There’s a reason it feels like everyone you know traveled to Portugal in 2017. The country has been exploding as a popular destination over the past few years, and shows no signs of slowing down. With the allure of delicious food, gorgeous beaches and charming towns, U.S. travel to Portugal increased 22 percent in 2016. And while June - September is peak tourist season in Portugal, here are 5 reasons why you should consider visiting in the off-season. That means now!
Constantly popping up on travel lists from Travel & Leisure naming it destination of the year for 2017 and the New York Times including in their 52 Places to Travel last year, there is no shortage of arguments for why you should book a flight asap. And while summer is the peak tourist season in Portugal, here are 5 reasons why you should consider visiting in the next few months:
Weather - Portugal’s weather is consistently mild. With highs in the summer reaching into the 80s (Fahrenheit), the winter low rarely gets below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with daily averages in the low 60s. These mild temperatures make for especially pleasant sightseeing. Layer with a scarf and light jacket and you’ll you’ll be sufficiently prepared for your days of exploring (but also be prepared for rain, just in case!)
No crowds - One of the best perks of traveling anywhere in the off-season is enjoying a city without fighting the crowds. The convenience of this alone is a huge selling point for me. Restaurant reservations (or just walking in) are much easier to come by. The more touristy spots, such as museums or the Tower of Belem or the Palace of Pena in Sintra, are so much more enjoyable when you aren’t stuck waiting in long lines. There is even a noticeable difference, allowing for a more pleasant experience, when you are just wandering the streets without fighting crowds.
Money - In that it goes further. Always a main consideration when planning a vacation, budget is super important and Portugal tops of my list of awesome and affordable destinations! There are plenty of flight specials and hotel deals to be found this time of year. We flew on TAP Portugal which offers a flight direct flights from the U.S. as well as the free stopover option that played a role in driving tourism to Iceland. We also found very reasonable pricing for Airbnbs. As a bonus, now is a particularly good time to visit Europe with the dollar strong against the Euro.
That winter light - Hear me out on this one. Yes, days are shorter this time of year and while some could argue that gives you less time to sightsee, there is something about the light in the winter that is magical. Crisper and sharper, the scenic vistas of Lisbon will be all the more breathtaking in the glowy winter light.
Authentic Portugal - Last but not least, traveling at less popular time for other tourists opens you up to experiences you may likely not be exposed to other times of the year. Sleepy beach towns, quiet restaurants and nearly empty hotels create space for connections with locals that busier seasons wouldn’t allow. One of the most powerful experiences of travel is connecting with people living in a different place and in a different culture than you. It expands your horizons and forces you to get outside of your comfort zone. In seasons when the hospitality industry is focused on catering to tourists they don’t have the time to have a meaningful conversation with you, but in the off-season they aren’t as worried about serving everyone staying at the hotel or working through a mile-long wait list. Space naturally opens up for authentic connections, which has the chance to leave a lasting impression on you as a traveler.