In association with: Visit Portugal
With a mild year-round climate, diverse culinary scene and outdoor adventures aplenty, Portugal is full of crowd-free places that come to life in autumn and winter.
Nicknamed the ‘islands of eternal spring’ for their subtropical climate and year‑round sun, this archipelago is an excellent bet for clients looking for a late‑season escape. Nature, sea and a laid-back lifestyle come together on its biggest islands, Madeira and Porto Santo, with activities ranging from diving and snorkelling to sailing, surfing and fishing.
Those wanting to stay dry can go whale watching, canyoning or hiking in lush mountains, while calmer pursuits can be found in the ancient Laurissilva forest or around the historic levadas (canals).
If that isn’t enough to entertain, Madeira boasts a lively cultural calendar, including Carnival, the Atlantic Festival and New Year’s Eve, when Funchal’s sky lights up with fireworks.
From the award-winning Praia da Marinha to the dramatic Praia da Falésia, the Algarve is renowned for its sparkling coastline.
But it’s not only about gold sands here: flamingos nest in Ria Formosa Natural Park – a coastal lagoon visitors can explore by boat – while hiking trails such as the Via Algarviana invite on-foot exploration. Cyclists can take the Ecovia trail, meandering past the majestic cliffs of Sagres, while surfers will find impressive waves at Praia da Bordeira on the west coast.
For wine lovers, there’s the Rota dos Vinhos, while golfers can tee off in Vilamoura, Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo. Add scenic drives, mystical caves and a helping of history, and you can sell this enchanting region, whatever the season.
There are more activities to enjoy in the Alentejo, north of the Algarve. Sheltered, surffriendly coves dot the rugged coastline, while hilly landscapes make it a hotspot for hikers and bikers, who come for the Rota Vicentina, a network of coastal routes stretching 250 miles.
Canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding and horse riding add to the appeal, while Unesco-listed sites such as the hillside town of Elvas and the Roman city of Évora draw culture seekers.
But food and drink is the real hit here, with wineries dotting the landscapes, rustic restaurants serving traditional dishes and cooking classes offering visitors a chance to better understand this all but untouched part of the world.
Madeira Flower Festival
Running from October 1-24 in Funchal, this colourful extravaganza brings together parades, flower markets, folk performances and concerts with flamboyant costumes, floats and floral creations.
Birdwatching Festival, Algarve
The year’s most-awaited nature event will take place in Sagres from October 1-5 and will once again showcase the beauty of both the Algarve and bird migration to nature lovers worldwide.
National Horse Fair, Alentejo
This event in Golegã attracts thousands of people in November to celebrate the equestrian tradition of the region, including the magnificent Lusitanian thoroughbred horse.
PICTURES: Visit Portugal; AtAlgarve; José Mendes