When to Go

If you're planning to visit in summer, particularly July and August, you must reserve a hotel room in advance. If you can, travel to the coastal areas in spring or early fall: the crowds are much thinner, and it could be warm enough for a brisk swim in May and October.

Most of the region's festivals are held in summer. In São Pedro de Sintra, the Festa de São Pedro (St. Peter's Day) celebration is on June 29; there are summer music and arts festivals in Sintra, Cascais, and Queluz; September in Palmela sees the Festa das Vindimas (Grape Harvest Festival); the Feira de Santiago (St. James Fair) takes place in Setúbal at the end of July. Year-round markets include those in São Pedro de Sintra (second and fourth Sunday of every month) and Vila Nogueira de Azeitão (first Sunday of every month). Sesimbra holds a gigantic samba festival (the largest outside Brazil) each August, and its four-day Carnaval includes "Clowns Day," the largest gathering of clowns anywhere in the world.

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