While it’s true that Portugal is no longer the Iberian Peninsula’s best-kept secret, it’s fairly easy to escape the crowds. Even at the busiest resorts in the Algarve, it only takes a short bus ride or a walk across countryside to reveal rarely visited places that still offer the feeling of discovery – a sentiment close to the Portuguese soul. Castles and picturesque villages rise above flower-covered hillsides and along scenic coastlines.
Portuguese history is on display in Coimbra and Sintra, and the dunes and protected coves are enchanting for all to see. Beaches are sandy, with tall cliffs are sanctuaries. Lisbon and Porto have cobbled streets and trams, with architectural delights and romantic riverside walks.
The Algarve has summer temperatures up to 30°C, with some areas, notably the Alentejo and Alto Douro up to 47°C. In the north west, weather is milder with more rain, up to 2000mm can fall annually, while the national average is 1100mm. Portugal is warm, sunny with mild winters.
When to go
February brings the Carnaval (sometimes March). The week before Easter sees Holy Week, so Catholics are drawn toward this time. Spring brings verdant scenery. Mid-June to mid-September, the temperature averages 27°C, with July and August being peak temperatures. Autumn means you’ll avoid the crowds, but still enjoy the warm weather.
November through to March brings rain, but mainly in the north. The Algarve gets sunshine almost all year round, so you can make savings by travelling during this time of year. Most places are still open for business, so you won’t lose out that much, and can enjoy more traditional Portuguese life and culture.