The rains of spring are fizzling out and things are getting hotter across the country, with plenty of dry, sunny days to enjoy. In the north of the country, Porto is seeing highs of 54°F (68°C), though some showers are still to be expected, so go prepared. It’s balmier and drier still as you move further south to Lisbon, where highs are notching 72°F (22°C) and there are just five days of rain to contend with. Beach days are looking more inviting in the Algarve in Portugal’s south, where temperatures are now hitting up to 72°F (25°C).
Crowds & Costs
It’s time to swap coats and sweaters for shorts and T-shirts: summer is slowly but steadily on its way, and Portugal is looking at its radiant best. Easter has been and gone and the crowds that came with it, too. Avoid the final week in May (Whitsun school vacation time in Europe) and you’ll find things still fairly quiet, with good deals to be had on accommodation and flights.
The season is in full swing, and summer opening hours at sights and attractions in the cities and at Unesco World Heritage sites are kicking in, giving you more flexibility when it comes to exploring. Atlantic coast resorts in the west and the Algarve in the south are picking up, with most hotels and restaurants now open for business.
Where to go
May is a great all-rounder of a month and the drier weather opens up opportunities for exploring all over the country. For a culture fix, you could spend a few days museum-hopping around the historic, tram-filled, alley-woven centers of capital Lisbon, riverside Porto and upbeat university city, Coimbra (come for the Queima das Fitas).
Or delve into the backcountry to mix a little sightseeing with outdoor activities like hiking and cycling. You could head east of Porto to the Douro, say, a phenomenally beautiful wine region (producing excellent reds and port wines) with steep, terraced vineyards to stroll and romantic quintas (farmstays) where you can spend the night. The rural Alentejo, further south, is an enticing alternative for a late-spring road trip, with whitewashed towns brimming with medieval history, and fertile countryside producing some of Portugal’s best food.
What to do
It’s nice and warm but still not overly hot, so perfect if you fancy heading for the hills for a few days hiking the trails in some of the country’s national parks, such as the Serra da Estrela, where Portugal’s highest peaks rise above meadows, pristine lakes and traditional farmsteads, or the granite boulder-dotted mountains and peaceful pine forests Peneda-Gerês National Park up north.
Chilled west coast beaches with big waves like Peniche and Ericeira are hotting up, as is the Algarve in the south, where it’s now warm enough for beach days (if not yet swimming in the still-chilly Atlantic) and coastal hikes.
Queima das Fitas During the first week in May, the medieval town of Coimbra, home to the country’s oldest university (dating to 1290), becomes one gigantic party, as students celebrate the end of the academic year with parades, concerts and all-round merrymaking.
Festa das Cruzes In early May, Barcelos (legendary home of Portugal’s iconic rooster) celebrates the massive ‘Festival of the Crosses’, with concerts, folk dancing, exhibitions, food, and craft markets.
Festa do Mar An ode to the sea, this festival brings colorfully decorated boats and floats to the west coast town of Nazaré on the first weekend in May, as well as parties that are a feast of local food and drink.
Serralves em Festa On the last weekend in May, Porto hosts its biggest contemporary arts festival, with exhibitions, concerts and theatre across the city.