Autumn is a very romantic, unique and enigmatic season in Portugal. The vegetation changes color, bringing cozy vibes, the days are still quite warm and sunny, and you can enjoy the outside without that scorching, stifling heat. Beaches and restaurants become less crowded and packed, and seasonal cuisine focuses more on stews and soups than light meals. The autumn colors completely transform the natural landscapes, giving it an almost magical, fairy-tale atmosphere. Here, we will show you all the perks of visiting Portugal in the fall.
The pleasant weather and plenty of hours of sunshine
If you prefer to avoid high temperatures and crowds, autumn is a great time to visit Portugal. The Mediterranean climate is mild and temperate, with average temperatures around 20ºC, although it can get a bit colder in late autumn. The truth is that because of these less extreme and quite moderate temperatures, you can see and do more during the day. Especially during the velvet season, you can enjoy the beaches as well. It is also the perfect time to explore, for example, the national parks and natural surroundings, and to take long walks and some photos. It is a great time to explore the Portuguese villages and towns further inland as well.
The evenings can get a little chilly – nothing a good coat won’t solve. In the islands of Madeira and Azores, the temperatures are still very pleasant as well. Another advantage of visiting Portugal in the fall is that there are still plenty of sunny hours to enjoy. Autumn, a transitional season, lasts from September 23 to December 21, with the longest and warmer days occurring between September and October, and sometimes even in November (the famous São Martinho summer, which occurs at the time of Saint Martin's Day, November 11).
The different and unique landscape
When autumn arrives, the landscapes begin to change. Nature takes on new colors ranging from brown, orange, gold, red and green, and the landscapes take on a mystical aura. Walking outside and contemplating the new tones that come with the velvet season is a very pleasant activity. Some landscapes are particularly enchanting, such as the Douro region, Sintra, Arrábida, Serra da Estrela, São Miguel Island in the Azores or Gerês, just to name a few examples. This season invites you to discover all the landscapes with new colors, new smells and a new essence, as it is the case in the natural parks and the mountain regions. You can explore the most enchanting corners on foot or even by bike - the only important thing is to take a moment to admire the dazzling landscape that surrounds you.
The harvest season
The end of summer marks the beginning of harvest season! The harvest season is officially opened between September and October. It is one of the oldest and most traditional activities related to viticulture in our country. The grapes are ready to be harvested, which is a time-consuming work that brings joy and conviviality. In the vineyards, you can see many people with wicker baskets picking the grapes with their hands or with the help of scissors. It is still an annual ritual marked by conviviality, celebration and merriment. This is a more traditional activity in the north of Portugal, especially in the Douro region, although this tradition can also be found in other regions of the country, such as the Alentejo. In fact, the landscapes of the wine-growing regions are absolutely breathtaking, especially at harvest time. At the various farms, wineries and cellars scattered throughout Portugal, you can visit the cellar and facilities, do great wine tastings and even, who knows, participate in a harvest day! During this time of year, you can participate in a variety of activities. You may have the opportunity to work with local workers and help with the winemaking process - for example, treading the grapes. This is undoubtedly a unique and very traditional experience that must be booked many months in advance.
The perfect time to enjoy the emptier beaches
As the hot season is over and many people end their vacations and return to work, the beaches become less crowded and emptier, which is perfect for those looking for quieter places without the hustle and bustle of summertime. There are even Portuguese who choose to holiday in the fall to enjoy the cooler days. The Algarve region, for example, becomes less crowded and more inviting to those who prefer to stay away from the summer fuss. Plus, the temperatures are still perfect to enjoy the sun. You can take the opportunity to go to the beach or just take pleasant walks by the sea, while enjoying the local cuisine and visiting the most emblematic places without the scorching heat.
The seasonal cuisine
The lower fall temperatures call for warmer and more robust dishes – the so-called comfort foods. There are several foods that only appear at this time, and there are more hearty dishes that taste especially good. This is the case with the cozido à portuguesa, a much-loved dish, typical of São Miguel Island, in the Azores, but also found in many restaurants in mainland Portugal. It is a comfort food that will warm everyone’s soul! It mainly consists of various types of meat, such as beef, pork and chicken, as well as sausages, vegetables, potatoes and rice.
Another dish that is ideal for this time of year is the francesinha, a traditional Porto dish, perfect for meat lovers (although nowadays there are vegetarian versions as well). Many people also prefer stews and soups in the fall. For dessert, there is nothing better than a baked apple with sugar and cinnamon. The most typical autumn ingredients include pumpkin, pomegranate, persimmon and sweet potatoes. In the streets of big cities like Lisbon and Porto, you can often see vendors selling delicious roasted chestnuts, which are also available at this time of year and are a great complement to the less hot days. Walking through the streets, you can smell the chestnuts at every corner.
The hot springs and thermal baths
Since the climate is milder, this is the perfect time to enjoy the various spas and boiling springs that exist in Portugal. In Vidago, for example, you can enjoy the waters with healing properties that are even used in health programs. In the 19th century, it was the preferred spa of the nobility. Also in the Azores, more precisely on São Miguel Island, there are several hot springs where you can relax in the warm water after a day of sightseeing. Poça da Dona Beija or Terra Nostra Park are good places to enjoy the hot thermal baths while admiring the lush vegetation of the surroundings. In Gerês, you will also find excellent spas where you can enjoy a therapeutic massage with the unique mineralized water of the region, perfect for stress relief. And these are just a few examples of the many hot springs you can find in Portugal!