Blessed with a combination of cheap prices and mild and often sunny climate, Portugal is already one of Europe’s top destinations for beach holidays. Those same conditions are driving a thriving industry in golf tourism as well, and over the last decade new golf courses have sprouted up all across the country. Whether it be a trip to see the port wine houses of Porto or at the beaches of the Algarve, a visitor to Portugal will never be too far from a golf course. However, some understanding of Portugal’s seasonal weather patterns are necessary to make the most of a golf vacation.
As a rule, Portugal sees virtually no rain from late spring to late autumn. Average temperatures in May and October hover in the upper teens Celsius (mid-60s Fahrenheit). August is the hottest month, with average highs in the upper 20s and lower 30s Celsius (80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit). Since humidity is very low, even the hottest dog days of summer are often quite pleasant so long as one doesn’t stand in the sun all day. A golfer can easily enjoy a hot August day on the links simply by slowing the pace down and standing in the shade while not actually playing. Ostensibly, the winter months should be ideal for a golf getaway, with temperatures in the low teens Celsius (lower 50s Fahrenheit). While that is quite mild compared to northern Europe or most of the North America, those temperatures serve as the backdrop for frequent rain. From December to February, it is very possible to see overcast skies and rain throughout the day on every day for two weeks without a break. Few golfers are willing to invest their time and money into a golf trip only to see it rain every day of that trip, making winter a bad choice for a Portuguese golf vacation.
Although it is a small country, Portugal presents its visitors with some stark regional variations in climate, and this could dramatically effect a golfer’s experience on the course. In the Lisbon area, for example, Estoril and Sintra have a wet micro-climate. As a result, trips to golf courses such as the Lisbon Sports Club and Golf do Estoril will experience bouts of steamy, humid weather and much longer rainy periods than would be the case for courses located in the Algarve. The same is true to the Minho in northern Portugal. Alto Alentejo, or the central-eastern upcountry, sits on the edge of the Iberian plateau and experiences the same brutal summer weather that gave rise to the tradition of the siesta (mid-afternoon nap) in Spain. That substantially hotter weather makes golfing in Alto Alentejo during the summer a much tougher proposition.