Geography and Climate in Portugal


Portugal is situated in South Western Europe bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the west of Spain. Portugal is a costal nation with nearly 1800 km of coastline and, including the Azores and Madeira, the country has a total area of about 92,000 sq km of which approximately 91,500 sq km is land and 500 sq km is water.

Portugal has 5 major rivers; The Mondega begins in the Serra da Estrela which are the highest mountains in mainland Portugal. Douro, Miho and the Guadiana all rise in Spain and flow into the Atlantic. The main river the Tagus (Tejo) also originates in Spain and meets the Atlantic near Lisbon and splits the country into two geographically very different areas.

Northern Portugal is mountainous and hilly and characterised by many small farms and vineyards. The regions of the north tend to be a little cooler than the south and also have more rainfall which allows the development of the more fertile agricultural areas that predominate in the north.

To the south the landscape is dominated by rolling hills and plains and the climate is warmer and drier than the north. Southern Portugal is also known as the Alentejo which means “beyond the Tejo”. The far south of the country is the region of the Algarve; a dry and sunny area mostly characterised by fishing and coastal towns, and also a very popular tourist destination.

Portugal’s coastline is widespread with stunning landscape and many fabulous beaches; The Algarve is known worldwide for its fantastic beaches and beautiful coastal line. Another fascinating feature of Portugal’s south coast is the Ria Formosa which is a designated nature reserve of more than 170 sq km with sandy islands and home to numerous different birds during the migratory periods in the spring and autumn.

The coastline in central and northern Portugal is also spectacular; many kilometres of beautiful white sandy beaches set against stunning cliff faces and striking untouched nature.

Climate & Weather

The climate and weather in Portugal is usually excellent, generally being neither too hot nor too cold. Portugal has a diverse climate from north to south and the weather varies considerably from one region to another, but in general Portugal offers warm and sunny summers, mild winters, and autumn and spring are normally warm however with some wind and rainfall.

The winter in Portugal generally starts in late November and lasts till February. March, April and October are normally very mild and the summer period is a nice long period from May to September.

The North

The climate in the Oporto area and further up north is softened by the currents from the Gulf. The summers are sunny and pleasantly warm without becoming sweltering hot. In the regions of Oprto and Beiras, and in particular further inland towards Spain, the winters are colder than in the rest of Portugal; however the temperature is still mild compared to the rest of Europe.

It is possible to experience some snowfall in Portugal; however it is rare and mostly occurs in the Serra da Estrela Mountains in central Portugal where the highest point in mainland Portugal is to be found.

Lisbon and the Silver Coast

The central regions of Portugal including Lisbon and The Silver Coast have a combination of elements from the Mediterranean and Atlantic climate which means mild winters and hot and dry summers. Especially the inner regions of central Portugal can get very hot during the summer with temperatures over 30 degrees, whereas a fresh breeze from the Atlantic cools down the coastal areas.

The Algarve

The southern regions of Portugal and the Algarve have a very dry and stable climate, and are influenced by both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The summers are very hot, however fortunately, and especially in the Algarve, the constant sea breeze helps to keep temperatures at pleasant levels. The southern part of Portugal is probably one of the sunniest places in Europe, even in the winter time, making it a very popular holiday destination.