Portugal has a warm and sunny climate, with mild winters. Summer temperatures in the Algarve can top 30°C, and the mercury climbs in the Alentejo and Alto Douro too, with temperatures recorded as high as 47°C in the Alentejo. In the northwest weather is milder and damper, so bring an umbrella. Up to 2000mm of rain can fall annually (the national average is 1100mm).
When to go
Portugal’s high season runs from mid-June to mid-September, when temperatures across the country average around 27°C. In July and August it gets hot, particularly in the Algarve, the Alentejo and the upper Douro valley, where the mercury can climb to over 45°C.
If you’d rather skip the crowds (and the heat), consider a trip in spring, when the countryside is at its most verdant, or in autumn, when it’s still warm but the summer crowds have dispersed. During winter (November to March) the rains arrive, falling most heavily in the north and most lightly in the south (the Algarve gets near year-round sunshine), with a handful of places closing down. Travelling then, however, will net you substantial savings at many hotels, and you’ll see the country’s most traditional side.
It’s worth making a beeline for a Portuguese festival, particularly Carnaval in February or March, and Holy Week (the week before Easter) in March or April. Dates vary annually, so check with a turismo (tourist information office).