Weather: Portugal

Flanking the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal meets and greets Atlantic storm systems throughout the winter months, intercepting much of the rain before it can reach the plain or anywhere else in Spain. The mountains in the northern half of Portugal accentuate this effect. Some northern stations get as much winter rain as the west coasts of Ireland or Scotland, with considerable snow at altitude. Further south – where storms give more glancing blows to the provinces of Faro and Beja – it may rain only twice a week during the wet season. Winter temperatures along the coasts are comparable to those around coastal Spain, while the mountains are considerably colder. Summers are a treat in much of Portugal, with the Atlantic adding only a bit of humidity. Afternoon highs in July and August average 24–30°C/75–86°F along the coast, cooler in the higher terrain and hotter in parts of the southeast (a high of 50°C/122°F was once recorded at Riodades). Light showers in summer are limited to the north, and even there they strike perhaps once a week or so. Much of the country is as sunny as the Costa del Sol. Spring and autumn are fine times to visit the southern half of Portugal: temperatures are mild, and the rains largely diminish by May and stay infrequent till November.