Hiking and Cycling Winter-Friendly Trips in Portugal
Did you know that Portugal is blessed with over 300 days of sunshine per year?
While the country is most famous for its beaches and endless summer sun, it’s worth considering vacationing at other times of the year. If you visit in winter, you’ll find cheaper prices, fewer crowds, great food—and probably plenty of that sunshine as well!
Unlike much of the rest of Europe, most of Portugal doesn’t suffer from grey skies or freezing temperatures in the middle of winter. While it regularly snows in the interior of the country, Portugal’s long Atlantic coastline often sees sunshine and blue skies at that time of year, especially in the south.
It’s not unusual for temperatures to reach close to 20º C (mid-sixties º F) in the Algarve in January or February—warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine in the sun—and Lisbon is often only a little colder.
Another option for the winter sun is to visit one of Portugal’s two island chains. Madeira lies off the coast of North Africa, and regularly sees temperatures of 20 C (in the mid to high sixties º F). While rain is a definite possibility in late winter, it’s far from guaranteed, and the temperate conditions make hiking and other outdoor activities more enjoyable than in the mid-summer heat.
If you happen to time your visit for New Year’s Eve, you’ll also witness one of the biggest and best fireworks celebrations in the world. The island’s capital, Funchal, set a Guinness world record in 2007 for the largest fireworks display.
The Azores, sitting out in the mid-Atlantic, is also surprisingly mild during the winter months. Daily maximum temperatures of 15º C (in the low sixties º F) are typical from December through March, although again, like Madeira, you’re more likely to get some short-lived rain during your stay as well.