The Best of Autumn in Portugal: 10 Must-Have Experiences in 2023

Portugal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Despite being a small country, it gathers everything you want in a vacation spot. It has warm weather, delicious food, fantastic beaches, a rich culture, and many fun activities. 

Until a few years ago, people only visited the country during the Summer. This trend even originated the term “veraneantes”

in Portuguese, referring to Summer vacationers. 

But Portugal has incredible experiences to offer all year round. From September to the beginning of November, you can still enjoy sunny days with warm average temperatures. Because there are fewer crowds, your visit will become more pleasurable and less expensive.

Let’s discover what you can do during Autumn in Portugal. You’ll explore activities you can do throughout the country. Afterward, get our suggestions for unmissable experiences.

4 Activities to Plan For Your Fall Portugal Getaway

Portugal has you covered for your favorite vacation pastimes. It has beautiful parks, surfing beaches, and raving parties. Our European Portuguese immersive course, The Journey, presents more amazing ideas about what to do in Portugal. Here are four types of activities to fit every traveler’s taste:

Relaxation and Wellness

You can find retreats, spas, and wellness centers across the country. Some areas benefit from natural hot springs and offer luxurious health and relaxation treatments. For example, Caldas da Rainha

 is famous for its sulfurous springs dating back to the 13th century.

Alentejo

 is also a stunning region for a retreat and to focus on much-needed relaxation. Its serene plains, olive groves, and enchanting national parks will captivate you. Opt for a little town on the coast or an inland area for diversified experiences.

Despite its tranquility throughout the year, Alentejo is scorched by the sun during the Summer. Starting in November and during the Winter, the weather is colder and wet. So Autumn is the best time for a visit.

Additionally, you have the Termas de Monchique

 in the Algarve
. In the archipelagos – Azores
and Madeira
– there are numerous hot springs and natural pools, spas, and wellness retreats to enjoy.

Cultural Experiences

Portugal’s essence includes historic old towns you can visit anytime. Each village and city has a characteristic architecture and innate cultural traits. Besides being perfect places to wander, these destinations offer extraordinary learning opportunities.

For example, Arraiolos

in Alentejo is famous for its carpet weaving. In the North, Viana do Castelo
fosters the ancient art of filigree, known as “filigrana”
in European Portuguese.

Museums spread throughout the country and bring you closer to Portuguese culture and traditions. The Serralves Museum

 in Porto
is the most visited in Portugal and one of the best in the world. Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
, in Lisbon also has exquisite displays. But there are many more to see, whether in mainland or island territory.

Parks and Trails

Autumn is one of the best seasons for nature lovers to enjoy Portugal. There are plenty of parks and trails with breathtaking views. If you love outdoor activities and losing yourself in the wilderness is your idea of taking a break, check out some of our most beautiful spots. 

Whether you are an adventurer or a tranquil stroller, you can appreciate the beauty of Portuguese trails in the fall. Go hiking in the Serra da Estrela

mountains or horseback riding in the Gerês National Park. Cycling along the Douro is also an option to consider. The award-winning Passadiços do Paiva
 are perfect for a day in the outdoors. And in the Azores and Madeira, you will find beautiful routes and unique flora and fauna.

Festivals and Events 

Summer is the busiest season, but there are plenty of festivals during Autumn in Portugal. Most events have live music, a vibrant atmosphere, and much Portuguese food and wine.

The Noite Branca

 in Braga and the Feiras Novas
 in Ponte de Lima
mark the beginning of September. The famous Feira de Outubro
(October Fair) in Vila Franca de Xira
has traditional food, bull racing, and artisanery.

You can visit the National Gastronomy Festival in Santarém from late October to the start of November. Later on, there is the Lisbon Film Festival, presenting the best of contemporary film production.

6 Experiences You Can’t-Miss

Wine Tasting in Northern Portugal

Northern Portugal, especially the Douro Valley, has a rich wine history and tradition. The ancient “socalcos”

and the more recent “patamares”
(platforms) sculpt the natural terrain. These vineyard landscaping techniques give the Douro Valley its unique and astonishing sceneries.

The region has harbored wine production for over 2000 years. It is also the birthplace of Port Wine, which has been recognized and regulated since 1756. Many of the oldest wineries that still operate today were established during the 18th century.

During the Summer, tourists flood the wine region. Finding a knowledgeable local guide for a proper visit is nearly impossible. Thus, September and October are the months in which you will find the Douro at its best. Nothing can surpass the beauty of the fall foliage in the valley! You can explore it through the Historical Train or opt for one of the boat tours and cruises available.

Exploring Magical Sintra

Another site classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, Sintra’s cultural landscape is one of a kind. This town in Serra de Sintra pairs a distinctive atmosphere with a rich heritage. Its castles and stately homes are luxurious, and the imposing trees and hills surrounding them are picturesque.

Among the area’s highlights is Quinta da Regaleira

, a stunning property from the 18th century. The Pena Palace
and National Park are part of the European Route of Historic Gardens. The Moorish Castle dates back to the 10th century, and you can even visit the remarkable Bonsai Museum.

Sintra is especially appealing in the Autumn, with the fall colors transforming the landscape. The temperature is more humid there, and you might catch a rainy day, but it will only add to its appeal. 

Strolling Through The Colorful Streets of The Portuguese Capital

Lisbon is a beautiful city with charming coastal-town vibes. It’s a blend of modern and traditional, exquisite and simple. No matter when and where you go in Lisbon, there is so much to see and do.

Take some time to walk in Belém

by the Tagus River. Visit Parque das Nações
and stroll through the city center. You can explore Pink Street, Rua Augusta
, Bica
, and more. Learn about the top places to visit in Lisbon in our video: Top places to visit in Lisbon – What the locals say. During Autumn, street vendors sell freshly roasted chestnuts, AKA the perfect Fall treat. 

All months are busy months in Lisbon. A report by Statista showed Lisbon as the most visited Portuguese city in 2022, with 5.4 million overnight visitors. Besides traveling in the Fall, avoid November 1st (All Saints’ Day), 11th (Saint Martin’s Day), and any other national holiday. This way, you can wander the city with a less crowded atmosphere.

If you’re up for a celebration, most national holidays include revelries with abundant food and drink. Plus, locals will be happy to welcome you into the festivities.

Star Gazing in Alqueva

The Alqueva Dam is the largest artificial lake in Europe. With the same name as the national park it’s inserted in, this region offers its best conditions during the Autumn months.

The Great Lake of Alqueva was the first destination to get the Starlight Tourism Destination Certification. This seal came from the Starlight Foundation with UNESCO’s support. Since then, Alqueva has become one of Portugal’s main nature attractions for astrotourism.

Plenty of astronomic events happen during the Autumn. For example, there will be a supermoon in September, besides the equinox. And October will bring two meteor showers and the Solar and Lunar eclipses.

Enjoy The Stunning Beaches of The Algarve

Algarve’s shore is a major tourist attraction during the Summer months. Portugal has over 800 kilometers of coast by the Atlantic Ocean, but its southern regions are among the most acclaimed by beach lovers. September and October bring a gentler sun, warm waters, and the best waves. With very few people still vacationing, you’ll likely find many empty beaches.

Whether you choose a small fishing village like Fuzeta

or a city like Portimão
, this is a Fall beach trip you will never forget. From Sagres
to Vila Real de Santo António
, you will find alluring beach spots to enjoy a glass of wine and the freshest seafood by the sea.

Whale and Dolphin Watching in The Islands

The Azores and the Madeira archipelagos offer splendid conditions for boat trips and water sports, such as scuba diving. Since they are further out in the Atlantic, the weather changes from that of Mainland Portugal. Yet, despite having more rainy days, the islands have sweeping views. Their unique characteristics stand unmatched by other regions.

The Azores are a leading whale-watching destination in Europe. Until October, you can support cetacean conservation by going on educative tours. These activities are also trendy in Madeira, where you can find whales, dolphins, monk seals, and other marine species.

Conclusion on The Best of Fall in Portugal

Autumn is an exceptional time to visit Portugal. Unlike most European countries, the Fall in Portugal is not a prelude to Winter. Instead, it is an epilogue to Summer. Temperatures drop mostly from November on. So the weather is still warm, and the rainy days are few. The classic sightseeing locations are less crowded, and there is so much you can do to explore the country. 

No matter the type of tourism you prefer, you can find the perfect vacation pastimes in Portugal. From North to South and in the beautiful islands, you will discover a rich heritage, delectable foods, and a welcoming atmosphere.

These were our top recommendations for the perfect Fall Portuguese experience. Save them for your next trip, or share them with your friends who want to visit this Iberian country!

Learn More About The Portuguese Culture!

We have developed a unique interactive European Portuguese course at Portuguese With Carla. The Journey is an exciting adventure that will take you to every corner of Portugal and give you the best insights into our culture. Join us!

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!

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