Are you looking to head out to Portugal in the winter? Well, you have come to the right place because here are so many great examples of what you can do when visiting on your winter break. We were lucky enough to spend 3 months in Portugal from November to January. So throughout our three months, we were able to visit all the best places.

There are so many reasons to visit Portugal in the winter and one of the best is because there are fewer crowds and still plenty of sunshine. Here you will learn about the best towns to visit, where to ski, and how to spend your time visiting Portugal in the winter.

Please click here to find a complete travel guide to Portugal if you have never been before!

Beautiful smokey morning in Madeira

Is Portugal worth visiting in winter?

There are so many things to do in Portugal in the winter. One of the best times to take a holiday to the Algarve is during the winter because you will have entire beaches to yourself. You will be able to find plenty of restaurants and attractions in Portugal that are still open.

How warm is Portugal in the winter?

Did you know that Portugal is often at the top of the list of European countries with the best weather? The warmest place in Portugal in the winter has to be the Algarve. The temperatures average at right about 15°C (59°F) degrees during the day.

Is Portugal worth visiting in December?

Portugal in December is a wonderful time to visit. You find some of the best Christmas markets in all of Europe peppered throughout Portugal. Lisbon, Obidos, Porto, and many more cities are decorated with twinkling lights and nativity scenes. Many town squares set up smaller Christmas markets with ice skating rinks, homemade gifts to buy, and plenty of Christmas desserts.

They Celebrate Christmas on December 24th traditionally with a trip to mass followed by giving each other gifts. You should be able to find so many things to do in Portugal in the winter that you will never forget your festive holiday.

Does Portugal have a winter season?

You would be surprised by how many things to do in Portugal during the winter. There are regions to ski and snowboard or drive the beautiful coastline and relax on the beach. But yes, Portugal does have a winter season so if you are planning a trip be sure to pack a coat and gloves!

Best Things to do in Portugal in the Winter

Visit Nazare

Nazare is one of the best places to visit in Portugal during the winter. If you do not already know Nazare is home to the biggest waves in all of the world when it goes off. You might be surprised to learn that the most popular surfing season in Portugal is during the winter.

We were lucky enough to go to Nazare during November and we got to see the second biggest swell day of the year. These waves can reach up to 100 feet and the surfers use a tow-in method with a jet ski to get themselves up into the swells. If you decide to go to Nazare then the wintertime is your best time to see these monster waves. Here you will find all the info you need to make the most out of your trip.

Nazare has the biggest waves in the winter

Algarve, Portugal in the Winter

The Algarve is the warmest place in Portugal in the winter and it is the perfect place to start your trip. The Algarve gets almost 3 million visitors a year, but if you go in the “offseason” you will find that you will have the stunning coastline mostly to yourself. Most people head to the beautiful beaches during the spring and summer, but you should defiantly still go in the winter because the temperatures can still reach up to 20°C (68°F).

There are so many different places to stay but we ended up in Albuferia which is one of the best places to stay in the Algarve in the winter. But there are so many other towns and things to do in Portugal in the winter that you will have endless opportunities. We spent 2 glorious months in the Algarve, November, and December.

We were lucky enough that on Christmas we walked through Old Town Albuferia and laid out on the beach in our bathing suits. If you are looking for a sunny and laid-back holiday then the Algarve is defiantly the place for you to visit Portugal in December.

 beautiful beach alone at sunset in portugal


Porto is the second largest region and is one of the best places to visit in Portugal in the winter. You will find two Christmas markets to explore and an ice skating rink in the center of the town. Plus, they are world famous for their wine, and what better way to warm up than with a delicious glass of port wine.

More recently they have also become a Mecca for world-class artists. Here you will find music, street art, and even food festivals during the winter. After you spend your day exploring and the warm Portugal winter sun goes down you will want to head out to a Port wine lodge and cozy up and enjoy your favorite glass of vino.

Peneda-Gerês National Park

Peneda-Gerês National Park is a place for all outdoor lovers to visit. It is only a short 1.5-hour drive from Porto so you can easily fit in a day trip here from any of the places on this list. While hiking around you will be comfortable because the daily temperatures still reach up to 18°C (65°F). While exploring the Peneda-Gerês National Park you will be able to see the wild horses known as Garranos that graze the area and if you are lucky and they are in a good mood you may even be able to pet them.

There are plenty of other animals to see while trekking around as well. While you are making your way to the waterfalls and lagoons make sure to stop in the local village and warm yourself up a with cafe. You will see a cute town that will take you back to the 60s. Be sure to put Peneda-Gerês National Park high up on your list of the best things to do in Portugal in the winter.

you can always hike in the winter in Portugal

Christmas Markets

No matter what town you stop in during the winter in Portugal you will see at the very least a small Christmas market in the middle of town. They take Christmas very seriously and love to celebrate with each other. The best Christmas markets are in Porto, Lisbon, and Cascais. Most of them open in either early or late November and will stay open until New Years’ day.

You will be able to see Christmas performances from the local children singing to street performers with fire blowers. Warm yourself up with a hot chocolate or spiked hot tottee and enjoy your night walking around a traditional Christmas Market in Portugal. One good thing to learn would be how to say Merry Christmas which is “Feliz Natal”.

Christmas markets in portugal is one of the best things to do in Portugal in the winter


Of course, there are plenty of things to do in Lisbon Portugal in the winter. It is the country’s capital after all. You will most likely find the cheapest flights into Lisbon during the winter as well. The coldest month in Lisbon is January but the temperatures are still a lovely 8-15°C (45-59°F).

You can explore the city on foot or ride the famous rail and be comfortable in a light jacket all day. Be sure to check out the festive displays and enjoy one of Europe’s hippest cities. The lodging, food, and activities should be at a discount as well because it is considered their “offseason” but you can expect almost everything to be open.

Skiing at Serra da Estrela 

Even though most people think of Portugal with sandy beaches and sunshine in mind it does snow in Portugal. Vodafone Ski resort is one of the best things to do in Portugal during the winter. It is located in the municipality of Manteigas and they are open from January to March. The locals say that the best time to visit is in February because this is when you will find the most snow in Portugal.

They have nine different slopes where you can either ski or snowboard. The skiing in Serra da Estrela is very beginner friendly and they even have lessons that you can book before you hit the slopes. After you work up an appetite be sure to check out the local cheese it is world-famous and the recipe dates back to the 16th century. You will have the best holiday when you decide to visit Serra da Estrela on your trip to Portugal in the winter.

Madeira for New Years

The dreamy island of Madeira is located off the coast of Portugal, and it is closer to Africa than it is to Europe. But do not get it twisted this island is 100% Portuguese. The fireworks show in Madeira is one of the best shows in the world. They were world record holders from 2006-2010. This tradition started back in the 17th century when they would light bonfires and dance on the beach to bring good vibes into the new year.

The show starts at night time and is in the capital city of Funchal. If you decide to spend your whole winter holiday in Madeira you will remember it for the rest of your life. It is also one of the warmest places in Portugal in the winter because the island has over 4 different microclimates. You will find all the best things to do in Portugal in the winter all wrapped up in this magical island.

Christmas in Portugal is one of the best things to do in portugal in the winter

Meet the Locals

One of the best things about visiting Portugal in the winter is that you will be able to connect to the locals and learn more about the culture. During the summer millions of tourists come to explore all the different regions and the locals are so busy that they simply do not have time to hang out with you.

We were able to make many friends and learn about Portugal during the winter. You will find yourself sitting at a cafe and having a conversation with strangers that you will remember forever. Because we all know that one of the best things about traveling is meeting new people.


meeting the locals is one of the best things to do in portugal in winter. Here is a local riding a dope bike.