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Portugal in December/January?

Hello -

My family and I are trying to figure out our Christmas break plans, and Portugal is on our list of places to visit. We are expats currently living outside of London, so are used to cold and gray days. We have two boys (14 and 11) who are generally great travelers and used to being kept busy on our trips. We will have a little over a week, and I was thinking of spending a few days in Lisbon and then spending some time in the Algarve. What is everyone's opinion of Portugal at the end of December/beginning of January? Is it worth going or is it too gloomy to enjoy? I appreciate any help and feedback. Thanks so much!!

Posted by
724 posts

The weather is very unpredictable that time of year. Today is gorgeous with 20 degree temperatures and cloudless skies. And, these type days are not that unusual. But, as you likely know, rain is common in the winter in Portugal. So, there is no guarantee of anything, especially several weeks out.
That said, the temperatures are usually moderate and rain is rarely an all day event.

However, you might want to rethink the Algarve for a portion of your trip. Evora is a lot closer to Lisbon than the Algarve and is a lovely smaller city. And, if you must see beaches, there are many quite close to Lisbon. For no more than a week, I would not spend the time it takes to travel to the Algarve.

I would think your boys would really enjoy Sintra in the Lisbon area. And, there is a great Megalith tour outside of Evora they might enjoy also. The bones chapel in Evora would likely be entertaining for them, too.

Posted by
3502 posts

We took a trip to the Algarve in February and it was horrible. Everything was shut down and musty. Just a bunch of retired Brits milling around. Will never go back.

We returned from a month in Spain and Portugal on November 14th. During the 30 days we had three that were washouts in which we rested, planned, etc. Porto ended up being our favorite place even when the weather did not entirely cooperate. We like everyone else did not let clouds or intermittent weather disturb our visit. Also InPatio Guest House, where we stayed with Ferdinand and his staff made our trip with their perfect location, rooms, breakfast, and attention to detail. We highly recommend them!

Posted by
3000 posts

Is this for this year or next?

Most of the Algarve isn’t shut and musty in February, but you aren’t travelling then anyway!

The Algarve is all about the beaches and golf in mostly purpose built resorts and December/January probably won’t be beach weather. You could either spend all your time in Lisbon with day trips to Sintra and Cascais or split your time between Lisbon and Porto and fly open jaw. Evora is interesting and your boys may like the bone chapel, so it’s worth 2 days there.

Posted by
4150 posts

So this begs the question - why is Portugal on your list? What exactly are you looking for, what are your criteria? If I was in London, and I was casting around for someplace to go at that time of year, there are lots of places I'd have on my list much higher than Portugal (I love Portugal, but not so much as a destination for December-January).