I’m getting a few inquiries from cyclists thinking of coming to Portugal next summer and I keep giving out the same message – think about the temperature!
With storms battering the UK – and a polar vortex freezing the Niagara Falls – planning a summer expedition somewhere hot is probably very tempting for many of us.
But although Portugal is part of Europe, it’s also a long way south and summer temperatures can get excessive.
There’s a saying about the region known as Tras-Os-Montes that the local climate features “nine months of winter and three months of hell” – and that’s in the very furthest north east corner of Portugal.
Come down south to the Alentejo or the Algarve and temperatures will regularly top 40C from June through into September. Breezes on the coast make it more bearable but head inland and you’ll be sweltering just sitting in the shade, let alone riding a bicycle.
I don’t want to put anyone off coming here but, personally, I wouldn’t plan a cycling trip to Portugal for the summer. End of story.
The best months for riding here are probably September to October and March to (early) June. But that’s just a generalisation. It can also be too hot to move in September and May. Equally, the winter months can be gorgeous – cold at night but day after day of bright sunshine.
On my first trip through Portugal, my wife and I arrived in early January and cycled the length of the country on our tandem. We crossed into Galicia in early March and I can only remember a couple of wet days. We were also here through the winter of 2011-12 and had one day of rain between mid-December and early April!
Holiday plans often have to fit around other things in our lives but don’t let the current winter weather where you are influence your decision on when to come to Portugal. Otherwise you might find yourselves dissolving in a puddle of sweat by the roadside wishing you’d gone to Scandinavia!
Obviously, if you live somewhere like Arizona or Queensland then please ignore the above. It’s just meant as a bit of advice for those of us from cooler climates.
Oh… and a belated Happy New Year to you all from Pedal Portugal.