Popular Destinations for Expats Moving to Portugal

Portugal has become one of the top destinations for expats in the world in large part because of the incredible value to be found in real estate. In Portugal you can get a house near the beach in the southern Algarve, in the major metro area of Lisbon, in the rolling wine country outside of Porto, amongst the medieval towns and mountains of the North, or anything in between . We recommend taking a trip to explore towns that may be of interest to you. 

Popular Regions for American Expats Living in Portugal

Lagos, Portugal
Lagos, Portugal

The Algarve

The Algarve is Portugal's sunny southern coast. With some of the country's loveliest beaches and 300 days of sunshine a year, it's a great place to both visit and make home.

 

Major towns are mostly on the coast and include popular Portimão, cosmopolitan Albufeira, regional capital Faro, architecture-rich Tavira, and up-and-coming Lagos. There are many other small fishing towns dotting the coastline and plenty of places to enjoy inland as well - from acclaimed golf courses around Vilamoura to the Monchique thermal baths. As you might expect for such a popular destination, the Algarve has many amenities and a highly developed infrastructure. Over the years it has attracted many expats from European countries as well as Americans. 

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Portimão, Portugal
Portimão

A working class town of 55,000 in the center of the Algarve, Portimão is only two miles from the famous Paia da Rocha beach. 

Faro, Portugal
Faro

The largest city in the Algarve and the regional capital, with impressive ancient walls and plenty of history. This city is less touristy than others in the region, and more affordable as well. 

Lagos, Portugal
Lagos

A relaxed town in the western Algarve, where English is widely spoken. The Hospital San Gonçalo de Lagos offers affordable healthcare in additional to several clinics. 

Tavira, Portugal
Tavira

A very pretty little city in the eastern Algarve with whitewashed buildings, Roman ruins, and proximity to lovely beaches. Tavira is a bit more expensive than other options in the region.

Albufeira, Portugal
Albufeira

Perhaps the best-known tourism city in the Algarve, Albufeira features fifteen miles of beaches. The city is a great nightlife location, while during the day you can enjoy its charming cobbestone streets and Moorish-influenced architecture. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Aveiro, Costa da Prata, Portugal
Aveiro, Portugal
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The Silver Coast (Costa da Prata)

Nestled along the western side of Portugal between Porto and Lisbon, the Silver Coast, or Costa da Prata, is a 93-mile stretch of rugged coastline full of charm and affordable living. It's still possible to find homes with pools on the coast for under $500,000, or large freestanding homes slightly inland for less. Of course, overall cost of living varies greatly with one's lifestyle, but the Silver Coast has great options for affordability.

 

There are many small towns, some larger cities, and plenty of charming old fishing villages along this stunning coastline. With thousands of foreigners already in the area, life on the Silver Coast can be packed with socializing or quiet and laid-back.

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Coimbra

Portugal's former capital and a university town known as "the Oxford of Portugal," Coimbra is a larger city of 145,000. The city is rich with history and culture. English is widely spoken and healthcare is excellent.

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Nazaré

A quaint and traditional fishing village of just 32 square miles that's also a surfing hotspot with huge waves. Cities are nearby, as Nazaré is 1.5 miles from Lisbon and 1 hour from Coimbra.

Caldas da Rainha
Caldas da Rainha

In English, "The Baths of the Queen," Caldas da Rainha is a mid-sized city 1 hour north of Lisbon with cobblestone streets and thermal baths. It offers public & private hospitals, plenty of bars and restaurants, and easy access to beautiful beaches.

Aveiro
Aveiro

A canal city of 80,000 near Porto, at the northern end of the Costa de Prata. Popular with tourists, Aveiro features beautiful art nouveau homes lining its canals. English is widely spoken, the beach of Costa Nova is nearby, and the prestigious Hospital da Luz is in town.

 
 
 
 
 
Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon and the surrounding area

A modern city steeped in history, Lisbon offers a little bit of everything to its residents. In a beautiful setting built on seven hillsides around the banks of the Rio Tejo, Lisbon combines tradition and culture with the excitement of a modern city.

 

Each neighborhood has a distinctive character, from the labyrinthine alleys of the Alfama to the manicured gardens of Belém to the charming cafés of Madragoa and Santos. This is a great town for foodies, with new high-end restaurants opening all the time. There's also an active nightlife to be found down many cobblestone streets.

 

Surrounding towns offer proximity to Lisbon's amenities along with their own distinctive lifestyle. From sleepy villages to glamorous coastal resorts, you can find what you seek near Lisbon.

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Lisbon

The capital and largest city in Portugal, Lisbon offers a little bit of everything Portugal has to offer. Each neighborhood (bairro) has it's own ambience, but you'll always find history, good food, and culture.

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Cascais

A cosmopolitan yet laid back village 20 miles west of Lisbon, Cascais is known for its parks, shopping, restaurants, and culture. It's one of the wealthiest municipalities in Portugal, but still not too expensive.

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Estoril

Together with Cascais, Estoril is part of the "Portuguese Riviera." The town is small (2 square miles) and has a feeling of easy Old World elegance. Note Estoril is more expensive than other nearby locations.

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Mafra

30 minutes northwest of Lisbon airport, Mafra is large but feels like a nicely paced small city. The beautiful National Palace draws visitors and English is widely spoken.

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Setúbal

A traditional city about 30 minutes from Lisbon on the banks of the Sado, Setúbal is more affordable than other cities in the region and offers access to all the amenities and healthcare you might need.

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Porto, Portugal

Northern Portugal

Northern Portugal is an area rich in mountains, parks, ancient history, and wine culture. If you prefer a cooler temperature and to escape the crowds, this may be the region for you.

 

It was in the north that Portugal was founded in the 12th century, and the region certainly lends itself to historical exploration, with visible signs of the changing eras from Roman occupation to today.

 

If you want to lace up your hiking boots, northern Portugal is one of the best places to do it - it's home to Portugal's only national park, which features sky-piercing peaks and verdant hills. There are many more natural parks throughout the region, including everything from sand dunes to dramatic waterfalls.

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Porto

Porto is a thriving international city located on the Douro River, with rich culture and architecture and a cool, mild climate. The city is very affordable, while offering all the modern conveniences you could ask for.

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Guimarães

Guimarães is a UNESCO world heritage site and is considered the birthplace of Portugal, located just 35 miles from Porto. It's a walkable although hilly city, with plenty of amenities. English is commonly spoken.

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Braga

Braga is the hub of Northern Portugal, located about 20 miles inland from the coast. Considered the oldest city in the north, Braga boasts a rich history from Roman occupation and as the seat of the oldest Portuguese archdiocese. For all of this history, Braga has a young feel as an international university town, and English is widely spoken.

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Chaves

Chaves is a popular spa resort town famous for its thermal springs, located just 10 kilometers from the border with Spain. The city features beautiful old architecture overlooking the Tâmega River, and is particularly affordable.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Porto Santo Madeira
Porto Santo Madeira

Madeira

Madeira is an island archipelago located about 500 miles west of Casablanca, Morocco and a short ferry ride from Spain's Canary Islands. With a climate similar to Hawaii and dramatic landscapes lining its coasts, Madeira has been named the best island destination in Europe for many years. The Madeira archipelago is made up of Madeira island itself (where most residents live), Porto Santo, and 2 uninhabited island groups.  

 

Madeira has many steep hillsides, ample forests, and several black sand beaches. Its capital, Funchal, is where roughly half of the island's population of 250,000 lives. Diving is excellent off the coast, and seafood plus the eponymous Madeira wine is not to be missed.

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Funchal

Funchal is Madeira's capital city. It's been named the 2nd best city to live in Portugal and provides a nice mix of calm island life and vibrant cosmopolitan city life.

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Ponta do Sol

On the south coast of Madeira island, Ponta do Sol is a traditional whitewashed town set on tall cliffs with a warm climate. One of the most affordable areas for property, you also get access to great walking trails in nature.

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São Martinho

São Martinho offers easy access to all kinds of amenities - restaurants, malls, and famous beaches. There is easy access to Funchal from the town as well.

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Arco da Calheta

Arco da Calheta is a group of lombos (villages) set along a sand beach that wraps around a harbor, sheltered from waves. The town is famous for occasional festivals with food, parades, and fireworks.

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Porto Santo

Arco da Calheta is a group of lombos (villages) set along a sand beach that wraps around a harbor, sheltered from waves. The town is famous for occasional festivals with food, parades, and fireworks.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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The Azores

The Azores are an archipelago of nine inhabited islands located roughly halfway between Europe and America in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They are known for their untouched natural beauty protected by parks and marine reserves and for world-class adventure activities like whale-watching, sailing, diving, and canyoning.

 

Just now being discovered by tourism, the Azores offer great opportunities to get away in nature, while still experiencing a culture formed from Portuguese traditions and the Azores' own proud regional identity.

 

Compared to Portugal's other famous island, Madeira, the Azores is more off-the-beaten path and less touristy and offers more nature and greenery, while Madeira is known for more sunshine, amenities, restaurants, and nightlife.

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Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada is the capital city of the Azores, located on the main island of São Miguel. There are great amenities nearby, including a private hospital and the largest airport in the Azores.

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Lagoa

Lagoa is another popular city on São Miguel with 14,000 inhabitants. Set near a stunning crater lake that gives the city its name, Lagoa is also near Ponta Delgada on the southern coast of the island.

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Terceira

The second-largest island in the Azores, Terceira is less touristy than São Miguel and roughly 20% more affordable while maintaining access to plenty of amenities, including a large public hospital. The main city is Angra do Heroísmo. The population of this island is approximately 54,000.

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Santa Maria

Santa Maria is a small island known for its white sandy beaches and dry weather. It's also less discovered, as getting to Santa Maria requires more effort - access is limited to plane or ferry from São Miguel. The island's population is only 6,000. Amenities are fairly limited due to this size.