5 Places to Retire to With the World’s Best Climate

5 Places to Retire to With the World’s Best Climate

While the term “perfect climate” means something different for everyone, in International Living’s 2024 Annual Global Retirement Index, we’ve compiled a list of countries with the most varied weather systems to suit every preference.

In this category, we’ve considered specific criteria such as temperature, rainfall, humidity, and sunshine, as well as the personal experiences of expats and our boots-on-the-ground correspondents, to score the nations with the most livable climates.

Whether your idea of paradise is a sunny Mediterranean beach or the freshness of a high-altitude town, four seasons, or eternal spring, our climate category is designed to help you discover your ideal-weather haven.

Read why the countries below made our top five list, and discover the 2024 titleholder of the best in climate category.

5. Panama

By Jessica Ramesch

Best Climate in the World - Panama
©iStock/Stefan Milivojevic

It was a bright, cheerful morning, and the warm tropical waters sparkled in the sunlight. The dark and stormy night had dissipated, leaving in its wake a sky of cornflower blue with innocent wisps of pearl-white cloud.

"Storm? What storm?" they seemed to say.

That’s Panama for you. Where the locals like to tease: "If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes." Before you know it, it’ll be sunny again.

In Panama, days of gray weather are very rare. It doesn’t matter what part of the country you choose. The Caribbean, the Highlands, or the Dry Arc on the Pacific Coast… you’re likely to see good old Sol most every morning of the year.

Sea-level temperatures rarely climb above 95 F, with daytime highs averaging 88 F and evenings around 78 F. In Panama, we don’t spend our days worrying about extreme weather. Not even in the mountains…

"The climate is incredible," says Roy Melton, who moved from the States to the mountain haven of Boquete, Panama’s most popular expat destination. "Even in the rainy season, it’s nice. It’s not like in a colder climate when it rains. That’s miserable. But 70 F and raining—that’s fresh, that’s enjoyable."

Sure, temperatures can be freezing at 11,000 feet on Panama’s highest peak, Volcán Barú, but there are no settlements there. Panama’s highest settlement is in Cerro Punta, at approximately 6,500 feet. The lowest temperatures you’ll experience at night are typically around 60 F… light jacket or cardigan weather. (You’ll still see plenty of people in shorts and sandals.)

Panama doesn’t have four seasons like the US or Canada, but despite the year-round warm weather, there is some variation between the wet or green season and the dry "summer" season on the Pacific coast and in the mountains. The dry season tends to run from December to April, when rains start with an hour or two of light afternoon showers.

In July sometimes there will be a two-to-three-week dry period, and heavy rains typically begin in August and run through November. During the wet season, the air feels cooler and the grass, trees, and shrubs show off their best deep, tropical greens. Humidity is high, so if warm, sultry weather bothers you, you may prefer the country’s higher altitudes.

In these areas there’s always a lot of moisture in the air, and rain falls throughout the year, though the heaviest showers are usually from August through November. The region tends to get at least 100 inches per year (after all, you can’t have rainforests without rain). But the elevation helps keep the mountains cool, lush, and forested… with misty showers often mixing with sunlight. That’s why Boquete is known as the rainbow village. (It’s also one of the world’s premier coffee regions.)

Though flooding can be an issue close to rivers and streams, it’s easy to find land that stays dry all year round. The country rarely suffers from natural disasters; Panama is 27th on the world risk report, scoring better than Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Vietnam, Ecuador, The US, Nicaragua, Australia, Thailand, Japan, and Canada.

Since Panama is completely outside the hurricane belt, that means no hurricanes, ever (though we do get beautiful lightning storms). Geologically speaking, Panama sits on its own plate at the juxtaposition of Central America’s Cocos, Nazca, and Caribbean plates. This region of Mesoamerica is one of the most seismically active regions on Earth. But in Panama, earthquakes are rarely felt on land; most seismic activity is registered offshore.

As one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, Panama is very protective of its flora and fauna. The famous Bridge of Life Biomuseum, designed by Frank Gehry, serves to highlight that fact, as does the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), based right here in Panama since its early days as a small field station in 1923.

Panama is one of only three carbon-negative countries in the world, number one in the region on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), and—with a high forest coverage that amounts to about 65%—Panama has preserved a greater percentage of its rainforest than any other country in the region. There are about 50 national parks and protected reserves here.

Panama has even protected a vast amount of its maritime region. Earlier this year, the country announced that it had surpassed its 30% by 2030 goal by expanding protection to include more than 50% of its total marine area, making it one of few countries on the planet to have achieved such a significant milestone (and the only such country in Latin America).

Alternative energy sources are just one way in which Panama strives to be better. The country is home to Central America’s largest wind farm and there’s also solar energy on the grid, as well. The Panama Canal Authority, the Environment Ministry, and local non-governmental organizations do a lot to help reforest and protect the environment. (As do expats, who often organize beach clean-ups and other trash collection efforts in their communities.)

This country isn’t perfect, but there are a great many people working tirelessly to ensure that environmental protections remain in place.

If you like the idea of warm, sunny weather, with a healthy dose of moisture in your air… in a lush, verdant, and abundant land with no extreme heat or hurricanes… and lots of beautiful natural parks and beaches with pristine waters to enjoy yourself in… well then maybe you deserve to test drive Panama for yourself.

For a more detailed look at the climate in Panama, check out: Panama Weather and Climate.

4. Costa Rica

By Bekah Bottone

Best Climate in the World - Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s stunning landscapes offer various climates to enjoy… discover the perfect one for your lifestyle.

Natural beauty is everywhere: in lush rainforests, on remote beaches, and surrounding majestic volcanos. Costa Rica’s location between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn creates different weather patterns and microclimates across the country.

Before heading to Costa Rica, research the specific regions you plan to visit so you can pack appropriately. Weather conditions are always beyond our control, so being flexible and prepared helps you make the most of your experience.

Decide where to visit by deciding which climate you most desire. What are your needs and must-haves about climate? "I have always been a tropical beach girl in my heart. I left Connecticut when I was 18 because it was too cold. Nowadays, my house near the beach in Tamarindo is my ideal climate—hot with ocean breezes to get the palm trees swaying," share IL’s Costa Rica Correspondent, Bekah Bottone.

Here are the primary regions in Costa Rica.

  • North Pacific Coast: The Gold Coast and the Nicoya Peninsula—Guanacaste

  • Northern Zone Lowlands: Arenal

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest

  • Central Valley: San José, Grecia, Santa Ana, San Ramon, and Cartago

  • Central Pacific Coast: Jacó and Manuel Antonio

  • South Pacific and Southern Zone: Ojochal, Uvita, Osa Peninsula, and Dominical

  • Caribbean Coast: Puerto Viejo and Limón

Costa Rica is characterized by dry and wet seasons. Ticos refer to the seasons based on rainfall instead of temperature. The dry season verano, summer, spans from early December to April. The other season is invierno, winter, which lasts from May to November. Yet some places are wetter than others. For example, Guanacaste is the driest area in the country. The South Pacific and Caribbean coasts are rainier, places where dense jungle butts right up to the shoreline.

The Ocean trade winds, including the Caribbean alisios and the southwest Pacific Papagayo winds, are affected and guided by things like El Niño (causing drier and hotter weather on the Pacific coast), La Niña (causing wetter weather), and Atlantic tropical storms. The beaches have an average daytime temperature between 80 F and 90 F, while the temperature in the mountains and the Central Valley have a daytime average between 70 F and 80 F.

Costa Rica’s seasons don’t drastically change when it comes to temperature due to the country’s location, which is between 8º and 10º north of the equator. However, seasonal changes are noticeable when you spend time year-round in Costa Rica.

For example, Bekah Bottone shares her seasonal shifts in Tamarindo, on the northern Pacific coast. "You experience the wind pick up around Christmas (we call them los vientos navideños), the dry dusty bochorno times around Easter (a term that translates into intense heat), bright sunny, blue-skied days in the dry season, the coolness of rainy nights (which means around 75 F, so it is all relative), and the cloudy rainy season color explosion that occurs in the sky at sunsets."

Beach life is about embracing the heat and humidity. However, in the dry season in Guanacaste, you never have to worry about rain plans as it usually doesn’t rain for about five months. Your closets will be filled with bathing suits, shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses… tropical casual beach wear is all you need year-round.

Roxana and Peter Buonomo moved their family to Tamarindo from Hamilton, Ontario, in June 2022. They bought a restaurant and opened a new school—it was time for a fresh start. Roxana shares, "We have experienced a different world since our move. The daily sunshine gives us lots of vitamin D, the opposite of Canada, where it is cold and gloomy for 60% to 70% of the year. Waking up to a green, lush, beautiful day is a great shift. This life is better for our skin and hearts; we have more energy and feel relaxed. The saltwater is healing; you learn to relax and go with the flow."

Mel Rhoden is a yoga teacher on the Caribbean Coast in Puerto Viejo. She loves her tranquil beach life. "It rains, but it doesn’t rain all day. It is time to enjoy the good weather when the sun is out. Also, the climate is conducive to healing because it’s surrounded by water and rainforest," shares Mel.

The highlands region of Costa Rica stretches from Tilaran in the northwest to the Turrialba Volcano in the southeast. This area is known for its eternal spring-like weather, which is always comfortable. Higher elevations, like on volcanoes and in the mountains, can sometimes be chillier, under 60 F.

Stephanie Ruiz, who bought a home in Chachagua (about 10 miles from Volcán Arenal), experiences those microclimates you often hear about. "It often rains at our house, and then a few minutes away, the skies are clear." La Fortuna and its surroundings are drier and warmer—where the bamboo starts growing, the environment is more tropical and jungle-like. The climate varies around Lake Arenal. For example, a bit farther west, Nuevo Arenal gets about 50% more rain than Tronadora, just across the lake. And Tronadora is much windier than Nuevo Arenal.

No matter where you live, you can usually reach a different climate in a couple of hours in Costa Rica. Bekah Bottone adds, "When it gets too hot on the beach, we plan a weekend trip to the Central Valley for a more refreshing climate or a volcano to reenergize in nature and revive ourselves in cool rivers and sparkling waterfalls." It’s no wonder Costa Rica made the #1 spot in our Retirement Index!

For a more detailed look at the climate in Costa Rica, check out: Costa Rica Weather and Climate.

3. Mexico

Best Climate Mexico

By Bel Woodhouse

Many people know Mexico’s climate from vacations to beach destinations like Cancún, Cabo, or Puerto Vallarta, known for warm, sunny weather. But Mexico is a big country. About three times the size of Texas, there are many different climates with a variety of environments. From rainforests to mountains, lakes to deserts, beaches to jungles, all are found within the country’s borders and influenced by topography and proximity to the equator.

As a result, there really is something for everybody, weather-wise, in Mexico.

It surprises many that there are parts of Mexico where you’ll need more than shorts and flip-flops to stay comfortable. Some parts of Mexico can even have an overnight freeze, so you’ll still enjoy the seasons.

IL contributor Jason Holland lived in San Miguel de Allende, a historic town in the Colonial Highlands, for over five years and said overnight freezes are rare but happen. The region sits at 6,200 feet in elevation, with daytime temps comfortable generally in the 70s and 80s throughout the year. But it cools off into the 50s at night, lower in January and February, so no need to get rid of your winter wardrobe, it’ll get used in Mexico.

In San Miguel de Allende, the expats say that during the day it’s t-shirt weather most of the time when you are out about. But if you’re heading out in the early morning or the evening, be sure to bring a sweater or coat—and make sure to have a blanket for your bed for comfortable sleeping.

Nearby, in other highlands towns in this region, including Queretaro and Guanajuato, you’ll find a similar climate, which tends to be dry and arid. It very rarely rains outside of the rainy season, which is in summer and brings relatively little rainfall. Rain is mostly in the mid-afternoon, when it rains heavily for about an hour.

On the coast, it’s a different story. It’s flip-flop and shorts weather, warm and humid year-round along much of the central and southern Pacific coast, in places like Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Huatulco.

It’s the same on the other side of the country along the Gulf of Mexico and in the Mexican Caribbean in the Yucatan. Towns like Cancún, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum enjoy the same year-round warm weather. It’s a tropical climate, so the rainy season can be quite dramatic, with heavy rain at times, giving you all the lush tropical greenery that goes along with it.

Bel Woodhouse, our Mexico Correspondent, lives in the region on Cozumel island just offshore from Playa del Carmen and says, "It cools down in the winter months to a very comfortable level, with less humidity too," Laughing, she says, "It’s cool enough that you put pants on instead of little summer dresses and don’t need air conditioning at that time of year. Something that you definitely need during the hot and steamy summers."

It really doesn’t rain in winter either… think cloudless blue skies nearly every day. That’s why it’s ‘High season’ in these destinations at that time of year–November to the end of April–for tourists and part-time expats who are escaping the cold back home. A big snowbird population from northern America and Canada returns every year to enjoy the warm Caribbean.

If you’d rather eliminate rain and humidity altogether, you also have other options in Mexico.

The northern mainland Pacific coast and the Baja California peninsula, including Los Cabos, Ensenada, Rocky Point, San Felipe, La Paz, and Rosarito, is more a desert climate… with a starkly beautiful landscape to go with it. Dry and arid—and hot during the day, cool at night—with very little rain. In Los Cabos, for example, there are only 15 days of rain in the whole year. The flip side of that is there can be issues with water access at times, especially as new development continues. Local authorities are working to address these issues.

Perhaps the place with the best weather in Mexico is the Lake Chapala region in the central part of the country, about an hour south of the major city of Guadalajara. With a high elevation overall and the lake on one side and tall mountains on the other, the area in between on the lakeshore has a special microclimate. It’s never too hot, never too cold.

The lake is the largest in the country, and several towns like Chapala and Ajijic, along its northern shore are popular with expats. They are among the longest-running expat communities in Mexico, popularly referred to as Lakeside. With its Goldilocks weather of not too hot and not too cold, it is no wonder it’s such a popular spot for expats, especially retirees. It is also a huge snowbird destination, with the expat population swelling in the winter months.

Although, like the Colonial Highlands, Lake Chapala does cool off a bit at night, and there is a rainy season from about June to September.

Most expats say rainy seasons around the country are manageable. It tends to rain most in the afternoons. So plan any outdoor activities for the morning and plan to be undercover by the time the clouds roll in for the afternoon showers. Most expats who live in these regions with a rainy season say it’s not a deal breaker at all—in fact, many quite enjoy it.

For a more detailed look at the climate in Mexico, check out: Mexico Weather and Climate.

2. Ecuador (tie)

Best Climate Ecuador

By Fiona Mitchell

If you like experiencing a varied climate—some rainfall, clouds, and plenty of sunshine—then Ecuador may be the place for you. Due to the high altitude in many areas, and its location straddling the equator, Ecuador provides near-perfect weather, no matter where you live. The temperate climate ensures there are no dramatic weather swings like those experienced in the US and Europe, with scorching hot summers and freezing winters. Instead, the temperature stays about the same pretty much year-round, with just minor variations. Every day the sun rises around 6 a.m. and sets about 6.30 p.m., meaning the entire country enjoys 12 hours of direct equatorial daylight, 365 days a year.

The other variable to consider is that Ecuador’s location in the southern hemisphere means the seasons are the opposite of the northern hemisphere, so when it’s winter in Florida, it’s summer in Ecuador. "I get a kick out of talking to my in-laws in South Carolina in August when the heat and humidity are unbearable, and they can’t do much outdoors after 9 a.m.", says IL Ecuador contributor Fiona Mitchell, "while I’m sitting on my terrace in Cuenca wearing a light, long-sleeved top, enjoying another 70-degree day.

"My husband and I moved here four years ago and love to hike and ride our bikes in the nearby Cajas mountains, and we can do it year-round. Everywhere else we’ve ever lived, there are only certain times of year that you can do that because it’s either too hot or there’s too much snow on the ground the rest of the time!"

Although Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America, the mainland (i.e., excluding the Galápagos Islands) has three distinct geographical regions, which each have their own climates: the coast, the sierra (mountain highlands), and the oriente (the Amazon jungle). The benefit of being in a small country is that if you don’t like the weather, it’s just a short trip to one of the other geographical regions to get the temperature you prefer.

In the mountain towns and cities, early mornings can be chilly (in the 50s), but by midmorning, it typically starts to warm up (high 60s); by noon, it’s often in the low 70s, and by late afternoon, you’re back into the 60s. In the Andes, altitude plays a big hand; the higher up you go, the cooler it will be. Because the mountains are sitting on a heating pad, better known as the equator, unless you are climbing to the top of Ecuador’s highest Andean peaks, then you’re not going to see snow.

Nestled at 8,400 feet above sea level in a basin amidst the Andes, Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its colonial architecture and boasts the largest expat community in the country, estimated to be over 12,000. But its proximity to the equator means you enjoy spring-like weather year-round: temperatures dropping to the 50s at night and reaching the high 60s to low 70s during the day.

"Climate was one of the main reasons that drew me to Cuenca," says Regina Weitzel, editor for the Cuenca Expats Magazine, who relocated to Cuenca five years ago. After living in Chicago for a decade and teaching in Abu Dhabi for a short spell, she is enjoying being able to live somewhere where she doesn’t need heating or A/C. "I love that it’s pleasantly cool at night in Cuenca, and I can sleep comfortably with the window open," she says. "During the daytime, it can feel as though it’s in the 80s, but as soon as you’re in the shade, it’s beautifully cool. And not having to pay to heat or cool my apartment is a huge plus," adds Regina.

In the smaller Andean towns popular with expats, Cotacachi, just 20 miles north of Quito, Ecuador’s capital, or Vilcabamba, which is 96 miles south of Cuenca, experience the same temperate Andean climate, although Vilcabamba is generally a touch warmer due to its lower elevation at 5,000 feet.

The coast is usually considerably warmer than the Andes, with temperatures ranging from the 60s to high 80s, although the Humboldt Current provides a significant cooling effect, keeping the coastline from getting so hot that your flip-flops melt on the pavement.

Salinas is the most popular expat resort city, where you can sunbathe on the crescent-shaped beach lined with seafood restaurants. Manta is also a booming expat destination, a larger city of over 200,000 with warmer weather and long stretches of sandy beaches. The smaller resort settlements of Olón, Montañita, and Puerto López are popular tourist locations for whale watching, surfing, and snorkeling. For those who like to wear shorts and flip-flops all year, the coast can be the ideal location, and many reasonably priced rentals are available right on the waterfront, where the ocean breezes keep temperatures much more comfortable.

As far as expats living in the Amazon, there are a few hardy souls who seek out the peace and tranquility that living in the jungle affords, but of course, the temperatures here are very humid and hot, with heavier rainfall year-round.

The main difference between the climate variations is not what time of year is it, but if it’s the dry or wet season. The dry season (winter) runs roughly from June to September, and the weather is generally sunny but cooler. The wet season (summer) is from October to May and is typically a little warmer but prone to afternoon thunderstorms. When it does rain in Ecuador, it doesn’t usually last all day long, and there are very few days when the sun doesn’t make an appearance at some point.

Overall, Ecuador offers a climate to suit every taste—whether sunning on the beach in Salinas or hiking in the Andes alongside mountain streams, you’ll find a location that’s not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

For a more detailed look at the climate in Ecuador, check out: Ecuador Weather and Climate.

2. Colombia (tie)

Best Climate Colombia

By Michelle Thompson

Colombia has practically every climate to suit a person’s taste—warm, tropical beaches on the Caribbean coast; mild, mountain air from the Andes; dry, arid Tatacoa desert; and hot, humid Amazonian rainforest. There is even a snow-capped mountain just 25 miles from the shores of the Caribbean Sea. "The operative word for climate and weather in Colombia is microclimates," says Erin Donaldson, an IL contributor living in Pereira. "Everything related to weather in this country is dependent on elevation, humidity, and geographic factors like mountains or plains."

Most homes in Colombia don’t have heating or cooling systems, though many touristic regions do their best to accommodate tourists and visitors. The weather is strongly affected by the microclimates of each of the country’s regions. The higher you go, the colder the average temperature. Bogotá and Manizales are always cool and rainy because of their high altitudes and the surrounding Andes mountains. These cities can get as much as 45 to 55 F during the night. A small space heater is helpful but not easy to find in stores, so it is good to pack one before you arrive.

In cities like Medellín or Bucaramanga, you are typically at an altitude of 1,000 meters and will see cooler temperatures that might require a scarf or light jacket. Daytime temperatures are pleasant enough to wear short sleeves, a hat, and sunglasses if it gets sunny. In Medellín and Pereira, it usually rains once daily, so carrying an umbrella in your purse or backpack is a good idea. Donaldson recalls a story from a friend. One Irish man who traveled from Bogotá to Tolima arrived bundled up in a jacket, scarf, and hat. "Within only a few hours of travel, they were in a hot, humid microclimate, and he was a bit overheated. This is how the weather works in Colombia."

In Bogotá, the weather can quickly change from morning to night. Michelle Thompson, an IL contributor who lived in the capital for three years and later moved to Cartagena, explains how she adapted. "In my first three months of living in Bogotá, I would step out at 11 a.m. in a t-shirt and pants with the sun shining. By 1 p.m., the air had cooled, and the rain was pouring down. Now, I always carry a light jacket and umbrella out the door when I visit the capital."

The lower the altitude, the flatter and marsh-covered the land can get. Cities like Cali and Cartagena have two seasons, dry and desert-like and hot and humid. "There are days when I change my clothes three times. Especially if I’m running errands or have appointments. I’m always shaking beach sand off my bed sheets and shoes. It’s a small price to pay for year-round beach weather," says Thompson. Wearing breathable summer-appropriate clothes will help you stay comfortable. Polyester material gets sticky on the hottest days, so always stay hydrated by drinking plenty of bottled water.

In Cartagena and other coastal cities like Santa Marta and Barranquilla, temperatures are usually between 76 and 88 F. The closeness of the Caribbean Sea means most days are hot, sunny, and muggy. "Cartagena is known for its dry and wet seasons. Bring your sunscreen and umbrella and look for a home that offers shade from trees or has air conditioning," says Thompson. A fan should be enough in most cases, but when temperatures rise above 85 F during the dry season, you’ll be glad to have that air conditioner.

Colombia has one of the most impressive biodiverse natural landscapes in the world. The microclimates support local agriculture and have created awe-inspiring nature reserves and national parks. One of the most favorable microclimates can be found in the coffee triangle region. Colombia has a long tradition of coffee production thanks to its moderate weather and rainfall. The Eje Cafetero’s closeness to the Andean mountains makes for a cooler rainy climate ideal for the paramo of Otun Lake, a rare biome with cactus-like plants that have adapted to harsher growing conditions. The semi-tropical temperature yields some of the best coffee in the world and attracts many visitors to the nearby towns.

The town of Salento offers visitors and residents stunning scenery and a laid-back lifestyle with beautiful surrounding mountains. "Salento was the first place I visited after arriving in Colombia. I couldn’t believe the view. The local pace of living was so different than the busy, chaotic streets of downtown Bogotá. I saw some spectacular views and found great hiking trails around the town," says Thompson.

For her part, Donaldson recommends visiting Valle del Cauca, an area located in the western part of Colombia near the Pacific Ocean. "One of the towns we found particularly favorable for weather is La Union in Valle del Cauca, a grape-producing area that is almost identical to the central valley of California in summer. The climate is drier overall with more irrigation/sprinklers to disperse waterways into agricultural fields."

For a more detailed look at the climate in Mexico, check out: Colombia Weather and Climate.

1. Portugal

Best Climate Portugal

By Terry Coles

You can kiss those snow and sleet-filled days goodbye if you settle down in Portugal where some of the mildest weather in all of Europe can be found. Winters bring wet, temperate weather with dry, warm to hot and sunny summers, depending on location. Bordered by over 1,100 miles of Atlantic coastline, the country has a mild Mediterranean climate with some variations throughout.

In the north near the city of Porto, the climate is characterized by rainy winters with temperatures ranging from 55 F during the day dropping to the 40s at night. Rarely do winter temperatures dip below freezing. Summers bring sunshine and far less rain, with temperatures reaching 80 degrees F and cooling off at night. The average yearly rainfall in and around Porto is 48 inches. But all that rain makes it the perfect location for producing what the region is famous for, port wine.

Inland toward the Spanish border, winters are colder than the rest of the country but are still mild compared to the rest of Europe.

In Central Portugal, the Serra da Estrella Mountain range, at just over 6,500 feet above sea level, is the highest point in mainland Portugal. The mountain forecast during the winter brings the country’s only area of snowfall along with its only ski resort. Winter temperatures dip down to 40 F at night and hover around 55 F during the daytime.

Further south along Portugal’s Silver Coast, the winters are cold and rainy with abundant cloud cover and peeks of sunshine. Summers bring warm to spring-like temperatures with averages ranging from 65-70 F during the daytime to lows of 50 at night. The average yearly rainfall is 27 inches. Just as in the north, the abundant rainfall in the region creates a myriad of stunning scenery with lush farmland, green rolling hills, orchards, and wildflowers. Portugal has microclimates where temperatures deviate from the norm and often cause a surprise for those who choose to live or visit. The city of Caldas da Rainha, a mid-sized city on the Silver Coast, is one of these. Winters can bring weeks of rain, fog, and misery to some, while others just love it.

"We spent our first two years in Portugal on the outskirts of Caldas da Rainha in a tiny village called Casal do Cozinheiro. From our rented house, we could see stunning views of farmland, rolling hills, and orchards that we just loved," says Terry Coles, a frequent contributor for IL. "But come winter, we were miserable with foggy mornings, heavy cloud cover, rain, and cold temperatures that lasted for weeks at a time. Summertime didn’t bring much relief during those two years when temperatures rose only to 65 F during the day, and we still needed to use our pellet burner to warm up the inside of our old house. When we decided to move three hours south to the Algarve it was the first of August with highs of only 65 F on the Silver Coast and 95 F when we reached our new home."

One hour south of Caldas da Rainha is Portugal’s vibrant capital city, Lisbon. Summers in Lisbon are warm and dry with highs reaching the mid 80’s. Winters do bring rain like the rest of the country, with cold temperatures dipping down to the 40s at night and reaching highs of 55 F during the daytime. Rainfall amounts average of 30 inches a year in Lisbon and the surrounding areas.

The rural inland region of the Alentejo is sheltered from the coastal winds by the mountains that cool off much of the country during the summer. This results in extremely hot, dry summer temperatures throughout the region, with highs reaching 100 F or more with scorching sunshine. Winters in the Alentejo are cold with temperatures ranging from the 40s overnight to the 50s in the daytime with an average yearly rainfall of 24 inches.

Southern Portugal’s Algarve region boasts of having over 300 days of sunshine annually and offers visitors and residents some of the best weather in all of Europe. Year-round temperatures in the Algarve are some of the mildest and sunniest in Portugal. Summertime brings fresh coastal breezes that keep the high temperatures bearable and pleasant. Average temperatures during the summer range from 80 F to 90 F, while winters are mild with highs in the mid-’60s and lows in the ’50s. Humidity in the Algarve is low, averaging between 60 and 80% throughout the year. The Algarve receives much less rain than the rest of Portugal, averaging 18 inches or less per year.

"My husband and I love the weather in the Algarve," says Terry Coles. "Summers are hot, dry, and breezy, so we rarely need to turn on the air conditioner. In winter, we find that hooded sweatshirts provide the perfect coverup for daytime outings but sometimes need a heavier coat for evenings."

Even in the winter residents of Portugal can enjoy long walks on the beaches or hiking along the trails that overlook the coast from above. Put on a wet suit and take to the sea for body boarding or ocean swimming year-round if you dare. Or perhaps you’d prefer to catch some rays while reading a novel on the beach, or enjoying some solitude when beaches are vacant of summer crowds.

From cool mountain temperatures in the north to hot, dry summers in the south with abundant sunshine, there is much to love about this tiny gem of a country in the southwest corner of Europe. Portugal’s weather offers something for almost everyone and so much more.

For a more detailed look at the climate in Portugal, check out: Portugal Weather and Climate.

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