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Portugal during Wintertime

18. December 2020, TIPS

The sun shines in Portugal for at least 3000 hours per year. Located on the Atlantic coast with its many picturesque islands, this country is known for its mild climate throughout the year, meaning there is no need to fear the dreaded ‘Winter Blues’. In addition to plenty of sunshine, you’ll still find a wide range of leisurely activities available in the colder months – even surfing!

Are you fed up of grey skies? Yearning for some warmth? Then off to Portugal you go! Here is what you can expect while you’re over there.

Portugal’s temperature and climate in the Winter

Portugal's coast in winter

During the wintertime, the average temperature ranges from 14-18 degrees Celsius, which means that you can still enjoy a glass of wine sat outside, under the midday sun. However, the general climate can be as diverse as the country’s wine selection.

Bordering Spain in the north, you will be captivated by endless green forests, which often have an air of mystery to them, due to the fog. On colder days, you may even get a glimpse of a snowy landscape – especially further inland, where Portugal reveals another side of itself, with mountain ranges of up to 1990 meters in height.

But let’s get back to what probably interests you the most: the sunnier sides of the country. You can pretty much bet that any areas along the Atlantic coast will enjoy some great weather. Naturally, the further south you go, the more pleasant it gets. Although you can enjoy temperatures of up to 15 degrees in coastal cities in the north and center of the country, such as Porto or Lisbon, it is also likely that you will find much less rain in the Capital.
If you’re travelling to Algarve, for example, from the months of November to February, temperatures can lie around a high of 17-20 degrees which means you most definitely shouldn’t forget your sunglasses!

5 reasons why Portugal is highly recommended in the Winter

Are you a student who is interested in going on exchange during the Winter? We understand that you don’t just want to go ANYWHERE. In this section, you will find out what Portugal has to offer during the colder months of the year and why so many students have chosen Portugal as their destination for an exchange semester.

1) Portugal's versatility in Winter

Perhaps you’ve already guessed it: Portugal’s landscape and climate are so diverse, that even in the middle of the Winter, there’s not much you are being forced to missed out on. Spend a few days in Porto and when you get tired of the rain, make it an all-out ‘summer holiday’ by visiting Faro in the south. If you need a more wintery atmosphere to get into the Christmas spirit, just take a trip to the mountains. The point is, regardless of which season you prefer, there is something for everyone.

2) Travelling on a budget

Speaking of traveling: Depending on your budget, it’s relatively easy to get from A to B at reasonable prices. The cheapest form of transport is the train, although you may find that certain connections may not be as well developed, in comparison to some other European countries. However, you can also reach most destinations by modern and air-conditioned buses, which run both long and short distances. If you’d really like to travel in comfort, you can also take a cab or even rent a car – prices are much lower from November to March, after peak season for tourists is over. This goes for booking a hotel room, renting an apartment or even visiting a restaurant.

3) Portugal's hearty Winter cuisine

During the summer, fresh fish and other seafoods are a staple of every menu. However, during the cooler months, many local restaurants offer hearty soups and stews for the soul. A particularly well-known winter dish is the Cozido à Portuguesa, a stew made of different kinds of meat such as the beloved blood sausage (referred to as Morcela), vegetables and potatoes. As for the house-wine, don’t worry, that is available everywhere pretty much year-round and definitely should not be missed out on!

4) Less tourists - more culture

Lisbon on a sunny day

Even though there are bound to be tourists in Portugal after the Summer has come and gone, the numbers stay well within their limits. Wandering the empty beaches, you’ll begin to feel much more like a local. This would also be an opportune time to experience the Portuguese flair and culture, particularly for nightlife. Around these dates, it is much easier to get a seat at some of the more ‘hip’ bars and restaurants, which often require reservations. If you’re planning on staying at MILESTONE, you’ll also meet plenty of people who will be willing to show you all the hotspots.

5) Surf or Ski? Portugal’s outdoor activities in the Winter

The diversity of the landscape, as previously mentioned, automatically means that there are plenty of leisure activities awaiting you that you may not have thought of yet. The best tips for your personal Portugal experience for Winter are listed here:

  • Surfing in winter: Okay let’s be honest, you wouldn’t want to consider this without the appropriate equipment: such as a wetsuit, shoes and gloves. But for die-hard surfers, Portugal is a true surfer’s paradise all year around. It may be cold, but the west coast provides for especially high tides in the Winter. For instance, the coastal town of Nazaré, located between Lisbon and Porto, attracts surfers from all over the place with some of the highest waves in Europe, also known as ‘monster waves’.
Surfer in Portugal from above
Portugal's coast during sunset
  • Beach walks and hikes: Regardless if you prefer relaxed walks on a deserted beach in the afternoon or a proper hiking tour which lasts several days, you will have the chance to do either. There are many diverse hiking routes which will take you through beautiful nature parks, rugged coastal areas and natural beach sections. The nature park Ria Formosa near Faro, which consists of several small islands, is one of the most beautiful in the country and invites you to take exuberant walks on the beach, where you can even admire flamingos, storks and many other bird species.
  • Skiing: People are often surprised when you mention that you can ski in Portugal. Though the slopes may be a little underwhelming for adrenaline junkies, many snowboarders and ski fans flock to Serra de Estrela Natural Park (the highest point in the whole country) to get their fix. A weekend trip to the natural reserve is something we would highly recommend.
  • Golf: Golf is apparently no longer just for older men. If you belong to the younger generation of golfers, your heart will beat faster in Portugal. In Algarve alone, you will find over 90 courses waiting for your visit and your perfect tee shot.
  • Wellness and relaxation: If you prefer to take it easy or need a break after all the stress of the exams, you will find plenty of wellness offers in Portugal as well. Going back to our tip about reduced prices post tourist-season, treat yourself to a spa vacation and add some Pilates or Yoga to the program while you are at it!
  • Sightseeing: Living in a country where others usually spend their vacations is the dream par excellence. Portugal offers an incredibly versatile sightseeing program that is just waiting to be discovered by you. For example, experience the beautiful, picturesque old town of Lisbon called Alfama and the Bairro Alto nightlife district with its many bars, clubs and restaurants Treat yourself to some delicious Pasteis de Belém, from the famous bakery Pastéis de Belém – which for once might not have a line out the door.When you visit Porto, you can enjoy the flair of the port city and have a glass or two of the famous port wine without having to wait for an empty table. Additionally, Portugal offers a lot of events, festivals and markets around Christmas time, which are worth a visit.

You mind has been made up and your bags are half packed. Now all you need is a place to stay? Check out our apartment selection in Portugal.

Roman Peter


Best Operator 2020