Areas of Portugal

Southern Portugal

Portugal has a variety of regions, each with its own unique charm and characteristics, making it appealing to different types of expatriates and retirees. Here are some of the best areas in Portugal for US citizens to consider:

1. Lisbon

  • Description: The capital city, Lisbon, is vibrant and cosmopolitan, offering a mix of historical architecture, modern amenities, and a bustling cultural scene.
  • Attractions: Beautiful neighborhoods like Alfama and Bairro Alto, world-class restaurants, shopping, and nightlife.
  • Pros: Excellent public transportation, plenty of expat communities, and numerous cultural activities.
  • Cons: Higher cost of living compared to other parts of Portugal, can be crowded.

2. Porto

  • Description: Known for its picturesque riverfront, historic architecture, and famous port wine.
  • Attractions: Ribeira district, Livraria Lello bookstore, and the Douro Valley wine region.
  • Pros: Slightly more affordable than Lisbon, rich cultural heritage, and a growing expat community.
  • Cons: Weather can be cooler and wetter compared to the south.

3. The Algarve

  • Description: Renowned for its stunning beaches, golf courses, and warm climate.
  • Attractions: Coastal towns like Lagos, Albufeira, and Faro; beautiful beaches and scenic cliffs.
  • Pros: Great for beach lovers and retirees seeking a relaxed lifestyle, excellent weather year-round, and vibrant expat communities.
  • Cons: Can be touristy, especially in summer, and certain areas can be expensive.

4. Cascais

  • Description: A coastal town near Lisbon known for its charming streets, beautiful beaches, and high quality of life.
  • Attractions: Boca do Inferno cliffs, the Cascais Marina, and Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.
  • Pros: Close proximity to Lisbon, luxurious living, and beautiful coastal scenery.
  • Cons: Higher cost of living, particularly for real estate.

5. Sintra

  • Description: A picturesque town known for its fairytale castles, palaces, and lush greenery.
  • Attractions: Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, and the Moorish Castle.
  • Pros: Stunning natural beauty and historical sites, cooler climate due to its elevation.
  • Cons: Can be crowded with tourists, particularly during peak season.

6. Coimbra

  • Description: A historic city with one of the oldest universities in Europe.
  • Attractions: University of Coimbra, Biblioteca Joanina, and the historic downtown area.
  • Pros: Affordable cost of living, vibrant cultural scene, and a youthful atmosphere due to the student population.
  • Cons: Smaller expat community compared to Lisbon or the Algarve.

7. Madeira

  • Description: An autonomous region of Portugal, Madeira is an island known for its stunning landscapes, subtropical climate, and outdoor activities.
  • Attractions: Laurisilva Forest, levada walks, and the city of Funchal.
  • Pros: Mild climate year-round, beautiful natural scenery, and a relaxed pace of life.
  • Cons: More isolated, requiring flights to the mainland for major services and amenities.

8. Évora

  • Description: A city in the Alentejo region known for its well-preserved medieval old town.
  • Attractions: Roman Temple, Chapel of Bones, and the Évora Cathedral.
  • Pros: Rich history and culture, more affordable than coastal areas, and a slower pace of life.
  • Cons: Hot summers and a smaller expat community.


The best area for you in Portugal will depend on your lifestyle preferences, budget, and desired amenities. Visiting these areas, if possible, can give you a better sense of where you might want to settle. Whether you prefer the vibrant city life of Lisbon and Porto, the sunny beaches of the Algarve, or the historic charm of smaller towns like Évora, Portugal offers a variety of options to suit different tastes and needs.