Whether you’d like to be in close proximity to the Lisbon attractions or find some peace and quiet in the city’s surrounding areas, there’s plenty of places to consider when living in Lisbon. Make sure you’ve done your research before deciding where to live in the Portuguese capital city.
Learn more about Lisbon’s neighbourhoods so that you can better decide which area suits your needs best. With this guide discover where expats choose to settle when living in Lisbon along with tips regarding Lisbon’s attractions.
Will living in Lisbon suit me?
For expats moving to Portugal or those just visiting for an extended period, Lisbon offers a varied and diverse lifestyle, whether you’re looking for the community atmosphere of a local village, bustling shopping districts or a chance to sample some great nightlife. Lisbon’s attractions range from a 15th century monastery, to an ancient neighbourhood, to a wooden tram!
With good bus and train links, Lisbon is relatively easy to get around by public transport, though it’s hilly terrain and winding streets can be tiring to navigate on foot. This guide takes a brief look at the various neighbourhoods of Lisbon to help you choose an ideal place to move when relocating to Portugal.
All of the areas we’ve covered here are within a realistically commutable distance of Lisbon city centre, so if you’re looking further afield to get a bit more property for your money, why not check out our full guide on where to live in Portugal. In addition, to learn more about safety and security in the city click here.
Where to stay in Lisbon
Alfama & Graca (South Lisbon)
Alfama is Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, and is home to its famous castle. With its winding streets and unique atmosphere, Alfama is one of Lisbon’s most well-known and popular areas, with a great mixture of young professionals and larger families who have lived in the same area for generations. Whether you should buy a home here when moving to Lisbon is open to debate – your car won’t be much use among the narrow winding streets, and while there are bargains available out there, many buildings in this ancient area are in desperate need of renovation.
Avenidas New & Alvalade (North Lisbon)
We now move from the old to the new. These neighbourhoods offer up large (and relatively expensive) apartments, and are popular with middle-class and upper-middle class workers. The architecture here is a mixed bag, with some of Lisbon’s more modern designs and some rather bland office buildings on show. While the shopping areas and transport links are good, there can be a lot of traffic here, as well as a lack of a community atmosphere. If you’re looking for a big social scene when living in Lisbon, this may not be a good choice of location.
Bairro Alto (Central Lisbon)
Bairro Alto is home to some of Lisbon’s most popular nightlife, and is therefore very popular with younger people, immigrants and hipsters. With its ageing architecture and popularity as a nightspot, this neighbourhood could do with some restoration work, and the prevalence of drinking on the streets can sometimes result in a messy scene in the mornings.
Prince Real (Central Lisbon)
Prince Real offers a varied lifestyle, with residents from lots of different demographics. With a good range of shops, pretty architecture and the convenience of being within walking distance of the centre, it’s an attractive proposition for expats, although property here can be expensive.
Lower Town (Baixa)
Right in the heart of the city, the low town is becoming more popular with property investors purchasing apartments. The Lisbon neighbourhood is full of shops and tourist attractions, and thus Baixa can be very noisy during the day.
Belem & Restelo (West Lisbon)
Belem and Restelo might be located close together, but there’s plenty of difference between these two Lisbon neighbourhoods. Belem is known for its riverside location and green spaces, but it can be a bit of a tourist trap as it’s home to some of Lisbon’s most famous museums. Restelo, meanwhile, offers a more tranquil and affluent lifestyle, but you’ll need deep pockets to buy a house here.
Campo de Ourique (West Lisbon)
In the west of Lisbon, Campo de Ourique is a popular location for middle-class families, and has a lively community atmosphere. Although there’s plenty to do here, property prices can be on the high side, and there’s no Metro station, which means transport in to the city centre can be a bit of a hassle.
Santos & Lapa (West Lisbon)
One of Lisbon’s pricier areas, Santos is popular with middle class locals, while Lapa is attractive to well-off retirees who live in larger mansions. While these areas offer a quiet residential atmosphere, again, the lack of a metro station can make getting around tricky.
Where to stay in Nations Park (North-east Lisbon)
Nations Park was the site of the World Fair in 1998, and thus its architecture is more contemporary than most other city locations. Nations Park has a pretty waterfront location and good transport connections, but it might not be ideal for expats who want to truly experience the community atmosphere of Lisbon, as it is some distance from the centre.
Living in Lisbon’s surrounding areas
Where to live in Cascais (30km)
If you’re thinking of looking a little further afield of the city, Cascais is very popular with expats. Via train or bus, you can get to central Lisbon in around half an hour, meaning it’s ideal for city workers looking to get a bit more for their money. If you feel more comfortable getting by using English, Cascais could be the ideal place to move.
Some of the neighbourhoods in old Cascais boast cobbled streets and a community feel, while the more ‘touristy’ area near the station has plenty of shops and restaurants, as well as modern apartment buildings. The gated community of Quinta da Marinha, to the west of Cascais, is a popular choice with cash-rich buyers.
Commuting to Lisbon from Birre (30km)
Just down the road from Cascais, Birre is a popular area for expats, with great quality apartments available in Costa da Guia and Monte Estoril. With big plot sizes and close proximity to the seaside, properties here can be expensive, so it’s worth checking out Estoril too, where you can find beautiful 1920s architecture.
Living in Sintra (30km)
Sintra is also around half an hour away from Lisbon by train, and offers a significantly different lifestyle. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Sintra is a pleasant mountainside town that offers a great deal of tranquillity and a community vibe, with its range of independent shops and restaurants sure to keep you busy.
In addition to these popular areas, other towns such Carcavelos, Oeiras and Paço de Arcos offer convenient transport links in to the city.
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