Winter vacation or holiday in Portugal
To find the perfect Winter Vacation Portugal can be difficult if you don’t inform yourself properly or travel with the wrong expectations!
Most people travel to Portugal during the summertime when the weather is guaranteed warm and sunny 99% of the time, the nights are short, the days hot and the water either refreshing or when you swim in some of it’s inland lakes, warm.
Others travel in the winter and expect to find to same climate and activities they would in the summer and go home disillusioned.
Summertime in Portugal is a very special experience. It’s the enjoyment of heat and finding comforting shadow, escaping into it’s cools waters, sunbathing or shady relaxation and long luxurious evenings.
A summer vacation in Portugal is perfect for beach holidays, water sports and night strolling.
As tourism to Portugal is growing at a fast rate, even during the winter months, we would like to inform you how to have an amazing time in this country even out off season.
How you experience the climate is very much depending on where you come from coming from Northern Europe, Ireland, UK, Holland, Germany, Northern France, New York, Canada and comparible climates you will find the winters warm and generally you’ll drop your coat on arrival, coming from Africa, India and many other comparable climates, you’ll find them fresh and chilly.
The autumn still has many warm ‘summer’ days, magnificent skies and a green vibrant landscape. Flowers that died during the summer heat suddenly bloom all over and butterflies not seen much during august or September return in large amounts and many colours.
The depth of the winters are extreme (end December – and month of Januari) but mainly due to the varying temperatures each day has. Temperatures at night in the coldest months can occasionally go down to 1 or 2 degrees Celsius (33.5 F – 35.6 F) but will generally reach between 17 C and 23 C degrees (62.6 F – 73.4 F) in the afternoon.
Spring already has warm sunny days that can reach 26 – 28 degrees (78.8 F – 82.4 F).
‘Real Winter’ is very short mainly from half December to half February. Summer temperatures (above 30 degrees Celsius / 86 Fahrenheit) generally start around the beginning of may and last well into September.
In Portugal you will seldom find days that the climate forces you to stay inside other than the heat waves it can have during the hottest summer months and temperatures reach above 40 degrees celsius / 104 degrees fahrenheit.
Reasons to travel to Portugal at other times than the summer months.
To start of with during the other seasons, vacations and holidays in Portugal are much less busy due to the demise of tourism during these months so even the busiest tourist centres are quiet. The great monuments are yours, and the restaurant and hotel owner will receive you with open arms and have the time to serve you even better.
Surfing, Rafting, hiking, climbing and many other activities are best in winter when the waves and rivers are higher and faster moving and the sun is less invasive!
Another great reason to travel to Portugal during these seasons is the climate, it’s much more giving to exploration and the landscape is much more beautiful, the light is softer and the traditions more real.
Not to forget that the west coast gets the highest surfing waves during the colder months!
All of this gives the opportunity for really enjoying both the cities and countryside.
The weather in the winter is quite unpredictable, some winters are dry and temperatures can reach, even in the coldest January month, 23 degree Celsius (73.4F) afternoons. Other winters are wet and sometimes stormy but temperatures are seldom lower that 18 degrees C (64.4F) in the afternoons and 2 – 6C (35.6F – 42.8F) at night this counts mainly for the end of December, the month of January and beginning of February which is the coldest period.
The North receives more rain than the south and the higher the grounds the lower the temperature. Surprisingly Santarem, Alentejo and the centre of Portugal has the highest average temperature during the winter months.
Even though the days can be warm, the nights can be very cold and many places do not have heating, look for hotels with heating and fireplaces as they can give real comfort on the colder nights.
A lot of summer places close, don’t expect the same availability as you may have found during the summer months, many places will close completely or partially during the winter months.
So where do you go in the winter?
Some of the nicest winter escapes will take you to
Lisbon a really great city to visit at any time of year but it can rain 4-5 days without stopping demobilizing half the city, this happens almost every year once generally in October or April, any other time should be safe. When it happens don’t worry on higher grounds of which Lisbon has many, everything works fine and taxi’s still drive. It’s a great time to visit the castle, escape into a cafe or restaurant, unless your from the tropics it’s not going to be feel very cold.
Other than the bad luck you could have visiting Lisbon during this rainy period for a short break, Lisbon is actually best visited outside of the hot summer months!
Serra Estrella is the highest mountain range of the Portuguese mainland and it gets quite a bit of snow during the coldest winter months. It’s a great place to learn to ski as it scores very high on safe pistes, caring staf but it may not the best skiing destination for the advanced skiers.
In October it already reaches freezing temperatures and for those who didn’t come to ski, it’s a great place for amazing nature walks, incredible views seen from mountain cabins and spa hotels. The fireplaces you will find here in most buildings will make your experiences even more memorable.
Most of the snow you’ll find end of December to beginning march.
For winter sport it is relatively expensive and not a budget winter holiday, but the towns, villages, and Portuguese mountains could make it more than worthwhile. One hour drive down the mountain will take you into a much more native Portuguese climate.
You can read more about this very special place in our article about Serra da Estrela which also has a lot to offer out of the winter season when it´s most popular for skiing, snowboarding and fire place accompanied logding and local gastronomy here
In Porto it likes to rain in Porto in the winter but the city is beautiful and natural when it does. Generally it clears up fast and than the warm winter sun dries the surroundings with a steamy haste.
It’s a wonderful city, that switches from sun to rain and back fast making for magnificent skies and fantastic beach walks. This is probably the best time of year to taste the warm making Port wines in front of a wood fire after long walks in the city or surrounding country side.
Faro and the Algarve. Faro and the Algarve get the most sun hours in Portugal as it’s the most southern point of Portugal, close to Morocco. Don’t expect to swim as the sea is wild and very cold in the winter, do expect eating out, walking on beaches and warm sunny days accompanied by fresh cooler sea breezes.
Please stay tuned as we will be offering you many winter and spring possibilities for a great winter vacation in Portugal over the coming months!
To read more on vacation and holiday in Portugal also in the summer months, get some of it’s history and places to go, read ‘Vacation Portugal’
Get some winter rainy day tips? Read some of them here >>
Would you like us to suggest you the best winter places, activities and restaurants and help you book your great winter trip? Use our form or contact us! We speak 5 languages and our service is free!
All content, design and photo's on this site are protected by copyright © All material is our property, we do not allow and will not tolerate any duplication on the internet or on printed matter, without our written consent! Go discover Portugal 2012 - 2016, all articles in the magazine are written by Debora Afonso and may not be used, reproduced other than for personal reference