Does it Snow in Portugal? & What to Expect in the Winter
ARE YOU WONDERING IF IT SNOWS IN PORTUGAL?
Portugal’s winter weather can vary greatly depending on which part of the country you’re visiting. While it rarely snows, temperatures can get surprisingly cold at night during winter, meaning it’s a good idea to pack warm clothes. Layers are the way to go since the daytime sun can be quite warm.
And whether you’re looking to spend your trip basking in Portugal’s sunshine or taking in the natural beauty of the mountains and beaches, there are so many great things to do and see in the wet winter months in Portugal.
While we’ve been to Portugal, we thought this topic warrants the input of someone with a little more expertise. So we asked our friend Michelle of Ericeira Family Adventures to help us out with this guest post.
Does It Snow In Portugal?
The answer to this is yes! Yes, it does snow in the mountainous regions of northern Portugal, the Serra da Estrela mountains. They even get enough snow to have a ski station!
However, at lower elevations, when it does snow, it rarely accumulates and tends to be fleeting. The warmer daytime temperatures tend to melt the snow too quickly for it to stick around for very long.
Winter in Portugal
Compared to many other European countries, most of Portugal is relatively mild during the winter months. It’s actually the best time of year to go surfing off the coast!
When winter rolls around, tourists can expect cooler temperatures and wet weather. Winter goes from December to March, and while it doesn’t snow very often in the country, temperatures can get surprisingly cold, especially at night.
How cold does it get in Portugal?
In Portugal, temperatures often drop to 5 degrees C (36 degrees F) at night in the winter months. At higher elevations temperatures are typically closer to the 0 mark and don’t increase that much in the daytime, which is why the snow doesn’t melt.
In other parts of the country, daytime temperatures stay mild, at an average of around 10 to 15 degrees. However, since it rains frequently during winter in Portugal, the wet weather can make you feel much colder than it actually is.
On the other hand, temperatures on sunny days can soar as high as 20 degrees C (68 degrees F), so dressing in layers is recommended.
How often does it snow in Portugal?
At higher elevations where snow does fall, an average of about 100 to 150 cm (40 to 60 inches) of snowfall is seen every year. Snow falls in Portugal for an average of 1 to 2 days per week between the months of December and March, with an average snowfall of about 10 cm per week.
March is when Portugal’s ski hills are at their prime and the best time to hit the slopes.
In the rest of the country, it snows so rarely that most children have never seen snow! For example, the last time it snowed in Porto was in 1983, and in Lisbon in 2006.
Does it snow in Portugal in December?
Yes, it does snow in Portugal in December up in the Serra da Estrela mountains. However, since the temperatures don’t usually hit their lowest in December, this is the month when the Serra da Estrela ski station has the least snow coverage and ski conditions are iffy.
Since it only snows about 4 cm per week during December, the ski station usually makes snow to help create better ski conditions for visitors looking to ski in early winter.
Where Does Portugal Get Snow?
Portugal only gets snow in Serra da Estrela, the country’s highest mountain range. These scenic peaks are home to Portugal’s only ski resort. Although its conditions aren’t comparable to other European ski resorts, it does offer a fun afternoon for beginners who want to ski in the sunshine.
With 3.6 miles (5.9km) of slopes and four lifts to transport guests, Serra da Estrela is a fun winter getaway destination where many people go just to see the snow.
March is the most popular month to chase the snow in Portugal, as there’s usually an abundance of it and pleasant temperatures that make for ideal skiing conditions.
Here are some of the most interesting places in and around Serra da Estrela to see snow in Portugal.
Sabugueiro is a beautiful mountain village known for being the highest village in Portugal. At an average altitude of about 1100 meters, Sabugueiro offers breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys.
It’s a favorite spot to stop while visiting the Serra da Estrela. Both tourists and local residents come to enjoy the stunning scenery as well as explore its unique culture and traditions.
Tip: Make sure to buy the famous Serra da Estrela cheese and try the sausages!
Manteigas is one of the most picturesque towns in Serra da Estrela. It’s located at an altitude of around 1000 meters and is surrounded by stunning snow-capped mountains.
Manteigas is a paradise for outdoor adventurers, with plenty of opportunities to hike, explore, and take in the fresh mountain air. Don’t forget to check out the thermal springs at Caldas de Manteigas too! They’re perfect for relaxing after a long day outdoors.
Cabeça is a charming mountain village known for its ‘Aldeia Natal’ set up around Christmas time. During winter months, the village is blanketed with snow, transforming it into a magical winter wonderland.
Every year, the local community decorates the traditional schist houses with lights and regional decorations. It’s truly a sight to behold! This village makes for an unforgettable Christmas experience in Portugal.
Gouveia is a picturesque village surrounded by incredible winter hiking trails that make you feel like you’re in a winter wonderland. From this village, the natural beauty of this region is so evident, from the snow-covered rooves to the perfect silence of winter.
Gouveia is where Portugal’s only ski station is located, one of the best winter attractions in the region.
Piodao is a beautiful mountain village located in the Guarda district, right next to Serra da Estrela. It’s one of Portugal’s shale (schist) villages and has been nominated as one of the Historical Villages of Portugal.
The fact that the houses were literally built into the mountains makes it quite a spectacular sight to behold. The views surrounding this village are otherworldly, and although it’s very small, Piodao makes for a great pit stop on the way to Serra da Estrela.
Where Does it Snow in Portugal: FAQs
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about winter and snow in Portugal.
Does it snow in Porto, Portugal?
No, snow is not common in the city of Porto, Portugal.
The closest location to get snow is in Serra da Estrela, the country’s highest mountain range, located more than 200 km away from Porto. The last time it snowed in Porto was in 1983!
Does it snow in Lisbon, Portugal?
No, it doesn’t usually snow in Lisbon. The Portuguese capital has a Mediterranean climate with mild temperatures and little precipitation throughout the year.
However, parts of Portugal that are located at higher altitudes do experience snowy weather during the winter months.
Does it snow in Azores, Portugal?
Yes, snow does occur in Azores, Portugal. Snowfall is infrequent but is visible every winter on the highest point of the group of islands located at 2,351 meters on Mount Pico. In 2022, it also snowed on the high mountains of Flores and Corvo islands.
Does it snow in Algarve, Portugal?
No, it does not usually snow in Algarve, Portugal, and the last time it snowed in Algarve was in 2017. The weather is generally mild, with temperatures ranging between 10 and 20 degrees in winter.
Very rarely do temperatures fall below freezing, however, due to its location on the Atlantic coast, winter storms and strong winds are not uncommon.
Does Portugal have any ski resorts?
Yes, Portugal does have one ski resort. The Estação de Esqui da Gouveia is located in the Serra da Estrela mountains. It is best suited to beginner skiers since it isn’t very challenging, but is a great family activity to do during the winter months.
What’s the warmest place in Portugal in winter?
The Algarve is generally the warmest place in Portugal during winter, with an average temperature of around 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 Fahrenheit) and rarely dropping below 12 degrees Celsius (53.6 Fahrenheit).
Additionally, the Algarve has over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, making it one of the sunniest regions in Europe. This mild climate makes it a great destination for winter visitors looking to escape colder climates and enjoy some sun!
So does it snow in Portugal? Yes, it does! From the snow-capped mountains of Serra da Estrela to the sunny beaches of Algarve, Portugal is definitely a winter paradise.
Whether you’re looking for an unforgettable Christmas experience or some fun in the sun during your holiday season, there are plenty of options available to suit your taste. With so much on offer here in Portugal, it’s easy to see why this country remains one of Europe’s top tourist destinations all year round.