Does it snow in Portugal? Winter Travel Guide 2023
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Are you planning on travelling to Portugal in the winter? You’re probably asking yourself “Does it snow in Portugal?“.
It’s no secret that Portugal is known for its warm golden beaches. While it may be easy to assume that a country with such a warm climate would never see a single snowflake, Portugal’s climate is far more diverse than one might think.
Portugal’s unique location on the Iberian Peninsula means that it is blessed with a variety of climates. From the Mediterranean in the south to the Atlantic in the west, the country experiences a range of weather patterns.
Does it snow in Portugal?
Yes! It does snow in Portugal. While the south of the country boasts warm temperatures and an almost tropical climate, the northern regions are cooler, with more rainfall and even some snowfall during the winter months.
Don’t expect to see any snow in the Algarve or Lisbon though. While snowfall in Portugal is not uncommon in the mountains, it is still a relatively rare occurrence in the rest of the country.
Where does it snow in Portugal?
The Serra da Estrela mountain range, located in the central region of Portugal, is known for its snow-capped peaks during the winter season. With its highest point reaching over 1,900 meters above sea level, this natural wonderland is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
In addition to the Serra da Estrela, other mountainous regions in Portugal, such as the Montesinho Natural Park and the Peneda-Gerês National Park, also experience snowfall during the winter season.
When does it snow in Portugal?
You can expect to see snow in Portugal during the winter months which is December through to February. In the Serra da Estrela mountain range, due to its altitude and colder temperatures, snow is a common occurrence in this region from December to March.
Winter in Portugal
Portugal may be known for its sunny beaches and warm weather, but the winter season in this beautiful country can offer a whole new experience. Portugal in winter is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, with fewer crowds and a unique atmosphere.
So, if you are a snow chaser, or simply curious about the diversity of Portugal’s climate, you may want to consider visiting during the winter months. With its picturesque mountain ranges in the north, Portugal offers a unique winter experience that is not to be missed.
Where to find snow and skiing in Portugal
It’s no secret that Portugal isn’t exactly the top destination for keen skiers and snowboarders and it could be due to the fact that there is actually only one place you can go skiing – Serra da Estrela!
This mountain range is the highest in mainland Portugal and is where you’ll find the popular Estação de Esqui da Gouveia ski resort. The resort has several runs of varying difficulty levels so it is suitable for different skill levels, including beginners.
Another popular area to ski in Serra da Estrela is at SkiParque Manteigas.
Best things to do in Portugal in winter
From exploring the countryside to indulging in comfort food and exploring historical sites, there’s plenty to do in Portugal during the winter months.
1. Visit the Christmas Markets
Portugal is home to some of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, such as the markets in Lisbon, Porto, and Braga. These markets offer a wide variety of local handicrafts, food, and drink, as well as a magical atmosphere that is perfect for the holiday season.
2. Explore the Countryside
The countryside in Portugal is a beautiful sight to behold during the winter months, with lush green landscapes and rolling hills. Take a scenic drive or hike through the countryside to soak up the natural beauty and tranquillity of the region.
3. Indulge in Comfort Food
Winter is the perfect time to enjoy some of the traditional Portuguese dishes, such as cozido, a hearty meat and vegetable stew, and bacalhau, a salt cod dish. These comfort foods are sure to warm you up and provide a taste of Portugal’s rich culinary heritage.
4. Visit the Museums
Portugal has a rich history and culture, and winter is the perfect time to explore the many museums and art galleries the country has to offer. It’s also a great way to warm up and get a break from the cold!
Some of the most notable include the National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto.
5. Attend a Fado Concert
Fado is a traditional Portuguese music genre that is known for its melancholic and emotional tone. Attending a fado concert during the winter months is a perfect way to experience the cultural and musical heritage of Portugal.
Tips for visiting Portugal in the winter
One of the biggest advantages of visiting Portugal in winter is the fewer crowds. With fewer tourists, you can enjoy the attractions and activities without the long queues and busy streets – no early wake-up calls!
The winter weather in Portugal is also quite mild, particularly in the south, so it’s still possible to spend time outside without feeling too cold.
To make the most of your trip to Portugal in winter, here are some tips to keep in mind. Firstly, be prepared for the occasional rainy day, and pack accordingly. Having a good jacket that’ll protect you from the chilly wind and rain is a top priority.
Secondly, consider visiting some indoor attractions to break up the amount of time you’ll spend outdoors, such as museums, galleries, and historic buildings. It’s a great way to learn more about Portugal’s rich culture and history too.
Additionally, winter is an excellent time to indulge in the local cuisine, which includes hearty stews, grilled meats, and delicious pastries. Many restaurants offer special menus during the winter months, so be sure to try some of the seasonal dishes.
Finally, don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes and warm clothing, especially if you plan to explore the great outdoors. Portugal’s natural beauty is just as stunning in winter as it is in summer, and there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, cycling, and other outdoor activities.
How to get around Portugal in winter
How you plan to get around Portugal in winter will largely depend on where you plan to spend your time. Since Portugal has rather mild winters in the south and it doesn’t snow, you’ll get around the cities the same way you would any other time of the year.
The public transport network is pretty extensive and will take you to most places you need to go. The train fares are a little more expensive than the bus fares but the travel time is usually quicker. Both modes of transport are very reliable and comfortable.
If you are heading into some of the smaller towns in Portugal it’s best to check schedules and routes in advance so you know the service is operating.
Hiring a car could be another option if you want to get off the beaten track a bit.
This gives you the flexibility to explore the countryside and visit smaller towns and villages that may not be accessible by public transportation. However, be aware that the roads can be a bit more treacherous in the winter months, especially in the higher elevations where snow and ice can make driving more difficult.
Another option for getting around in the winter is by bike, although you probably want to stick to short trips like exploring the town you’re in so you don’t get too cold. Portugal has a growing network of bike paths and cycling routes that make it easy to explore the country on two wheels.
Just be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and be aware of road conditions.
Finally, if you prefer to take a guided tour, many companies offer winter tours of Portugal that include transportation. This can be a great way to see the sights without having to worry about driving or navigating public transportation.
How cold does Portugal get in winter?
When it comes to winter weather in Portugal, temperatures can vary depending on the region you’re in. However, overall, Portugal is known for having a mild winter climate, with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing.
In the coastal areas of Portugal, such as Lisbon and Porto, temperatures in the winter months generally hover between 10-15°C (50-59°F). In the southern Algarve region, temperatures can be slightly warmer, with average temperatures around 15-18°C (59-64°F).
The temperature in northern Portugal, such as near Serra da Estrela, can drop to around 3°C or 4°C (39°F) in winter, with occasional snowfall in the mountainous regions. In cities like Braga, temperatures can range from 7°C to 14°C (45°F to 57°F) during the day, with nighttime temperatures dropping to around 5°C (41°F).
Where to stay in Portugal in winter
While the weather may be colder than in the summer, there are still plenty of places to stay that will keep you cozy and comfortable during your trip. Where you chose to stay in Portugal will largely depend on what you plan on doing on your trip.
One option is to choose a hotel or rental property in one of the cities. Lisbon and Porto are two great options with a variety of accommodation choices ranging from budget-friendly hostels (great if you’re also travelling Portugal solo) to luxurious five-star hotels. Staying in the city also means you’ll have plenty of dining and entertainment options, even if the weather outside is less than ideal.
If you’re looking for a more scenic and tranquil experience, you might consider staying in a small town or village. These can often provide a more authentic Portuguese experience, with charming architecture and local cuisine to enjoy. There are many quaint villages throughout Portugal that are worth considering for a winter getaway.
If you’re wanting to hit the slopes then staying in Portugal’s ski resort in Serra da Estrela is probably your best bet.
No matter where you choose to stay, make sure to book in advance as winter is a popular time to visit Portugal, especially around Christmas and New Year’s.
Budget accommodation in Portugal
Luxury accommodation in Portugal
FAQ: Does it snow in Portugal
Still got more questions about snow in Portugal? Here are the answers to some commonly asked ones.
What should I pack for winter in Portugal?
When packing for your trip, consider bringing layers that can easily be added or removed as the temperature changes throughout the day. A warm coat, scarf, hat, and gloves are also essential items to bring, especially if you plan on spending time outdoors.
Comfortable and sturdy shoes are also important, as some areas may be slippery or wet during the winter months. It’s also well worth packing a waterproof jacket or umbrella in case of rain.
If you plan on doing any outdoor activities, such as hiking or sightseeing, consider packing a backpack to carry any necessary items, such as water, snacks, and a camera.
Basically, you just want to make sure you’re prepared for the cooler temperatures so you can make the most of what this beautiful country has to offer!
Is Portugal good for skiing?
Portugal may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of skiing, but it does offer some options for winter sports enthusiasts. The most famous ski resort here is Serra da Estrela.
Serra da Estrela is known for its natural beauty and stunning views. The resort has a variety of ski slopes suitable for all levels. The ski season in Serra da Estrela usually runs from December to late March, depending on weather conditions.
Although Portugal may not have the same reputation for skiing as other European destinations like France and Switzerland, it can still be a great option for those looking for a unique winter sports experience.
With the added benefit of mild temperatures in other regions, you can also explore the country’s vibrant culture, delicious food, and stunning beaches during your trip (although it certainly won’t be warm enough to swim).
Is December a good time to visit Portugal?
Although the weather is cooler and wetter than in the summer months, December is still a good time to visit Portugal and of course, it’s part of the festive season!
One of the top attractions of December in Portugal is the Christmas markets. You can find markets in many of the country’s larger cities, offering a variety of traditional crafts, holiday treats, and festive entertainment. The markets are a great place to soak up the holiday atmosphere and pick up unique gifts.
Another great reason to visit Portugal in December is the food. Portuguese cuisine is renowned for its comfort and warmth, making it the perfect choice for the winter months.
Overall, if you don’t mind the cooler weather, December can be an excellent time to visit Portugal, with plenty of holiday festivities, delicious food, and unique experiences to enjoy.
What is the coldest month in Portugal?
The coldest month in Portugal varies depending on the region, but on average, January is considered the coldest month across the country.
While January is considered the coldest month, it is still relatively mild compared to other European destinations, with average temperatures ranging from 10 to 15 degrees Celsius (50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit). Coastal regions tend to be milder, while inland areas can experience colder temperatures.
What is the warmest place in Portugal in winter?
The warmest place in Portugal during the winter is the Algarve region, which is located in the southernmost part of the country. The Algarve is known for its beaches and mild climate, with temperatures typically ranging from 15-20°C (59-68°F) in the winter months.
Additionally, the Algarve offers a variety of other outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and water sports, which can be enjoyed even in the winter months.
While the Algarve is the warmest place in Portugal during the winter, it is important to note that temperatures can still drop at night, so it is recommended to bring warm layers when visiting the region during the winter.
Conclusion: Does it snow in Portugal?
So we now know that it does indeed snow in Portugal and it’s possible to do some skiing or snowboarding here.
If you’re planning a winter trip to Portugal and hoping to see some snow, your best bet is to head to the mountainous regions in the central and northern parts of the country. Just be sure to check weather forecasts and road conditions before travelling to these areas, as snow and ice can make driving conditions challenging.
Despite the colder temperatures, winter can be a great time to visit Portugal. The crowds are smaller, making it easier to explore the country’s historic cities and quaint villages. Plus, there are still plenty of indoor activities to enjoy, such as visiting museums and trying the delicious local cuisine.
So, if you do plan to visit Portugal in the winter, just be sure to pack some warm layers and a waterproof jacket!