Bask in the warmth of Portugal in November

Destination of the Month
by , SmarterTravel Staff
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Porto, Portugal (Photo: PhotoDisc)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 11, 2005. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: destination, Destination of the Month, Jessica Labrencis, Portugal, seasonality, vacation package.

Portugal still remains relatively undiscovered by U.S. tourists, especially when compared to its big-name neighbors in Western Europe. For a small country about the size of Indiana, this Iberian nation boasts a wide range of activities and events perfect for nearly every traveler. Those who travel Portugal in November can experience pleasant weather, lower prices, and several unique fall events.

Why Portugal in November?

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While other parts of Europe become wet and dreary in November, much of Portugal sees unusually warm and sunny weather referred to as St. Martin's summer. St. Martin's Day on November 11 brings country-wide celebrations, including indulging in roasted chestnuts and a local alcoholic beverage called gerupiga.

In addition to the pleasant weather and St. Martin's events, the first half of November also marks the National Horse Fair in Golega, one of the most important horse festivals in Portugal. Events include equestrian competitions, a horse auction, and an array of local food and beverages.

From November 8 through 13, chocolate lovers will delight in the International Chocolate Festival in Obidous, featuring tastings, chocolate sculptures (including the world's biggest chocolate salami), and a chocolate fashion show.

Travelers in Lisbon at the end of November might consider attending Lisbon's fifth annual Contemporary Art Fair, which occurs from November 24 through 28. November also brings several music festivals to Portugal. The historic city, Guimares, in the north hosts the small 10-day Guimares Jazz Festival. And, the Seixal Jazz Festival takes place in the Beiras region, featuring two concerts per night for a week, along with music exhibitions and workshops.

Visitors can also expect fewer crowds in Portugal during November, which will make exploring the hilly streets of Lisbon, relaxing on the beaches of the Algarve, or touring the countryside less hectic and crowded than the summer months.

Portugal travel and ways to save for November

Because November is the beginning of the off-peak travel season for much of Europe, airfare and lodging is much less expensive than in the summer. And by taking advantage of St. Martin's summer, travelers do not have to sacrifice good weather.

TAP Air Portugal offers savings of more than $200 on flights from New York (Newark) to Lisbon in early November instead of late October. While TAP Air Portugal flies only from New York, Continental, British Airways, Iberia, and Lufthansa are among the airlines that offer flights from the U.S. to Lisbon. November rates on these carriers are generally much less expensive than summer and early fall fares.

Airfare, accommodations, and car rental vacation packages are less expensive in November than in October from providers including Gate1Travel, Go-today.com, and Expedia. Gate1Travel's four-night air-and-hotel package is $350 less in November, while Go-today's fly-and-drive package offers savings of $210.

Many visitors to Portugal choose to stay in one of 40 historic pousada hotels scattered around the country, often located in castles, convents, or fortresses. By taking advantage of low November rates, travelers can save up to 33 percent. Visitors can also purchase a "Pousadas Pass" that includes hotel, dining, and shopping vouchers, and may also include car rental.

Pousada and location October rate November rate Savings
Pousada de Dom Afonso II (Alentejo) $224 $151 33%
Pousada do Barao de Forrester (Douro) $157 $121 23%
Pousada dos Loios (Alentejo) $242 $200 17%
Pousada de Santa Cruz (Faial Island, Azores) $139 $127 9%
Pousada do Castelo (Beiras) $248 $200 19%
Pousada do Monte de Santa Luzia (Minho) $188 $127 32%

Prices were found on Pousadas of Portugal's website listed in euros. Currency conversion was performed at xe.com on October 6.

By putting off that jaunt to Europe for a few more weeks, travelers can take advantage of Portugal's agreeable weather, food and music festivals, and lowered prices. For more information on planning a getaway to Portugal, explore Portugal's official tourism website.

 
 
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