The peak summer months in Portugal are July and August when travellers flock from around Europe to enjoy hot weather and the country’s many beach destinations. Here’s a look at some of the best places to visit during summer in Portugal including some of the lesser known, off the beaten path destinations as well as some of the most popular.
10 places to visit in summer in Portugal
One of the best destinations in the Algarve, Lagos has a little bit of everything with a lively old town set in a coastal area of spectacular cliffs which separate some fantastic sandy beaches that look out onto the Atlantic. There are plenty of options when it comes to exploring the surroundings by foot or mountain bike, but you can also easily just spend your days relaxing on the beach.
Lagos is a small city with more character and history than some of the other resort towns in the Algarve such as Albufeira, but it also has a party atmosphere throughout the summer months and attracts a mixture of backpackers and budget travellers, as well as Northern Europeans on their summer holidays.
Portugal’s second city can be a cold and often wet place for much of the year which makes the summer the ideal time to visit. June to August are the driest and sunniest months but average highs only reach around 25 degrees Celsius, making it more bearable than more southerly destinations for those who don’t like extreme heat.
Porto is compact enough that it’s easy to explore on foot but large enough that it has plenty to see and do. It is perched high on both flanks of the Douro River and is of course famous for the production of port with no shortage of port houses offering tours and free samples.
Sintra-Cascais Natural Park
Situated to the west of the capital, many visitors come here on a day-trip from Lisbon but during the summer months, you may prefer to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, for a more relaxing stay in natural surroundings.
Home to rare animals and wildlife, the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park hugs the coast but also features some higher peaks with the historic town of Sintra located in the hills which provide a welcome respite from the summer heat.
Back down to the Algarve, one of the hottest parts of Europe, for another excellent place to head to during summer time in Portugal. Tavira is a pretty riverside town, located to the east of Faro and not too far from the Spanish border. It offers a slightly quieter and more traditional environment than some of the more tourist-geared towns in the Algarve or beach destinations in Spain and acts as a great base for exploring the surrounding area.
Highlights nearby include the Ria Formosa Natural Park and Tavira Island which is served by boats from the town and includes a wide selection of quiet beaches, some of which are naturist.
Costa da Caparica
This is another destination that can easily be visited from Lisbon and many residents of the Portuguese capital escape the city at the weekend to hit the beaches of the Costa da Caparica.
It’s a 26 km stretch of sandy beaches which are popular with surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers. Locals claim it has something of a micro-climate, meaning even if you come during another time of year and avoid the hottest Portugal summer weather, you may still find it pleasant enough to hit the beach here.
The Portuguese capital can be visited at any time of year in truth but a summer trip pretty much guarantees you will experience warm weather which greatly increases your options after dark when the city’s nightlife scene spills out into the streets of the Bairro Alto neighbourhood.
Lisbon is a great city to unwind in with many squares, waterfronts and rooftop bars and restaurants and it is pleasantly affordable compared to most Western European capital cities with Portugal a relatively cheap destination by regional standards.
Sagres is another great spot on the Algarve which is home to many of the cheapest beach towns in Portugal. It takes a bit more effort to get here, with the sea-facing Sagres Fortress, located on the very southwestern tip of mainland Europe.
It is only home to around 2,000 inhabitants but there are a number of accommodation options to suit all budgets and there are several beaches that are more likely to be spared the summer crowds than those further east which are closer to the Algarve’s main airport in Faro where most visitors fly in and out of.
Another of the best places to visit in Portugal in July and August, particularly if you are a surfer, is Nazare. Giant waves routinely crash into the shores of the town which is situated roughly halfway up Portugal’s Western Coast, roughly 120 km to the north of Lisbon.
There’s a real taste of history and tradition here too in what has been described as the “most typically Portuguese town”. Its roots are deeply connected with fishing and the sea and you can still at times see old fishmongers wearing the distinctive “seven skirts of Nazare”.
Peneda-Geres National Park
The only true National Park in Portugal, Peneda-Geres is located in the far north of the country, bordering the Spanish province of Galicia. It is full of beautiful landscapes, rivers, waterfalls and gentle hills making it a great hiking destination.
There’s not a huge amount of accommodation but there are plenty of campsites and the summer is definitely the best time for that with cold night-time temperatures during much of the year.
This is something of a leftfield option with few visitors to Portugal opting to spend long in Setubal but it’s a good option for anyone who prefers cities but wants to avoid the obvious destinations.
Setubal is a port city but boasts a pretty old centre with narrow streets and plenty of places to enjoy a good meal or a drink. It’s also just a short boat ride across to a peninsula of long sandy beaches and extensive nature reserves.
Portugal’s Most Popular Destinations
The Algarve is Portugal’s best known holiday destination but the Lisbon region did typically attract more international visitors in the years prior to the pandemic according to Statista. Despite a cooler climate, Northern Portugal is gaining in popularity though with Porto a rising travel destination for short breaks in Europe. You can also easily do a big route through Portugal from south to north or vice-versa and the country features in our rundown of the best backpacking trips around the world.
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The picture has slightly changed since Covid-19. While overall international visitor numbers were still down, 2021 saw more people visit the Algarve than Lisbon with beach and nature trips more popular than city breaks. Around 2.24 million people travelled from abroad to the Algarve in 2021 with 2022 expected to see things return closer to the levels we saw in 2019 (outlined in the table above). We haven’t featured Madeira in this article and it is widely viewed as a winter sun and particularly a new year destination.
For those looking for an extended stay in Portugal in August or July, there are work exchange options with Worldpackers (see our Worldpackers Guide to know more). They have 160 opportunities at the time of writing and placements will be easier to secure than more typical summer jobs in Portugal.
This article was last updated in July 2022.