groups of masked revellers wearing large carved heads.

This same month also sees Vinhais host its Festa do Fumeiro —a celebration of smoked meats that showcases the region’s rich culinary heritage.

Oh, and if you visit at the end of February/into early March,  you’ll could experience the Almond Blossom Festival in Vila Nova de Foz Côa.

Editor’s tip: into art, history and culture? Be inspired by our customisable Cultural Portugal trip.

March: best for hiking 

Portugal is delightful in spring. At this time of year, the hills pop with pretty flowers and almond blossom is in full bloom.

It’s also mild-to-warm in March, with generally dry weather offering ideal hiking conditions. 

For example, you could explore the Rota Vicentina — a network of coastal trails in the south west — or the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês, in the north.

Rough Guides tip: Ready to explore Portugal? Start preparing by finding out how to get there.

Beach of São Rafael in Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal © Shutterstock

São Rafael beach, Albufeira, the Algarve, Portugal © Shutterstock

April: best for exploring cities

While April is a shoulder season month and sees visitor numbers increase on January-March, it's nowhere near as crowded as the peak summer months. 

This means you can soak up the charm of Portugal's cities with a vibe that’s warm and lively, but all the better for being free from huge peak season crowds. 

May: best for the magic of Madeira in bloom

Part of Portugal, but closer to North Africa, Madeira is a blooming brilliant destination for sublime scenery around the year.

And Madeira is all the more magical in May when the island hosts a flower festival that transforms it into a into a spectacle of colour and fragrance. 

At this time, the streets of Funchal are filled with floats festooned with floral arrangements, and accompanied by much music, dance and making merry.

Meanwhile, back on the mainland, with an average daytime temperature of 18°C to 26°C (64°F to 79°F), May is also a top time to enjoy walks along Portugal’s epic Atlantic coast.

Editor’s tip: to experience the magic of Madeira for yourself, book our customisable Madeira and Sao Miguel Adventure trip.

June: best for classic beach breaks 

There’s barely a cloud in the sky in Portugal during the summer, with temperatures hovering around the 30°C mark up and down the country. 

It's truly lovely weather to take a dip, enjoy water sports, or simply bliss out on Portugal’s best beaches.

Given that the coastline is especially busy in July and August, we suggest booking your beach break for June.

While resorts and bars will be lively, and beaches start to become busy, you’re more likely to have more space to yourself, and June’s temperatures aren’t quite as scorching as July and August.

Looking for more ideas for your holiday? Explore our guide to the best beach destinations for holidays in Europe.

Turquoise waters at Machico bay, Madeira © Balate Dorin/Shutterstock

Turquoise waters of Machico bay, Madeira © Balate Dorin/Shutterstock

July: best for venturing off the tourist trail

First things first. If you’re looking for fun in the sun, lively nightlife and bustling beaches, July is a great time to visit for Portugal for a beach break – as it is for June and August.

But, given how busy the most popular beaches and tourist attractions can get, we recommend peak-season July as being an ideal month to try to get off the tourist trail.

Not only is this a grey away to implement sustainable travel in Portugal, but it’ll also give you opportunities to enjoy a more authentic, less frantic trip.

As for where to do this, we suggest reading our feature on undiscovered Portugal (and keeping the info to yourself!)

August: best for seeing Sintra

While August can be too scorching for some, it’s worth knowing that stunning Sintra is usually a little cooler.

So, while it will be hot and you should expect peak-season visitor numbers, August is a beautiful month to explore Sinta’s palaces, and to visit the gloriously gothic Quinta da Regaleira estate. Its gardens offer lovely tree-shaded walks.

Talking of walks, you could also hike Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, or visit the nearby beaches of Praia das Maçãs and Praia Grande.

September: best for surfing and swimming

While surfing is great in Portugal around the year — and different areas come into their own at different times of the year — late spring and summer are generally the best time for beginners. During these periods, waves tend to be relatively gentle

If, however, if you're looking for all-round enjoyable surf that will also satisfy more experienced wave riders, September (and October) hit the sweet spot. 

We’re talking fantastic weather, warm sea temperatures, fewer people paddling for the same waves, and more consistent surf conditions.

Colourful Sintra, Portugal palace Palácio da Pena © Shutterstock

Pena Palace, Sintra © Shutterstock

October: best for wine-lovers

Porto and the north are well known for vineyards and wineries, with the annual grape harvest taking place in September and October

As a result, this is a special time of year to visit the Douro region to take part in the harvest and grape pressing, and tour quintas (wine estates).

The region’s characteristic terraces can be seen along the length of the Rio Douro, and form a beautiful backdrop to the small town of Pinhão, which is now the main centre for quality ports. 

Editor’s tip: love wine? You’ll adore our customisable Discovering Porto and the Douro Valley itinerary.

November: best for foodies

Come November, with locals far outnumbering tourists, visitors can enjoy a more authentic experience of Portugal, and getting into regional food is a wonderful way to do exactly that. 

While you can, of course, get your gourmet on at any time of the year, November is the start of Portugal’s olive season, with olive oil mills offering tours to see pressings and sample the produce.

After the experience, soak up the glory of autumn on a long walk through towering oak forests — they’re especially enchanting at this time of year.

Editor’s tip: love your grub? Feast your eyes on our Portugal Cuisine and Culture itinerary.

December: best for markets and festive music

Though a quiet period for tourism, December sees Portugal adorn attractive festive livery, with Christmas markets adding atmospheric sparkle to towns and villages.

If you’re thinking of heading to Portugal during the festive season, our top tip is to visit Albufeira in December

Through the month, you can enjoy magical musical experiences — from classical performances to traditional carols — at the historic Igreja Matriz de Albufeira.

 Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal © Shutterstock

Albufeira, the Algarve, Portugal © Shutterstock

Festivals and events in Portugal

When deciding when to go to Portugal, you might also want to bear in mind when annual festivals are held. From ancient religious observances, to modern cultural events, Portugal is packed with reasons to visit around the year. Read on to find out more.

Epiphany (Dia de Reis)

Kicking off the year with a splash of colour, Epiphany, known as Dia de Reis in Portugal, falls on 6th January.

This holiday marks the arrival of the Three Wise Men to visit the infant Jesus, and is celebrated with parades, processions, and traditional sweets like Bolo Rei, a delicious cake adorned with candied fruit.

The town of Óbidos is renowned for its Dia de Reis celebrations, with a colourful parade, and the opportunity to taste authentic Bolo Rei from local bakeries.

Carnaval

just before the solemnity of Lent sets in, Portugal erupts into a riot of colour with Carnaval. Typically held in February or March, depending on the lunar calendar, Carnaval is a time for elaborate costumes, lively street parties, and parades. 

The cities of Lisbon, Ovar, and Torres Vedras are particularly famous for their Carnaval festivities.

Village festivals & pilgrimages

Almost every village in Portugal has its own festival (festa) or traditional pilgrimage (romaria), usually to celebrate the local saint’s day or the regional harvest. 

While some are little more than an excuse for the villagers to hold a low-key procession and picnic or barbecue and dance, others have become serious celebrations that last several days, and attract tourists from all over the world.

porto-portugal-shutterstock_36631510

 Porto, Portugal © Shutterstock

Easter and Holy Week (Semana Sanata)

Easter, or Páscoa, holds significant religious importance in Portugal, and Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday is observed with solemnity and reverence. 

Many towns and cities host processions depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ, with participants dressed in elaborate costumes. Funchal, in Madeira, is renowned for its impressive Easter Sunday procession.

If you're in Madeira for Easter, don't miss the flower carpets laid out in Funchal's streets —  a stunning display of thousands of colorful petals.

Festa das Cruzes

In the historic city of Barcelos, the Festa das Cruzes (Festival of the Crosses) takes place from May 1st to May 3rd. This colorful festival commemorates a miracle involving a rooster and a falsely accused pilgrim and features stunning floral displays, processions, concerts, and traditional dancing.

The legend behind the Festa das Cruzes involves a rooster coming back to life to prove the innocence of a man wrongly accused of theft. Today, roosters are a common symbol in Barcelos.

Arraial Pride

Lisbon's vibrant LGBTQ+ community celebrates diversity and equality with Arraial Pride, one of Europe's largest Pride events. Usually held in June, Arraial Pride fills the city's streets with rainbow flags, music, dance, and a jubilant atmosphere of acceptance and celebration.

Lisbon's Pride celebrations are not just about parties; they also feature cultural events, debates, and exhibitions, promoting inclusivity and awareness.

Santos Populares 

The Santos Populares, or Popular Saints, are celebrated throughout Portugal, with Lisbon's festivities being the most famous. 

Taking place in June, particularly on the nights of June 12th and 13th, Lisbon becomes a party hub with streets adorned in colourful decorations, sardine grilling, lively music, and people dancing until the early hours in honor of St. Anthony, St. John, and St. Peter.

duoro-valley-portugal-wine

Vineyards on the banks of the Douro © Shutterstock

Festas Gualterianas

In the charming city of Guimarães, the Festas Gualterianas pay homage to St. Gualter, the city's patron saint. Held in the first weekend of August, this festival dates back to the 19th century and features historical reenactments, processions, traditional games, and fireworks, attracting locals and tourists alike.

Don't miss the "Cortejo da Mordomia," a colorful procession with participants dressed in period costumes, depicting the history and traditions of Guimarães.

Festa do Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem

A highlight of the city of Setúbal's calendar is the Festa do Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem, held in August. This maritime-themed festival honors Our Lady of Good Voyage, the patron saint of sailors, with colorful processions, concerts, street markets, and a traditional regatta.

Setúbal's Festa do Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem includes a procession of boats on the Sado River, decorated with flowers and lights, as a tribute to the city's maritime heritage.

Feira Nacional do Cavalo

For horse lovers, the Feira Nacional do Cavalo in November is a must-visit event in Golegã. Known as the Horse Capital of Portugal, Golegã hosts this prestigious horse fair, showcasing magnificent Lusitano horses through equestrian shows, competitions, exhibitions, and a lively fairground.

São Martinho

On November 11th, Portugal celebrates São Martinho, a festival that marks the end of the agricultural year and the tasting of the season's new wine. Known as the Feast of St. Martin, this festival is accompanied by the roasting of chestnuts and the saying "No São Martinho, comem-se castanhas e prova-se o vinho," which translates to "On St. Martin's Day, we eat chestnuts and taste the wine."

Join in the tradition of roasting chestnuts over an open fire and enjoying them with a glass of "água-pé," a lightly fermented grape juice.

Christmas

The festive season in Portugal is a magical time, filled with traditions that blend religious customs with joyful celebrations. 

Christmas markets pop up in cities like Lisbon and Porto, offering an array of artisanal crafts and seasonal treats. 

Editor's tip: visit the Óbidos Christmas Village for a magical holiday experience — festive decorations, Christmas markets, and the opportunity to taste local "ginjinha", cherry liqueur served in edible chocolate cups.

Michelle Bhatia

written by
Michelle Bhatia

updated 10.06.2024

Ready to travel and discover
Portugal?

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍