If you’re planning a trip to Portugal between the months of December and March, you’ll be wondering what to wear in Portugal in winter.
Portugal is a southern European country on the Iberian Peninsula. It borders Spain and is on the Atlantic Ocean.
Traveling Portugal in winter comes with lots of benefits. You’ll encounter fewer crowds and have an easier time booking tours, accommodations, and restaurants.
So what should you wear in Portugal in winter? You’ll need to pack clothing for a range of weather. You’ll also want to dress in a way that aligns with Portuguese etiquette.
Portuguese people tend to dress more conservatively than people in North America. They always dress in a way that’s quite polished, even if they’re dressed casually.
In cities like Porto and Lisbon, you’ll notice that Portuguese people have a great sense of style, and don’t dress super casually. In the cities, you’ll notice a variety of fashion on the streets.
In general, you’ll find that what you should wear in Portugal isn’t much different than what you wear at home. But of course, you’ll want to have nice outfits for your vacation photos.
The main thing to know for traveling to Portugal in the winter months is that you’ll need to be cognizant of the range of weather when putting together your packing list. Temperatures can vary throughout the day, and from day to day, so your best bet is to pack clothing you can layer.
What’s the weather like in Portugal during winter?
Portugal is known for its beautiful summer weather. This is what makes it such a popular European destination during the hottest months of the year.
Traveling around Portugal during winter, however, is underrated. During the winter, Portugal continues to have lots of sunny days, and the temperatures, although cooler, stay generally mild.
Winter weather begins in December and ends in March. The coldest months are January and February. Temperatures throughout the winter months range from an average maximum of 17°C (62°F) and an average minimum of 10°C (50°F).
Portugal does get some rain in the winter. December and January are the wettest months, with an average of 10 rainy days per month, depending on where you are in the country.
Why should you visit Portugal in winter?
There are lots of great reasons to travel to Portugal in winter. The biggest benefit is that winter is the low, or off-season for tourism in Portugal.
As a result, there are very few crowds throughout the country. You can enjoy popular sites like the historic castles of Sintra and the beaches of Algarve, without being surrounded by other tourists.
You’ll also find that during this season, there are more accommodation options, and accommodation is priced a bit lower. Since it’s the low season, prices are competitive. This goes for other tourism-related services too, like tours.
Winter is the time to go to Portugal if you plan to surf, or would like to go to a surfing school. Because of its position on the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is a surfing hotspot.
Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal has some of the largest waves in the world. Winter weather makes for the best surfing conditions, so if surfing is something you plan to do, you’ll want to go to Portugal during the winter months.
Finally, the weather in Portugal during winter is very pleasant. Portugal is one of the sunniest regions of Europe, so even in February and March, you’ll enjoy some sunny days. And, the cooler weather makes it much more comfortable to explore towns and cities on foot.
What to Wear for Winter Travel in Portugal
Your packing list for winter in Portugal will include a variety of items that prepare you for a range of weather. Here’s what you should pack to wear for winter in Portugal.
1. Comfortable footwear
While traveling Portugal you can expect to walk a lot. Exploring on foot is the best way to experience Portuguese cities and towns.
During the day, stick to reliable, comfortable footwear that you know you can survive long hours of walking in. A good pair of walking shoes or sneakers are your best bet. Portuguese people dress in a polished style, so you can opt for less sporty sneakers and go for a more stylish pair instead.
Vessi shoes are a great choice – they are stylish, comfortable, and also completely waterproof, which is a lifesaver in the event of some rain.
Chelsea boots are also a good choice. They are versatile and will go with all your Portugal outfits. They transition well from day wear to evening wear, so you can go to a nice dinner wearing them.
Jeans will be a staple for your winter travels in Portugal. They are versatile and will keep you warm and comfortable.
Jeans are easy to pair with a variety of tops, sweaters, jackets, and shoes, so you can create various outfits with them.
3. Short Sleeve Shirts
On sunny days you’ll want to wear short sleeve shirts, even during winter in Portugal. This way you can take layers off and enjoy the sunshine if you become too hot.
If you were looking for a summer packing list, you might need to ensure you packed only light colors. But since we’re packing for winter in Portugal, you can opt for fun graphic tees, darker colors to wear under jackets, or thicker t-shirts that you can wear during the day.
4. Long Sleeve Shirts
You’ll also want to bring long sleeve shirts with you to wear in Portugal in winter. On rainy or overcast days, a long sleeve shirt will add a layer of warmth beneath a sweater or jacket.
I find that the thinner long-sleeve shirts or something fitted looks perfect tucked into jeans on days when it’s a little bit cooler.
You might luck out and enjoy some t-shirt weather in Portugal during winter, but you should go on your trip prepared for mostly cooler weather. On an average winter day, you’ll want to wear a sweater over your t-shirt and if it’s really cold, it’s an additional layer between your long sleeve shirt and your jacket.
Pack a few cozy pull-over sweaters to wear with jeans, and cardigans that you can pair both with jeans and dresses that you bring along. My favorites are always the thin sweaters from JCrew or the Merino Wool sweaters from UNIQLO.
You’ll want to pack a light to medium heavy jacket, especially if you visit during the coolest months in Portugal.
Particularly during January and February, you’ll need a jacket for daily wear. A light quilted down jacket like this is a great choice for Portugal’s unpredictable winter weather. On especially chilly days, you can wear a sweater underneath.
7. Scarf & Hat
Winter weather can vary quite a lot throughout Portugal. Pack an oversized scarf and a hat that you can throw on over all your Portugal outfits, just in case you get cold. When you don’t need them, you can slip both inside your day bag.
Scarves are also handy to have on you when you’re on public transport, like riding on a train or a bus. If it’s too cool, you can throw on your scarf to warm up. You can also use a big scarf as a towel if you visit one of the beaches in Portugal.
Winter in Portugal is pleasant, but it isn’t warm enough for your flowery summer dresses. Instead, pair long-sleeve dresses with tights for a polished look, or bring a short-sleeve dress and pair it with a cardigan and tights.
If you visit the Algarve region of Portugal, there’s the possibility of some hot days. You may even luck out with a day that’s hot enough that you want to go for a swim in the ocean, or in your hotel pool!
A swimsuit is also essential to bring if you plan to go surfing. You’ll wear a wetsuit but will need a bathing suit to wear underneath it.
Although there’s no guarantee that you’ll have the chance to swim in Portugal during winter, having a swimsuit just in case is a good idea. Luckily, a swimsuit is compact to pack so it won’t take up too much of your treasured packing space.
My favorite one-piece swimsuit is this one from Amazon. I have it in tons of different colors and patterns and it lasts a long time considering its price.
Although winter is the coolest time of year in Portugal, you may encounter a good streak of weather and find that it’s actually sunny and hot out. It’s best to be prepared for hot days, so you’ll want to bring one pair of shorts with you.
A classic pair of denim cut-offs is an easy choice for your Portugal packing list. They are easy to pack and are versatile to style with a variety of tops and sweaters.
It might turn out that you never have a hot enough day for shorts. But if you do have one of those hot days, you’ll be glad you brought them.
11. Cross-Body Bag
A cross-body bag is essential for your Portugal packing list. It is versatile for both day and night, and it helps to keep your things secure from petty theft like pickpocketing.
Bring a cross-body bag that is less athleisure, and more formal. This way, you can use it for your evenings out. It’s also recommended to choose a cross-body bag that zips closed. You don’t want to walk around with an open bag that is easy for pickpocketing hands to slip into.
A simple leather one from Nordstrom or even just one you can pick up at a local market on your travels will work. I usually opt for it in black or dark brown so that it goes with all of my outfits.
When it looks like it’s going to rain in Portugal, it probably will. The winter months are when Portugal experiences the most rain.
On gloomy days, you’ll want to bring an umbrella out with you. Pack a compact umbrella that fits in your day bag. This is a great option that you can fit in your carry-on.
13. Sunglasses and Sunscreen
You’ll likely experience sunny days in Portugal, even in the winter. It’s important to be prepared for those days!
You’ll want to bring a comfortable and stylish pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes, and sunscreen to protect your skin.
If you forget your sunglasses or sunscreen, don’t worry – you’ll find plenty of shops all over Portugal that sell these essential items.
If you want some sunscreen that is easy on the skin, not too greasy, and is small enough to fit in a carry-on, this Neutrogena sunscreen is my favorite. I wear it year-round.
Packing jewelry is a great way to spice up a capsule wardrobe. You can change up your earrings and other accessories to give a whole new look to an outfit.
Fun jewelry will also help to add excitement to your outfit on days when you’re bundled up in a sweater, scarf, or jacket.
Dressing for Portugal at Night
When dressing for evenings and nights in Portugal, you’ll want to skip the more casual outfits and beachwear. If you’re going out for dinner or drinks, go for a more polished look.
You’ll also need to pay attention to the weather. In the evening in winter, the temperature drops in Portugal. Once it’s dark outside, you’ll almost always need a sweater and jacket. This is when all of those heavy layers you brought with you will come in handy.
Final Thoughts: What to Pack for Winter in Portugal
The key to dressing for winter weather in Portugal is to dress in layers. Especially on sunny days, the temperature can start out chilly but rise throughout the day and then drop again after dark.
By dressing in layers, you can remove and add throughout your day in a way that keeps you comfortable.
You might find that you need to pack more for a winter trip to Portugal than you would for summer because you need some heavier layers. If you want to keep your packing compact, use packing cubes to organize your clothing inside your luggage.
It’s always best to wear your heaviest layers like your thick sweater and jacket. If you are traveling from somewhere that is hotter than Portugal, you can simply carry your jacket but try to avoid packing your bulkiest pieces. You will want easy access to them when you land as well.