The Portuguese don’t much like the cold and you can tell from the increasing number of smiles in April that they are looking forward to the brighter, sunnier, warmer days on the horizon. It’s time to ditch the coat and perhaps swap sweaters for lighter layers (but still keep an umbrella handy!).
In Lisbon, the average daily temperature is 59°F (15°C), with highs of up to 68°F (20°C), though showers are still plentiful, with around seven days of rain. Porto is only a shade cooler, with highs of up to 64°F (18°C) and nine rainy days. Mildest of all is the Algarve in the country’s south, with an average temperature of 61°F (16°C) and highs of 73°F (23°C) – warm enough for T-shirts but not for swimming in the sea just yet.
Crowds & Costs
While the crowds of summer are still a long way off, visitor numbers start to steadily rise in April, particularly in hotspots like the Algarve, where milder temperatures and the first proper rays of sunshine are beginning to make the beaches seem more tempting.
The ever-popular cities of Lisbon and Porto are upping their game, too, with longer days and longer opening hours at sights and attractions making exploring that bit more appealing. You can still pick up some decent deals on flights and hotels at this time of year, with the exception of Easter week when schools are on vacation and rates are at a premium.
Where to Go
April is a fabulous month to slow tour Portugal. The Algarve in the south is now bursting with wildflowers and this is wonderful time to go hiking along its ravishing cliff-backed, gold-sanded coastline, or to take a road trip through its hilly, cork oak-wooded interior, stopping at little villages en route. The blissfully peaceful Alentejo is a great alternative for a trip focused on gentle rambles, farm stays, and hearty, home-cooked food.
While you’ll need to be prepared for the odd shower, mild (but not too hot) days make this prime time to explore some of the country’s cities and towns on foot. Beyond the obvious appeal of Lisbon and Porto, check out the likes of spiritual capital Braga, with the country’s oldest cathedral and an extraordinary clutch of baroque churches; the walled medieval town of Évora, the crown jewel in the Alentejo, with its Roman remains and fortress-like cathedral; and the historic, high-spirited university city of Coimbra.
What to Do
If you’re into the outdoors, this is the month you’ve been waiting for, with longer, brighter, warmer days for hiking, cycling and more adventurous pursuits such as canyoning, climbing, kayaking, and diving.
You could tackle a long-distance trail (in part or in full), such as the Portuguese leg of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, running 371 miles (598km) from Santiago in Spain to Lisbon, say, or the 186-mile (300km) Via Algarviana down south for a beautiful blend of coast and countryside. Or strike out along the Alentejo’s 75-mile (120km) Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail, revealing a staggeringly lovely, little-known section of the Atlantic coast.
While crowds are still relatively thin on the ground, April is a good month to head to popular Unesco World Heritage sights, such as Sintra near Lisbon, a fairy-tale town of whimsical castles and palaces, Braga in the far north, where a striking baroque staircase sweeps up to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, and the exquisite Manueline monastery of Batalha in central Portugal.
Semana Santa Holy Week (the week preceding Easter) is a big deal in Portugal, and you’ll find fairs, festivals and captivating religious parades (costumed, torchlit and cross-bearing) keeping the Catholic faith up and down the country. The most striking of these is in Braga, Portugal’s spiritual center, with elaborately decorated churches, Gregorian chants and a soul-stirring parade of barefoot, black-hooded penitents bearing torches as they shuffle through the medieval streets.
Ovibeja Showcasing the Alentejo region at its rural best, Beja pulls out all the stops for this huge, five-day agricultural fair in late April, with displays of prized animals, workshops, exhibitions and, naturally, plenty of excellent farm-to-fork food.
International Chocolate Festival There’s no better time to visit the delightful medieval walled town of Óbidos than late April, when it is the backdrop for this irresistible festival, with chocolate tastings, cookery classes, sculptures and more.