Weather in Portugal

Portugal is a small country in Western Europe, part of the Iberian Peninsula. While only the size of a small US state its landscape is diverse, a great place to visit for short holidays, and vast in its scope of activities and attractions. Made of seven regions, five on the mainland and two in the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira and Azores, the climate in Portugal is typically Mediterranean. The majority of the country’s population resides in the Lisbon, central and northern regions and it is one of the most affordable countries to travel to in Europe. While characterised by hot dry summers and cool wet winters, it is nonetheless a diverse climactic region, even available for a skiing holiday in Europe. 

The Portuguese spring can be both a lovely, warm season and a cold, wet layover of the winter. Average temperatures during this time of year range from 4°C lows in March to 25°C highs in May (39°F to 77°F). While there is less rain than autumn and winter, early spring can still be wet, but rainfall generally drops from 90mm to around 30mm (3.5in to 1.2in) as summer draws closer. This is a good time of year to go to Portugal for the beautiful spring bloom and, as the seas are a bit cold at around 17°C (63°F), exploring the inland areas in the cool weather will be great for trekkers and nature lovers. 

Summer in Portugal is dry and hot, and this is peak season (June to July). Expect temperatures in the early 30s (over 86°F) and it will rarely drop below 12°C, even in the coolest parts of the country. Rainfall in Portugal is between as little as 10mm and a maximum of 40mm (0.4in and 1.6in), while the days are long and sunny. The beaches fill up and the waters are warm, averaging 20°C (68°F) and are often warmer on the south coast.  

As the summer crowds leave, autumn leaves begin to fall and the country becomes a bit wetter and cooler. The climate in Portugal is cool during the autumn, summer lingers in September with temperatures around 29°C (84°F) and it drops to as low as 5°C (41°F) in the coldest areas just before December. This is a rainy season in Portugal, and the islands of Madeira and Azores can be particularly wet at this time of year, rainfall in all regions typically ranging from 50mm to 150mm (2in to 5.9in). 

The weather in Portugal is wet and cool during the winter, becoming cold in the most elevated places. Average temperatures drop as low as 2°C (36°F) in elevated areas, but as spring comes around the temperatures will rise to 18°C (64°F). This is the rainy season in Portugal and rainfall ranges from 70mm to 180mm (2.7in to 7in). Sea temperatures drop to 16°C (61°F), so this is not a popular time for beach holidays in Algarve or other coastal areas, but there are still many attractions in Portugal available during winter. Snowfall in the Serra de Estrela alpine means that winter sports are available in Portugal, so this is a warm alternative to skiing in Sweden or Switzerland.




The Algarve 

The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal, bordered by Spain in the east, the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region in the North, and the Atlantic Ocean in the west and south. Sheltered by mountain ranges in the northern part of the region, it is a well-protected region and an ideal destination for beach holidays, treks, sports activities, golf resorts and lively nightlife. The tourist capital of Portugal, this region has some well-travelled parts in the central and western areas, with a few more tranquil and off-the-beaten-track spots towards Spain. Average temperatures range from 10°C (50°F) lows in the winter to 30°C (86°F), or more, in the summer. Rainy season in the Algarve averages 120mm (4.7in) at the very most, while the driest parts of the year have almost no rain at all. 



Alentejo is set between the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region in the north and the Algarve region in the south, with the Atlantic Ocean in the west and Spain to the east. The weather in Alantejo fluctuates during the year and ranges from 4°C (40°F) in early winter to 28°C (82°F) at the height of summer. Early and late summer is the best time to visit Portugal and explore the vast plains, wild olive and oak groves, and beautiful villages of Alentejo, where there is a wealth of living and preserved cultural history. The average rainfall ranges from 125mm (4.9in) in the wettest months, to as little as 20mm (0.8in) in the dry season. 



Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal located in the Atlantic Ocean, 1,360 km (850 mi) west of continental Portugal. An attractive island paradise, this region is characterised by pristine beaches, rough island terrain and adventure for all travellers. The weather in Azores is typically like that of Portugal, but is more temperate and considerably wetter. Average temperatures in Azores range from  10°C and 26°C (50°F and 79°F) year round, while the rainy season may bring between 90mm and 180mm of rain (3.5in and 7.1in). Having developed its own unique cultural traditions, it is still a Portuguese territory and thus, will be familiar to those who have travelled Portugal before. 


Lisbon and Tagus Valley (Central Portugal)

With beautiful woodlands, mountainside forests and spa towns built around natural springs, this region of Portugal is a favourite holiday spot. Home to Lisbon, the capital city, this region has not only natural beauty, but also a busy nightlife and Lisbon is one of Europe’s cheaper capital cities. Weather in Lisbon and the rest of central Portugal ranges from 8°C (46°F) lows in the winter to 28°C (82°F) highs in the summer, sometimes reaching into the 30s (over 86°F) at the height of summer. A fair amount of rainfall sustains this luscious environment, averages ranging from 80mm to 120mm (3.1in to 4.7in) in the wettest months. 



Madeira is the second wealthiest region of Portugal, a collection of islands in the Atlantic Ocean that boasts fantastic natural beauty along with a vibrant island culture. The average temperatures in Madeira reach maximums in the mid 20s (over 77°F) during summer and rarely fall below 10°C (50°F) in the winter. The worst winter months seldom experience more than 100mm (3.9in) of rainfall. With an abundance of outdoor activities, sleepy towns and plenty of space to relax, Madeira is a great all year round holiday destination in the Atlantic Ocean.


North Portugal 

Northern Portugal is the oldest part of the country, filled with verdant parks, ancient sites and a rich cultural heritage, it is one of the most populous and popular places in Portugal. Travellers can leisurely cruise the Douro river in the 24°C (75°F) mid-summer heat, or wrap up warmly for a sightseeing tour of the medieval castles and museums during the cooler winter months, where temperatures drop to as low as 2°C (36°F) in some places. Aside from being the coldest region, this is also the wettest region of Portugal, receiving up to 180mm (7in) of rain in the heart of winter, but summer is, nonetheless, dry with  little more than 10mm (0.4in).


When is the best time to go to Portugal?

Summer is the best time to visit Portugal, as it is gloriously hot and dry. It is a perfect time to rest and relax at the beach, enjoy the busy nightlife and venture on outdoor activities and treks in the Portuguese countryside. The peak season is in July and August, so there will be plenty to see, do and enjoy in the sun, but prices are highest during this season and the crowds are large. Nonetheless, Portugal is one of the cheaper destinations for a European summer holiday.  

Most of the country does not drop below 10°C (50°F) in the winter, including the autonomous territories of the Azores islands and Madeira. Winter is the best time to go for budget travel in Portugal, but expect wet and cool weather. The best time to visit Portugal for a mixture of summer weather and cheaper prices, is from late-April to mid-June, or alternatively from September to early-October. 


What to pack for a holiday in Portugal

Remember to pack light because the many cobbled streets make travelling with large luggage a cumbersome and difficult task. So, for summer, late spring and early autumn travel, pack plenty T-shirts, shorts, summer dresses and skirts, as well as light jerseys for the evening. Swimwear and beach sandals are best for beach holidays in Portugal, and explorers should pack comfortable walking shoes or trainers. Don’t forget to take a pair of sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen along for sun protection.

Adventurers will need light hiking boots, especially for the wetter months and elevated areas. Winter clothes should include a thermal or two, some long sleeved shirts and warm jerseys, a coat and raincoat. Pack a pair of jeans, synthetic trousers, warm skirts and dresses, as well as scarves, gloves and hats for extra warmth. Finally, don’t forget to pack something special for the Portuguese Night Life.