Believe it or not, Portugal can get cold. Winter in Portugal means less daylight and a little more rain. Everyone digs out their beanie hats and jumpers, keeping warm with traditional soups and broths with the same happy smiles that radiate throughout the summer months. So, where are the coldest places in Portugal?
Winter is always nicer on the Algarve; average temperatures in the winter months get as low as 2ºC (36ºF) at night, but still reaching 20ºC (68ºF) during the day. However, there are many other places that aren’t quite this pleasant throughout the year. Snow does fall, but only in the coldest places in Portugal, so skiing is a possibility!
With the colder temperatures hitting Portugal, rainfall increases. And when it rains, it pours! So be sure you prepare yourself with the best warm (and waterproof) clothes if you’re planning on visiting one of these coldest places in Portugal this winter.
Miranda do Douro, Bragança: The coldest ever recorded temperature in Portugal
The lowest temperature recorded in Portugal was -16.0 °C (3.2 °F) in Miranda do Douro, a small city in the Bragança district, back on January 6th, 1945. Yep, that’s cold! Miranda do Douro has a typical Mediterranean climate, but due to the northern location, there can be some severe fluctuations in the weather.
Locals tend to describe the region as the following: “In Miranda there are nine months of winter and three months of Hell”. Summer months are extremely hot and dry, while the winter months often see snowfall and is a longer period. Winters in Miranda are cold and bleak. The average minimum temperatures hover around 0 °C (32 °F) in January, frequently falling into the negatives.
The winter of 1945 was harsh across the rest of Europe as well. The UK faced fuel shortages while the Netherlands experienced its worst winter since 1790. This winter was one to remember for a Europe still recovering from the devastation of the final stages of the Second World War.
Serra da Estrela: Portugal’s ski slopes
Serra da Estrela, Star Mountain Range, is the highest mountain range in Continental Portugal. The highest plateau point reaches 1,993 meters (6,539 feet), known as Torre (Tower in English). Torre is an unusual summit in that it is accessible by a paved road. The mountain range is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) long and is 30 km (19 mi) across at its widest point.
This is where you’ll find snow in Portugal. Yes, that’s right… Snow!
The Estrela Ski Resort, also known as the Vodafone Ski Resort, is a small ski resort with 4 ski lifts to 9 pistes. The resort is best suited to beginner skiers and snowboarders but there is some terrain for both experts and intermediates. Sure, it’s nothing on The Alps, but who would have thought you could ski in Portugal!
Penhas da Saúde: A record low temperature in Portugal to match
Penhas da Saúde is a small town in the Covilhã region of Portugal, situated within the Serra da Estrela mountain range. This is a perfect place to visit Portugal in the winter months; choose between the youth hostel or one of the quaint chalets overlooking the valley below. From here, you can access the ski resort and slopes that are just 10km away.
From December through to April, these mountains are covered in snow with average temperatures of around 3.2ºC (37.8ºF) and the occasional below-freezing day. The record low in Penhas da Saúde matches the all-time low of Miranda – February 5th, 1954 saw −16.0 °C (3.2 °F), the coldest in the country.
Along with the classic snow sports, from Penhas da Saúde you can also take part in some other epic activities, including mushing (dog sledding), sleigh rides, and snow motorcycles. Now that’s something to add to your bucket list!
Guarda: The highest city in Portugal
Guarda is Portugal’s highest-altitude city, located 1,056 m (3,465 ft) above sea level. Guarda is known as the “city of the five F’s“: Farta, Forte, Fria, Fiel e Formosa – abundant, strong, cold, loyal and beautiful. Due to the altitude and the proximity to Serra da Estrela, we can confidently say this is one of the coldest places in Portugal, you need to be brave to visit here.
Winters are cool and wet, while summers can be warm and dry. The average temperature in November and April does not get higher than 8.5ºC (47.3ºF), with the lowest often getting down to −6.2ºC (20.8ºF). That’s pretty cold!
Porto: The coldest region in Portugal
Porto is one of the larger cities in Portugal and is located along the Douro River estuary in the north. This is one of the oldest European centers, and its central area was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. The bridges, monastery, and historic town square are top tourist sites in Porto you should definitely add to your travel list.
The Mediterranean climate in Porto is influenced by the ocean to the west, so temperatures tend to stay more on the cooler side. The nearby beaches pick up the strong Atlantic winds, especially in the winter months, like most of northern Portugal.
Porto’s winter temperatures average 6 °C (43 °F) and rarely drop below freezing. On sunny days, you could be lucky to have 15 °C (59 °F) in the afternoon. However, while sunny periods do occur, the weather is often rainy for long stretches when temperatures drop. While you’re in Porto, you can make the most of the famous port and wine bars to help warm you up on those super cold days.
Chaves: One of Portugal’s northernmost regions
Chaves is one of Portugal’s northernmost cities, bordering Spain. This extreme north of Portugal is rough and rugged in terrain with mountains on both sides. The climate is Mediterranean with continental and oceanic influences, bringing in cooler temperatures year round.
A significant point of Chaves is the hot springs. These thermal pockets have temperatures reaching 73°C (163°F). The Romans capitalized on this ecology feature and made this an important social gathering point. Modern day spas still use these waters for numerous treatments, including stomach, liver, intestinal, and kidney ailments, through oral ingestion.
Cold fronts in the winter months can cause the temperatures to drop towards freezing. While snow is not common, it’s still a possibility in Chaves. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Chaves was −8.5°C (16.7°F) on January 22nd, 1983. Fog often rolls into the valley and can cover the city for days throughout the winter months.
Nazaré: Epic cold water surfing in Portugal
Last but not least is Nazaré. This coastal town is famous within the surf community for big waves reserved solely for those with Red Bull running through their veins. Here, the big waves turn on in the winter with the average measuring 43-59 feet (13-18 meters).
On November 8th, 2017, Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa broke the biggest wave surfed world record by riding a 24.4 m (80 ft) monster wave. For this feat, he won the Quiksilver XXL Biggest Wave prize and entered the Guinness World Record for the biggest wave ever surfed.
The town’s climate is kept mild in the summer and wet in the winter, with temperatures lower than average year round, due to the Atlantic Ocean coastal influence. Winter months can be unstable in weather and temperatures. Nazaré also experiences some seasonal lag, with temperatures in September being warmer than those in June.
Coldest Places In Portugal: Winter Average Temperature
Portugal in the depths of winter can be unpleasantly cold. Temperatures at night often get as low as 2ºC (36ºF). Making up for this, though, are the occasional mild daytime temperatures that can climb as high as 20ºC (68ºF).
While temperatures can stay mild throughout the winter months in some places, the wind and rain can have a severe effect on the real feel temperatures.
Which part of Portugal has the coolest weather?
The coldest region of Portugal is around Porto and the northern municipalities. The mountains and coastal cities have a lot of rain in the winter due to the Atlantic Ocean influence. Porto is also a cooler destination in the hot and steamy summer months.
Does it snow anywhere in Portugal?
Portugal’s mountain range, Serra da Estrela, gets snow each year and is open for skiers and snowsport enthusiasts to try somewhere new and unique. The ski resort on this mountain adds to the pistes with artificial snow during the winter to ensure there is plenty of coverage. Other cities around the northern part of Portugal, like Chaves, can see snow but it’s not guaranteed.
What are the coldest months in Portugal?
The coldest month in Portugal is typically January, with continued low temperatures through to March. December is also cold and is often the wettest month of the year for the country. If you are planning a visit to Portugal in this period, and want to get the highest possible temperatures, head to the Algarve but still pack your sweaters.
Has it ever snowed in Lisbon Portugal?
Snowfall in Lisbon is extremely rare. Locals of Portugal’s capital city were surprised on January 29, 2006, by a freak snowstorm covering the city for the first time in 52 years. Authorities in Lisbon demanded subway stations to remain open overnight, so that homeless people could find shelter from the snow. The rare conditions caused electricity outages and car crashes across the city and was one of the coldest places in Portugal at the time.