The 9 Best Places To Live In Portugal

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Considering a move to Portugal from the UK?

The captivating country of Portugal is overflowing with quaint villages, characterful cities, beautiful beaches, excellent and fresh Mediterranean cuisine, stunning scenery, lively culture and wonderfully warm Portuguese people.

Portugal has long been held dear in British hearts, and more and more expats are choosing to make this glorious country their permanent home.

The best place to live in Portugal is down to personal preference, but with so many wonderful locations to choose from, deciding where you want to live in Portugal is a delight, not a chore.

Nevertheless we’ve put together a guide to some of the most special places in this Iberian nation, so read on to discover the best places to live in Portugal…


move to lisbon

Kicking off our list in style, Portugal’s ancient capital city Lisbon on the country’s west coast has a very special charm.

This is an easygoing city with a laid back vibe where you can enjoy everything from the simple pleasures of freshly grilled sardines or an infamous Lisbon custard tart whilst meandering along the quaint cobbled streets or along the banks of the Tagus river or at the immense, lush Monsanto Forest Park, to experiencing fine dining, taking in a traditional Fado performance, and then dancing away into the wee hours in one of the city’s incredible bars.

The sun always seems to shine in Lisbon, with more than 3000 hours of sunshine a year and one of the mildest climates in Europe.

Summer temperatures often soar well into the 30s, and winters see lows of 8°C. This is a city with a rich history and culture, and there are plenty of events all throughout the year.

Transportation, entertainment, accommodation, and food and drink are all very affordable for a capital city, and though the British expat community here isn’t huge, it is still very easy to meet other foreigners.

Many locals speak English, but it’s always worth learning some of the local lingo – especially if you’re looking for employment.


living in portugal

Deliciously rich, sweet and fruity, Porto’s famous beverage might be what puts this city on the map for many foreigners, but there is much more to Portugal’s second largest city.

Situated on the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal, Porto is a fascinating and vibrant metropolis that in recent years has jumped up the list of top European cities.

The average temperature in the summer months is around 28°C, but it frequently gets higher — particularly during July and August.

Winters are mild, but expect rain between October and February. Whatever time of year though, Porto is a wonderful place to explore.

The ancient heart of the city is a UNESCO world heritage site, with pretty cobbled streets flanked by traditional houses, and abounding with palaces and churches.

This is also a coastal city, and the seaside is never far away. The up and coming modern city is ultra hip and full of stylish bars and restaurants, and offers tourism related business opportunities for expats — in fact the expat community in Porto is rapidly on the rise.

Prices in Porto are low, the food and wine are delicious, the atmosphere is welcoming and fun, and there is an abundance of things to do — could this be the best place to live in Portugal for expats?


setubal portugal

In the south west of Portugal between Lisbon and the Algarve lies Setubal, a bustling port town perfectly situated for exploring the natural wonders of the wetlands, beaches, forest and estuaries nearby — it’s even common to spot dolphins in the waters here — and maybe even take part in some watersports.

The city is famous for its seafood — particularly fried cuttlefish — and excellent wines, and there are some interesting architectural gems to see in the city, including the famous 15th century gothic church.

There are a good number of expats here, many of whom are retired or work in the tourism industry.

There are plenty of bars and restaurants, as well as good shopping to be had, and Setubal benefits from mild temperatures in the winter and pleasantly balmy weather in the summer months.


move to albufeira

The Algarve in southern Portugal has long been a favourite of British holidaymakers and expats. The weather here is sublime, the scenery is breathtaking, and the way of life in tranquil.

The resort town of Albufeira is the largest and most lively of the towns dotted along the Algarve coast, and there is a thriving expat community here, complete with a plethora of British bars and restaurants.

This is essentially a seaside town at heart with a heavy focus on tourism and a huge range of activities and attractions on offer, and is particularly well suited to families with lots for children and teenagers to do, including water parks, theme parks and of course, the sunny beaches.

Summers are hot and dry, and winters are mild with hardly any rain.


where to live in portugal

Nestling in the rural heart of Portugal halfway between Lisbon and Porto, the university town of Coimbra is blessed with warm and mild but rainy winters.

This is an quiet, traditional city, with plenty of property bargains to be had both within Coimbra itself and in the surrounding areas. This is an historic and fascinating city, and the university is one of the world’s oldest.

The student population adds a lively dynamic to this affluent city, bringing with it some great nightlife and a fun atmosphere. The setting is beautiful, with old houses and buildings tumbling down the hillside to meet the river.

But this isn’t an antiquated city — it also boasts a bright, fashionable waterfront park with bars and restaurants, and huge modern shopping complexes. There’s something for everyone in Coimbra.


best cities to live in portugal

Braga is the oldest city in Portugal and is popular with expats who flock here to experience the chilled out lifestyle and benefit from the affordable property prices.

Located in the north west of Portugal, Braga has Roman roots, and is brimming with culture – there’s much of interest here for art and history lovers including fine architecture, museums, galleries and important monuments such as Roman baths and cathedrals.

Whilst it’s not exactly a party town, Braga nevertheless has an eclectic bar and restaurant scene — largely due to the thriving and lively student population — and plenty of shopping opportunities from quirky boutiques to major stores.

The climate is cooler here than in the southern regions of Portugal, but is still very pleasant, with summer temperatures averaging out at around 24˚ C in summer to 12˚ C in winter.


move to portugal

Also known as the ‘Venice of Portugal’, the small coastal city of Aveiro north of Lisbon in the west is a surprising city where old meets new to create a flourishing town with abounding with youthful energy.

Aveiro is small enough to be easily explored on foot, and it’s a pleasure to explore.

Houses are decorated with glittering traditional tiles, the system of canals that wind their way through the city sprinkled with colourful wooden boats, are extremely pretty, and the restaurants boast incredible seafood dishes fresh from the ocean.

There are good beaches here and excellent transport links to the larger cities of Lisbon and Porto.

Expats are also enticed here by the warm weather, and as the Aveiro grows, more and more tourists are being attracted here, which bodes well for expat work and business opportunities.


best place to live in portugal

By Steven Fruitsmaak (CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

Another city in Portugal’s beautiful Algarve region to the west, Portimao is popular with tourists largely thanks to its dazzling coastal location on the broad estuary of the Arade river.

Traditionally a centre for sardine fishing, Portimao has over the years been transformed into a large, energetic city with beautiful quayside areas and beaches, quaint historic buildings and plazas, cool outdoor cafes, museums, theatres and art galleries, shopping galore (including familiar brands that you’d find in the UK), excellent seafood restaurants, and plenty of sporting events throughout the year — one of which is the famous famous Dakar rally.

Portimao has become increasingly popular with expats, and it looks like the trend is set to continue.


move to faro

Faro in the south of the Algarve has a delightfully hot climate, with scorching summers averaging at between 28°C and 30°C.

It’s no wonder then that this atmospheric city is very popular with British expats- – particularly retirees.

What’s more, Faro boasts an international airport, which makes travelling back to the UK a breeze. This attractive city is mostly modern, with pedestrian streets paved with mosaics, lush leafy public gardens, and chic marina.

However there are some vestiges of more ancient times, including museums and chapels in the remaining medieval quarter. There’s a sizeable university here too, which has given rise to an excellent bar and club scene.

Foodies will love the excellent markets and seafood restaurants, and nearby beaches are quickly and easily reached by bus.

What’s your pick for the best places to live in Portugal?



  1. Thanks for this guide. From the list, I’ve been to Lisbon, Faro, and Albufeira. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Lagos, which is one of the most beautiful places in the Algarve. It’s got wonderful winding streets, beautiful beaches, and stellar weather. There’s plenty to do, but it’s not as chaotic as Albufeira.

    I fell in love with Faro when we stayed there. When we went to one of the restaurants, the owner wondered if we weren’t bored there because it’s so quiet. He said: “Everyone goes to Albufeira now!” and recommended we try it, and I honestly wish we hadn’t. In my opinion, it has been totally ruined by tourism. It was like the worst of Essex had packed up and moved somewhere sunnier. (I’m allowed to say that – I was born in Essex). Going to Albufeira was like visiting a never-ending stag do/hen party. I can’t think why anyone would want to actually live there, British or Portuguese (except for those doing tourism jobs).

    I’m interested in visiting Setubal, so thank you for mentioning it. It seems a good place to live, with lots of amenities, good food and weather, and not as many tourists. Plus, it’s not far to Lisbon, which is also lovely, although perhaps not as charming as the smaller cities.

    Thanks for your list – lots to think about here. Portugal is definitely somewhere I’d love to retire early to!


    • Ian McArthur on

      Did you receive a reply Joe? I am in England and 71 years of age, making it somewhat easier than Malaysia I imagine. Still like you, don’t know where to start.

    • jOE, I am 70 years old, originally from the US, lived in Mexico for a bit and now am in South Africa. I don’t want to stay in South Africa and am looking at Portugal, but like you, don’t know where to start. I want to be in a place that is safe with beautiful parks and beaches for long walks, fresh food and open markets. Not looking for romance so I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. Just wondering if as we look around perhaps we can compare notes. I have not had a first visit there yet, just starting my research. Deborah

  3. Eloneida Barreto-mohammed on

    Beth, I have read your comments and I am wondering if you have a chance to go to Setubal ? We live between B
    England and Brazil but I now looking for a place to settle down. we both oldies 75 and 80 and it is more than time to have find our haven. Please let me know about your travel experiences.

  4. Carmen Rodrigues on

    I was born in Portugal, in a little town called, Penalva do Castelo, moved to US in 1961. I have been back numerous times, and dream about one day making Portugal my home again, I know the laws are different in Portugal, and not sure how to go about buying property, can you help? I’d love a little place near the beach, easy drive back to my home town, where my family still owns land.

  5. Mr.William Bowen on

    Could you give me information as to initially a long term rental in Portugal, in hope to make a permanent move ?
    Thanks, William

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