Updated: January 24, 2024
Offering 300 days of sunshine a year and the option to live in a bustling city center or along the calming coast, Portugal is one of the most popular countries among expats looking to relocate to Europe. With so many attractive locations across the country, including UNESCO World Heritage sites, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what Portuguese city is perfect for you. To help you make your choice, this guide outlines the best cities in Portugal for expats to live.
If you’re looking to relocate to a country that offers a great quality of life, Portugal is the place for you. With its breathtaking scenery, delicious local cuisine, rich and diverse culture, and fascinating history, this popular European country has many wondering where the best cities to live in Portugal for expats are.
Portugal provides a high standard of life, amazing weather throughout the year, a great health care system, and affordable real estate options. In addition to this, the country offers its inhabitants a good social life, modern public transportation systems, low crime rates, welcoming locals, and a diverse culture.
With so many lifestyles available across Portuguese cities, anyone looking to relocate to the country is guaranteed to find a location that meets their needs. For example, sun-seekers will enjoy Portugal’s Algarve region characterized by sunlight and warm temperatures thanks to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Those who prefer more moderate temperatures will enjoy northern Portugal. These excellent conditions have seen organizations like Forbes describe Portugal as one of the best countries for expats to live in.
Why are Portugal’s Cities Ideal for Expats?
Picturesque city views
Many of the cities in Portugal, such as Porto and Lisbon, are defined by their unique architecture and scenic beauty. Imagine residing in a hill overlooking the Douro River or the Tagus Estuary, with magnificent sunsets and panoramas that leave visitors in awe.
Coastal city charm
Cities like Lagos and Cascais are perfect examples of the coastal charm that Portugal has to offer. Living in a coastal city provides the perfect combination of urban living, beautiful beaches, and fresh seafood cuisine.
Rich history and interesting sights
Portugal boasts a vast history that is palpable in its urban landscapes. Cities like Évora and Guimarães, one of the prettiest towns in Portugal, are filled with historical landmarks and stories waiting to be explored.
Diversity in size and culture
Whether you’re drawn to major cities in Portugal like Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, or smaller, quaint small towns in Portugal like Óbidos, there’s a perfect fit for everyone. The variety in size and vibe of these cities cater to both those who love the hustle and bustle and those who prefer a slower pace.
Booming tourism and recognition
Portugal has become a hot spot for travelers worldwide. The most visited city in Portugal, Lisbon, along with other cities i Porto, Faro, Braga, and Coimbra, offer residents a mix of international exposure and local traditions.
Population and opportunities
Depending on one’s preferences, one can choose to live in cities in Portugal by population ranging from the densely populated areas to more secluded towns.
Whether you’re looking at the Portugal best cities to live for career opportunities or the charm of close-knit communities, Portugal’s variety ensures there’s a place for everyone.
Vibrant culture and festivals
From the fado music echoing through the streets of Lisbon to the colorful festivals in small towns in Portugal, the cultural richness is undeniable.
The São João Festival in Porto, a major city in Portugal, draws in visitors from all over the world. These traditions, combined with modern influences, make living in Portuguese cities a dynamic experience.
A Chance to Live in Central Portugal
The region offers a balanced blend of urban conveniences and serene landscapes. Living in this region means being close to both the bustling city life and the calm of nature. It’s a great area for those who want a taste of both worlds.
Affordability and quality of life
Especially when compared to many Western European destinations, Portugal offers an attractive cost of living. Cities like Setúbal or Beja might not be among the most visited city in Portugal listings, but they rank high among the prettiest towns in Portugal and offer great value for residents.
Additionally, cities such as Albufeira in the Algarve region of southern Portugal provide a wonderful blend of good weather, friendly communities, and affordability.
10 Best Cities to Live in Portugal
Portugal is full of so many incredible cities with a diverse range of lifestyles and attractions. To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of five of the best cities in Portugal for expats to live in.
As Portugal’s capital, Lisbon is definitely one of the best cities to live in Portugal for expats. In fact, Lisbon is home to Portugal’s largest expat population and is also considered one of the safest places to live in Portugal.
Lisbon is a city bustling with activity, which means you can always find something to do. Attending a concert, visiting a museum, and trying new dishes at local restaurants are all great ways to get to know the city.
The highlights of living in this beautiful city include incredible architecture and excellent schools, hospitals, and banks. Lisbon is also situated near some stunning beaches, such as Carcavelos and Costa da Caparica, allowing exciting escapes from city life whenever needed.
These attractive offerings do make Lisbon a more expensive city to live in compared to other cities in Portugal, but it is possible to find good property deals when looking to relocate to this city. Almada, Areeiro, Entrecampos, Alameda, and Loterias are considered some of the best neighborhoods in Lisbon to live in.
You can learn more about real estate in Lisbon by visiting our expert guide here.
Famous for its colorful buildings and must-see locations, this popular tourist destination offers a multitude of safe and efficient ways to see the city. By day, explore on foot, by tram, by hop-on-hop-off bus, or even in a tuk-tuk. By night, watch the vibrant city come alive in places such as Chiado, Bairro Alto, and Cais do Sodré. No matter the kind of lifestyle you’re looking for, Lisbon is sure to offer it.
Portugal’s second-largest city can be found in the north of the country along the Douro River. The weather can be a bit colder than the rest of Portugal, but with its charming atmosphere and breathtaking scenery, Porto is guaranteed to give you an authentic Portuguese experience. Porto’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which, along with its architecture, gastronomy, and Port wine, has made it a popular holiday destination for tourists from all over.
Not only is Porto a great destination for holiday-makers, but it is also considered one of the best cities to live in Portugal for expats. For those looking to work in Portugal, Porto is a fantastic choice, particularly for those who work with start-ups. Over the years, the city has served as an up-and-coming hub for the start-up scene and welcomed many international entrepreneurs who have identified the opportunities offered by Porto and chosen this amazing city to be their new home.
If you’re searching for a more affordable city to live in, Porto should be on your list. Slightly cheaper than Lisbon, Porto offers a variety of properties, such as luxury homes, family homes, cottages, townhouses, apartments, or new developments.
Some of the best neighborhoods in Porto include Avenida do Aliados, Boavista, Campanha, Foz do Douro, and Riberia. With so many great choices, our guide on buying property in Porto can help you make your decision.
Portugal’s southernmost region, the Algarve, is known for having the best weather, a stunning coastline, and picturesque beaches. Faro is the Algarve’s main city, and its golden sun, tranquil sea, and delicious seafood have caused many retirees to relocate and settle in the city. With its exceptional weather throughout the year, slower pace, laidback lifestyle, and nearby beaches, the advantages of living in Faro are unmatched for many.
In terms of real estate, Faro’s market is booming. With a strong expat community and lower rental property prices than in Lisbon, Faro is a great city to live in. The cost of houses for sale in Faro is cheaper in comparison to properties for sale in Lagos and Albufeira. If you’re interested in investing in a property in the capital of the Algarve, our guide to real estate in Faro will give you a fantastic overview.
Faro is only about a two-hour drive from the capital city of Lisbon, and its transportation system is well-developed, making it a hassle-free experience to navigate the city. Faro also has an international airport, a short 10-minute drive from the city center, that makes it easy to travel both nationally and internationally.
There are many gems in the Algarve, and Faro is one that is often overlooked for more well-known locations. Despite this, Faro’s cobblestone streets, rich history, sunny weather, and desirable location continue to attract visitors from all over, making it one of the best cities in Portugal for expats to live.
The medieval city of Viseu is located in the center of Portugal. On multiple occasions, Viseu has been ranked as one of the best cities in Portugal to live in, as well as one of the best European cities to live in. It’s not hard to see why when expats can find anything they need to lead a happy life in the city of Viseu.
Viseu is known for the excellent quality of life it provides its inhabitants in the form of fantastic weather, efficient public transportation, an exceptional education system, and top-notch medical care. In addition to this, real estate in Viseu is not expensive, and the job market is on the rise.
What’s more, Viseu is the perfect city for those who like to hike and go on excursions in nature as it is surrounded by mountains and rivers.
The city’s charming Renaissance architecture displays its rich culture and history, as do the statues that decorate its cobbled streets. While it is less well-known than cities like Lisbon and Porto, Viseu sees its fair share of tourists and expats, meaning English speakers can be easy to find. If you want to practice your Portuguese, however, Viseu would be a great place to do so.
With an affordable cost of living, a lively café culture, and plenty of activities to keep you entertained, Viseu is the perfect city for expats looking for a peaceful lifestyle and excellent quality of life.
Évora is the capital city of Portugal’s south-central region, called the Alentejo. This calm city is full of charm, with its beautiful medieval architecture hinting at its fascinating history. In fact, it is the city’s history that led UNESCO to classify Évora as a World Heritage site.
The best way to explore the history of the city is on foot. In fact, Évora’s small size makes exploring the entire city easy and enjoyable. A walk through its narrow, historic streets will show you white houses, churches, temples, and historical monuments.
If you’re a lover of history, this Portuguese city is the perfect place to establish your new home.
Évora’s local attractions include the Church of Santo Antão and the marble drinking fountain (Chafariz), which lie in the historic center of the small city. Other attractions include the Roman baths and the São Francisco Church with its mysterious Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos).
Évora is also home to the second-oldest university in Portugal, as well as the Roman Temple of Évora (also known as the Temple of Diana), one of the greatest and most preserved Roman temples in the Iberian Peninsula.
Both of these iconic landmarks are also located in the center of the city.
With so much to see, travel within Évora is easy and nothing short of fascinating. If you’re looking for things to do outside of the city, there are nearby wineries that offer the opportunity for fun day trips.
As you now know, there are many advantages to living in Évora. The weather is generally excellent and its relatively small size means it is not often crowded. It is also not overun with tourists, which can be a problem in Lisbon and the popular cities in the Algarve. With plenty of sites to see, friendly people to meet, and cafés and restaurants to taste the delicious local dishes, choosing to live here will allow you to enjoy a relaxed and peaceful lifestyle.
Making Portugal Your Permanent Home
If you’re looking to relocate to any of these cities in Portugal, there are several options available that will allow non-European nationals to live in the country permanently.
Depending on your situation, you can explore either one of these routes:
Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa is the perfect option for investors – and their families – who want to relocate to Portugal.
This five-year residency-by-investment scheme grants you residency and gives you the right to live, work, and study in Portugal, in exchange for your investment in the country’s economy.
After five years, you have the option to become a permanent resident or citizen, provided you meet all the requirements under Portuguese Nationality Law.
There are many advantages to having Portuguese citizenship, such as free movement through the Schengen area and the continued ability to live, work, and study in a safe, stable European country with breathtaking landscapes and a fantastic quality of life. You can learn more about the Portugal Golden Visa here.
The D7 Visa
The D7 Visa is a great option for retireeslooking to relocate to Portugal. You must have sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents who may accompany you.
The advantage of the D7 Visa is that it does not require a large economic investment and after five years of holding the D7 Visa, you are able to apply for Portuguese nationality, provided you meet all the requirements.
This visa is for individuals who have an employment offer in Portugal. The employer often initiates the application process, and the visa includes various categories depending on the nature of the work.
Residence Visa for Entrepreneurs (Startup Visa)
Aimed at entrepreneurs who intend to establish a startup or innovative business in Portugal. Applicants usually need to demonstrate potential for job creation and economic growth.
Family Reunification Visa
For family members of Portuguese residents or citizens who want to join their relatives living in Portugal.
For freelancers or self-employed individuals planning to work independently in Portugal. Applicants must prove they have sufficient income and usually need to have Portuguese clients.
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.
Whether you’re looking for beautiful beaches, a historic university city, an ancient medieval city, tourist attractions, or even a UNESCO World Heritage Site, any of the cities in Portugal are sure to meet your desires. All you have to do is decide which of the best cities in Portugal are right for you.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Cities in Portugal
Where is the nicest city in Portugal?
If you’re looking for the most beautiful cities in Portugal, Lisbon, Porto, Faro, and Évora are highly ranked.
The Algarve is considered one of the best places to visit in Portugal, and you will find many superb cities in the region to consider, while Viseu, in Central Portgual, has been ranked multiple times as one of the best cities in Portugal to live in.
Where are the best places to live in Portugal?
Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Viseu, and Évora have all appeared on lists of the best places to live in Portugal.
Where is the nicest city in Portugal?
The definition of “nicest” is subjective, but many consider Lisbon, the capital, with its historic charm, coastal location, and vibrant culture, as one of the nicest cities. However, cities like Porto and Sintra also often rank high for their beauty and ambiance.
What is the most luxurious city in Portugal? largest city
Cascais, located on the Portuguese Riviera, is often considered the most luxurious city in Portugal. With its upscale resorts, fine dining, and proximity to Lisbon, it attracts a wealthy clientele and offers a lavish lifestyle.
What are the 3 major cities in Portugal? Unesco world heritage site
The three major cities in Portugal are Lisbon (the capital), Porto (the country’s second-largest city and a significant cultural and commercial hub), and Vila Nova de Gaia (located just across the river from Porto and known for its port wine cellars).
What are some of the best cities to live in Portugal for someone interested in a big city atmosphere with a rich history?
If you’re looking to live in Portugal and want the hustle and bustle of a big city mixed with a rich history, Lisbon is the place to be. As the main city, Lisbon offers all the amenities one would expect from a vibrant metropolitan area – excellent public transport, diverse cultural activities, and a buzzing nightlife. Additionally, its rich history is visible in the numerous museums, historical monuments, and the iconic charming cobbled streets of neighborhoods like Alfama. Students will find a thriving, vibrant student life here, with several universities adding a youthful energy to the city.
Which City in Portugal is known for its natural beauty and offers a relaxed city lifestyle with a touch of rich history?
Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, is renowned for its natural beauty, gracefully combining a relaxed city vibe with a rich history. Nestled along the Douro River, Porto is famous for its stunning bridges, the picturesque Ribeira district, and, of course, its world-famous port wine. Its historical core, characterized by old-world architecture and charming cobbled streets, tells a story of its ancient roots in every corner. Furthermore, Porto has a vibrant cultural scene and vibrant student life, hosting several high-ranking universities, which contributes to the city’s dynamic atmosphere.
Which city is good for community for families and individuals looking to settle in Portugal?
Coimbra is an excellent choice for those who appreciate natural beauty and a rich history while seeking a community-oriented place to settle. Known for its prestigious university, one of the oldest in Europe, Coimbra provides a unique blend of rich history and vibrant student life. The city is smaller and more manageable than the bustling streets of Lisbon or Porto, offering a quieter environment without sacrificing cultural experiences or daily conveniences. Coimbra’s proximity to both mountains and sea ensures that natural beauty is always just a short journey away, making it a perfect spot for families and individuals who appreciate an active outdoor lifestyle.