The amazing weather in Portugal

Portugal is a great place to live and study for so many reasons. Their culture, arts, history, sports teams, foods, drinks and cities are known the world over. The economy is booming, citizens are well provided for with social assistance and free healthcare and the political-social situation is safe and stable. These are all great achievements and testament to the character of not just the Portuguese but all the immigrants who come to Portugal and make it their home.

But for me the best part of Portugal has nothing to do whatsoever with the efforts and successes of the people there. It’s just a matter of chance and geography, but Portugal has hands down the best weather, and the best natural locations to enjoy it in!

There are more than 200 days of sunshine per year with an average maximum temperature of 20 degrees. But that barely scratches the surface, for Portugal is a diverse country when it comes to the elements.

First let’s compare some capital cities in Europe.

Hours of sun (per year):

Lisbon: 2806

Madrid: 2769

Paris: 1662

London: 1633

Berlin: 1626

Brussels: 1546

Average temperature (per year)

Lisbon: 17.5° C

Madrid: 15° C

Paris: 12.3° C

Brussels: 10.5° C

London: 10.3° C

Berlin: 10.3° C

I’m not saying it’s a competition, because it wouldn’t even be close! And that’s just Lisbon. In Lisbon the average high in the summer months is 28°C and with so many beaches in close proximity it’s a wonderful place to study. It’s not many students who get the opportunity to finish their day of study off with a sangria and sunbathe after all. It is easy to understand why Portuguese people spend so much time at the beach (or at the very least in one of the many praças cooling off). And when you’re at the beach, you can take advantage of the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, with is huge variety in waves and swell size, to enjoy the best surfing conditions in Europe.

If sun and sea is what you’re after the Portugal can offer even more. On the southern tip of Portugal, the Algarve region, pushes into the 30s during the summer months and has over 300 days of sunshine per year. Best of all, as it’s by the coast this is complimented with a nice and constant cool sea breeze. Here the Mediterranean Sea offers less in the way of surfing, but more for scuba diving and swimming.

Still, the sun isn’t for everyone- While Portugal as a whole is warm and dry, there are of course exceptions. This is particularly good if you are what the Portuguese affectionately refer to as a “lobster”. If you’re based in Lisbon then just 3 hours away by train is the magnificent Serra da Estrela. Here we have the largest (and only) mountain range on mainland Portugal which has its own microclimate. While the base of the mountain can hit highs of 40°C during the summer, the top of the mountain gets sufficiently cool at night (-20 degrees) such that those seeking to beat the heat won’t be disappointed. The town of Covilhã which is in the heart of this mountain range also has a well-respected University with a vibrant exchange student culture for people looking at this as a more permanent solution. With such plunging temperatures and high altitudes, it makes it a perfect place to enjoy winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding during the winter season.

All of this means basically one thing. If you choose to live and study in Portugal, then no matter where you end up, you’ll need to bring the sunscreen and flip flops. If you need space in your suitcase, leave the rain jacket and umbrella at home.