Treat yourself to a post-Christmas visit. Things will be fairly quiet and the atmosphere will be relaxed but what better time to explore the countryside or take a walk on an almost empty beach? You’re pretty much guaranteed to be near the front of the queue for the big attractions such as the galleries of Porto and Lisbon, and the restaurants will be grateful for your custom. However, expect some restrictions to the usual hours. It’s the coldest month of the year but not Arctic conditions with an average temperature of 15ºC, so make sure you have a few light clothes as well as your winter jacket. And, of course, this is a great time of year to get a good deal on accommodation so treat yourself to an upgrade.
Every month is a good month to visit Portugal. Whether you’re planning a long stay on the beach or a deep dive into the culture of this remarkable country there is no such thing as a bad time to hop on a plane and go there. However, certain months of the year lend themselves better to certain activities. Here are our recommendations for the things to do depending on the date when you’re heading for the Iberian Peninsula.
It's Half Term month which means some of the crowds will be returning. The weather has warmed up slightly and those near deserted beaches will be an even more attractive proposition. In fact, you can expect plenty of sunshine so don't forget to pack the sun cream and shades. February is carnival month in Portugal and the chances are you can catch a colourful street parade particularly in the week when school’s out. You’ll love the spectacular floats, giant puppets and papier mache heads before slipping into a warm local restaurant for some delicious food served by staff with more time to be extra attentive to your needs. Bring the family for a week of culture and fun.
Springtime is starting to appear and it can be a glorious month to see Portugal as it begins to bloom. The masses still haven't arrived in the country meaning all the treasures are yours for the taking. If you’re planning on a beach visit don't expect to enter the sea without the big chill but you’ll be perfectly comfortable sitting out on the sands. Looking for something cultural and delicious? We can heartily recommend the Obidos International Chocolate Festival. You’ll find the town a 60 minute drive North of Lisbon and a paradise of edible statues and specialist chocolate makers pressing their wares into your hand for sampling. If you want to stay in Porto then make sure you attend the Fantasporto International Film Festival which has been the launching pad for major movies as well as offering a fascinating selection of flicks for the sci-fi and horror fans.
With temperatures rising to between 21°C and 26°C in the second half of April, it’s really time to start topping up that tan. This month means Easter so the families will be returning to the beaches and restaurants but you should still be able to find space wherever you want it. Portugal is a generally religious country and Easter Holy Week offers plenty of memorable sights and sounds as processions take place in towns and villages. One of the largest of these can be witnessed in the Algarve at the The Festa da Mãe Soberana in Loulé. But wherever you go, the chances are you’ll find plenty of material for your Instagram account.
Some say that May is the best time to visit Portugal with its balance of amazing weather, lack of big crowds and nature that is really starting to thrive. Whilst the cities are still chilly the beaches are hot and welcoming. Club Med Da Balaia opens this month and the chance to make your base on the red cliff tops of Albufeira. This is a good time to get your golf swing in order and the professionals at the Balaia Village Golf fairway will give you the coaching you need to tackle some of the tremendous courses accessible in the local region.
Now is the time to head for the beach before the really big invasion arrives. The weather is hot but not too hot with an average of around 26°C and rainfall is at its annual lowest. The deals are still good and the watersports are more fun than ever. The Algarve Coast is yours for the taking with one glorious beach after another including Praia da Coelha and Praia de São Rafael near Club Med in Albufeira. Head further round the coast for the picture-postcard majesty of Dona Ana or Praia do Pinhão, all within easy distance of the bustling town of Lagos. Wherever you go, expect inspiring rock formations, perfectly blue sky and your own private heaven.
You’ll also find plenty of celebrations going on around the country as everyone enjoys the sunny days. There are music festivals in the cities and parties on the beach. The Festival of Saint Anthony hits Lisbon mid-month. Places are alive with colourful decorations and there’s dancing, music and plenty of good food available. Rock in Rio attracts some of the world’s leading acts and is cheaper to attend than its counterpart in Brazil. If you’ve ever fancied a hike to the mountains now is the ideal time to go thanks to the warm temperatures.
It’s getting hot out there and Portugal is at its liveliest. This is peak tourist season and if you like buzzing crowds then it’s time to hit the beach. The sea is at its most inviting, everyone is heading for the coast and the best tables in the restaurants are snapped up quickly. Head for the Northern beaches for a little more room and temperatures that are kinder to the body. However, the Algarve is still probably the best option for those who want to enjoy truly world class beaches. Culture lovers will want to try the Festival Internacional de Folclore in Porto for the best in Portugese music, dancing and traditional costume. If you’ve never experienced the magic of Fado you’ll be able to see some of the top acts performing throughout the city.
The sun is still beating at maximum and temperatures are hitting an average high of 28°C. Portugal is still alive with parties, festivals and happy tourists. When you’re not headed for the beach then maybe avoid the crowds by exploring lesser known cities such as medieval Coimbra or picturesque Braga. Lovers of all things prawns and fish cannot miss out on the Festival do Marisco in Olhão. This is a six day celebration of fruits del la mer and you’ll never taste dishes so fresh or tasty as you soak up live music and delicious grilled smells. As ever, the inland is looking glorious and the lakes, forests and sleepy villages offer an inviting diversion from the beaches for nature loving tourists.
The music’s a little quieter and the temperature’s a little less overbearing but September is a brilliant time to be in Portugal. For wine lovers, there’s no better moment to visit as the grapes get heavy and ready for harvesting. Explore the Douro Valley for beautiful russet colours and, more importantly, a guided tour of the vineyards to sample the produce. You’ll quickly discover why the region was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2001. If you’re planning a city break then it’s a great month for exploring on foot and taking advantage of attractions that are still on full tourist duty but with fewer numbers to get in your way.
Where have the crowds gone? Who cares as Portugal is now yours to explore even though the weather is usually good enough for T-shirts and shorts. If you’re outdoors then plan for a hiking holiday around the coast or further inland. Families can enjoy a half term of relative peace when beaches are semi-full and the restaurants always have a table at lunch. For sports fanatics it’s the month to catch the Lisbon Marathon. With its route along the river Tagus it's one of the most picturesque 26 mile jogs in the world even if you're just a spectator. As per last month, the wine harvest is in full flight and you could even take part if you've ever fancied trampling some grapes in beautiful surroundings. Bring some bottles back home as your reward.
Hello winter, with a little more rain but still plenty of sunshine. That means it’s a great time to visit all the famous places in Portugal and the beaches continue to be as inviting as ever. This is the major chestnut season in the country and the best place to sample the traditional dishes is at The Marvão Chestnut Fair in Alentejo. Drink some wine, enjoy roasted chestnuts and join in the festivities on offer. You’ll find similar celebrations around the country on St. Martin’s day taking place 11th November. In brief, don't plan a holiday around the beach in November but plan to see the country and soak up it's wonderful culture and cuisine.
Are you dreaming of a mild Christmas? December in Portugal is unlikely to feature snow (well maybe in the mountains) but it can be chilly and rainy. Above all, it can be hugely festive and a great place to celebrate the season of goodwill. Visit the cities for markets and fairs around every corner. Away from the city, everything is pretty much closed up but you can find a room for the night or something to eat in the larger towns such as Lagos. Christmas is a family affair but new year is a much more public time with Noite de Ano Novo. The party-loving Portuguese really pull out all the stops for New Year's Eve where you can round off your year with drinking, dancing and a lot of very noisy fireworks.