The best independent guide to Portugal
The best independent guide to Portugal
November can be a grey, and dreary month, however a trip to Portugal can provide an exciting holiday and an invigorating dose of winter sun
November is a fantastic month to experience authentic Portugal, to discover a deserted beach in the Algarve, or to explore the many wonderous sights free from tourists.
Visiting Portugal in November does need a bit of planning and some flexibility - as there can be poor weather - but the many positives easily outweigh the unpredictable weather. One of the best points, is that November is the cheapest month to visit Portugal, and the time of year to bag a bargain flight and a heavily discounted luxury hotel.
The pretty town of Obidos will be completely free of tourists in November
Because of the unpredictable and wet weather in November, it is best to visit Lisbon, the Algarve coastline or the far east of the country. The Algarve lies along the southern coastline of Portugal and always has the driest and warmest weather in November.
November is a fantastic month for activity focused holiday in southern Portugal; this could be a round of golf in Vilamoura, hiking along the Rota Vicentina coastline trails, cycling in the eastern Algarve or surfing at Sagres. November is one of the best times of the year for a touring or campervan holiday of southern and eastern Portugal. Vehicle rentals are at their cheapest, the roads will be empty, and there is lots of space in hotels or at campsites.
One of the unique sights in November are the massive waves of Nazaré the coastline. These colossal waves attract daredevil surfers, who surf the 30-meter-high waves, while the town of Nazaré is buzzing with the many spectators who come to watch.
During the winter, the towns along the Algarve coastline have a calm and relaxed atmosphere, and are popular with retirees, long-stay visitors and remote workers. For more exciting holidays, head to the big cities (Lisbon, Porto or Coimbra) with their younger populations and lively year-round nightlife.
This article will provide a guide to Portugal in November and help you get the most from your holiday.
The Algarve will be peaceful and relaxing such as the little village of Ferragudo near Portimão
The weather in Portugal in November is best described as unpredictable, but the weather will definitely be better than in your home country.
Portugal weather in November can be divided into three distinct areas:
• The Algarve – Mild and dry weather, with an equal number of bright sunny days as grey days; there is very little rain.
• Porto and northern Portugal – Cool days, with a high possibility of very heavy rain.
• Lisbon and central Portugal – An unpredictable mix of bright and sunny days and grey days – there will be some wet days.
The Algarve will always have the best weather in November, with the majority of days dry and warm (reaching a maximum of 18C). The weather is not really hot enough for sunbathing or lounging by the pool, and you will need a jacket for the evenings.
Porto and the Douro Valley can be very wet during November, as moisture-laden winds blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean heavy rains fall over the mountainous region. We would not recommend a holiday to northern Portugal during November.
November is a fantastic time of the year for a touring holiday of Portugal. The weather is not to hot for exploring, the popular tourist destinations will be free for tourists, and there can be amazing bargains for accommodation.
Some of the best routes in November include:
1 week in Lisbon - Three days exploring Lisbon and day trips to Sintra, Cascais, Setubal, Sesimbra, Evora or Obidos.
Lisbon and the Algarve - Three days in Lisbon (with a day trip to Sintra), then four days relaxing at Albufeira or Lagos (with possible day trips to Silves and Faro)
Lisbon to Porto - Three days in Lisbon with a day trip to Sintra, then one night in Nazare after seeing Obidos, one night in Tomar, two days in the university city of Coimbra and ending in Porto, with a day trip to Guimarães or Braga (weather depending)
Central and eastern Portugal – Fly into Lisbon (2 nights), then Evora (2 nights), Elvas (1 night), Marvão and Castelo de Vide (in night in either), Monsanto (highlight of the tour 1 night), then the option to visit the Serra da Estrela mountains, Almeida for 2 nights which includes the surrounding region (Trancoso, Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo and Marialva). Drive back to Lisbon, and possibly include Viseu and Coimbra. A rental car is needed.
Tour of the Algarve - Fly into Faro (1 night), 2 nights in pretty Tavira, 2 nights in Albufeira or Vilamoura, and 3 nights in Lagos (with a day trip to Silves). A rental car is not needed for this trip
Madeira – One week based in Funchal with day trips around the island
Below is an interactive map showing the suggested tours and best locations in Portugal for November. The yellow line marks the Lisbon to Porto tour, the green line is the 1 week in Lisbon, the red line is the tour of the Algarve, and the blue line is the tour of eastern Portugal.
Lisbon 1 week (green) 1) Lisbon 2) Sintra 3) Cascais 4) Setubal 5) Sesimbra 6) Obidos
Lisbon to Porto (yellow) 1) Lisbon 2) Nazare 3) Tomar 4) Coimbra 5) Porto
East Portugal (blue) 1) Evora 2) Elvas 3) Marvão 4) Castelo Branco 5) Monsanto 6) Almeida 7) Trancoso
The Algarve (red) 1) Faro 2) Tavira 3) Albufeira 4) Lagos
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 becomes poor, or is 3 hours from Lisbon to Porto if the weather is dry and sunny. Flexible plans are the best way to get the most from a holiday to Portugal in November.
The areas to avoid in November are the Douro Valley, the Serra da Estrela mountains and the northern coastal towns.
The Douro Valley can be very wet in November, and even though there may be bargains for the boat cruises, the (possibly wet) weather makes them not very enjoyable.
The northern coastal towns (north of Costa Nova and Aveiro) experience strong winds, possible rain and are mostly closed down for winter. Many of the Atlantic coastal towns can appear rather gloomy and bleak in November. The exception is Nazare with is extreme surfing and bustling town full of spectators.
The Serra da Estrela mountains can be treacherous to drive through in November, and again best avoided.
There can be some real bargains during November, as hotels slash their prices to attract the few visitors in the country.
One of the best methods to find bargains is to use a hotel comparison websites and only book rooms with free cancelation. This allows you to continue looking for something better, or change your plans if the weather deteriorates.
Insight: There will be more bargains in coastal towns, with fewer in Lisbon or Porto.
Personal opinion: We always recommended visitors to stay in local owned hotels, which employ locals and keeps tourist money within the country. Rental apartments seem appealing but are often owned by forging investors and push up house prices for locals – this is a real problem in Lisbon, Porto and certain areas of the Algarve.
Lisbon is a good option for a European based city break or holiday during November, and this is due to the huge variety that this vibrant city has to offer. For inclement days, there are numerous museums and indoor activities to visit, along with hundreds of trendy bars and stylish restaurants to choose from.
If the sun does show itself, hop on the train to the magical town of Sintra with the whimsical Pena Palace and the ruins of the Moors castle. If it is warm head to the characterful resort town of Cascais or the traditional beach town of Sesimbra.
If the sun shines head to the Pena Palace, which is magical with few tourists about
If it does rain, there is the wonderful oceanarium, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the Calouste Gulbenkian art museum. If it stays wet, head to the artisan area of LX Factory, sample Portugal's finest foods in the Timeout Market and end the day in the trendy bars of the Bairro Alto district.
In the low season, the main tourist attraction will be almost deserted, and you'll be able to visit at your own pace and free from the summer crowds.
Lisbon is fantastic in November, and is our recommended destination.
Related articles: Our Lisbon guide
The Algarve is a fantastic destination in November, so long as you accept that the resort towns will be very quiet, and the weather is not warm enough to sunbathe.
Our advice is to stick to the larger resort towns, such as Albufeira, Lagos, or Vilamoura, which have large permanent populations and will have a decent selection of restaurant and bars open. To experience some Portuguese culture in your holiday, consider being based in the charming town of Tavira or having a day trip to Tavira or having a day trip to Faro or Silves.
November in the Algarve is the time to find a bargain hotel; search the hotel comparison websites to find a last-minute 5-star luxury for the price of 3-star mediocre. We would strongly advise hiring a car so that you can explore the region, and are not just tied to your deserted hotel complex or quiet town.
The western Algarve has lively resort towns and golden cliffs
November is the surfing season in the western Algarve, and the town of Sagres has a great surfing vibe along with some amazing surfing beaches.
Some good ideas for activities in November include hiking along the Praia do Vale de Centeanes trail, joining boat tour from Albufeira or Vilamoura (when the seas are calm!), cycling the quiet roads around Burgau or Tavira
November is a popular season for golfing holidays in the Algarve, there is bright, dry weather but without the intense summer heat – November is also much cheap for golf than in September and October when prices are at their highest. Vilamoura is a good base for a golfing holiday.
Porto is difficult to predict, the weather could be good, or it can be very wet. If it is wet, the city has significantly fewer indoor activities and sights than Lisbon. The main unique in-door experience is Port wine tasting in the many cellars that line the banks of Douro River, and with over 14 different Port cellars, there's a lot of Port tasting!
Our advice: If you are thinking about visiting Porto in November, leave your planning to the last minute, and base your decision on the long-term weather forecast. If it seems wet, head to Lisbon or the Algarve, if its dry book Porto and get yourself a bargain trip!
Related articles: Porto guide
Porto sits on the northern banks of the Douro River