Traveling to Portugal in the fall often means fewer crowds, great weather, and beautiful displays of fall foliage. Discover the ten great places that we gather for you to explore this Autumn/Fall.
Peneda-Gerês National Park
Established in 1971, Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês is Portugal’s first and only national park. While visiting Porto or Northern Portugal, a visit to the National Park is definitely a must. This 703-sq-km (436-sq-miles) park encompasses windswept peaks, valleys of woodland, quaint towns, mountain streams, waterfalls, and breathtaking views. Explore first, the riverside town of Ponte de Lima, dubbed the oldest in the country. It is located within a short 30-minute drive from one of the park's main entrances, it is a great base for exploring the region. For a deeper countryside experience, stay in Ameal Wine & Tourism Terroir. Also, don't forget to visit a couple of wineries nearby where you can try the famous Vinho Verde, like the famed Quinta da Aveleda.
A UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, the Douro Valley is beautiful and stunning on its own but is even more spectacular during the Autumn months. The Douro Valley is one of Portugal’s main wine regions where the hills are covered in rows of terraced vineyards which turn red and yellow as autumn casts its spell. Start your journey with a pick-up in Porto. After arriving at the Douro, you'll have the chance to stay at a local winery, visit some amazing estates, like Quinta da Pacheca, for example, and try some of the best and most delicious wines produced in the region. Last but not least don't forget to enjoy the Harvest season in this outstanding region, you won't regret it.
Falling into the city means fewer crowds, shorter lines, and easier restaurant reservations. Many feel that it’s really the best time of year to travel. Porto has become one of the most eclectic destinations in Europe because it has something to offer to everyone historic splendor paired with a contemporary buzz, sweeping views, architecture - with one of the most beautiful train stations and bookshops in the world - as well as a strong food and wine culture. Moreover, visiting the wineries of this place is imperative, like Taylor's cellars, and Churchill's cellars, among others.
Serra da Estrela
In Serra da Estrela you will find the highest mountains of Portugal and a spectacular national park with incredible scenery, glorious flowering beauty, and spectacular rock formations. The roads, though narrow and windy, have plenty of places where you can stop and savor the views. A network of hiking trails covers the area and fall is arguably one of the best seasons to get into the mountains. Enjoy the best fall foliage and check Rota das Faias - Beech Trees Trail - for a glimpse. Plus, the delightful small town of Belmonte makes an excellent base for exploring the region.
Lisbon is lovely in Autumn when the sun mellows and the tree-lined streets turn honey-colored. One of the sunniest and liveliest capital cities in Europe, the Portuguese capital has become unexpectedly fashionable as travelers from all around the world set foot upon this historical yet cosmopolitan city. It’s easy to find what you’re looking for in Lisbon as the city constantly reinvents itself while looking back on its rich history. Explore Lisbon, walk the city streets and its neighborhoods, go deeper into the surrounding area and attractions, from the beautiful coastline to the wine-producing countryside. Yes, you have read it right, near Lisbon, you will have fantastic wineries waiting with amazing wine tastings and regional delicacies.
Sintra is at its most charming during fall, thanks to the town's beautiful parks, public gardens, and tree-lined streets, which transform into shades of reds, oranges, and yellows. With its rolling hills and awe-inspiring palaces, the historic resort town of Sintra seems to come straight out of a fairy tale and is a must-do side trip from Lisbon. The wine industry is also thriving as a result of the region's unusual wine, born of vineyards that grow in sandy soil on the coast, trained low to avoid the incessant wind that blows off the ocean. Local Adega Regional de Colares offers the opportunity to chat directly with the winemaker about one of the world’s singular wine regions and its wines while enjoying them.
Serra da Arrábida
Serra da Arrábida mountain ridge stretches along the southeastern coast of the Setúbal Peninsula. It is located on the opposite bank of the River Tejo - a short 45-minute drive away from the city of Lisbon - and is a very popular destination due to the natural landscapes, particularly its green, lofty mountains edged by a long coastline of golden beaches. While visiting this region, also visit its main wine producers, like Quinta da Bacalhôa and José Maria da Fonseca Company. The first is an innovative winery, palace, and museum, which stands on a former royal estate dating back to the 15th century, complete with a formal miniature maze, a large pond, and vines within its walls. Five minutes away, are the original headquarters of José Maria da Fonseca, a family-owned company and the oldest producer of Muscat, the sweet dessert wine this region is known for.
Alentejo in the last years has become a fantastic destination and during the fall is even better. With views into infinity plains, and wheat fields alternating with vineyards, olive groves, and forests of cork oak, you will be impressed with such breathtaking views. This is also a great time for water sports as water levels - usually lower during the hot summer months - have started to increase. Plus, Alentejo's slow-paced vibe is a big draw for visitors seeking to unwind. Afterward, visit the unique wineries of this region that produce some of the most awarded wines in the country, like Herdade do Esporão.
Covering over 100 km (62 miles), from Porto Covo in the Alentejo, to Burgau in the Algarve, it is protected by the South West Alentejo and Costa Vicentina National Park and is the best-preserved in Europe. Away from the busy coastal resorts, it's a timeless, uncrowded, wildly beautiful place. By the fall, holidaymakers are long gone and, aside from surfers riding some of the best waves in the country, you'll have these spectacular beaches to yourself, where you can relax and savor the contact with nature in the best way possible.
As the summer crowds depart, tranquility returns to the Algarve. While the summer months are the height of the season, September, and even October, are some of the best months to visit the region. The weather is still warm enough for a day at the beach, yet fall colors are starting to erupt and a cool breeze blows in the evening. Also, take some time to travel inland, where you'll find an entirely different Algarve - whitewashed quaint villages and lush woodland. Enjoy the beach, but also discover the best places that offer great food, fantastic wine tasting, golfing, and sightseeing.
This article was originally written in 2017 and updated and edited in 2022