The best independent guide to Portugal
The best independent guide to Portugal
August is the peak summer holiday season in Portugal.
Portugal is blessed with glorious weather in August, but every beach town will be packed with foreign or Portuguese tourists. To get the most from a Portuguese holiday in August, you must make your plans well in advance, and book flights and accommodation as soon as possible.
If booked earlier enough, you could visit anywhere within Portugal. For a beach holiday there are the lively resort towns of the Algarve, the charming Lisbon Rivera, or the pristine beaches of the Costa de Prata. For beaches that are completely undiscovered by foreign tourists, there is the Alentejo coastline or the Costa Verde to the far north-western of Portugal. For a city break, there is Lisbon or Porto, both of which are fantastic to visit in August.
The high temperatures and packed beach towns mean there are fewer options for a touring holiday in August, but enjoyable routes could include Lisbon to Porto or exploring the far north of Portugal (both of these routes are detailed later in this guide).
This article will provide a guide to Portugal in August, with suggestions for a family holiday, touring ideas and advice on how to get the most from this busy month.
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The weather in August will be hot.
In the Algarve you can expect over 12 hours of sunshine per day, while in Lisbon temperatures will be sizzling, and even Porto will be pleasantly warm. The intense summer sun means that the interior of Portugal will be too hot for sightseeing.
The temperature along the coastal regions of Portugal will often exceed 30C. This is the air temperature measured in the shade - sat on the beach or out in the sun, it will feel much, much hotter!
August is when you will want air-conditioning in your accommodation.
The best Portuguese holiday in August is a week trip to Porto.
During August, everyone heads to the Algarve or Lisbon, and forgets about fascinating Porto. The city boasts many interesting sights, great food, and endless opportunities for port-wine tasing, while having a slightly cooler climate to the rest of Portugal. For a week trip to Porto, there are many enjoyable day trips (Braga, Guimarães and Douro valley), and pristine beaches of the Costa Verde are close by.
If you want a beach holiday in August, we recommend the Alentejo coastline. This region has vast beaches, delightful fishing towns and a much calmer atmosphere than the hectic Algarve. Just make sure you book your accommodation far in advance, as this region is popular with Portuguese tourists.
The Ponte Luís I bridge spanning the Douro River in Porto
The following sections will provide ideas for your Portuguese holiday in August.
The first section provides touring routes that are fantastic for August. The second section details the best beach destinations in Portugal, and includes towns that are ideal for a relaxing, lively or family holiday. The third section provides ideas for a short break to Portugal during August.
With August's glorious weather but packed coastal towns there are limited sensible choices for a touring holiday. The two recommended routes are Lisbon to Porto (1 or 2 weeks) or the north of Portugal.
Lisbon to Porto (2-week route) – Lisbon (4 days) with day trips to Sintra and Cascais - Mafra and Ericeira (1 day) – Peniche and Berlenga islands (1 day) - Obidos and Nazare (1 day) – Tomar and Fatima (1 day) - Coimbra (2 days) with a day trip to the schist villages – Aveiro and Costa Nova (1 day) - Porto (4 days) with day trips to Guimarães and Braga
Lisbon to Porto (1-week route) – Lisbon (1 day) – Sintra (1 day) – Cascais (1 day) – Obidos, Nazare and Batalha monastery (1 day) – Coimbra (1 day) - Porto (1 day) - Guimarães (1 day)
North Portugal tour - Porto (2 days) - Viana do Castelo (2 days) with Vila do Conde on route – Valença & the far northwest coast (1 day) - Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês (Castro Laboreiro and Peneda) 1 day driving tour - Ponte de Lima (1 day) - Braga (1 day) - Guimarães (1day) - Lamego (2 days) with Douro Valley tour along N222 road - additional- Viseu (1 day) – Aveiro and Costa Nova (1 day)
The interactive map below displays these two routes. The green markers show the 'Lisbon to Porto 2-week tour' and the blue markers display the ‘North Portugal tour’ route. (Note: zoom in to see all of the markers)
Lisbon to Porto (2weeks) 1) Lisbon 2) Sintra 3) Cascais 4) Mafra 5) Ericeira 6) Peniche 7) Obidos 8) Nazare 9) Fatima 10) Tomar 11) Coimbra 12) Aveiro 13) Porto - Additional 20) Braga 21) Guimarães 23) Douro Valley
North Portugal 13) Porto 14) Vila do Conde 15) Viana do Castelo 16) Valença 17) Castro Laboreiro (Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês) 18) Peneda (Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês) 19) Ponte de Lima 20) Braga 21) Guimarães 22) Lamego 23) Douro Valley - Additional 24) Viseu 12) Aveiro
Albufeira is an fantastic holiday destintion
A cruise down the picturesque Douro Valley
The university city of Coimbra
(The links in the following section link to in-depth destinations guides.)
Portugal boasts 1,794km of picturesque coastline, lined with beautiful sandy beaches, dramatic scenery and characterful resort towns.
The southern coastline of Portugal is known as the Algarve, and this is the most popular holiday destination for foreign tourists. For an exciting or family holiday, you will want to be based in the central and western Algarve (between Lagos to Vilamoura). This is where all of the waterparks, theme parks, and mega hotel complexes are located.
Albufeira is the largest resort town of this region, and boasts a huge variety of activities and exciting nightlife. Vilamoura is a more exclusive resort town that is centred around a stylish marina and is famed for its golf courses. Lagos is a historic city that is situated on a beautiful stretch of coastline, and provides the perfect blend of Portuguese culture and holiday fun.
If you would prefer a smaller and calmer holiday destination, consider Alvor, Carvoeiro and Olhos de Água. These are all ideal for a family holiday.
Warning: The entire Algarve region will sell-out during the summer season. To get the best prices, you must book flights and accommodation far in advance.
The eastern Algarve is much less developed and hectic than the western Algarve, and the prettiest town in the east is Tavira. Tavira is a traditional Portuguese fishing town and provides a real taste of Portuguese culture.
Our opinion: For a lively holiday go to Albufeira, for a cultural holiday choose Tavira, and for a mix of both styles head to Lagos.
The beautiful western Algarve coastline, this is the Praia dos Careanos just to the west of Praia da Rocha
Atlantic coastline beach resorts
Portugal's western Atlantic coastline offers beautiful beaches and delightful fishing towns, and provides a fantastic alternative to the Algarve. During the summer, the Atlantic coastline is blessed with a cooling summer breeze, and is welcome in the intense summer heat.
Note: August is the holiday season for the Portuguese. Many of the Atlantic coastline beach towns will be busy with Portuguese tourists.
Cascais is the premier resort town of the Lisbon coastline, offering a lively atmosphere, stunning beaches and a real taste of Portuguese culture. Sesimbra is a calmer alternative close to Lisbon, which is a popular choice of destination for Portuguese holidaymakers.
The Atlantic coastline is a world-class surfing destination, and the town of Ericeira is the trendy centre of surfing culture in Portugal. Further north is the delightful town of Nazaré, famed for its massive winter time waves.
To the south of Porto is Costa Nova, a picturesque beachside village with its colourful striped houses. On the Costa Verde is the modern resort town of Povoa de Varzim, which is popular with Porto's residents.
The pristine Alentejo coastline provides some of Portugal's quietest and least visited beaches. Along this coastline are vast sandy beaches and picturesque fishing villages, including Vila Nova de Milfontes, Porto Covo, Zambujeira do Mar and Odeceixe. To the northern side of the Alentejo coastline are the paradise beaches of the Troia Peninsula.
The Alentejo coastline is one of the best-undiscovered regions of Portugal - just avoid Sines, the location of a huge oil and gas port.
The beautiful beach of Nazaré
The pristine and deserted Alentejo coastline – this is the Praia do Almograve close to Vila Nova de Milfontes
The map below displays the location of the best beach resort towns in Portugal – the yellow marks are for the Algarve coastline, and the green pins are for the Atlantic coastline.
Beach holiday destions in the Algarve: 1) Albufeira 2) Vilamoura 3) Lagos 4) Alvor 5) Carvoeiro 6) Olhos de Água 7) Praia da Luz 8) Tavira
Beach holiday destions along Atlantic coastline: 9) Cascais 10) Sesimbra 11) Ericeira 12) Nazaré 13) Costa Nova 14) Povoa de Varzim 15) Foz do Arelho 16) São Martinho do Porto 17) Vila Nova de Milfontes 18) Porto Covo 19) Zambujeira do Mar 20) Troia
If you want a short break, or a weekend away, Portugal makes for a fantastic choice.
Lisbon and Porto are Portugal's two largest cities, and these are popular for short trips. Each offers a vibrant atmosphere, with a huge variety of activities and fascinating sights. They are also within easy reach for many visitors, as each city has its own airport with regular flights to many destinations across Europe.
Porto is the better destination to visit in August. It will be less crowded than Lisbon, with the cooling waters of the Douro River helping to refresh the city.
With three days in Porto, you'll have ample time to explore the historic city centre, enjoy a boat cruise along the Douro River or even try port wine tasting. Day trips from Porto could include Guimarães or Braga.
Lisbon is an amazing city and is always popular during the summer months. During a three-day break in Lisbon, you could visit the Baixa, Alfama and Belem districts. You could also take a day trip to Sintra or spend time relaxing on one of the region's many beautiful beaches.
Another option for a short break, is the Algarve, but you will find that flights and accommodation are expensive if left to the last minute. The resort towns of Albufeira, Vilamoura and Praia da Rocha are ideal for a short dose of sun and holiday fun.
Very few visitors consider Faro as a weekend destination. However, it has a picturesque, historic centre to explore, with day trips to Loule, Olhão, or a visit to the beach at Praia de Faro on offer.
Porto sits on the Douro River and historically boats transported barrels of Port wine to be stored in the huge cellars that line the river
Sintra just outside of Lisbon is the setting of the whimsical Palácio Nacional da Pena