As per the Reuters and the tourism board of Lisbon, there was about 12-18% increase in the number of tourists visiting Portugal in 2017 as compared to the previous year. This means that destinations are becoming more and more crowded and accommodation costs are going up. What else does this mean? During high season, it will be difficult to find an empty spot on Algarve beaches. Jerónimos Monastery in Belem will have long queues. Lisbon’s Tram 28 will have never-ending lines. So how are you going to enjoy your visit to Portugal?
Traveling Portugal during the off-season might be a good solution for this. It comes with some pros and cons. I have discussed below these points which will help you make a decision.
Portugal is one of the warmest European countries. Winters are mild, rainy and windy with frequent sunny days. The temperature in the coastal regions ranges between 8-15C. This is not a comfortable temperature for sea bathing and beach time. Beaches will remain empty all day. This can be the best opportunity for nature photographers to capture the beautiful colors of the skies during sunsets. This will be a perfect time for mountaineering as well. One can enjoy hiking without much sweating and summertime sunburns.
I guess the food prices will remain the same throughout the year. The main difference will be evading the waiting time in the restaurants and availability of fresh foods. It is also possible that some of the popular restaurants may take a break for a few weeks. You may miss some specific delicious food. Why not use this fact as an opportunity to uncover other authentic local eateries?
The accommodation prices during offseason, lower considerably. Sometimes, one can find great deals which may not be in a range during peak season. Having said that, some hotels shut down during the off-season for maintenance. The plus point is that the demand for accommodation is also reduced.
The transport prices will remain the same but the travel will be more relaxed. Trains and buses do run on a regular schedule. Most of the boat tours aren’t operating and ferries will have fewer trips.
If you want to rent a car and enjoy driving around, the empty roads will be one of your preferences. Off season means no more traffic jams, at least on the highways. Having said that, I insist that larger cities like Lisbon or the hilly Sintra are best explored by public transport than by car. This Portugal road trip can be useful to plan your itinerary. Offseason may also get you best deals on rental cars.
Most of the attractions are open throughout the year. The opening timings may vary according to the season. Winter sees reduced opening hours. The key benefit of visiting Portugal during the off-season is to escape the long queues for museums and other monuments. You can save a lot of time and make most out of your stay in Portugal.
If you can manage to visit Portugal during February month, you can enjoy a spectacular Carnival.
Who should visit Portugal during the off-season?
The off-season spans from late fall to early spring. This is not a good time for beach lovers. All the seawater activities like snorkeling, Dolphin watching, wave surfing etc. won’t be feasible. Do you enjoy the nightlife? Some bars may remain closed during offseason. For all such travelers, I would suggest dodging off-season. It won’t work for you.
Then who should visit Portugal during offseason?
The empty beaches, the bare hiking trails are definitely alluring to trekkers and nature photographers. The history geeks have a chance to visit the museums with a peacetime. Those, who like to have deep insights into the cultures and heritage, can enjoy local festivals without many touristic interventions. Locals are also welcoming and will warmly include you in their celebrations.
How about families with kids?
If kids have an interest in nature walks and admiring scenery (I know, it can be boring to kids), I will highly recommend visiting Portugal during the off-season. If you prefer beach activities with kids, better choose the summer time. In this case, do not forget to pack lots of sun-screen. 🙂