Updated: March 8, 2024

 

portugal golden visaNestled on the Iberian Peninsula in Southwestern Europe, Portugal and its autonomous islands of the Azores and Madeira are home to cities and towns offering world class lifestyles and many hidden gems.

Besides its natural beauty and sublime climate, Portugal offers expats an affordable high-quality lifestyle. This includes access to beautiful beaches and charming parks, quaint boutique shops, and delicious delicacies that are now renowned across the world, like the famous pastel de nata and port wine.

In this article, we will take you on a journey through the best neighborhoods Portugal’s cities offer, from Lisbon neighborhoods like the captivating, historic neighborhood of Alfama, where you’ll be able to enjoy amazing views of the Tagus River, to the cobbled streets and historic architecture in Ribeira, Porto.

We will explore the most sought-after neighborhoods while you consider whether you are looking to live on the coast as a digital nomad, move your family to Portugal as expat residents, or find the perfect neighborhood to retire to that matches your lifestyle perfectly.

The Best Neighborhoods in Lisbon

When relocating to a new country, it is essential to do your research, to find fitting professional guidance and support, and, most importantly, begin the process with a good idea of the kind of neighborhood you’re looking for to match your lifestyle and needs.

Portugal is known for its natural beauty, laid back atmosphere, and unique coastal lifestyle. Below, we will explore the neighborhoods in Lisbon and the Greater Lisbon Area.

According to a 2023 report by the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK, the number of foreign residents living in Portugal make up 10 percent of the population. Many of these expats choose the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon because of the sheer diversity of each Lisbon neighborhood, where you’ll find options to suit any buyer.

Living in Lisbon, Portugal, as an expat offers a vibrant and culturally rich experience unlike any other. Anyone who has visited Lisbon will know about the city’s charming cobblestone streets, picturesque neighborhoods, and vibrant atmosphere.

This must-visit city is home to Alfama, the oldest district in Portugal, was the hometown of renowned poet 18th century Fernando Pessoa, and has the oldest operating bookstore in the world, Livraria Bertrand, which opened its doors in 1732 in the neighborhood of Chiado. Lisbon also features historic landmarks which include the Castelo de São Jorge (São Jorge Castle) and Lisbon’s cathedral, which is the Cathedral of Saint Mary Major and the oldest church in the city.

Other than Castelo de São Jorge located in the Santa Maria Maior, Lisbon is also home to Museu da Carris and the largest archaeological museum in the country, Museu Nacional de Arqueologia. Below are a few of the Lisbon neighborhoods that are well suited for expat life.

Alfama

Located in downtown Lisbon, Alfama is the oldest Lisbon neighborhood and known for its scenic narrow streets lined with souvenir shops, cafés, and the Feira da Ladra, a market that sells traditional crafts. Alfama offers grand views of the Tagus River from the Miradouro de Santa Luzia terrace and landmarks like the historic house Casa dos Bicos, which is renowned for its blend of Italian Renaissance and Portuguese architecture.

During Portugal’s peak tourist season, which is between the summer months of June to August, Alfama is bustling with visitors. Located next to Alfama, Graçais a beautiful neighborhood with a similar vibe , which makes it also worth a visit and a more practical place to live.

Baixa

Baixa, a neighborhood in downtown Lisbon is known for being one of the most iconic historic neighborhoods in the entire city is home, with the noteworthy Praça da Figueira square featuring the historical landmark Praça dom Pedro IV. Located close to Cais do Sodré and the famous market, Mercado da Ribeira, Baixa is one of the best neighborhoods in Portugal for expats living in the country.

Baixa is known for iconic landmarks like the Praça do Comércio square which overlooks the Tejo River, and the visually stunning Elevador de Santa Justa, which is an elevator that connects different areas of the suburbs. Living in Baixa offers proximity to nearby suburbs and access to well served shops, restaurants, and cafés within the neighborhood.

Bordering Baixa, you will find the vibrant tourist hot spot, Bairro Alto, which is famous in its own right for stunning street murals showcasing the area’s unique culture and history. Residents and visitors can explore the narrow streets of the eclectic district, visit tiny bars and traditional restaurants, and enjoy a journey aboard the iconic Bica Funicular railway and a chance to admire the opulent São Roque Church, plus you’ll find sweeping panoramic views from the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint.

Belém

Nestled on the northern bank of the Tejo River estuary, Belem in Lisbon, Portugal, boasts iconic landmarks like the Monument of the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) and the Jerónimos Monsatery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), a former sanctuary gracing the Tagus River’s edge. The Jerónimos Monastery is the second UNESCO attraction in the district. Notable sites include the 16th Century Belém Tower (Torre de Belém), the Igreja de São Roque Catholic Church, and the Centro Cultural de Belém, a cultural hub in the city.

Príncipe Real

The sought-after Lisbon neighborhood of Principe Real offers residents a serene retreat from the urban bustle in the Portuguese capital. Its residential streets exude a laid-back, artistic vibe, inviting exploration of many parks like Jardim Botânico and eclectic boutiques. As a neighborhood that exudes Lisbon’s luxurious and quieter essence, living in Príncipe Real gives residents access to the best restaurants, quaint cafes, and high-end boutiques.

Best Neighborhoods in the Lisbon Area for Families

Lisbon and its many diverse neighborhoods are easily connected to the Greater Lisbon Area, where you will find an impressive selection of educational options, including public schools, private schools, and some of the best international schools in Portugal. The curricula these top-tier schools offer ranges from British, American, and international education systems. With the convenience of a variety of schools to choose from and the proximity to the coast and exciting outdoor entertainment options families can enjoy together, making it the perfect setting for families to thrive.

Our residency and citizenship division, Global Citizen Solutions, has developed an international school guide. This guide provides you with everything you’ll need to know about the education system in Portugal, including a complete list of the international schools in the country. Top neighborhoods to consider in Lisbon city include Estrela and Campo do Ourique, and Sintra which we will explore in more detail below.

Estrela

Located a few minutes outside Lisbon city center, Estrela offers a tranquil family atmosphere surrounded by the lush Monsanto Forest Park and conveniently located near PaRK International School and The British School of Lisbon. With its proximity to the city center and the coast, the neighborhood attracts young professionals and expat families looking for a safe and welcoming area in Portugal to call home.

Campo do Ourique

Located east of Alcântara, north of Estrela, the quaint neighborhood of Campo de Ourique offers a family-oriented urban vibe in Lisbon. Its central location in the Portuguese capital allows residents quick access to the major parts of the city, making it perfect for expat families and young professionals. The neighborhood is not without charm as it offers quaint restaurants and coffee shops, shopping malls and the Amoreiras 360º which is an observation deck where you can have a panoramic view of Lisbon.

Sintra

Sintra is a neighborhood situated just a 30-minute drive northwest of Lisbon city center. The popular Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and access to stunning beaches hugging the shore, outdoor coastal living beckons expat families and digital nomads. Sintra is also home to excellent international schools making it a great neighborhood to consider if you are moving to Portugal with your family.

From upmarket apartments offering breathtaking sea views to expansive mansions with inviting swimming pools, Cascais and Estoril are the epicenter of Portugal’s luxury real estate market. Cascais offers real estate listings that cater to every lifestyle need. Additionally, what makes living in Cascais and Estoril two of the best towns in Portugal for tourists and expats is their proximity to Lisbon’s great selection of international schools in Portugal.

The stretch between Lisbon and Cascais, known as the Portuguese Riviera, also offer neighborhoods with river views and areas closer to family-friendly beaches. These towns include: 

  • Alcabideche 
  • Carcavelos and Parede  
  • Campo de Ourique
  • Oeiras 
  • São Domingos de Rana

The Best Neighborhoods in Porto, Portugal

As the second largest city in Portugal, Porto offers an incredible selection of affordable neighborhoods and more upscale neighborhoods each offering spectacular Douro River views, incredible restaurants, as well as many parks and beaches for families to enjoy.

Foz do Douro

As one of the more expensive and luxurious areas in Porto, Foz do Douro is home to one of the country’s best beaches, Praia da Luz, a blend of historic and modern architecture and top-tier traditional restaurants, that serve traditional and international cuisine. The Foz do Douro promenade offers the perfect setting for families to enjoy a walk or cycle alongside the scenic ocean and access to the amenities you will need for a comfortable modern coastal lifestyle.

Campanhã

Nestled within Porto, Portugal, Campanhã is one of the most up-and-coming neighborhoods in Porto and home to Campanhã train station, central to the city’s railway and metro network. Serving as a vital link for commuters, this historic 19th-century structure stands as an emblem of transportation heritage, facilitating seamless travel throughout Porto and beyond.

Vila Nova de Gaia

Just opposite Porto across the Douro River lies the spectacular town of Vila Nova de Gaia. The district of Vila Nova de Gaia is famous for breathtaking views, excellent education facilities, and beautiful beaches. Families living in Vila Nova de Gaia can spend summer days on popular family beaches like Praia de Lavadores and indulge in local delicacies and scenic views at cafés and restaurants on the Praia de Aguda beachfront. As home to Portugal’s original port wine houses, the district also offers a great selection of luxury properties in the region and a range of different properties listed at more affordable prices.

The Algarve Region

Located on the Southern Coast of mainland Portugal, the Algarve is known for its peaceful and pristine beaches, uniquely relaxing days filled with sunshine, and rich history.

The idea of living in the Algarve is particularly popular among expats who want to experience more than the daily grind and have access to enjoy a calm pace of life on the coast. Also, many expats choose the Algarve as their second home because of the region’s delicious cuisine, authentic Portuguese heritage, affordable cost of coastal living, and lifestyle.

According to the 2024 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, which acknowledges and celebrates the best of the best when it comes to excellence in travel, the Algarve is also home to the best beach in the world. Praia da Falésia, a stunning coastal stretch in the Algarve, which spans from the neighborhood of Vilamoura to the suburb of Olhos de Água, ranks first place.

This award is thanks to the colorful and captivating cliffs and amazing views of the Atlantic. Praia da Falésia was also awarded a Blue Flag for its cleanliness, nearby shopping amenities, and ease of accessibility through public transportation.

Neighborhoods in Albufeira

Albufeira is one of the most popular cities in the Algarve region. The coastal gem offers visitors and residents the perfect mix of historic architecture in the city’s Old Town and more modern amenities in the marina and the busy modern center. There are quieter neighborhoods where you can avoid the hustle and bustle during tourist season and still have access to the beautiful Marinha Beach and Praia da Falésia.

Neighborhoods in Lagos

Lagos is in the western Algarve and offers an authentic Portuguese coastal lifestyle. The best neighborhoods to live in Lagos are Funchal, Vale Verde, Santa Maria and Torraltinha where you can find beautiful villas and apartments near the coast at an affordable price. Each of these neighborhoods in Lagos offers access to the beautiful beaches, including Portugal’s largest beach Meia Praia, scenic hiking trails and world class gold courses.

Neighborhoods in Faro

Faro is the capital city of the Algarve and offers a unique blend of contemporary living and traditional Portuguese tranquility. The best neighborhoods to live in, or visit, in Faro include the Downtown area, where you will find shops, amenities, and restaurants and the cultural and historic center of the Algarve. Faro’s Old Town is also a popular choice as it offers cobbled streets lined with historic buildings, including the iconic Old Town Cathedral, and a vibrant lifestyle. On the outskirts of you will find the areas of Montenegro and Quinta do Eucalipto which are areas just a short distance from Faro’s main beach Praia de Faro. These neighborhoods offer a quieter slower paced lifestyle and a perfect environment for families.

Discover our expert guide to buying property in Algarve, Portugal

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The Best Locations in the North and Central Portugal

The central and northern areas of Portugal are the most beautiful and offer more authentic Portuguese living experiences. The cities and towns we explore below have much to offer when it comes to entertainment, historic architecture, and overall quality of life.

Aveiro

Considered a hidden gem on Portugal’s central coast, Aveiro offers the perfect blend of history and contemporary living, making it a sought-after tourist and residential destination. The picturesque city features winding canals where colorful Moliceiro boats travel through the city, offering views of captivating art nouveau architecture, and the majestic Cathedral of Aveiro.

Aveiro offers a tranquil Portuguese lifestyle and is known for its culinary delights ranging from Michelin-starred restaurants to local bakeries serving delicious creations. If you’re interested in purchasing Aviero Portugal real estate, this city is perfect for investors looking for a serene lifestyle on the central coast.

Braga

As the third most populous urban area in the country, Braga is known to be one of Portugal’s prime destinations, offering a serene lifestyle and being the country’s center of historical, cultural, and religious heritage. Beyond all this, Braga is emerging as a burgeoning tech hub. Over the past few years, the city has attracted start-ups and international companies drawn to its affordability, skilled Portuguese workforce, widespread English proficiency, and growing expat communities. This makes the city an ideal destination for entrepreneurs and digital nomads seeking a quieter city that embodies an authentic Portuguese way of life surrounded by the district’s stunning landscapes.

Coimbra

As the original capital city of Portugal, Coimbra offers residents and visitors a rich culture and history. This river facing city with a mild climate is home to a growing expat community and excellent education and healthcare facilities. With real estate prices being quite affordable in Coimbra, the city has become an attractive option for property buyers.

Guimarães

Guimarães is a city in northern Portugal and is considered one of the best places in Portugal for expats in search of affordable living and being surrounded by the authentic cultural heritage the district offers. The historic city center of Guimarães is classified as a UNESCO Heritage site, and the city is renowned for its well-preserved medieval buildings like the hilltop, 10th-century Guimarães Castle, and the restored Dukes of Bragança Palace built in the 13th century.

The Best Locations on the Silver Coast

Known for its beautiful beaches and coastline, life on the Silver Coast has much to offer, including proximity to the city center of Lisbon and Porto. Let’s look at a few of the best areas to consider living on the Silver Coast.

Nazare

Nestled along Portugal’s Silver Coast, Nazaré captivates locals, expats, and tourists alike with its allure. True to its humble beginnings as a fishing village, Nazaré offers fresh seafood delights amidst a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere, while its renowned beaches beckon surfers and sunbathers alike. Due to real estate in this beautiful suburb being more affordable, the real estate market is beginning to stand out as one offering lucrative investments, whether you are buying a holiday home for yourself and your family or investing in property for rental income.

Peniche

Peniche is a Silver Coast gem that serves as a gateway to the Berlengas Islands, which offer pristine nature reserves and historic landmarks like the formidable Fort of São João Baptista. This picturesque fishing village is renowned by surf enthusiasts for its colossal waves at Baleal Beach breathtaking beauty. The area’s affordability and proximity to Lisbon offer a tranquil alternative to city living without sacrificing convenience.

Considering buying property in Lisbon? Our comprehensive guide will show you how.

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Best Places to Live in Portugal for Retirees

Is it your dream to retire in Portugal? Picture yourself in Cascais or Estoril, where opulence meets coastal charm. Or perhaps the beauty and tranquility offered by the town of Porto Moniz on Madeira Island is more your style. With options ranging from vibrant marinas to serene beachfront havens, it is easy to see why Portugal is such an attractive option for retirees. Below, we will explore a couple of the best places to retire in Portugal and how the Portugal  D7 Visa program makes it easier to turn your retirement dreams into reality.

Porto and the North

Porto and the northern cities of Portugal offer a great selection of neighborhoods and homes where you can enjoy your retirement. Porto is an excellent location for those looking to live in a historic European city northern city, such as Braga and Guimaraes, which offer rich Portuguese culture and historical experiences as well as a range of affordable and luxury properties available.

The Algarve

The Algarve is celebrated for its 300 days of sunshine, fresh seafood, stunning landscapes and beautiful beaches, making it a popular retirement location for British and American expats. With the perfect blend of modern and traditional coastal lifestyle, world class golf courses, and many other activities on offer, the Algarve region is the perfect place for you if you want to remain active in your retirement and live in a safe and serene environment.

Madeira and the Azores

Portugal’s autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores are the ultimate escapes for retirees and expats searching for a quiet coastal lifestyle. The vibrant town of Funchal in Madeira offers luxury living, breathtaking landscapes, and delectable seafood. Meanwhile, the Azores offers tranquility, affordable properties, and lush greenery, perfect for nature lovers seeking an idyllic retreat.

Portugal D7 Visa application requirements

The Portugal D7 Visa, commonly known as the Portugal Retirement Visa or the Passive Income Visa, a great opportunity for non-EU/EEA or non-Swiss citizens who want to move to Portugal to enjoy their retirement. You can apply for residency in the country with this residency visa if your passive income is sufficient for a comfortable retirement.

In the list below, we lay out the basic application requirements for the Portugal D7 Visa:

  • Be a non-EU national
  • Earn a passive income of at least €760 per month (your income can be pension income, social security benefit, transferable equity, real estate, intellectual property, or financial equity)
  • Show proof of a place to live in Portugal
  • Be willing to reside for more than 183 consecutive days per calendar year in Portugal

Goldcrest: How We Can Help

Goldcrest is a buyer’s agent based in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve. Equipped with local knowledge, exclusive networks, and international experience, we provide expert, impartial advice on real estate investments and how to buy property in Cascais, Portugal. Our team of skilled experts is available to cater to all your real estate needs, offering insightful expertise and strategic advice. Contact us to schedule a complimentary call today.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Neighborhoods Portugal Offers

Where do most American expats live in Portugal?

The top three cities where American expats live in Portugal are the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon, Faro. which is the capital of the Algarve region, and Porto, the second biggest city in Portugal.

This is entirely dependent on personal preference, lifestyle, and requirements. However, some of the best neighborhoods to live in Lisbon, Portugal, include Belém, Avenidas Novas, Campo de Ourique, Estrela, Principe Real, and Alcântara.

Santo António is one of Lisbon’s most sought-after neighborhoods and home to Avenida da Liberdade, the most expensive avenue in Lisbon, to purchase or rent property. In the third quarter of 2023 the average asking price for property in this upmarket neighborhood stood at €8,117 per square meter.

Portugal offers a wide array of neighborhoods near exceptional beaches, especially neighborhoods located in the cities of the Algarve, Lisbon, and Porto.

Cascais, Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, and Aveiro are considered some of the best cities for families as they offer neighborhoods developed for a relaxed pace of lifestyle and access to international schools in Portugal.  In Cascais, Costa da Guia is one of the best neighborhoods offering a myriad of amenities and schools nearby while just 10 – 15 minutes from Lisbon city center, Alvalade is a quiet tree lined suburb perfect for family living within close distance of modern amenities and international schools. Finding the perfect neighborhood for you and your family in these sought-after cities will be a breeze with a little research and professional help from a buyer’s agent.

For a family with young children living in Lisbon, Rua Nova do Carvalho, also known as Pink Street, what used to be Lisbon’s red-light district, is probably one of the best Portugal neighborhoods to avoid. The area is still safe to visit and has become a tourist hotspot thanks to trendy bars and restaurants attracting those in search of a vibrant nightlife.