The best independent guide to Portugal
The best independent guide to Portugal
In the grey and dreary month of November, Portugal is a fantastic destination to visit for a dose of winter sun or as a city break.
Careful planning and flexible plans are needed to get the most from a Portugal trip in November, as there can be poor weather, but there are many good reasons to visit in November. The popular tourist attractions will be free of the summertime crowds, accommodation will be at its least expensive, and the resort towns are calm and relaxing.
November is the start of the season when the massive waves are formed along the Nazaré coastline. These waves can reach up to 30m and attract daredevil surfers from around the world – a true spectacle to behold.
Surfing one of the 25m+ waves, as viewed from the Sitio headland in Nazaré
During the late autumn and early winter, the average age of the visitors to Portugal increases, and there is a much more calm and relaxed atmosphere about the resort towns. The big cities (Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra) have fewer tourists but are lively year-round as they all have young populations.
The Algarve is a good location for some winter sun, and is considerably drier and warmer than the rest of the country. The weather of the Algarve is pleasant (max 18C) but is not really suitable for spending all day on the beach or sunbathing next to the pool.
The island of Madeira is also a good choice to visit in November. This is regarded as the wet season, but the Gulf Stream keeps it mild (max 21C), and most of the rain falls on the northwestern side, away from Funchal and the main tourist area.
The weather in Portugal in November is best described as unpredictable, but it will be certainly better than the majority of mainland Europe!
Portugal has three distinct weather areas during November; the wet and cooler north, the mild and pleasant Algarve southern coastline, and the variable central region, which includes Lisbon.
1 week in Lisbon. Three days exploring Lisbon and day trips to Sintra, Setubal, Cascais, Evora and Obidos.
Lisbon and the Algarve. Three days 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)
Tour of The Algarve. One night in Faro, two in Tavira, two nights in Albufeira and three in Lagos.
Madeira – one week based in Funchal with day trips around the island when the weather is dry.
Below is an interactive map the showing the suggested tours and best locations in Portugal for November. The yellow line is 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 route visiting the east of Portugal.
The areas to truly avoid are the Douro valley, Serra da Estrela mountains and the northern resort 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 enjoyable.
The northern coastal towns (north of Costa Nova and Aveiro) experience strong winds, possible rain and are mostly closed down for winter. They can appear rather gloomy and bleak in November.
Driving in the Serra da Estrela mountains is treacherous in November, and is before the snow falls in late December when it is possible to ski.
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.
If it does rain, there is the wonderous oceanarium, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Calouste Gulbenkian art museum or a ride on the number 28 tram. If it stays wet, head to the artisan area of Lxfactory, then taste Portugal’s finest foods in the Timeout Market, before ending the day in trendy underground bars of the Bairro Alto district.
In the low season, there will be no queues for the major tourist attractions and your experience won’t be ruined by selfie-taking want-be influencers or coach loads of Chinese tourists.
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 that you accept that the resort towns will be very quiet, and the beaches are not warm enough for all-day sunbathing.
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 the stunning Praia do Vale de Centeanes hiking trail, a coastline boat tour from Albufeira or Vilamoura, 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. Vilamoura is always a good base for a golfing holiday.
Porto is difficult to predict, the weather could be good, or it can be very wet. And if it is wet, the city has significantly less indoor activities and sights than Lisbon. The main unique in-door experience is Port tasting in the vast cellars that line the banks of Douro river, and with over 14 different cellars there’s a lot of Porto tasting!
If it is dry head to pretty Guimaraes, which is regarded as the birthplace of Portugal, or hire a car and venture up the Douro valley.
Our advice: If you are thinking about visiting Porto in November, leave the 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