Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

In the past decade, Portugal has transformed into one of the most popular European countries for expats — be it digital nomads or retirees — and it’s easy to see why. The country has it all: nearly year-round sunny weather; golden-sand beaches; warm and friendly locals; history that spans hundreds of years; fresh seafood; awe-inspiring landscapes that span rolling hills and vineyards, lush mountains, and scenic valleys; and a laid-back lifestyle.

Even better, that lifestyle comes at a more affordable price than any other western European country. Portugal is also an easy direct flight away from the East Coast, and it’s connected to many other global destinations thanks to its three international airports: Lisbon, Porto to the north, and Faro to the south.

So, where in Portugal should you settle down? From charming fishing villages to vibrant Lisbon and Porto, we asked local real estate agents for the top markets and places to live in Portugal.

Lisbon

People taking in a view of Lisbon's cityscape
GAUTIER HOUBA/TRAVEL + LEISURE

Portugal’s enchanting capital is a sight to behold — set on seven hills (just like Rome), Lisbon is a treasure trove of historic and modern districts, many with waterfront views, historic landmarks, buildings clad in traditional azulejo ceramic tiles, small neighborhood restaurants, and coffee shops filled with the sweet smell of freshly baked pasteis de nata, Portugal’s famous custard tarts.

“Depending on the desired lifestyle, there are neighborhoods like Campo de Ourique and Avenidas Novas where life can be lived ‘entirely on foot’ without the need for a car. If you’re looking for a more sophisticated area, nothing beats the axis of Avenida da Liberdade, Chiado, Príncipe Real, and Amoreiras. On the other hand, if you prefer a more sporty lifestyle, the areas along the Tagus River — namely, Belém, Alcântara, 24 de Julho, Beato, and Parque das Nações — are ideal,” Paulo Lopes, CEO of Casaiberia Real Estate, told Travel + Leisure.

However, he explained, due to the high demand and low supply growth, real estate prices constantly increase, especially in central areas.

 

Cascais

Beach in Cascais, Praia da Ribeira, Portugal. Beautiful shore in seaside town.
STUDIOBARCELONA/GETTY IMAGES

This former quaint fishing village north of Lisbon is a luxury home destination that doesn’t lack character.

“With cultural attractions such as the historic center and the Citadel Palace, along with recreational amenities like stunning beaches and the renowned Boca do Inferno, Cascais offers a blend of historic charm and modern luxury,” Marta Bettencourt, a broker with Modern, said. The area is especially popular with families because it’s home to excellent international schools and many kid-friendly facilities and parks.

Cláudia Ferreira of Casaiberia explained that Estoril, Birre, and Quinta da Marinha are some of the most popular districts for single-family homes, while Monte Estoril, downtown Cascais, and Gandarinha are favored for apartments.

 

Comporta

view of the river sado estuary in Comporta, Alentejo Portugal
STUDIOF22BYRICARDOROCHA/GETTY IMAGES

Dubbed the “Hamptons of Portugal,” Comporta is a hidden gem, just an hour south of Lisbon and home to about 1,500 residents.

“The history of the Herdade of Comporta dates to 1836, with the rice fields being an integral part of its landscape, but Comporta has recently gained renown for its breathtaking natural surroundings, including white-sand beaches, dunes, and expansive rice fields,” Modern broker Filipa Melo explained.

Stylish, modern villas, residences in new developments, and historic homes are all options for homebuyers here. And just like in any other beachfront location, the closer the home is to the ocean, the higher its price tag.

“The allure of Comporta lies in its untouched beauty and serene atmosphere, making it a magnet for individuals searching for a peaceful and exclusive retreat,” Melo added. “The area offers upscale amenities, high-end restaurants, and boutique shops, further contributing to its reputation as a destination for those seeking an upscale and discreet escape.”

 

Porto

Plaza in Porto
PAULA GALINDO VALLE/TRAVEL + LEISURE

Portugal’s second-largest city is known for its scenic riverfront dotted with wine-tasting rooms and vibrantly hued houses, but to its residents, the city is also a bustling economic hub with a burgeoning tech and startup economy.

“Living in Porto is embracing a distinctive blend of tranquility and liveliness. The city, maintaining a unique essence, offers a high quality of life, outstanding education, and a harmonious work-life balance,” Lopes explained, also noting that Porto’s winters tend to be cold and rainy, which “might challenge those unaccustomed to such climates.”

According to him, a couple without children would need about €2,000 per month to live comfortably in Porto.

In terms of neighborhoods, he recommended Bonfim and Lordelo do Ouro e Massarelos for families and Foz do Douro and Cedofeita for those seeking a lively setting with bars, restaurants, and markets.

 

Sintra

A street in Sintra
JAMIE DITARANTO/TRAVEL + LEISURE

You’ve probably seen photos of Sintra’s Pena Palace, which looks like something out of a fairy tale. But this historic mountain town, full of sprawling villas and royal estates, also offers a quaint and picturesque home setting just about 30 minutes from bustling Lisbon.

“[Sintra] is divided into two facets: the historic old town — a tourist magnet — and the new town, pulsating with activity,” said Lopes. “In the new town, modern conveniences thrive, including shopping malls, multinational companies, and leisure centers.”

Another draw? The destination has a mild climate, so those not fond of Lisbon’s hot summers will find solace here. Lopes added that Sintra has become a haven for remote workers “seeking a peaceful escape.” Real estate prices hover around 2,258 euros per square meter (prices in Cascais, for example, are almost double that).

 

Silver Coast

People enjoying summer on White beach on Portugals Silver Coast
JOHNNYWALKER61/GETTY IMAGES

North of Lisbon, this breathtaking area, which stretches from Aveiro to Torres Vedras, is emerging as a more affordable, under-the-radar destination for expats. While the Atlantic waters here are much chillier, the region offers a wealth of natural, historic, and cultural attractions (including many UNESCO-listed sites) that keep its residents active.

“Choosing to reside on the Silver Coast is a fantastic decision for expats in Portugal, especially those seeking seaside views, more affordable living, and a peaceful environment,”said Lopes. “Small cities, friendly locals, and an undiscovered expat community create a unique atmosphere.”

Aveiro, also known as the “Venice of Portugal” for its canals, is chock-full of architectural gems and art nouveau buildings. White-sand beaches frequented by surfers and fresh seafood add to Aveiro’s allure among expats. Further south, Mira is home to one of Portugal’s best beaches, Praia de Mira, according to Lopes.

 

Algarve Villages

Odeceixe Village with traditional windmill at the end of the street. Vicentine coast, Algarve, Portugal
ELOI_OMELLA/GETTY IMAGES

The notoriously scenic south of Portugal is home to many cities, towns, and villages, along with a vibrant, English-speaking expat community (especially retirees) hailing from the U.K. and U.S.

Alvor, for example, a former fishing village that has kept much of its character and historic charm, has a bustling main drag and a wide, white-sand beach that fills up with visitors come summer.

Just about seven miles east, Ferragudo has narrow cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings, and a relaxed atmosphere, Lopes explained. “It has managed to maintain a more authentic and less touristy [vibe], and has been seen as the Algarve’s little treasure,” he added.

Similarly, Carvoeiro and Lagoa attract those seeking small-town living and a quieter lifestyle.

 

Faro

Colorful houses in Ferragudo, Faro, Algarve, Portugal
MATTEO COLOMBO/GETTY IMAGES

Algarve’s capital blends city amenities like an international airport, a university, administrative institutions, and retail destinations with the region’s signature laid-back lifestyle.

“Faro offers a mix of historical and cultural attractions. It has a charming old downtown and is a gateway to the Ria Formosa Natural Park,” explained Lopes.

Before purchasing property here or in another town in the Algarve, Lopes recommends seeking legal advice from a local solicitor or lawyer specializing in real estate transactions in Portugal and exploring the various residency options available to non-European Union citizens. Remember that the popular Golden Visa program, which allowed foreigners to live in the country for five years after a real estate investment, underwent significant changes in 2023.

 

Lagos

beautiful Lagos beach in Algarve Portugal
CAROL YEPES/GETTY IMAGES

This beautiful city in the western Algarve, located along the Bensafrim River and Atlantic, is known for its rugged coastline dotted with caves, stunning beaches, lively nightlife, and historic downtown. Lopes pointed out two of its most well-known landmarks are the Ponta da Piedade cliffs and nearby Dona Ana Beach.

In the Algarve, the median home prices have risen by six percent since October 2022, and a single square meter now costs $2,272, according to a report by GlobalPropertyGuide.com.

Source: https://www.travelandleisure.com/

By Lala