The Best Time to Visit Portugal

While Portugal is known for its year-round sunny Mediterranean climate, there are seasonal variations. Temperatures in northern destinations like Braganca sometimes dipping below freezing. For those seeking a vacation focused on the sun and the sand, the cooler months of the year, November through February are best avoided. March and April tend to be quite rainy. But by the time May rolls around, the weather is often idyllic. Between June and September, the golden beaches are the place to be, with balmy 85-degree temperatures and a slight ocean breeze. This is the busy season, but it’s also the time to enjoy lively festivals. By the time fall arrives, the tourists begin to depart, and sightseeing is more enjoyable with the streets less crowded and the weather pleasant.

To help you decide when to plan your visit to Portugal, we’ll take a more in-depth look at what it’s like in every season.

Madeira, Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal

Spring: Shoulder Season, March through May

Spring is one of the best times to visit Portugal for sightseeing. Especially from late April through May. The rain showers giving way to sun and mild temperatures, along with blooming flowers. You’ll miss the big tourist crowds of summer which means you may be able to walk across Lisbon’s iconic Charles Bridge without having to squeeze through. If it does get a bit chilly, you’ll find plenty of indoor attractions to explore, along with cafes for warming up with coffee. Early spring is one of the best times of the year to come for surfing at Peniche, Ericeira and the Algarve.

While it’s likely to be busy during Holy Week, Semana Santa. You can join in the Easter Celebrations, with Braga offering some of the biggest, including colourful processions. The Lisbon Food Festival. Held at Lisbon Castle in the Royal Garden around the last weekend of May.  You can sample dishes from the very best restaurants for a unique culture experience. There are wine and beer tastings, food stalls, cooking demos and more.

Cascais, Portugal
Madeira, Portugal

Summer: High Season, June through August

Summer is the busiest time of year. Many tourists arriving to enjoy the beaches, islands and explore the cities. If you plan your visit in June, July or August you’ll need to make reservations well in advance. As most European visitors taking their vacations in August. It tends to be the most crowded time of the year. You can still enjoy a more peaceful holiday by venturing away from the major cities and popular tourist spots. Including the national parks which are home to charming historic towns.

July sees the peak of summer’s heat, with temperatures often in the upper 80s. Making it the best time to go to the beach with plentiful sunshine and relatively warm water for swimming. Outdoor concerts and festivals are frequent now. Including the Vila Nova de Gaia annual music festival near Porto, MEO Mares Vivas in July. They are often featuring big-name rock and pop stars. In August, a month-long fair is held in Viseu, celebrating Saint Matthew with outdoor concerts, food, and artisan stalls.

Sortelha, Portugal
Porto, Portugal

Fall: Shoulder Season, September through November

Fall is another great time to visit for sightseers who want to avoid the crowds. The weather typically remaining warm at least through October. If you can time your visit around mid-October, even the most popular places will be more peaceful,. You’ll be likely to find discounted accommodation rates too. September and October are great for visiting the Algarve as it’s still beach weather. Yet the crowds will be gone. If you visit in November, many of the restaurants and hotels in towns along the coast will have closed for the season.

For those looking for autumn colour, scenic hikes and wine experiences, the Douro Valley is especially lovely now. With the grape harvest and plenty of scenic beauty. Harvest events will be taking place at wineries throughout the valley.  You’ll find many opportunities for tastings, often alongside local and regional cheeses.

Winter: Low Season, December through February

Winter is the low season, with few tourists to interrupt the views and lower hotel rates. The beach resort towns mostly be shut down. However, you may be able to enjoy those stretches of sand all to yourself. Surfers can ride the best waves along the Atlantic late in the season. Skiers can take advantage of the gentle in the Serra da Estrela that are ideal for beginners. It never really gets too cold in most places throughout Portugal. So it can still be a good time to enjoy the sights, including museums in Porto and Lisbon, without the big crowds.

For those who want to experience the Christmas markets, December is the time to come. Lisbon hosts many, complete with nativity scenes, sparkling lights, gigantic trees, homemade treats and plenty of mulled wine.