Updated: August 28, 2023
Where are the best places to live in Portugal? This is a question constantly on the minds of those looking to make Portugal their new home. Lucky for you, we have the answers here in one convenient space!
The Best Places to Live in Portugal
It’s not difficult to see why Portugal is becoming increasingly popular among expats. It offers seemingly endless sunshine, picturesque landscapes, and a fantastic quality of life. Also, generally speaking, the level of English spoken across the country is high, as Portugal ranks 9th in the 2022 Education First English Proficiency Index.
With so many beautiful places to choose from, it can take some time to find the right destination within Portugal that meets your needs. From golden beaches to bustling cities, this list of eight destinations will help you decide between the best places to live in Portugal.
Lisbon is one of Portugal’s most popular cities and for good reason. The bustling capital is known for its ancient architecture and iconic cobbled streets that offer plenty to do and see. With so many ways to explore Lisbon, through restaurants, museums, concerts, markets, and theaters, this city is one of the best places in Portugal for expats to live. Even better, it’s not far from beautiful beaches, making quick getaways from busy city life easy for all.
While Lisbon is more expensive to live in than other Portuguese cities, life here offers some exceptional benefits. English is widely spoken, making it one of the best places to live in Portugal for English speakers. It’s not surprising, then, that this beautiful city is home to a large expat community. Lisbon also has an international airport not far from its city center, making international travel easy.
Additionally, this buzzing city offers you safety along with some great neighborhoods to choose from – Alameda, Areeiro, Entrecampos, Almada, and Oeiras are just a few of the best places to live in Lisbon. The Global Peace Index 2022 (GPI) has named Portugal the sixth safest country, following Iceland, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, and Austria.
Portugal’s capital city offers plenty of job opportunities and good public transport, making it easy to navigate the city without a car. Lisbon is also one of the best places to live for remote workers and digital nomads, boasting a high-speed internet connection and plenty of co-working hubs. Lisbon is a great destination for those looking for the fast pace of city life surrounded by the picturesque scenery of the coast.
Slightly cheaper than Lisbon, Porto is considered one of the best cities in Portugal for expats to live in. It is the second-largest city in Portugal, situated in the north along the Douro River, and famous around the world for its authenticity, Porto wine, gastronomy, and architecture. Most notably, Porto’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning it is a popular holiday destination for tourists from all over.
Porto is an up-and-coming hub for start-ups, and many international entrepreneurs have relocated there to take advantage of the opportunities available. The city is also a good area for real estate investment and is made up of many different neighborhoods.
For lower property prices and a quieter lifestyle, you can explore neighborhoods in cities like Vila Nova de Gaia, situated towards the outskirts of Porto. Alternatively, look towards the city center in neighborhoods like Ribeira for a busier daily life. For seafront properties, look to Madalena, Lavadores, or Foz do Douro (for those with more generous budgets). To find out more about luxury real estate investment, visit our guide on luxury properties in Portugal.
One of the difficulties about relocating to Portugal is finding a place with the right weather for you. Porto, located in the north, is often colder than places located in the south. However, Porto’s great health care, affordability, safety, and common use of English more than make up for it.
Also located in the north is Braga, Portugal’s oldest and third-largest city. Known for its rich heritage, Braga is regarded as the religious center of Portugal and plays home to many famous churches, including the iconic landmark church and sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, which is located closeby. Over the years, Braga has combined this rich history with modern properties and tourist attractions, and its narrow streets boast dynamic cafés, high-end boutiques, and a lively nightlife.
Considered one of the happiest cities in Europe, Braga’s location is unmatched. The low-density city is situated just 15 minutes from the mountains, 30 minutes from the beach, and 40 minutes from Spain. The city is family-friendly, offering a wide range of schools to choose from, and has also been voted one of the best cities in the world to retire in.
While Braga is one of Portugal’s cheapest cities for expats to live in, English is not quite as widely spoken as in some other parts of the country. This beautiful Portuguese city is also not immune to the cold winters of the north. Braga does, however, have a popular housing market. Expats dreaming of a laid-back, affordable lifestyle can look to northern Portugal, while those seeking to retire or lead a more tranquil life with more space can look towards the outskirts of the city. These areas are also ideal for those looking for a fixer-upper, as many of the properties here require renovation.
For those seeking an island lifestyle with the best weather, Madeira is the place for you. The island has become increasingly popular among expats, particularly remote workers. If you’re looking for warm temperatures year-round set against the backdrop of lush forest slopes, rough mountains, and a sparkling blue ocean, then look no further than Funchal.
Madeira’s capital city, Funchal, is an up-and-coming destination for expats that offers a safe, family-friendly environment with plenty to do. Friendly locals offer you the chance to practice your Portuguese, and cheap taxis make it easy and affordable to navigate the city. Known for its warm weather, wine, and crafts, Funchal offers many popular spots for you to visit, such as the Farmer’s Market (Mercado dos Lavradores), the Sacred Art Museum, and The Cathedral of Funchal (Sé).
If you like a more laid-back way of life, Funchal is likely to be your destination of choice. It is less overrun with tourists than other Portuguese cities, and the cost of living is lower than in Lisbon and Porto. Funchal’s tranquil atmosphere offers many expats a relaxing escape from busy city centers without them sacrificing their quality of life.
Ponta Delgada (the Azores)
The Azores are an archipelago of islands and one of the cheapest places to live in Portugal. They are also regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the world to live in.
Ponta Delgada is the main city in the Azores and offers a family-friendly lifestyle. This city is also something of a hidden gem, being less frequented by tourists. However, Ponta Delgada also reflects some of the downsides of retiring in Portugal: the public transport is not reliable, and it offers fewer employment opportunities than places like Lisbon and Porto.
Having started as a simple fishing village, Ponta Delgada has grown to offer expats many of the advantages of island life combined with a cosmopolitan city center, such as good air quality, magnificent surroundings, and a lively culture and economy. Enjoy local food with a twist, explore the cobbled streets filled with colorful houses and traditional churches, and marvel at the unique tile patterns found on the city’s pavements.
For the perfect mix of old town charm and new city atmosphere, Ponta Delgada is an alluring place to enjoy a slow pace of life and escape the bustling city.
Magnificent canals, Nouveau architecture, and inviting gondolas (called moliceiros) – no, you’re not reading a description of Venice. This is Aveiro, often called the Venice of Portugal, a truly authentic Portuguese city that offers visitors an exceptionally rich culture, history, and charm.
Located not far from Porto, Aveiro is another city less traveled by tourists. This Portuguese city is smaller than others, and English is less widely spoken there. This hidden gem is a safe city, and the quality of life found there is high, making Aveiro popular among students, remote workers, and expats, particularly those looking to retire there. To learn more about retiring in Portugal, visit our guide that tells you all you need to know.
In recent years, Aveiro has complemented its rich history with modern updates, making it easier for walkers and cyclists to move around. It now offers a greater variety of shopping malls, cafés, and indoor markets to entertain the entire family. Even better, Aveiro has good road links to Lisbon and Porto, making travel between the cities easy.
Home to the longest river in Portugal, the Mondego, this charming university city forms part of Portugal’s Silver Coast or Costa de Prata. Known for its historic towns and beautiful beaches, the Silver Coast offers affordable real estate ideal for expats in Portugal. If you’re after a home by the rugged coastline of Costa de Prata, our article on Silver Coast Portugal Real Estate will provide you with a fantastic overview.
Coimbra is home to the oldest university in Portugal and hosts the 12th Century Sé Velha cathedral at its center. This, along with its breathtaking architecture and ancient roots, makes it the perfect place for those keen to explore its history. Coimbra is lovely, even in winter months, when temperatures tend to range between 5 and 14 degrees C (41 and 57 degrees F). The low cost and high quality of living make this scenic city extremely popular among expats and retirees. Coimbra also has a large student population, with many trendy bars and restaurants to be found across the city.
Coimbra is another very safe city that offers visitors access to delicious local cuisine, a lively nightlife scene, and easy travel by train to Lisbon and the rest of Portugal. In addition, the cost of living for an expat in Coimbra is more affordable than in other parts of the country, and you have a variety of living options to choose from, depending on your needs.
Portimão is the second largest city in the Algarve, a place known for its dramatic coastline, wonderful beaches, and having the best weather. A city that thousands of expats call home, Portimão is particularly popular among pensioners and retirees looking to relax under the sun and soak up the atmosphere in trendy beach cafés.
With its large expat community, English is generally widely spoken in Portimão. The city combines historical buildings with modern apartment blocks and is located near Praia da Rocha, the main beach. It is also well connected with Lagos and Faro, other popular destinations in the Algarve. This connection is a positive for travelers, as transport in the Algarve is not as good as it is in other parts of Portugal.
While the city offers fewer employment opportunities, the cost of living for an expat in Portimão is cheaper than in other cities in Portugal. In fact, Portimão is often ranked as one of the cheapest places to live in Portugal.
Outside the busy summer months, Portimão offers a relaxed atmosphere removed from the buzzing activities of surrounding beach towns. Walk along the scenic promenade, explore the city’s shopping streets, and choose from a selection of bars, restaurants, and cafés. With so many options, Portimão will keep you entertained with its selection of things to do and see.
So, what are the best places to live in Portugal?
As with any country, moving to Portugal has its pros and cons. One of the downsides about relocating to Portugal is finding a place that meets all of your weather, lifestyle, and cost of living needs. The beauty of Portugal is that its cities offer so many different ways of life. Whether you want to live in a city center, wake up to a view of the ocean, or have the best of both worlds, you are sure to find a place you love.
Ultimately, Portugal is a fantastic country made up of beautiful cities, gorgeous beaches, and places that offer so much: relaxation, exploration, excitement, and adventure. If you’re looking for places with a greater expat community, Lisbon and Porto are the ideal destinations. If you’re looking for a home away from tourist hotspots, Ponta Delgada and Aveiro are the places to be.
Whether you’re in the market for a more family-friendly lifestyle, searching for your next country to explore as a digital nomad, or relocating for retirement, look no further than Portugal to find a place that meets your needs. With safe cities that offer a low cost of living and great quality of life, it’s no wonder that people keep asking about the best places to live in Portugal.
Who We Are and How We Can Help You
Goldcrest is a buyer’s agent that is based in Lisbon. We provide expert impartial advice on real estate investments and how to buy properties in Portugal. From scouting out the perfect property through to property acquisition, we have you covered.
If you are looking to purchase property in Portugal, don’t hesitate to get in touch. From sublime beach houses in the Algarve to modern renovated houses in the historic city of Porto, we are more than happy to discuss your options.
You can book a call with us here.
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Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Places to Live in Portugal
What are the best places to live in Portugal for expats?
Portugal is an expat-friendly country. Some of the best places to live in Portugal for expats include Lisbon, Braga, Funchal (Madeira), Ponta Delgada (the Azores), and Portimão.
What is the best place to live in Portugal by the sea?
Depending on the type of lifestyle you desire, Lisbon, the Azores, and Portimão are some of the best places to live in Portugal by the sea.
Where do most expats live in Portugal?
Lisbon has the largest expat population in Portugal, while Porto has become increasingly popular for expats moving to Portugal.
Where is the safest place to live in Portugal?
Lisbon, Braga, Porto, Ponta Delgada (the Azores), Funchal (Madeira), Portimão, Aveiro, and Coimbra are considered among the safest places to live in Portugal.
What are the best places to live in Portugal for expats and digital nomads?
The best place for expats and digital nomads in Portugal will depend on what you are looking for. For example, do you want to live close to the sea, in a buzzing city, or are you looking to escape to a quieter part of the country? Some of the top places to consider are Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve, the Silver Coast, Braga, and Coimbra. You will find an established expat population in each of these places.
What are the cheapest places to live in Portugal?
You will find the center and north of Portugal to be the most affordable. The Alentejo region and the Silver Coast also have many properties at very attractive prices and a low cost of living.
You will also find cheap properties in the eastern Algarve, close to the Spanish border.
If you are considering moving to Portugal, you’ll find that properties are very affordable compared to other European countries.
What are the best places to live in Portugal for families?
Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve are great places to consider moving to if you have children with you. Each has many excellent international schools that offer international curricula and extra-curricular activities.
What is the best place to live in Portugal for English speakers?
In the bigger cities, such as Lisbon and Porto, you’ll find that most people speak good English and, even in the more remote areas, particularly younger people, will have a good command of the English language.
What are the best small towns to live in Portugal?
You’ll find an array of charming small towns in Portugal, particularly along the Silver Coast, such as Nazaré, a coastal town well-known for its massive waves that attract surfers from across the world. You’ll also find many lovely small towns in the Alentejo and in the north of the country. There are some lovely towns close to the Spanish border, such as Viana do Castelo, north of Braga.
These areas provide a taste of the authentic side of Portugal, and you should be able to find property prices – and the cost of living in general – to be very reasonable.
Where do the most expats live in Portugal?
Most expats in Portugal live in Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve region, and Setúbal.
What is the safest place to live in Portugal?
Portugal, in general, is a very safe place to live, ranking in sixth poison in the 2022 Global Peace Index. Some of the safest places to live in Portugal include Lisbon, Braga, Porto, Funchal on Madeira, Portimão, Aveiro, and Coimbra.
Where do most English live in Portugal?
Most English people living abroad in Portugal live in the Algarve region, in southern Portugal. Many expats also live in Lisbon, and Porto. You’ll find many retirement communities and resorts in the Algarve.