Where are the best places to live in Portugal? It’s helpful to know as a second residence in this EU n country or one of its island territories offers many interesting investment opportunities and tax incentives. This article reveals the nine best places to live in Portugal.
Let Nomad Capitalist look after all your EU residence needs. We advise HNWIs on second residence and tax residence in Europe and beyond. Here are the nine best places to live in Portugal, a hotspot for investors, digital nomads and expats alike.
9 Best Places to Live in Portugal
Portugal is a top tourist destination thanks to a winning combination of beautiful beaches and a warm climate. Portugal is also regarded as one of the most stable European countries. As a result a large expat community has relocated to Portuguese cities and regions.
We can help you determine where you want to live in mainland Portugal or the likes of Madeira if you prefer the relaxed pace of island life. Choosing your base depends on the cost of living, education, and population.
English is widely spoken on the larger islands, but you will need Portuguese to get by on the smaller isles of the Azores.
The Azores is a North Atlantic Ocean archipelago located around 1,000 miles (1,600 km) west of the Portuguese mainland. There are nine major islands and three groups, with the most significant group and island being São Miguel, where the capital Ponta Delgada is located. A subtropical climate explains the popularity of pineapple growing on the islands.
This island group is a hit with snowbirds who can breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine for up to six months a year if they sign up for Portugal’s special tax regime for Non-Habitual Residents.
NHRs can benefit from reduced tax rates on Portuguese-source income, and the majority of their foreign-source income remaining untouched by Portugal’s tax authorities for up to 10 years
A downside is the feeling of isolation. Island fever exists as you are far from anywhere in the Azores. Another problem is the infrequent public transport.
The Alentejo has its own unique character.
This rural area produces two-thirds of the world’s output of cork. You will have the great outdoors on your doorstep, and you can explore it via the Rota Vicentina network of trails.
The population’s average age is over 70 as the young leave early to seek employment in the bigger cities, so while it may be ideal for retirees, it’s not for everyone.
Alentejo’s laidback charm has seen foreign creatives buy homes in the area. These include the famous French fashion designer Christian Louboutin, the Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen, and the German artist Anselm Kiefer.
HNWIs are drawn to the fact that you can reach Lisbon in just over an hour by car and Alentejo’s stunning hilltop towns, where you can sample some delicious yet underrated wines produced in the region.
Madeira is one of the two inhabited Madeira Islands, the other being Porto Santo.
Like the Azores, the Madeira Islands are a North Atlantic Ocean archipelago. Major island industries include the production of the famous eponymous dessert wine and tourism. The capital Funchal is the 8th biggest city in Portugal, with a population of just over 100,000.
Madeira has become an area pinpointed by foreign investors looking to increase their luxury real estate portfolio. It joins the Algarve region, Lisbon, and Porto as the most popular areas. €377 million was spent on this market in 2022, with most buyers coming from North America, the UK, Germany, and France.
Funchal’s most famous son is soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. He owns a seven‐story mansion in his hometown. The player has partnered with Portugal’s largest hotel group to establish a portfolio of five Pestana CR7 hotels. Dionísio Pestana now plans to extend the brand into real estate with the €50 million construction of an apartment complex in Praia Formosa.
Known for its Madeira Free Trade Zone, this Portuguese territory also offers lucrative tax benefits for companies, providing a low corporate tax rate of 14.7%.
The cost of living in Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal, is reasonable.
West coast Aveiro borders the ocean and the ria (estuary). Look out for the colorful moliceiros, the boats traditionally used to collect algae and seaweed. Now you can sightsee in them, and it’s like taking a trip with a Venice gondolier.
The 17th largest city in Portugal, Aveiro has a population of around 55,000. It is a striking settlement. There are several Art Nouveau buildings, and you can learn about their history at a specialist museum.
In a classic case of supply not being able to meet demand, Aviero property prices increased by over 15% in 2022. Buying in Aviero looks like a good long-term investment. A rail network expansion project includes the new Aveiro – Viseu – Guarda – Vilar Formoso line, connecting Portugal’s ten largest cities with high-speed services.
Braga offers rich history alongside vibrant nightlife.
The fourth biggest city in the country, Braga, is home to just over 120,000 inhabitants. It is located in northern Portugal with good rail and road connections to Porto. A royal city, Braga was the seat of the Portuguese court from 1093 to 1147.
Braga is the oldest city in the country. The Romans founded it in 16 BC. It is considered one of the happiest metropolises in Europe as well as one of the best cities in the world to retire in.
This northern city is crypto-friendly. In May 2022, a “historical milestone” was passed here. An apartment sold for 3 Bitcoin represented Portugal’s first-ever direct transaction.
Coimbra’s large student population limits the downtown property available.
Coimbra is a city and municipality in west-central Portugal. With close to 107,000 inhabitants, it’s the sixth-largest city in Portugal. UNESCO has classified the upper parts of Coimbra’s downtown, including the Renaissance-era thoroughfare, Rua da Sofia.
During the Middle Ages, Coimbra was Portugal’s capital for more than 100 years. It is where you will find the country’s oldest and most prestigious university. Well connected by train to both Lisbon and Porto, Coimbra guarantees a low cost of living in comparison with more touristy areas.
People still physically shop in Coimbra. Lola des Maias was established in 1931 and offers traditional tailored suits and designer clothing. A Camponeza is a gourmet market that doubles as a venue by night.
Porto is the country’s second‐largest city and is located on the banks of the Douro River estuary in northern Portugal.
Portugal’s second-biggest city, just under 250,000 residents live in Porto. It is 175 miles (280 km) north of Lisbon. An international airport offers flights to and from a wide-ranging selection of destinations from Agadir to Zurich.
Porto’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll around the old town and you will quickly understand why it is one of the best cities to live in in Portugal. However, it is often overlooked by expats moving to a Portuguese base because of its northern location.
The great export of Porto is port. It is a regional drink that is only made in the Douro Valley in the same way that champagne is produced in the French area of the same name. This northern city has a rich culinary tradition that includes caldo verde, a winter warmer of a green soup.
The tourist attractions of the capital city Lisbon will make friends and family eager to visit you in your new base.
Like Porto, Lisbon is a very safe city. It has attracted remote workers drawn to increasingly popular coworking hubs with high-speed Internet connections. With just over 515,000 inhabitants, Lisbon has twice the population of Porto.
Lisbon is one of the best cities to live in Portugal because it is the capital. There are so many expats, so it is easy to find an English-speaking doctor. The cost of living may be higher, but there are more facilities and services than more out-of-the-way locations.
You’ll never tire of navigating the sunny streets of the beautiful city center in distinctive yellow cable cars. This historical Portuguese city remains a joy to explore as a local as much as a tourist. Public transport is inexpensive and efficient.
Cascais is known as Lisbon on Sea, and this coastal town is a 25-minute train journey away from the capital. Geographically, it forms part of the Lisbon District and has plenty to discover with trendy beach cafés to while away the time. If you want to maintain a central Lisbon base where there is a more diverse population, there are nearby beaches.
The Algarve region enjoys some of the warmest weather in Portugal.
As well as its coastline of picture-perfect beautiful beaches, the Algarve is renowned for its golf courses. You can combine your golfing passion with real estate investment. Many new regional developments offer apartments, townhouses, and villas that adjoin golf clubs.
Popular Algarve hotspots include Tavira, which enjoys some of the best weather in the country. This is close to the Spanish border, and its beautifully preserved old town sees traditional whitewashed houses decorated with colorful titles. The tourism industry of Lagos in the western Algarve has increased coastal real estate close to the family-friendly beaches.
Faro is a comfortable city with a cheaper cost of living than Lisbon. Its historic center includes its city walls (Muralhas de Faro) and a town square which is best savored at the slow pace of a local. Faro’s aeroporto is the opposite of a big city airport, and you can use it as a launchpad to discover what the rest of Europe offers.
Living in Portugal Conclusion
Living in Portugal is affordable and the climate is pleasant. There are over 300 days of sunshine a year. This has seen Portugal become one of the most popular destinations in Europe for expat retirees.
Portugal is family-friendly, too, with good state education options. Who knows? One day, one of your children may enroll in the oldest university in the country, Universidade de Coimbra.
In descending order, here is our list of the nine best places to live in Portugal:
Go Where You’re Treated Best
Wanting to live in Portugal is a no-brainer. But do not rush into this as it is best to consider all your options.
It might be easier to acclimatize in an English-speaking jurisdiction. Also, you can find better value properties in emerging frontier markets rather than in developed countries.
Looking to move overseas and gain access to lucrative investment opportunities while availing of lower taxes? Become a client, and we’ll show you how to go where you’re treated best.
Living in Portugal FAQ
As a whole, Portugal is pretty safe. This has a lot to do with being in Europe, as the Global Peace Index explains: “Europe is the most peaceful region in the world, where seven of the ten most peaceful countries are located.” Portugal is at number six, with only Iceland, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, and Austria considered safer.
Living in a city center will be more unsafe than in the countryside. But that is the same wherever you go. The higher the tourist season in the Algarve, the greater the crime rate. Look out for pickpockets in Lisbon and Portugal.
It depends on where you are. For example, English is widely spoken in Faro and across the rest of the Algarve region. The bigger the city, the higher chance of locals knowing Portuguese. However, sharing a border with Spain has resulted in Spanish being the second language of most households rather than English. Then there are more rural communities where only Portuguese is understood.
Most expats live in the Portuguese capital. Lisbon is home to residents from over 80 different nationalities. Its sheer size means more foreign nationals reside there, but the expat population continues to grow in the other cities.
If you opt to live in Portugal, you are taking an essential step in your Nomad Capitalist journey. We can help you navigate this adventure. Talk to us today about creating your own custom Action Plan.