Live As the Portuguese Do: An Insider’s Guide on Where to Live in Portugal
A few years ago, I lived in Lisbon and fell in love with the city.
However, Lisbon was just one place in Portugal. I knew the country had so much more to offer!
Now, you’ll find me sipping wine by the river in Porto, the second largest city in Portugal.
So what makes Portugal so great that I decided to move here … twice?
Why Live in Portugal?
The Weather Is Gorgeous All Year
Portugal is one of the sunniest countries in Europe, with its capital, Lisbon, at the top of the list.
Whether you like taking road trips, relaxing on beaches, hiking or just sipping cocktails in the sunshine, Portugal is the ideal place to partake in your favorite activities!
Even though the country does get a bit cold in winter, the lower average doesn’t fall below 11°C (52°F) in January, which is extremely mild compared to other parts of Europe.
Portugal’s Community Is Expat-Friendly
Not only are Portuguese people friendly, but in big cities, many people speak English! So you’ll be able to make friends easily.
If you want to move to a smaller area, I do recommend studying Portuguese before and during your stay to make the most of your new life.
Portugal is also slowly becoming a more popular destination for expats, so you’re bound to find fellow foreigners to bond with.
Regardless of whether you’re going to Portugal to retire, start your life all over again, work remotely or focus on the business startup scene, you’ll find your crowd easily.
Portugal Is a Hot Spot for Travel
If you want to explore beyond Portugal and travel the world, you’ve found the right hub. This country is right on the cusp of two continents, Europe and Africa.
Want to run with the bulls in Spain? Or you could ride a camel in Morocco.
If you book through Skyscanner, tickets to the United Kingdom are usually pretty cheap! How does a weekend sipping tea and scouring London for Harry and Meghan sound?
The biggest airports are located in Lisbon, Faro and Porto, and you can grab convenient connections from any of them.
Where to Live in Portugal
With 500,000 inhabitants, Portugal’s capital is also its largest city. But you can easily get to know your neighbors and nearby merchants. Soon you’ll have your own community, and the area won’t feel so intimidating.
Lisbon attracts expats with its culture, food, reasonable cost of living and sunny weather.
Just like many city capitals around the world, most of the jobs for foreigners are in Lisbon. The economy still isn’t the best compared to capitals of neighboring countries, but you can look for jobs among dozens of startups and agencies all over Lisbon.
Peruse the sites Jobs in Lisbon and Expatica to find your perfect job match.
Even though the city is relatively large, the Portuguese capital has one of Europe’s lowest crime rates. Here you’ll experience a big city feeling while having a great quality of life.
Don’t forget to have a pastel de nata (egg tart pastry) at Manteigaria and enjoy Bairro Alto, the most popular part of the city for nightlife.
Porto is the second largest city in the country, located in Northern Portugal.
Right next to the Douro river, Porto is a metropolis that attracts students and young professionals. The city is more affordable than Lisbon and also much smaller, with a population of about 220,000 people.
Foreigners love Porto not only for its nightlife and famous drink, Vinho do Porto (Porto’s wine, a sweet dessert wine), but also for its vibrant daily life. The average summer temperature is around 28°C (82.4°F), and weather tends to be mild all year.
The whole city is so gorgeous that São Bento Railway Station is worth a visit even if you’re not planning to catch a train. Don’t forget to stop by Lello Bookstore, either to admire the building or to grab a drink on your way to sunbathe at Porto City Park.
Get ready to spend time with young, cool Portuguese people, listen to Fado and other Portuguese songs everywhere you go, and prepare for some incredible road trips close to your new home base.
Portugal’s Algarve region, where Faro is located, is one of the most famous regions in the country. The hot climate combined with the relaxed vibe attracts British expats, especially when they decide to retire.
Even though Faro is a small city, you can enjoy public gardens, sip wine by the marina and even make use of its international airport.
Faro is also home to the University of Algarve, making the city a tiny gathering place for young people. Between the British retirees and college students, Faro attracts travelers from all walks of life.
With a little over 65,000 inhabitants, Faro is a low-key place to live. It’s also a great location to learn some Portuguese while sitting by the beach to enjoy great weather all year.
If you love the outdoors, Faro is an amazing destination. Take a look at Ria Formosa for hiking and cycling. Spend a weekend on Culatra Island, where you’ll find arguably the best beaches in Portugal.
Braga is one of the most historic places in Portugal. Located in the Northwest, you’ll be able to enjoy culture like never before.
Roman baths and cathedrals are just the tip of the iceberg. You can also spend your weekends in museums and art galleries while wandering around the third largest city in Portugal.
Even though Braga has its own student population, it isn’t a big party town. The seafood restaurants and bar scene are small, but quality definitely beats out quantity!
If you’re used to living in a small town or would like a relaxed environment when living in Portugal, Braga is the place to go.
Get ready to explore the Castle of Guimarães and Peneda-Gerês National Park, two important landmarks in Braga.
If you’ve already heard of Aveiro, you’ve likely heard it referred to as the “Venice of Portugal.” With plenty of canals weaving through the city, this Portuguese version of Venice is clean, relaxing and in a great location. The town is filled with gorgeous Art Nouveau-style buildings.
The traditional azulejos (Portuguese tiles) are everywhere. You’ll be able to enjoy your afternoons in one of the traditional boats called moliceiros, which were once used to harvest seaweed.
Beautiful architecture and colors? Boat rides along canals? Yep, this is the Portuguese Venice, alright!
Aveiro is also where you’ll find Costa Nova Beach, a sandy coastline with colorful houses that make for an idyllic weekend getaway.
This is the perfect location for travelers who want to live close to Porto but still enjoy daily life in a small city.
What do you think? Is it time to make Portugal your new home?
As someone who just bought a one-way plane ticket back to Portugal, I must say, there’s no place I’d rather live.
Debbie Corrano is a digital strategist and writer. She works remotely while traveling the world full-time with her two dogs. Over the past few years, Debbie has lived in more than 10 countries, learned a few languages and worked with dozens of agencies and brands.