The best independent guide to Portugal
The best independent guide to Portugal
February in Portugal is a mixed bag. This is the low season, and the weather is unpredictable, but there are bargains to be found and tourist attractions will be less busy.
To get the most from a holiday to Portugal in February, flexible plans are needed due to the variability of the weather. You could be lucky and experience a spell of bright sunny weather, or it could equally be grey and very wet.
Fortunately, Portugal has three distinct weather zones: the North, Central Portugal, and the Algarve. If one area is wet (often Porto and northern Portugal), another area will likely be dry (usually the Algarve). As February is the low season, there is no need to book accommodation far in advance, as all hotels will have availability.
February may be the low season, however the main cities (Lisbon and Porto) are fully open and vibrant, while the larger resort towns of the Algarve (Lagos, Albufeira, and Vilamoura) welcome a steady flow of visitors. Late winter makes for a wonderful time for a touring holiday of southern and central Portugal, provided that you keep the idea of flexibility at the forefront of your plans.
February is certainly not the best time of year to visit Portugal (June is the best month), but the country still enjoys some of the best weather in mainland Europe. If you’re prepared for a bit of a risk regarding the weather, this is also an opportune time to discover Portugal’s iconic sights and cities without the tourist crowds.
Advice: When planning a holiday to Portugal in February, try to avoid looking at glossy summertime images of beaches, or social media influencers’ photos. Portugal will not look like that. Only recently has Portugal been marketed as a year-round holiday destination, and it comes as a shock to many non-European tourists that Portugal has a winter.
• Learn to surf or advance your skills at Ericeira.
• Experience the authentic side of vibrant Lisbon, free from the summertime crowds.
• Enjoy a Valentine’s Day holiday to Lisbon or Porto and wow your partner with discounted luxury.
• Take a golfing holiday to one of the many world-class courses in the Algarve.
• Tour the Alentejo region, with its many traditional towns such as Evora, Elvas and Marvão.
• Hike along the stunning Alentejo coastline and the Rota Vicentina or Seven Hanging Valleys in the Algarve.
• Marvel at the daredevil surfers who ride the 30m waves at Nazare (this is weather dependent!).
• Discover the whimsical palaces and impressive 19th century villas of Sintra.
While February is still low season, the days are getting longer and the temperature is generally mild.
The weather is unpredictable, with possible rain blown in from the Atlantic Ocean, but it tends to fall over the north of the country more than the south.
This gives Portugal three distinct micro-climates during February. The wet and cooler north, the variable but temperate central region (including Lisbon) and the mild and pleasant Algarve.
This is the month to have fluid plans. If it’s sunny and dry, head to Porto and northern Portugal, where you may be the only tourists in places like Lamego, Guimaraes or the Douro Valley.
If there’s the potential of light rain in central Portugal, then head to the Algarve, which is always warmer and drier than the rest of the country. In February, stick to the larger resort towns (Lagos, Albufeira, Faro or Vilamoura), as the smaller ones (like Alvor, Armação de Pêra and Olhos de Água) almost entirely shut down for the winter.
If the entire country is wet, then focus on Lisbon or Porto, where there are many indoor sights and activities, along with varied dining and nightlife options. If it is a spell of very wet weather, avoid the Algarve, as there is nothing worse than being confined to a hotel with nothing much to do.
In summary, rigid plans can cause issues in February.
The Ponte Luís I bridge spanning the Douro River in Porto
February may be the low season, but there are many good reasons to visit Portugal during this time of the year. The main tourist attractions will be almost deserted, there are outstanding deals to be found on accommodation, and the resort towns have a relaxed atmosphere.
Our suggested tours of Portugal in February include:
• 1 week in Lisbon: Three days exploring Lisbon and day trips to Sintra, Setubal, Cascais, Evora and Obidos.
• Tour of the Algarve: One night in Faro, two in Tavira, two nights in Albufeira and three in Lagos.
• Lisbon and the Algarve: Three days in Lisbon, then four days relaxing at Albufeira or Lagos.
• Lisbon to Porto: Two days in Lisbon, Sintra day trip, the central region for two days (Nazare, Obidos, Tomar and Coimbra) and two days in Porto.
• Castles and forts of eastern Portugal: Evora, Elvas, Marvão, Castelo Branco, Monsanto, Almeida, Trancoso (this route needs a car).
• Madeira: One week based in Funchal, with day trips around the island when the weather is dry.
Advice: If you are considering the tours that include Lisbon and Porto, make sure that your plans are flexible in case there is poor weather.
Below is an interactive map the showing the suggested tours and best locations in Portugal for February. The yellow line is the Lisbon to Porto tour (1), the red line is the tour of the Algarve (2), the green line is the 1 week in Lisbon (4), the , and the blue line is the route visiting the east of Portugal (5).
Insight: Portugal is a relatively small country and has an excellent express train network. It takes only 2.5 hours to travel from Lisbon to the Algarve if the weather deteriorates, or 3 hours from Lisbon to Porto if there is a spell of sunny weather.
The Algarve is the best destination to fly directly into for a February break. The region has a slightly higher average temperature (18C), is relatively dry, and tourists can get the most out of the sunshine.
It is wise to stick to larger resort towns, such as Albufeira, Lagos and Tavira, for the best choice of accommodation, restaurants and tourist amenities, but the smaller coastal towns are still worth exploring in the daytime.
February is also a great month to enjoy the historically rich cities of Silves and Faro without the tribes of tourists.
Sea temperatures and a frequent coastal breeze limit sunbathing in February; however, the vast beaches and rugged coastline are delightful to roam, hike, or bike along. While February is ahead of springtime, the scenery is particularly lush, and it is a good time for nature-watching and boat trips to see the dolphins.
February is carnival season too, and whilst these events should not be the focal point of the trip, those within the Algarve might also consider heading to Loule to experience the carnival.
The beautiful western Algarve coastline, this is the Praia dos Careanos just to the west of Praia da Rocha
Golfing in the Algarve in February
February is considered off-peak season for tourism in the Algarve, which means golfers can enjoy lower green fees compared to the busier spring and summer months.
Within the resorts of Vilamoura, Lagos and the exclusive Quito de Lago (Eastern Algarve), golf tourists can expect discounted green fares and a wide availability of tee times without needing planning.
Surfing in Ericeira in February offers a distinct experience for avid surfers. This time of year, the Atlantic Ocean brings consistent, powerful swells to Ericeira, a renowned surfing town and location of the World Surfing Reserve. The cooler water temperatures require a good wetsuit, but surfers are rewarded with less crowded spots and challenging waves.
Ericeira's varied coastline offers a range of surf spots suitable for different skill levels, from beginners to advanced. The town itself, with its traditional charm and surf culture, adds to the unique surfing experience during this winter month.
Lisbon is a picturesque and romantic city to explore at Valentine’s. The proximity and ease of getting to/from the airport into the historic centre means it is perfect for a weekend getaway that needs little coordination. Flights and hotel prices also plummet, meaning that the luxury hotels and central hotspots are affordable.
For an instant wow factor, aim to stay close to Rossio Square or within Barro Altero and get a room with a view over the city. This location is home to some of the prettiest boutique hotels, which will have very good deals in February.
Top romantic experiences include a sunset stroll or cocktail along the banks of the Tejo River. Opt to dine along the Avenida Ribeira das Naus for a fine selection of restaurants. Alternatively, take a sunset boat trip from Terreiro to Paco.
For added romance, book a day trip to magical Sintra to see the Penna Palace, which looks particularly striking and Gothic on an overcast day. Sintra is easily accessible via a 40-minute picturesque train journey, which departs from Rossio Station.
Sintra just outside of Lisbon is the setting of the whimsical Palácio Nacional da Pena
The geographical orientation of Porto makes it a beautiful city for a romantic escape. However, planning for some rain and packing an umbrella and jacket is vital.
To ensure romance, aim to stay in the medieval Ribeira District. This charming area is characterised by narrow alleyways with colourful buildings that house restaurants, cafes and shops, which are perfect for exploring on foot.
Top romantic highlights include an afternoon/evening tour of the wonderful Porto houses, followed by a picturesque sunset from Jardim do Morro.
Over ten different Port houses offer tours, and all are equally fun, interesting and worthwhile. Our top recommendations are Ferreira, Calem or Real Companhia Velha.
For a quick guide to the best parts of Porto to enjoy on a short break, click here.
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
Portugal in February has unpredictable weather conditions. Whilst Lisbon and the Algarve experience some of the best weather compared to other European destinations, it is still wise to be realistic when planning and packing.
As average temperatures in February are mild, but weather patterns are unpredictable, it is recommended to pack clothing that can be layered. Packable raincoats are wise for protecting from the rain, especially on breezy days.
While the weather may feel warm to tourists, remember that this is still a cold month for the Portuguese, and it is wise to choose clothing accordingly to avoid standing out.
UV levels in February are generally low, but for those with sensitivity to the sun, it is always wise to pack suncream, a hat and sunglasses. These items can be surprisingly expensive and hard to find out of season.