Does it snow in Portugal?

Does it snow in Portugal? Not everyone knows, but yes, it does!

The country is known for its sunny climate.

However, in the mountainous regions, you can find beautiful snowy landscapes and even a ski resort. 

Do you like the idea of getting to know this popular country from a different perspective? Then read on.

In this post, we explain when and where it snows in Portugal in addition to the best things to do in winter! 

Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula and has a predominantly Mediterranean climate.

This offers warm summers and mild winters over much of the country. This means that only the mountainous regions of Portugal have the climatic conditions necessary for snowfall.

Serra da Estrela overview under the blue sky - one of the only places where it snows in Portugal
Serra da Estrela – Photo from Canva

Where does it snow in Portugal?

Those who wish to see snow in Portugal should keep in mind that urban centers are not the best destinations.

After all, the chances of finding snow in Lisbon or the Algarve, for example, are very small.

When visiting these places during winter, you may encounter low temperatures, heavy rain, and the occasional hailstorm.

However, the cold weather is not enough to make it snow.

In Portugal, it only snows in mountainous regions such as Serra da Estrela – which, is considered the “snow capital” of Portugal.

There, you can venture to the nation’s only ski resort and make your winter vacation even more unforgettable!

Serra da Estrela mountains covered with snow
Serra da Estrela – Photo from Canva

Where to find snow in Portugal

1. Serra da Estrela

Serra da Estrela is a must-see destination for those who want to see snow in Portugal.

Besides the snow, the mountain range has stunning landscapes and several attractions.

The region receives tourists all year round, but it’s most popular during the winter months. After all, it is the main winter destination in the country.

The Serra da Estrela is one of the highest mountains in Portugal.

At 1,993 meters high, it’s no surprise that temperatures reach such low levels. There is even a ski resort on the mountain that opens during winter. 

👉🏽 Where to stay to visit Serra da Estrela

In the region, there are a few base towns. These cities and villages are on the outskirts of the mountain and are ideal bases to explore Serra da Estrela, Covilhã being the main one. 

These destinations make great basis since they are very close to the mountain.

However, big cities such as Lisbon, which is about 280 km from the region, and Porto, which is 250 km away are too far away.

Aerial view of Lissabon City
Lissabon City – Photo from Canva

👉🏽 How to get to Serra da Estrela

The best way to travel to Serra da Estrela is to rent a car

With this, you gain practicality and autonomy. Although there is public transportation to the mountain, it is very limited.

👉🏽 What else can you do in Serra da Estrela?

Serra da Estrela is not only about snow. Tourists are also attracted by the natural beauty and grandiose geographical formations.

The cultural and historical richness of the region also draws in travelers from far and wide.

Located in the Castelo Branco district, Serra da Estrela is the coldest place in Portugal. Its highest point, with 1,993 meters of altitude, is called Torre.

Due to this, you can be confident that you will see snow if you visit the region during winter.

Loriga, Manteigas, Vale do Rossim, Penhas Douradas, Gouveia, and Covilhã are other spots close to Serra where you may find a lot of snowfall. 

View of Vale do Rossim during sunset
Vale do Rossim – Photo from Canva

2. Parque Natural de Montesinho

The Park of Montesinho is located in the northeastern region of Portugal, near the border of Spain.

Due to the area’s high altitude, snowfall is quite common.

Although this does vary year on year. It’s an area of natural preservation, where the flora and fauna are kept almost untouched.

Besides the snow, visiting the park is worthwhile for the great historical, cultural, natural, and gastronomic value of the region. 

The Village of Montesinho in Bragança is at an altitude of over a thousand meters.

It’s popular amongst tourists looking for adventure, beautiful nature, and snow in winter. 

In the village, tourists can rent traditional houses and spend a few days getting to know the geological wealth of Montesinho.

It’s a great place to delve deep into the culture of the local region.  

You can do this with a stroll through the Church of Montesinho.

Visiting the Interpretative Center of Montesinho and the Museum installed in a Transmontana house are also activities worth considering

Natural park in Montesihno overview
Natural Park Montesihno – Photo from Canva

3. Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês

This is another region where it is possible to see snow in Portugal.

Also located near the border of Spain, Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês, has high altitudes needed for snowfall. 

Located 90 km from the city of Porto and 414 km from the capital Lisbon, the park is ideal for those who enjoy hiking and being surrounded by nature.

In Peneda-Gerês, negative temperatures can be found north of the Park.

Already in the municipality of Montalegre, temperatures reach around minus 8 °C.

This Park covers areas of Minho and Trás-os-Montes and usually has snow between the months of December and February. 

If you want the chance to see more snow in the region also pass through Soajo, Pitões das Júnias, Lindoso, or Castro Laboreiro.

4. Serra do Marão

Located in northern Portugal, Serra do Marão is the sixth-highest mountain range in the country.

As such, you are likely to find snow there in the winter.

The mountain range can be found around 88 km from Porto and 390 km from Lisbon.

The area of the Marão mountain range is extensive and includes the Alvão Natural Park, one of the largest and most important conservation areas in Portugal.

Nature lovers will certainly enjoy getting to know the region!

With 1,416 meters of altitude and 681 meters of topographic prominence, the Serra do Marão is located in the middle of the Douro Litoral and the Alto Douro.

Serra do Marao mountains covered with snow
Serra do Marão – Photo from Canva

5. Serra do Açor

Serra do Açor is in central Portugal between Serra da Estrela and Serra do Lousã.

In this region, it is also possible to see snow in winter.

At the highest point of Serra do Açor, the Cebola peak, the altitude reaches 1,418 meters. This means there are great chances of snowfall.

The region has beautiful trails, waterfalls, and river beaches. Due to this, the Serra do Açor is a delightful destination for adventurous travelers all year round

Serra do Açor makes up the Cordillera Central mountain range, of which Serra da Lousã and Serra da Estrela are also part.

Pico de Cebola, which reaches a total of 1,418 meters, is its highest point.

Monte do Colarinho (1,242 meters), Alto de São Pedro (1,341 meters), in Alto Ceira, and Cabeço do Gondufo (1,342 meters) are extensions of Serra do Açor that provide charm to tourists and represent even more alternatives where you can find snow in Portugal. 

Serra da Estrela landscape covered with snow
Serra da Estrela landscape – Photo from Canva

6. Pico Island – Azores

Although it’s rear to see snow in the Azores Islands, you will see it if you climb Mount Pico on Pico Island.

It’s a strenuous but beautiful hike that you can do either on your own or with a local guide (recommended). If you go on your own keep in mind that you will need to ask for permission first, from the local authorities.

The best hike is done at night so that you will get there by sunset!

As I am writing this I am traveling around the Azores and I am on this very island precisely. I will be looking into climbing this mountain myself and will tell you all about it.

This is the tour I found which is guided by an expert local guide. Stay tuned for updates.

Portugal winter weather 

👉🏽 How cold does it get in Portugal?

Portugal has one of the mildest climates in Europe and tends to be one of the sunniest. Compared to Nordic countries, you won’t experience harsh winter climates.

In most regions of Portugal, the temperature is pleasant. Even for those less accustomed to the cold.

However, colder temperatures are likely if you travel to mountain regions in the country.

The average temperature during the Portuguese winter is 8°C. This is well above most European countries. 

However, it’s worth considering that the temperature varies a lot depending on the region.

In Lisbon, the climate usually ranges from 8°C to 16°C in the winter months.

In Serra da Estrela, the average is between -2ºC and 3ºC.

Storms and strong winds are possible during winter in Portugal.

However, the good news is that these rainy spells don’t usually last for several consecutive days, so it is not something that should spoil your trip.

In some cities like Guarda, Covilhã, Porto, Braga, Guimarães, Viseu and Viana do Castelo, the cold weather can be quite intense. 

Serra da Estrela, in the Central region, is known for temperatures below 0°C.

At the top of the mountain, lows can occasionally reach the -20°C mark in winter.

upper plateau in Serra da Estrela covered with snow
Upper plateau in Serra da Estrela – Photo from Canva

👉🏽 When do you get snow in Portugal?

December to mid-March is the winter season in Portugal.

Out of everywhere on this list, Serra da Estrela is undoubtedly the most likely place to find snow during winter. 

This is due to the altitude. Even the lowest parts of the mountain have snow on days with freezing temperatures.

Snowfall in Serra da Estrela typically starts between December and March.

Peak snowfall in the area occurs in March when temperatures reach about 1.8 °C and snowfall records are up to 430 mm throughout the month.

In April, temperatures in Portugal start to rise with the end of winter.

In the mountain range, this typically brings lows of 3.6 °C.

Although it is still possible to find snow at this time of year, you’ll find it starts to melt as it gets warmer across the country.

people skiing in Serra da Estrela
Skiing in Serra da Estrela – Photo from Canva

👉🏽 How often does it snow in Portugal?

High in the mountains of Portugal, snow can be common during winter.

While snowfall varies year on year, it typically snows between one to two times a week between December and March.

Where can you ski in Portugal? 

The Serra da Estrela is the source of two of Portugal’s largest rivers (Mondego and Zêzere), as well as the Alva.

The glacial valleys, unique in Portugal, are partly responsible for snowfall in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park.

It’s in the midst of these outstanding natural beauties that the only Ski Resort in Portugal can be found.  

The Estacao de Esqui Serra da Estrela is located on the slopes high in the mountains.

Here you will find trained instructors who will teach students of all levels how to ski.

The main attraction of the Serra da Estrela in winter is certainly the ski resort.

As the only one in the country, it’s a hit with tourists and locals looking for adventure.

The excitement of the sport mixed with beautiful views certainly creates a unique experience.

Unfortunately, it’s worth noting that reaching the ski resort without a car is impossible. The nearest base town is Covilhã, which is 21 km from the station.

While getting to the city via public transport is possible, the same can’t be said for the ski resort.

You should also keep in mind that the resort is only open in winter.

However, there are no set dates for the ski season. It varies each year depending on snowfall and weather conditions.

Skiing and snowboarding are the most common sports in the resort, but not the only ones. It is also possible to rent sleds and snowmobiles.

You can even just play in the snow which sometimes accumulates more than a meter in height.

trees in Serra da Estrela covered with snow
Serra da Estrela – Photo from Canva

👉🏽 Does Portugal have any ski resorts?

The only place to go skiing in Portugal is at the Ski Resort of Serra da Estrela.

It is a small ski resort that is geared toward first-time skiers and families, as the gentle slopes are perfect for kids.

The resort has 4 ski lifts and 9 pistes of which one is 1 kilometer long. You can take skiing and snowboarding classes, and rent winter sports equipment too.

Winter sports at this ski resort are possible between January and March.

What to Pack in Winter in Portugal

What you should pack to visit Portugal in winter will vary depending on where you are visiting. 

You may also want to buy clothes there because it’s typically cheaper than elsewhere in Europe.

Warm clothing such as coats, jackets, and sweaters, as well as long trousers and closed-toe shoes, are recommended for winter travel in Portugal.

It is also advisable to carry a scarf, hat, and gloves to protect against the cold. 

Consider traveling with a waterproof coat and umbrella in case of rain. It’s also a good idea to have layers that can be readily added or removed as the weather changes. 

Finally, remember to bring your passport and any other required travel documents.

Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês with small lake and trees
Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês – Photo from Canva

Pros to visiting Portugal in winter

Not being a traditional winter destination, this time of year is the low season in Portugal.

This means there is a good chance of getting cheaper tickets and accommodation, especially if you buy in advance.

Surf lovers or photographers will love to visit Nazare in winter to witness one of the highest waves in the world that only pro surfers dare ride! 

Does it snow in Portugal? Frequently Asked Questions

Does it snow in Portugal in December?

As the start of winter in Portugal, it does snow in December.

While this is most common in the mountains, rare snowfall can be found in other areas of the country in December.

What’s the warmest place in Portugal in winter?

If you’re looking for warm temperatures in Portugal during winter, the best place to visit is the Algarve.

With temperatures typically sitting around 18ºC, it’s hotter than other popular destinations in the country.

iced lake in Serra da Estrela and mountains covered in snow
Serra da Estrela – Photo from Canva

Does it rain in Portugal in winter?

Sadly, rain is pretty common in Portugal during the winter months.

With this in mind, be prepared for heavy rainfall and grey skies and pack accordingly! 

Does it snow in Lisbon, Portugal?

Typically, snowfall in Lisbon is rare due to higher-than-average temperatures in the city.

For example, throughout the year temperatures vary between 8 °C and 29 °C.

Therefore, the climate changes between autumn and winter are not drastic enough to bring snow.

Serra do Marao mountains covered with snow under the blue sky
Serra do Marao – Photo from Canva

Does it snow in Porto, Portugal?

Porto is situated in the Norte region of Portugal.

As Norte is located further north than Lisbon, the region does see more snowfall when compared to the capital. 

However, snow in the city of Porto itself is very rare. The last time it snowed in this popular Portuguese city was in 2009. 

Does it snow in the Azores, Portugal?

Similarly to the rest of Portugal, it doesn’t often snow in the Azores.

However, the high altitude of Pico mountain is more likely to see snow as the highest point in the country.

In recent years, large amounts of snow have been documented in this area of Portugal. 

One of the tourist spots in Montesihno - a square in the village with white buildings
Square in the village of Montesihno – Photo from Canva

Does it snow in Algarve, Portugal?

As one of the hottest places in the country, it doesn’t snow in the Algarve.

This makes it one of the best places to go if you are looking for mild weather during winter! 

Is the sea water cold in Portugal?

The temperature of the sea in Portugal during winter will vary depending on location and time of year.

It’s often colder in the winter months, ranging from 13°C to 16°C (55°F to 61°F).

Nevertheless, the temperature can drop considerably lower, especially towards the northern coast. 

It is crucial to remember that other elements such as wind, waves, and currents can influence sea water temperature in Portugal.

Before entering the water, it is usually a good idea to verify the current circumstances.

sunset in Serra da Estrela and field covered with snow
Sunset in Serra da Estrela – Photo from Canva

Final Thoughts: Does it snow in Portugal?

If you are still wondering whether it snows in Portugal, definitely, yes!

Though Portugal is known for its sunny climate, its mountainous regions have beautiful snowy landscapes and breathtaking views you’ll surely love.

The only ski resort in the country, the Ski Resort of Serra da Estrela, offers a variety of activities like skiing and snowboarding and a lot more.

Moreover, during the winter season, there’s a huge possibility that it’ll rain so make sure to be ready every time you’re outside.

To wrap it up, you will surely enjoy your stay in the country during your winter vacation in one of the top tourist destinations in Europe.

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About the Author

I’m Camila, an Oceanographer from Brazil which is where my journey began. My studies have taken me to unique places around the world since I was a teenager. I found in my academic career the chance to come across different cultures and languages while working as a scientist. By having lived in several countries I have been able to share my experiences as a travel content writer for the last 4 years and I still have plenty more to tell. I have a great passion for the outdoors and animals, especially dogs and seals (which, let’s be honest, are basically sea dogs!).