Where do I go?
"...the country offers such a diversity of places, cultures, and geography that it’s hard to choose which is best for you and your family"
The nation of Portugal is one of the best places to relocate or retire in all of Europe. Unlike many other EU countries, Portugal actually is welcoming and inviting to outsiders seeking to move there and has even streamlined the path to permanent residency or even citizenship through its simple, fast, and affordable Golden Visa program.
Choosing to move to Portugal isn’t the hardest decision. The big question is where in Portugal to move to.
That’s because the country offers such a diversity of places, cultures, and geography that it’s hard to choose which is best for you and your family.
To simplify the decision, we have broken down Portugal’s eight best places into three distinct categories: Beachfront Living, Portugal’s Popular Cities, and Hidden Treasures.
Portugal has a coastline that spans the entire length of the country, much like California. And like the Golden State, the cities dotting Portugal’s 1,115-mile coast each have a unique and distinct personality.
Cascais, for example, lies on the western edge of the capital city of Lisbon. But it is as different from Portugal’s financial and governmental capital as Malibu is from New York City. One of the most exclusive areas in all of Europe — let alone Portugal — Cascais features lavish mansions, exclusive shopping, and plenty of opulence. Yet given it still offers the unique sleepy charm of any other Portuguese town.
Some of the most famous beaches in Portugal, however, are located in The Algarve. Akin to the flashy, lavishness of Miami Beach, the southern region of The Algarves attracts visitors from around the world and offer ex-patriots an ideal place to enjoy sunny, care-free everyday life. And with nearly 90% of its population fluent in English, moving to The Algarve softens the culture shock for outsiders better than anywhere else in Portugal.
"...like the Golden State, the cities dotting Portugal’s 1,115-mile coast each have a unique and distinct personality"
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal as well as its largest city. But compared to other international capitals, it is relatively small, slow-moving, and laid back. With a population of only about 500,000, Lisbon is similar in size to Albuquerque, New Mexico. But it boasts a vibrant financial district and the center of the Portuguese government, as well as the country’s best-known dining, fashion, and nightlife.
It is the city of choice for people seeking a more urban experience while still enjoying Portugal’s rich history, culture, and timeless charm. And among global capitals, it offers relatively inexpensive real estate, food, utilities, and transportation costs, making it possibly the most affordable big city in the world.
Portugal’s other major city is Porto, the most famous home to the Portuguese wine industry. Visitors to Porto instantly recognize it as the prototypical European city with rows and rows of red-tiled roofs, towering Gothic spires, and a large central piazza where people gather to buy and trade everyday necessities.
"Lisbon offers relatively inexpensive real estate, food, utilities, and transportation costs, making it possibly the most affordable big city in the world"
A smaller, yet no less significant, city is Coimbra, home to some of Portugal’s richest cultural and historical attractions. Coimbra features everything from the country’s oldest university to ancient Moorish and Roman ruins. Yet with a population of only about 140,000, it’s small enough to get around easily and get to know your friendly and welcoming neighbors.
Three other places offer some of the best Portugal has to offer while staying far away from the glare of international attention.
The city of Leiria is located in the center of the country, far from most tourists and big-city noise. The city offers a unique mixture of Old Europe charm and forward-thinking youthful appeal. Trendy clubs and restaurants sit shoulder-to-shoulder with ancient castles and medieval outdoor markets.
Braga, located about 30 miles inland in the northern tip of Portugal, is the nation’s oldest city. Founded by Caesar Augustus in 136 BC, Braga boasts some of the country’s most awe-inspiring ruins, incredible churches, and camera-ready castles. Most people don’t know about Braga and those who live there want to keep it that way. That’s because they can enjoy their quiet, laid-back lifestyle surrounded by millennia of history in a warm, friendly, and protective atmosphere.
Finally, there’s the tiny beach town of Nazaré. If you long for a quiet, out of the way place in Europe to relocate or retire where you will rarely see tourists or even outsiders, Nazaré Beach could be what you are looking for. Picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean are framed by some of Portugal’s largest mountains, offering newcomers a hidden respite from the outside world that is all their own.