11 Best Places to Live in Portugal

Written By Lara Silva

Portugal is one of the top countries in the world to live in. Whether you are looking to work or retire in Portugal, there are plenty of places to choose from. Portuguese cities are welcoming internationals with open hands, many even having thriving expat scenes to make sure you will not feel alone. From seaside views to a countryside or cosmopolitan life, we have selected the 11 best places to live in Portugal.

1. Lisbon

There’s a reason the Portuguese capital of Lisbon is home to the most expats. With 87 different nationalities, Lisbon is rich in diversity and provides a high quality of life for those coming from abroad. There is so much to offer in Lisbon. The birthplace of Amália Rodrigues, the iconic Fado singer, Lisbon is rich in culture, history, and striking views. The city has heavily invested in public infrastructure and has quality schools, transportation, and hospitals. The capital has a thriving nightlife scene, with affordable bars and clubs.

Guide to Lisbon

Pros of Living in Lisbon

  • Lisbon is full of history and culture. All the best museums are in Lisbon.
  • Close to beaches, a 15-minute drive away.
  • Great nightlife, some of the best clubs in the country are located in the capital.
  • Good city for property investment.
  • Affordable and efficient public transportation.

Cons of Living in Lisbon

  • Lisbon is overly saturated by tourism. The Portuguese capital gets around 4.5 million tourists per year. For every local, there are around 9 tourists.
  • Lisbon has the highest cost of living in the whole country.
  • Lisbon has lots of traffic.

Cost of Living in Lisbon

Lisbon is the city with the highest cost of living in Portugal, but it is still a lot cheaper than other European capitals. To be exact, Lisbon is around 35% cheaper than Amsterdam and 40% cheaper than London. According to Numbeo, the estimated monthly costs for a family of four in Lisbon are 2,024.31 without rent. A single person’s estimated monthly costs are €579.70 without rent. 

  • Three-course meal for 2 people at mid-range restaurant €35
  • McMeal at Mcdonalds €7
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) €2
  • Water €1.12
  • Marlboro cigarettes (20) €5
  • Monthly transportation pass €40
  • Gym membership €35
  • International primary school €8,995.47 yearly (anywhere from €5,000 to €15,000)
  • Rent for 1 bedroom in city center €865.95
  • Rent for 3 bedrooms in city center €1,091.41
  • Buying a house, price per square meter in city center €4,728.21
Photo by Jessica Arends (Unsplash)

Around 30-minutes away from the center of Lisbon, you’ll find Sintra and Cascais, two municipalities that are a part of Greater Lisbon. Sintra and Cascais are also some of the best places to live in Portugal.

2. Sintra

Less than 15 kilometers from Lisbon, Sintra is known for its forested terrain, astonishing palaces that once belonged to royal families, and the delicious “Travesseiro de Sintra”. You can find some of the most beautiful properties in Sintra, particularly if you’re looking for a countryside life, where you are still close to the hustle and bustle of the town center. Sintra has some of the most gorgeous beaches and mountains, as well as lavish monuments. Sintra provides you with a combination of both unforgettable nature and architecture.

The rent in Sintra is around €600 to €800 for 1 bedroom.

Guide to Sintra

Pros of Living in Sintra

  • Sintra has a lot more affordable rent than Lisbon.
  • If you live here, you are always surrounded by nature and sea views.
  • Sintra has some of the best beaches that are not overcrowded by tourism.
  • Access to high-quality local produce at an affordable price.
  • Sintra has iconic restaurants at cheap prices.
  • Only a 25-minute drive to Lisbon.

Cons of Living in Sintra

  • Sintra has a cold and humid climate in the winter.
  • The village is overcrowded by tourists at peak times during the year (but not the surrounding areas).
Photo by Levi Ari Pronk (Unsplash)

3. Cascais

Located on the Portuguese Riviera, Cascais is one of the richest municipalities in the whole of Portugal, as it is one of the most expensive areas in Portugal to buy a house. Cascais has a 30-kilometer seacoast with some of the best beaches in the country, as well as quality restaurants and the largest casino in Europe. The old summer destination for the Portuguese Royal Family, Cascais is a hidden gem in Portugal of great historical significance. This place is a top place to raise a family, due to its nature, clean parks, and quality public schools.

The rent in Cascais starts at around €600 for 1 bedroom and can go up to thousands of euros.

Guide to Cascais

Pros of Living in Cascais

  • Cascais has some of the best seafood restaurants.
  • You will be close to amazing beaches, particularly Praia do Guincho.
  • Cascais tends to have more sunny days than other parts of Portugal, like Sintra.
  • Quality public transport due to high investment by the municipality.

Cons of Living in Cascais

  • Cascais has some of the most expensive houses to buy in Portugal, as well as rent.
  • Beaches in the summer can get very full.
Photo by Carlos Correia (Unsplash)

4. Porto

The second-largest city after Lisbon, over 1.8 million people live in the city of Porto’s metropolitan area. A large number of these are expats, digital nomads and retirees from abroad. 280 km north of Lisbon, the beautiful city of Porto lies along the Douro River. Porto essentially has everything Lisbon offers but has a lower cost of living. From a UNESCO World Heritage historical center to one of the best cuisines in the country, Porto is one of the best cities in Porto to live in.

Guide to Porto

Pros of Living in Porto

  • Porto has a fast public transportation system.
  • Affordable regional cuisine and nightlife.
  • Full of cultural events such as festivals and art shows.
  • Beautiful views of Douro river.
  • Plenty of green spaces and public parks.

Cons of Living in Porto

  • Fewer expats in Porto than in Lisbon.
  • It’s more convenient to live in Porto if you learn Portuguese.
  • Loads of tourists in Porto, particularly in the spring and summer.

Cost of Living in Porto

Porto is around 5% cheaper than Lisbon and rent is around 20% cheaper. According to Numbeo, the estimated monthly costs for a family of four are €1,938.31 without rent. A single person’s estimated monthly costs are €552.88 without rent. 

  • Three-course meal for 2 people at mid-range restaurant €34
  • McMeal at Mcdonalds €6.50
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) €2
  • Water €0.90
  • Marlboro cigarettes (20) €5
  • Monthly transportation pass €30
  • Gym membership €30
  • International primary school €6,277.57 yearly (anywhere from €4,200 to €7,500)
  • Rent for 1 bedroom in city center €670.59
  • Rent for 3 bedrooms in city center €1,184.06
  • Buying a house, price per square meter in city center €2,935.25
Photo by Woody Van der Straeten (Unsplash)

5. Funchal, Madeira

Located on the island of Madeira, Funchal is the home to many internationals, particularly retirees due to its year-round sunny weather. Funchal is the sixth-largest Portuguese city and built between mountainous cliffs, offering views of the Atlantic ocean. If you are looking to live the island life, but still experience a city environment, Funchal is the place for you. It has some of the best weather on the island due to its location in the South, having the most hours of sunlight in Madeira. However, Funchal is located over 1,000 kilometers from Lisbon so you would either have to work remotely or find a job on the island.

Guide to Funchal

Pros of Living in Funchal

  • Funchal has some of the best weather in Portugal.
  • The city has a relaxed and laid-back environment, typical of island life.
  • Funchal is perfect for island hopping, you can visit the “deserted islands” a few kilometers away. It’s like a vacation at home.
  • Madeira is all around more affordable than mainland Portugal.

Cons of Living in Funchal

  • Far away from Lisbon and Porto where most jobs are offered.
  • Can feel isolating to live on an island like Madeira.
  • To live in Funchal, learning Portuguese makes life a lot easier and is recommended.

Cost of Living in Funchal

Funchal is around 5% cheaper than Lisbon and rent is around 35% cheaper. According to Numbeo, the estimated monthly costs for a family of four are €1,886.40 without rent. A single person’s estimated monthly costs are €529.0 without rent. 

  • Three-course meal for 2 people at mid-range restaurant €32
  • McMeal at Mcdonalds €6
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) €2.50
  • Water €1.08
  • Marlboro cigarettes (20) €5
  • Monthly transportation pass €35
  • Gym membership €40
  • International primary school €6,000 yearly (anywhere from €2,400 to €13,000)
  • Rent for 1 bedroom in city center €617.86
  • Rent for 3 bedrooms in city center €1,066.67
  • Buying a house, price per square meter in city center €2,125
Photo by Dimitry B (Unsplash)

6. Evora

Located in the region of Alentejo, the city of Evora is home to 50,000 people. This small city might not be an expat hotspot, but it is the perfect place for a countryside life that is affordable. Evora has an incredible cultural heritage, with its historical center being classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the presence of 400 historical buildings in the city. The typical Portuguese sidewalk (“Calçada Portuguesa”) fills the narrow streets of Evora and makes it a beautiful city to live in. However, if you are looking for beachdays, Evora is not the place for you as the closest beach is at least a one hour drive away.

Guide to Evora

Pros of Living in Evora

  • Relaxing environment in the countryside, but with a vibrant city center full of history.
  • Affordable rent, but particularly affordable prices for buying a house at an average of €966.67 per square meter in the city center.
  • Quality public health, education, and transportation.

Cons of Living in Evora

  • Although summers are warm, winters can be quite cold.
  • If you are looking for a busy city life, Evora can feel isolating.

Cost of Living in Evora

Rent in Evora is around 45% cheaper than in Lisbon, according to Numbeo.

  • Three-course meal for 2 people at mid-range restaurant €28
  • McMeal at Mcdonalds €7
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) €1.50
  • Water €1.15
  • Marlboro cigarettes (20) €5
  • Monthly transportation pass €22.50
  • Gym membership €48
  • International primary school €4,000 yearly (anywhere from €2,400 to €5,600)
  • Rent for 1 bedroom in city center €450
  • Rent for 3 bedrooms in city center €783.33
  • Buying a house, price per square meter in city center €966.67
Photo by Frank Nürnberger (Unsplash)

7. Braga

Located in the North of Portugal, Braga is the capital of the Minho region which consists of 23 municipalities. The oldest city in Portugal, Braga was founded by the Romans in the year 16 BC. The city is packed with history and culture such as hundreds of churches. Its location is also great for exploring and traveling. You can get to the only national park in the country, Peneda-Gerês National Park in about an hour by car and continue to Spain in around 90 minutes. Braga is also one of the cheapest places to buy a house in Portugal. A house in the city center here costs €1,481 per square meter, while in Lisbon it costs €4,623 per square meter.

Guide to Braga

Pros of Living in Braga

  • Braga is only around 45 minutes from Peneda-Gerês National Park, perfect for families and nature lovers.
  • Braga offers affordable prices including housing.
  • Braga has easy access to Porto (40-minute drive), as well as Coimbra a bit further away.

Cons of Living in Braga

  • Very cold winters
  • Beaches are far away for Portuguese standards at a 40-minute drive away.

Cost of Living in Braga

Braga is around 5% cheaper than Porto and rent is around 15% cheaper. According to Numbeo, the estimated monthly costs for a family of four are 1,794.82 without rent. A single person’s estimated monthly costs are €514.92 without rent. 

  • Three-course meal for 2 people at mid-range restaurant €30
  • McMeal at Mcdonalds €6.25
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) €1.50
  • Water €0.93
  • Marlboro cigarettes (20) €5.10
  • Monthly transportation pass €26
  • Gym membership €32.50
  • International primary school €4,560 yearly (anywhere from €3,600 to €10,000)
  • Rent for 1 bedroom in city center €565
  • Rent for 3 bedrooms in city center €885
  • Buying a house, price per square meter in city center €1,481
Photo by Ana Teixeira (Unsplash)

8. Ponta Delgada, Azores

The capital of São Miguel island since 1546, Ponta Delgada is a cosmopolitan town that is full of historic flavor in the Azores. Around 70,000 people live in the capital, around half of the whole island population. The island of São Miguel is the largest in the Azores, allowing you to live a modern Azorean life where you can enjoy the slow pace of island life, as well as the cosmopolitan feel of the capital. Ponta Delgada is known for its historic churches and unique cobbled streets, as well as Avenida Infante D. Henrique, a seaside promenade that runs from a military fortress to Calheta. Living in the Azores will not only allow you to be close to nature, but it is also a lot more affordable than the mainland, as well as Madeira.

Check out our full guides to the 9 Islands of the Azores.

Guide to Sao Miguel

Pros of Living in Ponta Delgada

  • Ponta Delgada has affordable rent.
  • Living in the Azores allows you to explore nature, go on hikes, swim in natural pools, and more.
  • The location between New York and Lisbon makes the Azores the perfect spot for traveling.

Cons of Living in Ponta Delgada

  • Buying a house in the center can be expensive.
  • Winters can get cold and humid in the Azores.
  • Flights to mainland Portugal can get expensive.

Cost of Living in Ponta Delgada

According to Numbeo:

  • Three-course meal for 2 people at mid-range restaurant €30
  • McMeal at Mcdonalds €6.75
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) €1
  • Water €0.55
  • Marlboro cigarettes (20) €4
  • Monthly transportation pass €39
  • Gym membership €33.75
  • Preschool €300 monthly (International primary schools not available)
  • Rent for 1 bedroom in city center €491.67
  • Rent for 3 bedrooms in city center €800
  • Buying a house, price per square meter in city center €2,637.16
Photo by Pedro Sousa (Unsplash)

9. Setubal

A 30-minute drive from Lisbon, Setubal is a coastal city located in the Arrabida mountains in the South of the country. The city has some of the best weather in the country and beaches with transparent blue waters. Along with wonderful beaches, Serra da Arrábida has everything you need to enjoy life from trails, viewpoints, historical sites, restaurants and confectioneries. Setubal is also the perfect place to live if you want to work in Lisbon but be able to go home to tranquillity instead of the business of the capital. You’ll also find that Setubal is much more affordable than the capital.

Pros of Living in Setubal

  • Setubal is only a 30-minute drive away from Lisbon.
  • You will find some of the best beaches in the country.
  • Setubal has affordable prices, from housing to transportation.

Cons of Living in Setubal

  • Beaches in Setubal get incredibly crowded in the summer months.
  • Traffic to Lisbon can be rough if you work early mornings in the capital.

Cost of Living in Setubal

Setubal is around 2% cheaper than Lisbon and rent is around 40% cheaper. According to Numbeo, the estimated monthly costs for a family of four are €1,923.88 without rent. A single person’s estimated monthly costs are €549.40 without rent. 

  • Three-course meal for 2 people at mid-range restaurant €32.50
  • McMeal at Mcdonalds €5.75
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) €1.50
  • Water €0.88
  • Marlboro cigarettes (20) €5
  • Monthly transportation pass €40
  • Gym membership €28.62
  • International primary school €7,200 yearly (anywhere from €6,000 to €9,600)
  • Rent for 1 bedroom in city center €568.75
  • Rent for 3 bedrooms in city center €800
  • Buying a house, price per square meter in city center €1,798
Photo by Joao Ferreira (Unsplash)

10. Tavira

Tavira was built alongside River Gilão, in an intricate of narrow roadways and white houses that offer a fairytale-like environment. This small city is located in the region of the Algarve, one of the best places in the world to live, particularly for expats and retirees. The Algarve is located on Portugal’s south-western tip and is lapped by the Atlantic from two sides. The Algarve has the best weather in the country due to its location in the South, more than 300 days of sunshine). Tavira also has some of the best beaches in the world and a thriving international scene, so learning Portuguese is not necessary.

Guide to the Algarve

Pros of Living in Tavira

  • Located in the Algarve, Tavira has warm weather all year round.
  • The best beaches in the country are in the Algarve.
  • Large expat and international community.

Cons of Living in Tavira

  • Tavira can get a bit empty in the winter months and too busy in the summer months.
  • Alcohol prices are quite high.

Cost of Living in Tavira

According to Numbeo:

  • Three-course meal for 2 people at mid-range restaurant €30
  • McMeal at Mcdonalds €5.50
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) €2.70
  • Water €0.95
  • Marlboro cigarettes (20) €4.75
  • Gym membership €35
  • Preschool €400 monthly (International primary schools not available)
  • Rent for 1 bedroom in city center €615.17
  • Rent for 3 bedrooms in city center €800
  • Buying a house, price per square meter in city center €2,000
Photo by Alexandra Marta (Unsplash)

11. Aveiro

With a population of 73,600 people, Aveiro is a Portuguese city located on the northern coast in the Central Region of Portugal. This city is often called the “Portuguese Venice” due to the presence of the Ria de Aveiro, a lagoon of approximately 75 square kilometers. Aveiro is a city full of color, from the houses to the boats that span the canals. Aveiro might not be the first city people think of when moving to Portugal, but it is a great spot for expats with families looking to settle down.

Guide to Aveiro

Pros of Living in Aveiro

  • Aveiro has a low cost of living in comparison to major cities like Porto and Lisbon.
  • Modern and colorful architecture is everywhere in Aveiro.+
  • Although it’s a popular spot for retirees, the city is home to a variety of age groups as the University of Aveiro brings young people from all over the country to Aveiro.
  • Aveiro is close to amazing beaches such as Praia da Mira.

Cons of Living in Aveiro

  • Aveiro is a small city with less than 80,000 people which can feel isolating for some.
  • Hard to find a job in Aveiro in comparison to Lisbon and Porto, although there is an increase in IT jobs here.

Cost of Living in Aveiro

Aveiro is around 9% cheaper than Lisbon and rent is around 42% cheaper. According to Numbeo, the estimated monthly costs for a family of four are €1,775.80 without rent. A single person’s estimated monthly costs are €505.39 without rent. 

  • Three-course meal for 2 people at mid-range restaurant €27.50
  • McMeal at Mcdonalds €6.50
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) €1.50
  • Water €0.99
  • Marlboro cigarettes (20) €5.10
  • Monthly transportation pass €32.50
  • Gym membership €31.67
  • International primary school €7,200 yearly
  • Rent for 1 bedroom in city center €489.29
  • Rent for 3 bedrooms in city center €859.09
  • Buying a house, price per square meter in city center €1,862.50
Photo by Héctor Martínez (Unsplash)

Guide to Real Estate in Portugal: Buying a House in Portugal

Related Articles

2 COMMENTS

Leave a Reply to Ciara Tiara Cancel reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Follow Us

86FansLike
47FollowersFollow
53FollowersFollow
Booking.com

Most Popular

Expat Guide: Moving to Lisbon

Moving to a new city is always daunting, especially if you are relocating to a whole new country. If you are moving to Lisbon...

Vaccinations in Portugal: The Portuguese Vaccine System

Portugal is known for having an effective national vaccination program and generally a positive public attitude towards vaccines. The vaccination rate in Portugal for...

Douro Valley

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Douro Valley should be on the top of your list if you are visiting the North...

Latest Articles