Portugal in January: Winter Surf's Up
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January might be the coldest month of the year in Portugal, but there is also a catch. Compared with the abysmal weather of northern European countries, Portugal in January is still a sunny respite. Of course, the Mediterranean’s wet winter phenomenon affects both the mainland and the islands. But if you dig deeper, you will find a few dry stretches. So, hug the sun-sprinkled southern shores of the Algarve or visit Sintra's Pena Palace minus all the maddening crowd. Catch some mammoth swells in Sagres atop your surfing board or ski down the slopes of Serra de Estrela. Make the best of the low season and create a memorable Portugal holiday experience on a soul-satisfying budget.
Portugal Weather in January
Portugal's weather in January shows some interesting quirks. Winter rains are unevenly distributed across the country and affect the northwestern coast more than the inland eastern region bordering Spain. In the islands of Madeira, the Gulf Stream restricts the wet spell to the northwestern side, away from major tourist spots and the capital city of Funchal. To experience a drier climate, these are the areas you should target during your trip to Portugal in January.
With an average high of 15ºC, Lisbon’s weather is pretty pleasant during the daytime. However, nights in the capital are chillier, at about 8ºC. Sea temperatures off the country’s coasts hover at around 16ºC, which is not suitable for swimming. A maximum of 109mm of rainfall has been recorded in Lisbon in January, with sporadic showers spread over 14 days. Up north, Porto and Douro are colder and wetter at about 11°C and 146mm of average rains. Down south, Algarve’s weather conditions are more or less the same as Lisbon’s, but a little drier with an average rainfall of 59mm spread over nine days.
For a seasonal overview, check out our best time to visit Portugal article.
Weather in Portugal in January - Rainfall and Temperatures
|Avg Daily (°C)||15||16||19||20||22||26||28||28||27||23||18||15|
|Avg Nightly (°C)||8||9||11||12||14||17||18||19||18||15||12||9|
|Avg Daily (°F)||59||60.8||66.2||68||71.6||78.8||82.4||82.4||80.6||73.4||64.4||59|
|Avg Nightly (°F)||46.4||48.2||51.8||53.6||57.2||62.6||64.4||66.2||64.4||59||53.6||48.2|
|Avg Rainfall (mm)||100||85||53||68||54||16||4||6||33||101||128||127|
Why Visit Portugal in January
If the non-touristy, raw and authentic pulse of a place attracts you, we suggest heading for Portugal in January. There are a tonne of benefits to be had if you choose this low season as your travel month.
- Better rates: Please your purse by vacationing in Portugal in January, as this is one of the cheapest months in terms of both accommodation and flights. Treat your inner royalty with a five-star stay at the rate of a three-star hotel. If you still want to save some more, aim for the latter half of the month, as it enjoys the lull after all the holiday crowds of Christmas and the new year have cleared.
- Less footfall: Bid the boisterous beach culture of Portugal goodbye as you slip into the tranquility and peace of deserted resort towns. Enjoy Unesco-listed sites without tourists breathing down your neck. Pop a chill pill and wake up at a leisurely pace to spend the holiday like a holiday and not a task.
- Festival season: Rounding off Christmas on a note of celebration, the country observes the Three Kings Day (Dia de Reis) or the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. This celebration is packed with quaint activities like door-to-door singing of songs of Jesus's birth and chowing down on traditional sweets like bolo rei. Food lovers can please their porcine palate by celebrating Festa das Chouriças or the Festival of Smoked Pork Sausages on the third week of January at Querença in Algarve. It is a heartwarming experience to witness local farmers thanking Saint Louis for protecting their farm bounties.
- Surfing: Riding the colossal waves during a Nazaré tour is a winter challenge that many surfers look for. If you are not up to it, do not fret. Visit the western coastline of the Algarve, with spots like Sagres and Tavira, which is great for beginners and moderate-level surfers.
- Skiing: For a white winter fiesta, opt for skiing in Serra da Estrela, a mountain range located in the central region of the country. Many ski resorts in the area offer slopes of varying difficulties. If you do not know how to ski or snowboard, lessons are available.
Where to go and what to do
Portugal in January is action-packed with diverse holiday activities. It will be a joy to explore cities like Lisbon, where you can duck into any restaurant or gallery to cheat a sudden shower. With a tourist-free time in the capital, make sure to discover the hidden gems tucked away in the city’s back alleys. Hop, skip, and jump to numerous Unesco World Heritage sites while on a Sintra tour and the wine valley of Douro (if you do not mind getting wet).
Amble around the castles of Alentejo and Alcoutim in the Algarve. After an arduous day, warm up your chilly nights with hot comforting bowls of caldo verde, or pop castanhas (roasted chestnuts) into your mouth as you walk its cobblestone streets. For a spot of winter sunshine, try the non-beachy side of the Algarve as you hike and bike through its coastal trails. Choose bigger towns to base out of because a lot of resorts close down during the low season in Algarve. And if you want, you can skip the mainland wholeheartedly and just focus on spending a week exploring the archipelago of Madeira, savoring its rugged and romantic landscapes on numerous walks.
January in Portugal offers options for tourists of any tempo. Whether you want an adrenaline-fueled holiday that involves surfing super waves or want to chill quietly on a beach, you will never fall short of choices. Just keep your plan flexible with plenty of optional activities for evading the rain. Pack wisely to beat the chill as well as to keep yourself dry. Also, take a peek at our travel guides on how many days to spend in Portugal. A 10-day visit would be enough to experience all the must-see highlights. If you have a much shorter time on your hands, a week-long trip would also be a fun experience. For an unbeatable holiday experience, contact our local travel experts who can help you with a customized trip to Portugal.
So, look no further to start planning your Portugal vacation in January!
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