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Experience the Beauty of Wintering in Portugal: Must-Do Activities

Hundreds of tourists visit Portugal every summer. They want to enjoy the hot weather and explore the country’s culture and beautiful sights. Hence, most people don’t even think about traveling to the Iberian country at any other time of the year.

Yet, there is so much you can discover on both island and mainland Portugal all year round. You might not get sunbathing weather or see all the most popular tourist attractions. But the cold season gives you a chance to explore authentic Portugal.

In this article, you will uncover all about wintering Portugal. You’ll know what to expect from the local climate conditions and how to prepare for them. Then, learn why you should plan your trip for the winter and what type of activities you can do. Are you ready to find out what happens in Portugal in the winter months?

The Winter Season in Portugal

Portugal is a popular summer destination. Most people know this Iberian country for its warm, sunny days and beautiful beaches. Yet, what can you expect from its winter?

The season begins in December, almost by Christmas Eve, and finishes only the following March. But you start to feel the temperatures drop in October, and the cold kicks in during the Autumn.

Learn how to say the names of the months and seasons in Portuguese in our video: Months & Seasons in European Portuguese.

Average Temperatures During Winter Months

You can consider winter weather to be mild. Generally speaking, the coldest month in Portugal is January. In the archipelagos, the climate is Spring-like during the winter months. Madeira usually has warmer temperatures than the Azores.

Northern Portugal has the chilliest winter weather. Temperatures there are around 5ºC or 6ºC. The same goes for the mountainous regions, where it often snows and temperatures drop below zero.

On the contrary, daytime temperatures stay at around 10ºC in Central Portugal. Although bad weather is not a rule, you can expect quite a few windy and rainy days. Still, you can sometimes enjoy a lovely winter sun. The Algarve region is the warmest of continental Portugal in winter, having blue skies almost year round.

Traveling Essentials to Visit Portugal in the Winter

Despite the mild temperatures, you should still pack warm clothes for your winter holiday. Bring items you can layer so it will be easier for you to adjust to both night and daytime temperatures.

Regardless of where and when you are traveling, always pack a light jacket. Then, check the weather forecast for your destination. Keep in mind that locations closest to the Atlantic Ocean are more humid, which might make it feel like it is colder.

5 Reasons For Visiting Portugal in Winter

If you want to know more about Portugal and European Portuguese before your trip, check out The Journey. This program, developed by Portuguese With Carla, has an interactive approach to language learning. It includes cultural gems and natural conversations and emphasizes engagement.

Now, you know what you can expect from Portugal in winter. But why should you choose the cold season for a visit?

Here are five reasons why you should make Portugal your winter travel destination:

Fewer Crowds

Planning a winter trip to Portugal allows you to avoid peak season. Thus, you can enjoy all of Portugal’s natural wonders without any of the chaos of the summer movement. There is nothing quite like strolling around a beautiful place with peace and tranquility.

empty beach - winter in portugal
empty beach – winter in Portugal

You have more time to take photos and to appreciate your favorite sights. Plus, you probably won’t have to wait in line for the most popular activities, like museum exhibits. Many tourist places change their opening times, and some attractions close for all or part of the winter. So you should consider these alterations when planning your day trips.

Lower Prices

Winter is the low season in Portugal. Thus, you can get better deals than at other times. Accommodation and traveling prices start lowering in the middle of September and hit the best values from November on.

You might notice the prices increase around Christmas holiday festivities until the New Year. The same happens near Entrudo, a Portuguese celebration similar to Carnival that occurs at the same time.

Afterward, the low season continues and finishes around March. Then, the spring starts, and the movement picks back up again.

Generally Mild Climate

Despite being by the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal has a Mediterranean climate. As you have already considered above, its cooler temperatures are still pleasant and allow you to make the most of your winter break.

Mainland and island Portugal offer the ideal climate for every tourist, even during the winter. From warm weather to cold and sunny, with rain or snow, you can pick whatever you like best for your trip.

Lots of Fun Activities

Portugal presents a wide range of activities to do year-round. All you need to do is adapt your journey to your needs and preferences. With both outdoor and indoor activities, there is something to fit everybody’s taste.

You might be visiting Portugal for its rich cultural heritage. Or you might want to explore the country’s culture and traditions. You will find it the perfect place to relax and disconnect from the world if that is your goal. Conversely, you will discover countless opportunities for fun if you are a winter sports enthusiast.

Explore Another Side of This Turistic Country

Winter season is a fantastic time to visit Portugal. It allows you to get to know a more authentic side of this touristic destination. You can try all the Portuguese comfort foods and learn about the hidden gems Summer passersby never even hear about.

Even better, you can take things slow. Get to know the stories behind Portuguese traditions, learn about the places you visit, and truly understand the local culture.

Activities to Include in Your Winter Trip to Portugal

Our European Portuguese program, The Journey, is a unique course built to help you learn our beautiful language. It includes fun exercises and insightful videos. This way, it introduces you to the Portuguese culture and what you can do in the country.

Learn European Portuguese the Instinctive Way!

For the last decade, we’ve been working on putting together the best possible European Portuguese course. After much research, feedback from our students, and several iterations, we think we’ve got it! 😉

At the base of it all is a sound conviction that languages are better learned instinctively, so the process needs to engaging, varied, and enjoyable. Throughout, we used scientifically proven techniques to help you master pronunciation, phrase construction, oral understanding, grammar, and all the necessary bits to get you to fluency. And still, the whole thing is presented as an adventure. It’s a course like no other, trust us!

Here are some of the activities you can add to your plan if you are visiting Portugal in winter:

Visit Winter Markets and Fairs

Despite the slowdown of trade during the winter, markets and fairs are a significant part of local culture. The Portuguese love to stroll in the markets with their families and enjoy warm food and drink.

TimeOut Market – Lisboa

Most municipalities organize weekly markets for food, antiques, and local crafts. Additionally, there are larger and more modern fairs. They support specific sectors of the Portuguese industry or promote regional products.

During December, there are several Christmas markets spread throughout the country. They carry festive names and decorations but also have traditional items unrelated to the holidays.

Continental Portugal

In December, Moura, in the Alentejo, organizes a wine market while Amarante, near Porto, has a honey fair. Afterward, in the North, the regions of Boticas and Montalegre welcome fairs linked to pork and stuffed sausage production.

Later in the winter, the Algarvian city of Portimão has an orange fair, while Celorico da Beira, in Guarda, holds a cheese fair. In February, you can visit the Lisbon Food Affair (LFA).

Island Portugal

In the islands, there are smaller markets that also sell local produce and promote traditional products. To know what is happening and where in Portugal during your trip, you can use websites like the Viral Agenda.

Enjoy The Beauty of The Serra da Estrela Mountains

If you are going to Portugal in winter, you can’t skip a visit to Serra da Estrela. Recognized by UNESCO as a Global Geopark, it harbors the highest mountain range in mainland Portugal. Its highest point, “The Tower,” reaches 1993 meters of altitude. 

Serra da Estrela

Serra da Estrela has multiple hiking trails totaling over six kilometers of routes. Thus, it is perfect for a day trip to enjoy the breathtaking views. Besides, it encompasses nine of the twelve Historical Villages of Portugal. 

Winter Sports

The ski resort Serra da Estrela is the only place for snowsports in Portugal. You can try everything, from skiing to snowboarding. There is even a ski school for those who want to learn or improve their skills. Check out the Snow Forecast to know when it snows and get the best out of your day trips. 


On the other hand, if relaxation is all you need, Serra da Estrela can still be a noteworthy destination. Accommodation-wise, you have various excellent spa hotels to choose from. But you can also opt for beautiful glamping facilities or charming mountain lodges.

Relish in The Flavors of Winter Portuguese Food

Portuguese cuisine is rich and varied. Some dishes are light and fresh, perfect for the summer weather. But cooler temperatures require a different type of food. And the traditional Portuguese recipes might surprise you.

Savory Dishes

The top food and drink for many Portuguese natives is hearty and comforting winter food. According to where you go, there is always something typical to try. One of the most traditional Portuguese dishes is soup. It comes in all tastes and textures, from the meaty Sopa da Pedra to the creamy Caldo Verde. Then, you can delight in the simplicity of Cozido à Portuguesa or have a satisfying Feijoada.


You can’t visit the North of Portugal and not taste the Francesinha, just as you can’t go to Alentejo without having an Açorda. In the South, you must try the Sopa de Peixe and the Cataplana, typical of the Algarve. And you can always find the renowned Bacalhau (Codfish), cooked according to different recipes and traditions.


As for desserts, you have plenty to choose from. Each region has its characteristic sweets you can’t miss. Portuguese confectionery uses lots of eggs and sugar, so you will find many flavorful treats to taste. It also uses milk, cinnamon, and dried fruits like figs and almonds.

Arroz Doce (Sweet rice) and Leite Creme (Milk cream) are two creamy desserts traditionally topped with cinnamon. Sericaia, typical of the Alentejo region, is similar to a pudding baked in a special clay tray and served with a candied plum.


Some of the most famous pastries, like Pastel de Nata (Custard tarts) or Travesseiros, are sold all year round. But others make limited-time appearances during the winter. For example, Bolo Rei (King cake) is a sweet bread topped with candied fruits characteristic of the holidays. But you can easily find it during most of the season.

Other winter sweets include Sonhos (Dreams), Rabanadas, similar to french toast, and Coscorões. These mouthwatering fried desserts are often served warm with syrup or honey or covered with cinnamon sugar.

Explore The Historical Cities And Landmarks

Winter gives a new look to Portuguese historical places. It creates a more enigmatic atmosphere that is sure to capture you. Here are some of the locations you can visit:

Northern Regions

In northern Portugal, Coimbra is home to the first university in the country, founded in 1290. Guimarães, considered the birthplace of Portugal, is another must-see city with a rich heritage.

Guimaraes, Portugal

Porto, famous for Port wine, and Vila Nova de Gaia sit on opposite sides of the Douro River. Besides the stunning architecture and comforting food, you can enjoy a Port tasting and a boat tour of the Douro Valley. You can also visit the Local Nature Reserve Douro Estuary, where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean. It offers splendid conditions for birdwatching and nature photography.

Central and Southern Regions

In Central Portugal, the renowned city of Sintra has a unique environment surrounded by an incredible landscape. There, you can find the colorful Pena Palace and the beautiful Quinta da Regaleira.

Of course, you can’t miss the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. Its narrow streets and buzzing atmosphere are one of a kind.

In the Alentejo region, Évora is a charming town and a Unesco world heritage site. In other cities, like Beja and Estremoz, you can find a medieval castle with picturesque countryside or town views.


Also, Southern Portugal, known for its beautiful beaches and bright sunshine, has historical sites. Cape St. Vincent, in Sagres, was once considered the “End of The World” and is the southwesternmost point in continental Europe. The Medieval city of Castro Marim, with its fort and castle, is another place worth a visit. 


The archipelago of Madeira has over 600 years of history. There, you will find the Levadas, a unique system of waterways and aqueducts. Another culture-rich site, the Convent of Santa Clara, is a monument from the 15th century. Likewise, you can visit numerous forts, ancient gardens, and museums.

Ponta de São Lourenço
Ponta de São Lourenço – Madeira

As for the Azores, they are home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Besides the unique vineyards of Pico, on Pico Island, there is the historical center of Angra do Heroísmo on Terceira Island.

Summing up on Wintering in Portugal

Portugal is a popular tourist destination in Southwestern Europe. During the summer it has some of the best beaches to relax and sunbathe, or to practice water sports like surf. Yet, during the winter, this country offers just as many possibilities to its visitors.

Your winter trip to Portugal will be unforgettable! After all, you will enjoy mild temperatures, do fun activities, and taste incredible foods.

How do you feel about wintering in Portugal? Have you tried a winter vacation in the Iberian country? We would love to know your thoughts and suggestions!

If you are already packing your bag, these posts will help you communicate with the Portuguese natives:

Are you excited to visit Portugal, but you feel like winter just isn’t for you? Then, check out our article: The Best of Autumn in Portugal: 10 Must-Have Experiences in 2023!

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