Discover some of the best places to live in Portugal with this guide to some of the best cities and areas, including Porto and Lisbon.
If you’re living in Portugal, there are some great places to choose from, all of which have their own unique character and attractions. Below, you’ll discover some of the best cities to live in Portugal, including Porto and Lisbon.
This guide includes:
- Where to live in Lisbon
- Where do expats live in Portugal?
- Where is the best place to live in Portugal?
Where are the best cities to live in Portugal?
For expats considering living in Portugal, Lisbon is an obvious draw, with its winding streets and beautiful architecture, but there are plenty of other expat-friendly alternatives, whether you’re looking for a slower pace of life or a beachside location.
When choosing where to live in Portugal, as well as quality of life, it’s important to think about the transport system and how close you need to be to a major city and airport. Here, we take a look at some of the best cities to live in Portugal, based on their popularity and proximity, before moving on to some options further afield.
Lisbon ticks many of the main boxes for expats, with a diverse range of different lifestyles available across its neighbourhoods. We’ll take a brief look at some of Lisbon’s most popular areas below, but to learn about the different options around the city in greater detail, you can check out our full guide on where to live in Lisbon.
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is situated on the Southwestern Coast. It boasts a climate that is warm in the spring and not too hot in the summer and offers something for everyone such is the diverse array of attractions.
There are plenty of wonderful places to eat and to be entertained as well as many architectural delights. The Alfama is one of the oldest parts of Lisbon and, because this area largely survived the earthquake of 1755, many of the old buildings can still be admired.
Some of Lisbon’s most well-known and popular areas are as follows:
- Alfama & Graca – Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, with winding streets and a great sense of both tradition and community
- Avenidas New & Alvalade – Home to large expensive apartments and good amenities, but can suffer from a lack of atmosphere
- Bairro Alto – A popular place to enjoy Lisbon’s nightlife, popular with young people and hipsters
- Lower Town (Baixa) – A big draw for with property investors in search of apartments
- Belem – A riverside neighbourhood with some of the city’s most famous museums
- Restelo – Boasts a tranquil and laid back lifestyle, albeit with property prices to match
- Campo de Ourique – Popular with middle-class families, but lacks a Metro station
- Nations Park – A little further from the centre, boasts more contemporary architecture and a pleasant waterfront location
- Prince Real – Within walking distance of the centre, property here can be expensive
- Santos & Lapa – Popular with middle class locals and well-off retirees
Chaves is a small town situated by the River Tâmega in the North of Portugal and not far from the border of Spain. It has a population of around 45,000 and many of the villages that are situated around the town are extremely poor but the people who live there are renowned for their friendliness.
Chaves is famous for its many spas and they are said to cure many ailments. The warm temperature attract people from all over the country to sample their delights. It also boasts some great architecture which dates back to Roman times and a fort which is a reminder of the war of Independence with Spain.
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and has its own airport. It is situated in the estuary of the Douro River in Northern Portugal and is considered to be a centre of culture and entertainment which rivals the capital, Lisbon.
Porto has around 200,000 residents and the wider Porto region is known for its fortified wine. Located in Northern Portugal in the estuary of the Douro River, there’s plenty here to keep expats entertained, from modern amenities to the historic UNESCO-recognised centre.
Porto isn’t necessarily the best place to head if you’re looking for a sunspot, with the summer season shorter than many other districts and winter suffering from a great deal of rain. Despite this, it’s very popular with tourists, which means the towns on the outskirts of the city might be a better choice for expats relocating permanently.
Prices in the city centre can be higher than in neighbouring areas, though a range of property types are available, from apartments to family homes. The new quarter south of the city at Vila Nova da Gaia a popular choice, while expats can find seafront properties at Madalena or Lavadores.
A significant distance from the city, but still in the Porto region, lovers of a rural lifestyle can find pleasant properties in the Douro Valley.
Popular areas in Porto:
- Campanha – Just outside the city centre – the ideal place to enjoy green space within easy reach of the city
- Foz do Douro – The place to be for an upmarket beach lifestyle, requires a big budget
- Ribeira – One of Porto’s most vibrant areas and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Ramalde – Popular with investors and one of Porto’s most thriving up and coming areas.
Located to the north of the country, Braga is the oldest city in Portugal and it’s northern quarter is popular with expats in search of a chilled out lifestyle and attractive property prices.
The city’s old quarter rarely sees properties come onto the market, so the areas nearest to the university offer good value for those in search of an apartment, be it a smaller property or one with enough room for all the family. Braga has plenty of modern properties and a popular housing market. If you’re looking for more tranquillity or are intending on retiring in Braga, the towns and villages on the outskirts of the city offer larger properties (often in need of renovation) that often come with plenty of land.
In the centre of Portugal is the city of Aveiro – often known as the Venice of Portugal. With fewer tourists than many other places in Portugal, the area is popular with expats – especially those considering retirement. Good road links to the likes of Lisbon and Porto are on offer.
The city centre has undergone lots of modernisation in recent years, bringing in more pedestrianised areas to encourage walkers and cyclists. In the centre of Aveiro, apartments are the most popular property type, while better value is available nearer to the university. Most properties in the city don’t possess much land, with courtyards more common.
Portugal’s third-largest city, Coimbra boasts one of the largest universities in the world, and already has an established expat population. Coimbra is popular with retirees looking for a slower pace of life within easy reach of plenty of amenities.
Three types of properties tend to dominate the city – older properties in need of renovation, apartments that are very popular with students, and larger properties with lots of land in the more rural areas on the outskirts.
The Setubal district is located in the south west of Portugal, with its city home to around 90,000 people. Due to its proximity to Lisbon, Setubal is one of the busiest cities in the country, with large numbers of tourists flocking here each year.
Setubal offers a range of property types, with those close to the port offering reasonable prices but in an area of high demand. Expats often target the apartment developments close to the beaches for their holiday homes, and naturally prices are higher here than in other areas.
While the best area for you to move to in Portugal depends primarily on your own circumstances (such as your interests, job and budget), foreign buyers have been flooding to the Algarve for decades, especially as they approach retirement. With an affordable cost of living and a sense of community, as well as the convenient transport hub of Faro airport, it’s easy to see the attraction of the southern regions of Portugal.
The Western/Central Algarve region is located between Faro and Sagres and consists of some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. It can also be classed as the centre of Portugal’s tourist industry.
Albufeira is the main resort in the Algarve and can guarantee that you will never be short of things to do in this area. Plus, the weather is usually glorious throughout most of the year.
The Central Algarve has many holiday-type developments but due to its vast beaches you can always find somewhere quiet to enjoy the fabulous surroundings. There are also lots of sporting activities that you can take part in as well as many beautiful restaurants which are very family orientated.
In the Faro district, the city of Portimao has become popular with expats, with stunning beaches and a tourist-friendly vibe. The main beach in Portimao, Praia da Rocha, is incredibly popular. Those moving to the city will find a range of older 19th and 20th century buildings dotted around the town, as well as more modern apartment blocks.
The Eastern Algarve is situated to the east of Faro and is very different to the rest of the Algarve as it has not yet been developed too intensely. There is a tranquil feel about the place and you will find that the tourism seems to blend in with the local activities almost effortlessly. There seems to be a relaxed way of life here and although hotel developments are starting to appear more frequently, there is something very special about this place and it is considered to be a wonderful place to live if it is your intention to slow your pace of life.