Weather in Portugal in May

Is May a good time to go to Portugal?

May offers the best combination of warm weather and budget travel in Portugal, second only to September. The last month of spring, it is the perfect opportunity to begin the summer holiday in Portugal at a discounted rate. With a number of good festivals, great conditions for trekkers and few crowds, the south is a particularly good spot to start an early summer holiday. An added bonus for football fans, the Primeria Liga (the Portuguese Football League) is ending, so expect a thunderous atmosphere at the final games.


Climate in Portugal in May

It is warm, dry and nowhere near as hot as the sometimes-stifling summer heat, perfect for exploring the country or relaxing at the beach. With highs of 21°C (70°F), most days average eight hours of sunshine. There is rarely much more than 50mm (2in) of rain and, even in a light spring shower, with 19°C (66°F) waters, swimming is pleasant. 


What’s on in Portugal in May

Some people travel to Portugal with the sole purpose of attending the Festival de Sinatra, a 50-year-old festival of operatic drama and grandeur attracting many international guests and performances annually. Others prefer the casual atmosphere of the Estoril Jazz Festival and some choose the niche events on Madeira, including the Lemon Festival and a classic car festival.  

For a uniquely local tradition, students or recent graduates might enjoy the Quiema das Fitas in Coimbra, a graduate celebration with floats and ribbon burning ceremonies accompanying the usual student revelry. For those interested in religion, attend the Festival of the Crosses and the Peregrinação de Fátima, which celebrates the Virgin Mary. Finally, the Lisbon Book Fair is an essential stop on every reader’s itinerary, a literary festival that is over 85 years old. 


What to pack for a holiday in Portugal in May

Cool evenings will require a warm item or two, but travellers should pack light because lugging a heavy case up cobbled hills is difficult, especially on a warm days. Pack T-shirts, swimming costumes, long sleeved shirts and shorts, as well as some jeans, synthetic trousers for outdoor activities and a jersey or two for cooler days. A light coat that doubles as a raincoat is preferable to a heavy one, and a small foldable umbrella will suffice for the odd shower. Warm, but not too hot, this is the hiking period, so take sturdy hiking boots and a few warm items for elevated areas and city travellers need only take comfortable walking shoes.