Famous for its wine, beaches, and seafood, Portugal is the ultimate European destination when you’re looking for culture, relaxation, and culinary delights.
If you are planning a trip to Portugal, make sure to make the most of it by visiting at the best time. Whether you are looking for the best weather, great deals on flights and hotels, or an escape from the crowds, we’ve got you covered below.
Plus, we will let you know when you should probably avoid going, things to consider when booking your Portuguese vacation, and why you would even want to visit in the first place!
Why You Should Visit Portugal
You may be more familiar with the only country that Portugal shares its borders with, Spain, but Portugal is an amazing country to check out on its own.
Despite being a little smaller than the state of Indiana, it boasts over 1,000 miles of coastline, eight major cities ranging from cosmopolitan Lisbon to the wine capital of Porto, and is one of the most peaceful countries in the world.
Wine-lovers may flock to France and Italy, but Portugal is well worth a visit. Of course, port wine, the famous fortified dessert wine from Porto, put Portugal on the map for the viticulturists of the world.
However, there are 11 other distinct wine regions broken into 30 different Denominacaos de Origen Controlada (DOC) like Douro and Vinho Verde that will delight your palate. Foodies will also love Portugal’s seemingly endless array of national dishes.
Trying bacalhau — or salted cod — is a right of passage for visitors, but you should also never miss out on Polvo a Lagareiro (octopus and potatoes with olive oil), freshly grilled sardines, or spit-roasted Leitao assado (suckling pig).
In between your food and drinks sessions, soak up the sun on one of the many beautiful beaches along the coastline. Portinho Beach near Lisbon, Moledo Beach on the northern coast, and Praia do Camilo in Lagos are all wonderful spots to spend an afternoon in the surf.
If all of that sounds fabulous enough to pack your bags (you are not alone!), read below for the best time to visit Portugal to have the trip of a lifetime.
Overall Best Time to Visit Portugal
The best time to visit Portugal is during the shoulder seasons of May to June and September to October.
You will have the ultimate combination of good weather, fewer crowds, and plenty of local festivities to keep you busy. Like many places in Europe, tourists tend to flood the streets of Portugal during the peak summer months.
This means sky-high rates, high average temperatures, and lots and lots of crowds. Avoid that by booking your trip at the beginning or tail end of the summer months.
You will be able to grab some deals for accommodation and flights but still get to see Portugal at its sunniest best.
Make sure to check out the popular beaches, castles, and vineyards that will be more comfortable and less busy to explore in the spring and autumn warmth. Plus, Portugal is known for their festivals like St. Anthony’s Day, St. John’s Day, and the pilgrimages to Fatima.
All of these either take place in May, June, or October. Going to these events is a whole new way to experience Portugal, so it is worth it to plan your trip around those dates.
Cheapest Time to Visit Portugal
The cheapest time to visit Portugal is in January and February.
Avoiding the major Portuguese holidays like Christmas and Easter and the major European vacation times of July and August will help you score serious deals.
You can grab trans-Atlantic flights from the United States directly to Lisbon for way less than you would pay in August. You can save even more money by flying to a more major airport like London Heathrow (LHR) or Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG).
Then, book a budget European airline like Ryanair to your city of choice in Portugal. The only drawback is that you won’t be able to experience Portugal at its finest.
The average temperature in the capital city of Lisbon stays around 60˚ F during these winter months, and they tend to be some of the rainiest months.
The good news is that you can enjoy the unique culture of Portugal even in the winter. You will have tourist hotspots like the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city, and the Moorish castle of Sintra, all to yourself in January and February.
Visit museums, art galleries, and restaurants to stay out of the dreary cold and still experience some of the best of Portugal.
Least Busy Time to Visit Portugal
The least busy time to visit Portugal is during the spring and autumn season. You will be graced with beautiful weather, more local events, and, most importantly, fewer crowds.
That’s why it is both the least busy and the best time to visit Portugal. The peak tourist season in Portugal is in July and August when most Europeans and Americans take their vacations, so if you want to avoid crowds, do not visit then.
People also travel to Portugal for Christmas and Carnival in February, so you can also expect to see crowds during those holidays. Because you’ll have moderately warm temperatures and fewer people, it’s a great time to check out some of Portugal’s best beaches.
Towns like Lagos can fill up with party-hard students on summer break during July and August, so you can experience the amazing coasts without the crazy energy if you visit in the spring or autumn.
You can also still score deals in the shoulder seasons from May to June and September to October.
You might not get as good of a price as you would in January and February, but flights and accommodations can still be significantly cheaper than they would be during peak season if you book early enough.
Worst Time to Visit Portugal
The worst times to visit Portugal are in December or July and August.
In December, you will have rain, low temperatures, and lots of crowds there for the Christmas holidays. In July and August, you will have to deal with large crowds of visitors on their yearly vacation, hot and humid weather, and sky-high prices.
While these are the worst times to visit Portugal, you can still have an amazing time on your trip as long as you know what to expect.
Bringing warm clothing and rain gear will help you stay comfortable in the winter chill. And checking out off the beaten path spots will let you avoid the crowds in the peak summer months.
Visiting during the Christmas holidays can be a wonderful way to experience Portuguese culture during a sacred time of the year for the predominantly Catholic country. Book early, stay in smaller towns, and plan for colder weather.
As far as visiting during the peak tourist season of July and August, it can be a wonderful time to soak up the sun and social culture of Portugal.
If you are a solo traveler who loves to meet new people and stay in cheap hostels, you can still have a fun, budget-friendly vacation. If you are looking for solitude, you might want to visit during the shoulder seasons.
Things to Consider
Now that you know the best time to visit Portugal, you might be ready to jump on a flight and start living it up! First, read below for some things to consider when visiting Portugal. Follow these tips and tricks to have the ultimate Portuguese vacation:
Brush Up on Your Portuguese
You should practice some phrases in Portuguese (and no, Spanish is not going to be enough). The bigger cities have a lot of English speakers, but the smaller towns and villages do not.
Learning a few phrases like “bom die” (good morning), “onde fica o banheiro?” (where is the bathroom?), and “ajuda me” (help me) will help your trip run a lot smoother.
Watch Out for Pickpockets
In the well-visited cities like Lisbon and Porto, some people will try to take advantage of tourists. Keeping an eye on your items at all times will help prevent theft, but you should also keep your belongings in front pockets and bags.
Be Safe at the Beach
Wearing sunscreen will protect you from the sun’s UV rays, but you should also keep a careful watch on the ocean, especially if you have your kids with you.
Gigantic waves can come out of nowhere, produced by the large winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean. Never turn your back on the ocean, and make sure everyone in your party knows how to swim.
Bring Your Most Comfortable Shoes
Like many older European cities, the streets in Lisbon and Porto are made of cobblestone. It’s picturesque and adds to the beauty of Portugal, but it can make walking miserable if you don’t bring comfy footwear.
Say No to Drugs
Channel your inner middle-schooler and dig out that D.A.R.E. T-shirt. If you are walking through downtown Lisbon (usually when it starts to get dark out), you might encounter a man trying to quietly speak to you in Portuguese, trying to sell you drugs. Keep saying no and walk to wherever you are going.
Starters at Restaurants Are Not Free
Typically, when eating out in Portugal, your waiter will bring you some food to eat as you peruse the menu. Unlike in the US, where bread will come free before the meal, these foods will be tacked onto your bill at the end. Feel free to dig in or just say no thanks.
Check Business Hours Before Setting Plans
Especially in the smaller towns along the coast, bad weather, a lazy morning, or the need for an afternoon siesta (Portuguese siesta) can all delay or change the opening and closing time of a business.
Visit Parque Nacional da Peneda-Geres
If you love the great outdoors, check out Parque Nacional da Peneda-Geres. It’s Portugal’s only national park and covers almost 300 square miles of forests, lakes, and wolves, deer, and golden eagle habitat. It’s a great way to check out the interior of Portugal if you are spending the rest of your trip along the coast.
Watch a Home Football Game
Get a feel for the local spirit by attending a home game for one of the Portuguese football teams. The biggest ones are Benfica, based in Lisbon, Porto, based in Porto (of course), and Sporting, also based in Lisbon. It’s a lot of fun and a great cultural exchange.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know the best, cheapest, least busy, and worst times to visit Portugal, plus you have a whole host of knowledge from the tips above, you might still have a few questions about visiting Portugal.
Below, you will find the answers to the five most frequently asked questions about Portugal:
What are the hottest months in Portugal?
The hottest months in Portugal are the summer months of July, August, and September. The hotter air also makes the water temperatures at the beaches more enjoyable. If you plan on swimming, it’s a great time to visit, but it can be a bit busy in July and August.
Where is the best weather in Portugal?
In Portugal, the Algarve has some of the sunniest and most moderate weather in all of Europe. Located on the southern coast, you can soak up the sun in comfort at their famous beaches and dramatic cliffs that lead into the ocean.
How many days in Portugal is enough?
The minimum amount of days you should spend in Portugal is seven. For seven days, you can see both the city and small villages, hills, and beaches. Plus, you will have enough time to sample some of the best food and drinks Portugal has to offer!
Is it expensive to visit Portugal?
Portugal is one of the least expensive countries in Western Europe to visit. It is significantly cheaper than the hotspots like Paris, Barcelona, and Rome for food, accommodations, and activities. Visiting during the off-season from January to February can also help cut costs for big items like flights and hotels.
Is Portugal safe?
Portugal is extremely safe. The main crime people should watch out for when visiting is pickpocketing, but being aware of your surroundings and property will help prevent that. Don’t place bags on the back of chairs while dining, and keep everything in your front pockets when walking through the streets.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Portugal?
The best time to visit Portugal is during the shoulder season of their spring (May to June) and autumn (September to October). You’ll be able to miss the summertime crowds and still get to enjoy warm weather and sunny skies.
For budget travelers, visiting during January and February could get you some good deals, but you’ll have to deal with grey skies and colder temperatures.
Avoid visiting in December if you don’t want to deal with large holiday crowds and dreary weather. July and August also get very busy but can be fun for social travelers. Just watch out for more expensive hotels and flights. Happy travels!