Life in PortugalBest Places to Retire in Portugal: Your Town-by-Town Guide

This guide will help you choose the perfect place to retire in Portugal. If you want to move to Portugal, but you’re not sure what towns in Portugal are best for retirees, read on. We’ll help you explore:

  • What to expect when retiring in Portugal
  • Some of the most popular regions and towns in Portugal
  • Information about the best places in Portugal for retirees, by region and town

reasons-to-retire-portugalRetire in Portugal: The best regions and towns for retirees

Now the exciting part of choosing a region to reside in. We recommend thinking this over carefully because the process is long and laborious of buying property in a foreign country. You probably don’t want to repeat the process many times if you’re considering retiring in Portugal.

Regions of Portugal

portugal-by-region

For each area, we’ll share towns and cities popular with retirees, general vibe, cost of living, weather, popular activities, and pros and cons for each of these areas of Portugal.

retire-alentejoThe Alentejo: What it’s like and the best places to retire

The Alentejo region has long un-spoilt stretches of golden beaches and a rich culinary culture. The famous black pigs are farmed in Alentejo and you’ll find remote tascas here with fantastic local cuisine and seafood.

If you are looking for a beachy lifestyle with lots of quiet and calm, Alentejo might be the place for you. One thing to be noted is that it’s a more Portuguese-speaking-only region than others, and there will be less of an expat community, so if you are looking to have bustling social life with people more like yourself, Lisbon or Porto could be a better choice.

Popular towns in Alentejo

Evora

Evora is an incredibly well-preserved medieval town, which is a protected UNESCO world heritage site. Strolling through the ancient cathedrals and cloisters will take you right back to the 14th century. The university in the city keeps the demographic of the town mixed and lively.

Sines

Perched on the tip of the Sines cape, this beautiful seaside fishing village is just 150km from Lisbon. The weather in Sines is fairly mild year-round but can get windy due to its exposed position. Sines is also home to the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama.

Elvas

Lying right on the border with Spain, Elvas is the most fortified region of Portugal due to the historical threat of invasion. This makes Elvas a marvel to look at, and a worthwhile place to visit. There are many less tourists visiting Elvas due to its position, so far over towards Spain, and this might be a bonus point to you in your choice of a place to retire.

retire-algarveThe Algarve: What it’s like and the best places to retire

The Algarve is the most popular choice for expats and tourists alike. It too, has some stunning beaches and coastlines, with some beautiful rock formations to marvel at. The weather is always a few degrees warmer than Lisbon which makes it a popular place for retirees. There is a busy day and nightlife with local markets, bars and restaurants in the main cities of Lagos, Albufeira and Faro.

One thing to note is that there are a huge number of tourists in Lagos and Albufeira, so you might be more inclined to look for something with a bit more local charm and authenticity if you are thinking of permanently residing in the Algarve.

Popular towns in the Algarve

Lagos

Lagos is naturally a very beautiful place. There are windswept dunes, natural grottoes nestled in the cliff’s and long golden sandy beaches. However, because of this beauty thee region is very overrun with tourists, and a highly seasonal place. It should be noted that in Summer time the tourists can get rowdy downtown and the towns seasonal discos will go on all night long.

Tavira

As well as long sandy beaches, Tavira has saltpans that attract wading birds like flamingos and spoonbills. Tavira also has a medieval center with a castle and beautiful views. Tavira is popular as a tourist destination but not as overrun as Lagos or Sagres.

Faro

Faro is a little more touristic than Tavira, but also has more beaches, that are accessible on foot. Many people won’t stay in Faro they will simply fly in to the airport and go elsewhere. However, it’s a very beautiful place to be in the ancient city, it has a gothic cathedral and a lovely pedestrianized shopping area. The saltwater lagoons make great birdwatching opportunities too.

Albufeira

Possibly the most popular town for holidaymakers in the Algarve. It is also the largest and most lively of the towns in the Algarve. If you are looking for more rustic, Albufeira is perhaps not the right place as what once was a small fishing village is now a bustling and lively beachside town.

retire-azoresThe Azores: What it’s like and the best places to retire

The Azores islands are really one of Portugal’s best kept secrets. Impressive mountain and rock formations as well as fertile land makes the islands a very beautiful and peaceful place to be. They are also famous for producing a strong-tasting cheese eaten all across Portugal, Queijo de São Jorge or Queijo de Ilha. The climate is warm and wet the year round, it might be described as tropical. Lush vegetation and deep blue Atlantic waters categorize the aesthetic of the marvel of nature that is the Azores islands.

Popular towns in the Azores

Ponta Delgada

The capital of the Azores, and often the entry point of many visitors to the island, the city is the most populated part of the island. However, by no stretch is this a busy and loud city, it still has all the tranquility and peace you would expect from the Azores.

Lagoa

A very small place in the south of the island, with just 14,000 inhabitants. Weather is mild year-round, with hot sunny summers.

Madalena

Madalena is a truly special place to witness, in terms of its lavish green nature against the backdrop of blue Atlantic.

The Azores are considered to be one of the seven wonders of Portugal, however as a retiree unless you are very reclusive, you might end up feeling a bit isolated here. Particularly if you don’t speak the language.

retire-central-portugalCentral Portugal: What it’s like and the best places to retire

Central Portugal would probably not be the most obvious choice for retirees. Whilst it’s not the beach, and not the city, towns like Coimbra might prove too pretty to ignore. Coimbra is home to a big university, so has a young and buzzy feel to it despite being fairly remote.

Popular towns in central Portugal

Nazaré

Nazaré has a large number of tourists visiting in the summer for surfing in particular, as its half-moon shaped beach has lots of natural beauty as well as a warm and mild climate. The town still has a lively tradition of fishing and the fishmongers still wear the seven skirts traditional wear.

Leiria

Being a university town, Leira has a great mix of the ancient architecture and modernity bought by the lively students. The castle of the town is built high above and can be seen from many different points in the city. This central Portuguese town is not number one on the tourist trail but might be a nice place to consider retiring.

retire-lisbonLisbon area: What it’s like and the best places to retire

Lisbon is a great choice for retirees, particularly as you have the best of both worlds in that you can be a part of a fairly busy bustling city, and also escape to the countryside and beaches in just 30 minutes.

The Greater Lisbon metropolitan has around 3 million inhabitants and reaches a total area of about 3,000 square kilometres (1158 square miles). It’s surrounded by the lovely Tagus river and has some great views from its famous seven hills. It’s also a short bus, train or boat ride to the beaches nearby to the city.

When retiring, getting a place in Lisbon might be the best option if your used to doing a lot of activities and seeing a lot of people. With all that’s going on in Lisbon, it would be hard to get bored or feel lonely in this city.

Popular towns in the Lisbon metropolitan area

Lisbon

Lisbon metropolitan area can get crowded and overrun by tourists at times, but you will have the opportunity to visit Fado concerts, restaurants, bars and exhibitions as Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and offers many attractions to its inhabitants and tourists. The prices of property in Lisbon are the highest in Portugal, particularly in the central and sought-after areas.

Cascais

The region of Cascais is popular amongst retirees, because it’s close enough to the city of Lisbon but feels more remote, as it’s on the beach and has more rural surroundings. There are still a whole bunch of cafés and restaurants that cater to the local and tourist populations here. Cascais prices are a little lower than Lisbon as its outside of the city.

Sintra

There are lots of tourists visiting Sintra in the summertime. What used to be the escape from the summer city heat for the Portuguese royalty is now like a large museum town, where you can explore the palaces with guides or alone. The beaches and countryside surrounding Sintra are breathtaking. Prices in Sintra drop dramatically from Lisbon real estate prices, and if you like a rural lifestyle close to the city this could be the best option.

Estoril

On the way to Cascais, Estoril has many luxury hotels, and a casino that inspired the James Bond 007 film Casino Royale. Estoril is a popular place to retire again as it’s a fairly quiet place, with nice beaches and a warm sunny feeling about it.

Setubal

Setubal is known as the best place to eat real seafood in Portugal. Many of the oysters come from here, and the beaches and scenery here are really very beautiful. This again is a great option for retiring close to the city of Lisbon but benefitting from a more rural lifestyle and lower prices.

retire-portoPorto area: What it’s like and the best places to retire

Porto is a lively yet peaceful city in Portugal. It’s being thought of more and more amongst foreigners who want to relocate to Portugal. The town is traditionally a fishing village situated on the Douro river.

Porto is famous for the fortified wine, Port, which they produce there. The interesting architecture also put Porto on the map for tourists. Porto is the second most expensive city in Portugal to live in, but you will still find considerably lower prices for real estate here than in Lisbon.

Popular towns in the Porto area

Porto

The town of Porto itself is vibrant and happening, steeped in rich history and tradition.

Coimbra

Coimbra is a very old university town with a medieval feel coming from its ancient university. You’ll also find plenty of Fado here.

Chaves

A city in the North of Portugal, just a short 10km from the Spanish border. It’s a fairly small place with just 41,000 inhabitants.

Braga

Considered to be the religious center of Portugal, when in Braga one can hear church bells all day long! Braga has the oldest cathedral in Portugal and is a great place to spend time soaking in the culture and history.

retire-madeiraThe Madeira region: What it’s like and the best places to retire

Madeira is a stunning place, partly as it sits on a dormant volcano. The dark and rocky landscape adorned with colorful flowers and tropical fruits makes Madeira quite a special place to look at. There are dramatic drops into deep blue ocean and black sand beaches. Of course, the warm climate the whole year round is a big bonus for Madeira’s inhabitants.

The volcanic soil is also incredibly fertile so one can grow vegetables and exotic fruits here wonderfully well. Madeira stays warm in the winter at around 15-20 degrees at the lowest point.

There are plenty of British, American, and German retirees here, so the expat community is already going strong here and retirement here wouldn’t feel lonely.

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The two inhabited islands of Madeira

Funchal

A  beautiful city, with old colonial style buildings, and magical courtyards dotted through the city. Don’t miss the cable car that takes you up to Funchal botanical gardens and gives you a spectacular view of the city and its coast.

Property in Funchal is not the cheapest, as it’s a popular place with Portuguese and foreigners alike. Since the tunnels have been built, surrounding towns are a good option to get a better bargain on real estate and perhaps a bit less hectic.

Porto Santo

The smallest of the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. Although isolated we would recommend retiring here as it’s known for its warm waters and great diving opportunities and the un-spoilt long Porto Santo Beach.

Whatever it is you are searching for in the choice of a place to retire in Portugal, make sure you have considered what it will be like to live full time in a place.

It might be a big expat community that you’re looking for, or a quiet and remote place to retreat to. But if you have weighed up the options properly, we hope you can make a choice your overjoyed with!

immigrate-portugal

Immigrating to Portugal: A very brief overview

Applying to immigrate to Portugal while still in your home country might sound daunting – but don’t get discouraged! It’s a fair amount of planning and paperwork, but a pretty straightforward process. Just make sure you’re organized and diligent about getting your documents in order, and you should have no problems.

Our best piece of advice to anyone who wants to retire in Portugal is this: Always work with trusted professionals.

If you’re not sure how to navigate any portion of the process, find an experienced lawyer, accountant, real estate agent, or immigration assistance service to help.

You might be able to manage some parts on your own – say, compiling your visa paperwork – but need help with taxes or finding a home. Let the professionals do what they do best.

And if you’re not sure who to choose, start by asking friends or online expat forums for recommendations. There are several thriving Facebook groups for expats in Portugal. That’s a great place to start.

For more information on the Golden Visa Program read our article here. Have no fear, there are also other visas that you can get if you want to retire in Portugal, without this kind of capital contribution.

Also, check out our article, How to Retire in Portugal: A Complete Guide for Expats.

portugal-retirementWhat to expect when you retire in Portugal: A brief overview

By the time you are ready to retire, you’re probably looking for a slower pace of life, and a chance to sit back, relax and get stuck in with your personal hobbies.

Portugal is certainly a great place to realize these dreams. The Portuguese culture in essence is about taking a slower pace in life and finding more time for personal life and time spent with family.

The local’s attitude is normally friendly and welcoming to foreigners and retirees. Many of the Portuguese residents are usually very helpful and will try to speak to you in English, if they can.

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In 2017, there were a recorded half million documented migrants living in Portugal, so you won’t be the first person to have had the idea to relocate here.

Portugal lends itself well to retirees from across the globe for a number of reasons. One of the big selling points of Portugal is the beautiful, warm weather year-round.

There is a delectable slowness to life in Portugal and an appreciation for the simple things in life. Like standing at the counter of a local bar to have a 60-cent espresso and custard tart in the morning. That just doesn’t exist anywhere else anymore!

FAQ

Where is the best place to retire in Portugal?

The best place to retire in Portugal depends on your interests. If you’re a beach lover, the best spots will probably be in the Algarve. If you like cities, check out Lisbon or Porto. Portugal also has beautiful vineyards, farms, mountains, and quaint villages throughout the country.

How much does it cost to retire in Portugal?

It costs different amounts to retire in Portugal based mostly on your lifestyle. If you’re in a more urban area like Lisbon or Porto, a couple will need at least €2,400 a month to get by comfortably. But in smaller villages, a couple could get by on as little as €1,400 per month.

Where do expats live in Portugal?

Expats live in cities, towns, and villages all over Portugal. A few places that are popular with expats in Portugal include areas like Faro or Lagos in the south, or Porto in northern Portugal. Lisbon and nearby Cascais are also popular with expats, especially those moving from the US.

Can I retire in Portugal?

Yes, you can retire in Portugal. . You’ll navigate a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy, of course, and you’ll have to apply for a visa. The visa you apply for will allow you to move to Portugal for the purposes of retirement.


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Clara Higham-Stoianova

Cristo Rei Lisbon Portugal

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