It’s sure feeling hot now, with plentiful dry, sunny days, and balmy evenings perfect for sundowners by the sea, open-air cafes and alfresco dining. In the north of the country in Porto, it’s warm as opposed to sweltering, with average temperatures hovering around 77°F (25°C). Lisbon is hot and dry, with highs of 82°F (28°C) and no rain to speak of. Down south in the Algarve, there are highs of around the 86°F (30°C) and it’s often as much as you can do to move from one beach to the next.
Bring sunblock and a sunhat to protect from the strong rays (especially on the coast), and be sure to stay well hydrated.
Crowds & Costs
If all you want to do is lounge on the beach, you're going to love the heat of August, but it's less appealing when you’re jostling with huge crowds in the cities. All schools are now vacation and this sends flight prices through the roof and room rates soaring (in some cases, costs are double or even triple what they would be in the low season). Be sure to book well in advance to snag your first choice as the best places are snapped up quickly. It's worth considering that top restaurants and activities may also need to be pre-booked, too, as demand rises. If you’re heading south, make sure your room comes with aircon - you're going to need it.
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Where to Go
If you’re thinking beach, you are not alone. The beach resorts are heaving in August. But if the southern Algarve is too packed, turn your gaze elsewhere—to the north and west Atlantic coast, say, where there there’s still plenty of breathing room and some wonderful sandy, dune-flanked beaches.
As the big cities are at their most crowded and rooms are at a premium, this might be a good time to set your sights further afield for a culture fix. Go north to Coimbra, for instance, where a hilltop medieval center, historic university and rich fado (folk music) heritage await. Or explore alley-woven Braga in the Minho, a highly spiritual city crowned by an incredible Romanesque cathedral (the country’s oldest, dating to 1070).
Or slip away from the masses entirely and make for the mountains, where temperatures are cooler and crowds fewer. The Beiras region is sprinkled with pretty stone-built villages and interwoven with hiking trails. It’s comparatively cool, too, at around 66°F (19°C). Nudging the Spanish border in the north, the Minho is another good off-the-radar bet.
What to Do
Beach days and watersports have never seemed so appealing. That said, popular beaches can get jam-packed. If you’re heading to the Algarve, for instance, you might want to venture to more off-the-radar west-coast beaches, such as cliff-backed, wave-pummeled Praia do Amado and Praia da Arrifana, both surfing meccas. Or head further north to the Costa Verde in the Minho, where Viana do Castelo combines a medieval center with long, golden, dune-fringed sands.
With their low-key vibe, higher elevations and cooler climes, the northern Minho and Beiras are terrific in August. Come for backcountry walks or to road trip from one gloriously sleepy village to the next. Both regions keep a tight grip on shepherding traditions, with farmsteads nestling among meadows and forests of pine and cork oak. Hiking is best in the national parks and nature reserves, and never better than when exploring the granite peaks, hidden lakes and thick forests of Serra da Estrela and Peneda-Gerês.
Noites Ritual Rock Porto gets its groove on in late August for one of the country’s biggest rock festival weekends, with up-and-coming Portuguese bands entertaining the crowds at the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal. Best of all, it’s free!
Festival do Marisco If you like seafood, you’re going to love this gigantic six-day feast in Olhão, the Algarve’s biggest fishing port. Besides deliciously fresh fish and seafood cooked in various guises on grills and in stews, there’s a party vibe and a line-up of live gigs.
Feira de São Mateus Viseu in the Beiras plays host to this massive, month-long fair and festival in honor of St Matthew, with stalls selling crafts and food, fairground rides, fireworks, folk music and big-name concerts.