Adventure Travel Arts & Culture Packing

What I Packed: Portugal in the Offseason

Here’s what to pack if you’re planning a trip to Portugal in the offseason.

Olivia visited Portugal for an eight-day trip with the Portugal Board of Tourism.

Where: Lisbon, Belem, Sintra, Coimbra, Obidos, Aveiro, Porto, and the Douro Valley in Portugal.

When: December 4-13.

How Long: Eight days on the ground and two days for travel due to connecting flights.

Weather: If you’re planning a trip to Portugal in the winter, be prepared for anything. December is the wettest month of the year, so expect a lot of rain and moisture in the air. While it’s often cold and cloudy, there’s still plenty of sunshine to enjoy throughout the month. During my visit, many afternoons were sunny and cool, and I didn’t need more than a sweater and scarf. Make sure to bring a warm jacket with you for the nighttime, though, because the temperature can drop significantly. This time of year, it ranges from roughly 48 to 60 degrees, and you’ll feel a dramatic change as you go further north.

RELATED: When to Visit Portugal

Type of Trip: I needed to pack light-to medium-weight layers that could be dressed up or down and worn in a mild and cold climate. I also needed raingear and comfortable shoes (sneakers and low-heeled boots) for touring historical sites, which involved walking through hilly terrain and cobblestone streets.

Packing Challenge: Having a light suitcase was really important because my trip involved traveling to a new destination nearly every day, which meant checking in and out of numerous hotels. My challenge was packing enough clothing articles to last me for nine days and actually fitting them into a carry-on. I needed to bring items could be dressed up or down and weren’t bulky, because I wanted to leave extra room for souvenirs.

Mouse over the photos below for detailed explanations of the items I packed. Any time you see the Thinglink icon on a photo (bottom right), you can mouse over it to interact with the image.

What I Should Have Left Behind: At night it got extremely cold, especially in Porto and the Douro Valley. I wish I left behind the short puffer jacket I packed and instead brought a longer warm coat for fuller body coverage.

RELATED: How to Pack for a Week in a Carry-On Bag

What I Should Have Packed: You can count on getting plenty of exercise in Portugal— the country is full of steep hills, and you will do a lot of walking. The downside was that this made my muscles very sore, so I wish I had packed muscle relief cream. I also wish I had put insoles in my sneakers and boots for added support.

Also, it is important to note that pickpocketing is common in Portugal, especially if you’re a tourist. Luckily nothing happened to me while I was there, but I also wish I brought a purse that zipped closed rather than buttoned for added security.

More from SmarterTravel:

Olivia Briggs thinks December is a great time for a visit to Portugal. To learn more about her trip, follow her on Twitter @Olileibri.

(Photos: Olivia Briggs)

By Olivia Briggs

Nothing excites Assistant Editor Olivia Briggs quite like traveling to new destinations. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

Briggs joined SmarterTravel in 2012 and became a member of the editorial team in 2015. She has lived in Ireland and has worked in the hospitality, tourism, and online travel industries for more than a decade. She loves scoping out new hotels, promoting unfamiliar destinations, and writing about niche travel topics.

Her stories have also appeared online on USA Today, The Huffington Post, TripAdvisor, Jetsetter, Oyster, Savoteur, and AirfareWatchdog.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "The Baggallini Zipper Cross-Body Travel Bag. This is a great travel bag because it's small, compact, has many compartments, and can be worn across your body for added security."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Snowboarding through the Alps and staying in a chalet overlooking the mountains."

Travel Motto: "Travel more; it awakens your soul."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window seat."

Email Olivia at