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"We didn't know we had an April," one Lisbon resident said, "until that song came out." As a song and a season, "April in Portugal" is famous. Summer might be the most popular time to visit, but for the traveler who can chart his or her own course, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit.

To use a North American analogy, the climate of Portugal most closely parallels that of California. There are only slight fluctuations in temperature between summer and winter; the overall mean ranges from 77°F (25°C) in summer to about 58°F (14°C) in winter. The rainy season begins in November and usually lasts through January. Because of the Gulf Stream, Portugal's northernmost area, Minho, enjoys mild (albeit very rainy) winters, even though it's at approximately the same latitude as New York City.

Snow brings many skiing enthusiasts to the Serra de Estrela in north-central Portugal. For the most part, however, winter means only some rain and lower temperatures in other regions. The Algarve and especially Madeira enjoy temperate winters. Madeira, in fact, basks in its high season in winter. The Algarve, too, is somewhat of a winter Riviera that attracts sun worshipers from North America and Europe. Summers in both tend to be long, hot, clear, and dry.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.