The climate is without a doubt a huge part of Portugal’s appeal. With hot summers, more than 300 sunny days per year and one of the mildest winters in Europe, the country can be visited pretty much year-round. But the best time to travel to Portugal is in Spring, from March to May or in the late Summer from September to October. These months offer warm temperatures that are more enjoyable than the summer heat, low rainfall and fewer crowds.
Portugal’s climate is largely influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, meaning that the north of the country is cooler and rainier, and moving south along the coast the temperatures get higher. The south is sunny and drier, and the heat can be more intense. The islands, Madeira and the Azores, have year-round Atlantic climates. So, the real thing determining the ideal time to travel to Portugal is the amount of tourists you will encounter, rather than the temperatures you might face.
Shoulder-season in Spring is the best time to visit because not only you will find mild temperatures around 60 and 70 degrees, but prices will be lower, more hotels will be available and there will be less lines at the most looked-for attractions. At night, it doesn’t get cold either and temperatures remain above the 50s, so you can enjoy a pleasant night stroll with just a light jacket. Rain might be an issue, and during Spring it typically comes in showers.
And if a beach vacation is what you’re looking for, skip the teeming shores and the heat of July and August, and go in the early fall instead. Portugal usually has long summers and some of the greatest beach days are saved for October. Most days in September and October see temperatures around the high 70s and 80s, with breezy Spring-like nights. During this time Portugal’s many beaches from North to South are not packed on weekends and almost empty on weekdays, despite the good weather. This is because locals are already back to work and the peak tourism season is over. Plus it is wine harvest time, with all kinds of fun festivals. And, you will see beautiful colors.
So, Portugal is one of those lucky cases where the off-season is the good season. See flowers, festivals, wines – and no crowds.