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Portugal Weather & Crowds - Last Week in December

Portugal Weather & Crowds - Last Week in December

Old Jul 16, 17, 12:00 am
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Portugal Weather & Crowds - Last Week in December

Hi, we're thinking of doing a ~8 days in Portugal starting Dec 26th. We'd be looking to see historical/cultural things (Lisbon, Porto, etc.); not looking for resort/beaches.

What's the weather going to be like -- typically and worst case? Curious to get an opinion; I've obviously looked up averages/date online. I'm wondering if lots of rain is likely, making it annoying to see outdoor sites.

(Also, by comparison, is Portugal any better weather in the winter than, say, Rome?)

And how are the crowds during the week between Xmas and New Year's? I know the winter isn't a popular time to visit Portugal, but does tourism spike during this period?

Thanks!

Last edited by LAX_Esq; Jul 16, 17 at 12:11 am
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Old Jul 16, 17, 3:58 pm
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Many winter days Lisbon is wet and when it is wet, it is chilly. The Portuguese will have on their winter coats even when it is only 55 or 60; they think that's cold. 60 is great weather when the sun is out. Porto is colder and so are places like Evora in inland Portugal, even when it isn't wet. A couple of days, I piled on every layer I had - a fleece lined barn jacket, shirt, cashmere pullover, French terry jacket and gloves. That is not a bad list of layers to take.
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Old Jul 16, 17, 9:43 pm
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If you come from LAX, you may find winters wet and cold. Or you could get a good week and have 60s and sunny. Or a mix of. You never know. You need flexibility and build some padding into your plan. Don't plan to fill every minute, because some activities just may not happen as planned.

And don't worry about crowds. It's not as dead as November tourist-wise, but many locals have that time off and therefore rush hour traffic and city traffic and parking are a lot easier than many other weeks. New Years hotels will be busy and quite expensive, though. Count on paying about 3x on New Years weekend than on other days during that period and all of the better properties will sell out for New Years. With New Years Day falling on a Monday, book now for hotels 29-Dec to 02-Jan.
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Old Jul 17, 17, 6:42 pm
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Thanks for the advice. Would it not be unexpected for days in a row of rain? It seems like a lot of the things we might want to do are more outdoors than indoors. Cold is fine if we dress properly, but lots of rain would be annoying I think.

Re the crowds. We mostly travel in the third-world to less traveled places where there are no tour buses. It seems Portugal is less touristed than most of Europe, but I'm not sure what that means.
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Old Jul 18, 17, 5:45 am
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq View Post
Thanks for the advice. Would it not be unexpected for days in a row of rain? It seems like a lot of the things we might want to do are more outdoors than indoors. Cold is fine if we dress properly, but lots of rain would be annoying I think.
Could you get days in a row of rain? Absolutely, it happens, I would say there is a string of 4+ rainy days once or twice per winter. Could you be unlucky and have that occur during you stay? Yes. Is it likely? Not really, you'd have to be unlucky to pick the one or two really bad weeks of winter. Will it happen? Don't know.

Re the crowds. We mostly travel in the third-world to less traveled places where there are no tour buses. It seems Portugal is less touristed than most of Europe, but I'm not sure what that means.
I'm not sure what that means either. But I won't be crowded in December, don't worry about crowds.
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Old Jul 18, 17, 2:02 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq View Post
Hi, we're thinking of doing a ~8 days in Portugal starting Dec 26th. We'd be looking to see historical/cultural things (Lisbon, Porto, etc.); not looking for resort/beaches.
Good, because it definitely won't be beach weather (though we do sometimes get a weird week or two in February where it's beach weather).

What's the weather going to be like -- typically and worst case? Curious to get an opinion; I've obviously looked up averages/date online. I'm wondering if lots of rain is likely, making it annoying to see outdoor sites.
Worst case: +10C daytime highs with rain - miserable humid weather. If your hotel doesn't have heating, then it'll be cold inside too (which is why I hate winter in Portugal - no central heating and inside is colder than outside during the day).

Best case: +22C with the sun out (down to +14C at night).

You're likely to experience something closer to best case than to worst case.

(Also, by comparison, is Portugal any better weather in the winter than, say, Rome?)
They're comparable.

And how are the crowds during the week between Xmas and New Year's? I know the winter isn't a popular time to visit Portugal, but does tourism spike during this period?
If you had asked me that 2 years ago, I would have responded - zero crowds. Now - things have really changed. Expect there to be a good number of tourists, but don't expect it to be overcrowded.
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Old Jul 18, 17, 2:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Palal View Post
If you had asked me that 2 years ago, I would have responded - zero crowds. Now - things have really changed. Expect there to be a good number of tourists, but don't expect it to be overcrowded.
Great advice, Palal. What changed? Any sense of what the crowd situation would be like, relatively, in Portugal vs. Rome/Florence during the post-XMas week.
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Old Jul 18, 17, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq View Post
What changed?
LIS has seen huge growth in tourism over recent years. I'd say mainly just a matter of word belatedly spreading about how great it is for a city break.

Meanwhile, holiday resorts in Portgual, along with those in Spain, have seen major growth in flight capacity over the past few years, sadly due to the demand shift away from Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia because of terrorism.
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Old Jul 19, 17, 11:23 am
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
LIS has seen huge growth in tourism over recent years. I'd say mainly just a matter of word belatedly spreading about how great it is for a city break.

Meanwhile, holiday resorts in Portgual, along with those in Spain, have seen major growth in flight capacity over the past few years, sadly due to the demand shift away from Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia because of terrorism.
That.
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Old Jul 19, 17, 3:52 pm
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Thanks again, all.

Would a road trip around Portugal, say from Porto to Faro, be safe and pleasant at this time? Worried about fog, slippery roads, etc. Also concerned about driving in the dark with the limited daylight hours if we don't get to our destinations in time...

Also, how would the crowds be outside of LIS?

Last edited by LAX_Esq; Jul 19, 17 at 3:58 pm
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Old Jul 19, 17, 9:13 pm
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Again, crowds in LIS in December will be nothing like in the summer, so you should be ok.

Roads (both national highways and the toll freeways) are of better quality than what we have in California. Fog does happen in the winter (nasty super humid stuff), and it generally occurs around dawn and burns off relatively quickly. Slippery roads - like anywhere else - slow down and you'll be fine.

You only have a week - Porto to Faro is a lot of ground to cover in that time and have enough time to see things.

If you do take a road trip - look into staying at pousadas.
Also - make sure any hotel that you consider staying at has heating.
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Old Jul 20, 17, 12:08 pm
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If I were doing 8 days and wanted to include Porto, I would fly into Porto for 2 nights, then take the train to Lisbon. In Lisbon, I've stayed at the Sheraton and the York House, total opposites, both excellent. I would not stay all my nights in Lisbon itself, I would split it up with nearby cozy Cascais and rent a car to see the coast and maybe go to Sintra. I would spend a couple of nights at the 3 star Pestana Cascais for the balcony with seaview, spacious rooms and free parking. (Pestana is just an average clean and comfortable hotel but it is a great value because of the wonderful sea view and heated indoor pool). Alternatively if you like B and B's Cascais abounds, and I recommend the wonderful Pergola House in the heart of the old town. Also from Lisbon, I would do an overnight sidetrip to Evora (90 minutes) to see the bone chapel and stay overnight at the SPG Convento de Espinheira, especially if I had Starwood points to burn. Faro I would not do in the dead of winter unless I were a pensioner wintering over.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 9:14 pm
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Would it follow that queues to get through immigration at LIS will be shorter at that time of year?
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Old Oct 5, 17, 5:29 am
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Originally Posted by jc3187 View Post
Would it follow that queues to get through immigration at LIS will be shorter at that time of year?
Too early to tell. They have changed the LIS immigration layout and flow significantly since last year, and the traffic flow into LIS has been increasing quite rapidly as well. There are also some lingering labor disputes between immigration officers and their boss (the government), and that impacts the speed at which work is done -- or the diligence put into the work. There is no past experience yet with the combination of new layout, December volume of traffic and current labor situation, to be able to guess the lines.
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Old Oct 8, 17, 1:19 am
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Originally Posted by CaptainMiles View Post
Too early to tell. They have changed the LIS immigration layout and flow significantly since last year, and the traffic flow into LIS has been increasing quite rapidly as well. There are also some lingering labor disputes between immigration officers and their boss (the government), and that impacts the speed at which work is done -- or the diligence put into the work. There is no past experience yet with the combination of new layout, December volume of traffic and current labor situation, to be able to guess the lines.
Thanks for your response. Are there Priority queues for First/Business travellers? (Specifically, I'll be arriving on Turkish from Istanbul).
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