Best cities for retirement in Portugal

Hello everyone,

An increasing amount of people want to spend their retirement abroad. Would you consider giving a few tips to those looking into Portugal for their retirement?

What are the most attractive cities for retirees in Portugal?

Why are these the best cities in Portugal for retirement (quality of life, cost of living, climate, health, security, etc.)?

Are there any specific areas in Portugal where there are special retirement schemes or retirement-friendly residential areas?

Are there any activities suitable for retirees in Portugal?

Do you have any tips on where to start looking or how to choose a suitable city for one’s retirement in Portugal?

If you have, yourself, chosen to spend your retirement abroad, please tell us what city you have chosen and why?

Please share your experience.

Bhavna

As far a weather in Portugal you can't beat the island of Madeira. Cost of living is lower than Lisbon. Once you become a resident max price you pay for flights to Lisbon will only cost you 89 euros each way.
I live in Funchal and loving it.

I'm going to cast an enthusiastic vote for Braga.  Cheaper by far than Lisbon and the Algarve area, cheaper than Porto, and cooler weather than each.  An easily walkable town (it's only about 1½ miles from western tip to the eastern tip) along with an excellent bus system.  Large enough to have two hospitals (one is very new), yet small enough that you don't feel like you're in a big city.  It's a 45-minute bus ride to the international airport in Porto for €8 or an hour train ride to the center of Porto for €3,25.  The ocean (beaches) are 30 minutes away by car, and the largest national park is about 20 minutes by car.

The Centro is beautiful, there are over 40 churches that are 500+ years old, Roman ruins, food galore, and all the modern amenities a person could want.  It's the "youngest" town population wise because of its universities, so there is a happening night-life if you so desire.

The whole of Portugal offers excellent retirement opportunities without any doubt. Excellent infrastructure and low cost of living with welcoming people and a stress free environment.

However, if retiring from more northerly latitudes and colder climates you would probably want winters that are a lot warmer than where you are coming from,  only the Algarve can offer mild winters because it has a micro climate. Here are Climate Statistics for the Algarve. If colder winters are not an issue then the choices are vast.

Any of the cities or towns in the Algarve would be suitable, some favourites are Lagos, Portimao, Vilamoura, Faro, Tavira, with smaller villages such as Alvor, Carvoeiro, Salema, Feragudo, Almancil all very suitable with plenty of villa, townhouses and apartments for sale. Because they are coastal locations property prices tend to be higher than inland locations and unfortunately during school holidays it can become very crowded both with holiday makers and traffic.

Inland towns and villages do not suffer the same fate and property prices are much lower. Generally speaking the cost of living is also lower with cheaper property taxes. restaurant prices, labour such as builders, electricians and plumbers Consider Aljezur, Marmalete, Monchique, Alferce, Sao Marcos da Serra, S.B.Messines, Silves, Alte, Salir, Alcoutim. There are expats living in all these place but are not inundated with tourists.

Any of these places are within 1.5 hours of Faro airport and 3 hour to Lisbon so all very convenient.

This is not an exhaustive list, google maps will be your best friend here, but I would advise anyone to spend much time with research and several trips staying in several locations before settling on your retirement spot.

Then there is some place between the cooler north and hotter south, it's known as Regiao do centro and it's still to be discovered....

Personally, I can only speak for The Algarve region.

We scoured the area from west to east....  (I love the west) , but we decided on São Marcos de Serra, 30 minutes inland from Albufeira..  it’s a quaint little town, and much cheaper than on the coast.  We had earmarked a 17 acre fazenda but sadly, due to English property law, it never materialised.  Our buyer pulled out on the day of exchanging contracts, with no penalties!

It would be necessary to speak Portuguese, I think, but I’m learning!

Since then, as I have a yacht, I have discovered Vila Real de Santo António, it’s as far east as you can get, more or less on the coast but well away from the touristy Albufeira and Vilamoura etc.... and from a sailing point of view, significantly cheaper than the likes of Lagos, Portimao, Albufeira and Vilamoura.

It seems like a slightly old fashioned place, which I like, and has a good climate.

It’s also handy for Spain!

Central Portugal would be the cheapest area, I think, but it suffers VERY high temperatures in the summer months and it’s history of forest fires put us off searching for property.

We chose Lourinha after a search throughout the North, Central and South (Algarve) regions. It works very well for us.  We are the only Americans here, but there are some expats from England and the rest of Europe.

Low cost of living, daily farmers market, beautiful beaches, mild weather, year-round tennis courts, very friendly and helpful people, three modern supermarkets, elegant cafes. We moved here in September after buying a house the previous February. Unbelievable views in our Vale de Viga (village) hillside. We have a large garden, orchard, summer kitchen and even a swimming pool (which we have not yet brought up to speed). Larch porch to sit on and view the landscapes or sunsets.


Not the flashiest place in Portugal, but ideal for retirement or pre-retirement life. I still work part-time (in China) but am able to be here about seven or eight months a year (we are now Portugal residents.


Give Lourinha a visit.

Yes, wildfires are a serious problem and unfortunately they  rage all over Portugal, you can check the situation at  https://fogos.pt/

Having said that, I live in the district with record temperatures, but guess what? I don't need air con.  This is because it's very dry, relative humidity is around 40% during the day and 80% at night (when average temperatures fall to 18°C in summer) so real feel temperatures are considerably lower than in more humid areas.

As far a weather in Portugal you can't beat the island of Madeira. Cost of living is lower than Lisbon. Once you become a resident max price you pay for flights to Lisbon will only cost you 89 euros each way.
I live in Funchal and loving it.

That's true, Madeira is wonderful. Although it's really steep, so it might get harder to get around the older you get.

Dear All
I am planning retirement to Portugal in the next 3-4 years.  I've decided on the following areas: Setubal, Silver Coast or the Algarve.
I've lived in 6 different countries and from my experience I'm looking for:
1. I want to be able to leave my home and be able to bike or hike (bicycle about 24 km or walk 8 km) daily.
2. Pretty view-water preferred.
3. Versatility: bike or hike, or paddleboard or go to a museum/concert
4. Walking or cycle to market and do most errands walking or by bicycle
5. Safe area for senior female.
Any suggestions or comment would be appreciated.

Hi travelerdhh,

most small towns in your preferred areas match your criteria, with one exception, if you wish to "go to a museum/concert" fewer matches.  Urban areas may not be as safe as smaller towns or villages. 
My 2 cents, If you don't speak Portuguese I'd suggest learning it before making any decision.

travelerdhh :

Dear All
I am planning retirement to Portugal in the next 3-4 years.  I've decided on the following areas: Setubal, Silver Coast or the Algarve.
I've lived in 6 different countries and from my experience I'm looking for:
1. I want to be able to leave my home and be able to bike or hike (bicycle about 24 km or walk 8 km) daily.
2. Pretty view-water preferred.
3. Versatility: bike or hike, or paddleboard or go to a museum/concert
4. Walking or cycle to market and do most errands walking or by bicycle
5. Safe area for senior female.
Any suggestions or comment would be appreciated.

You do not need to speak portuguese as most expats don't.
English is widely spoken in Portugal and the expat population is growing. Nonetheless, most people around still prefer to speak Portuguese over English. Learning at least some basic Portuguese will always make your time in Portugal easier.

Silver Coast is a nice region, near the sea, with plenty of cycle roads.
Foz do Arelho, Óbidos, São Martinho do Porto, Lourinhã, Azoia, Malveira da Serra can be options in that area. This region is famous for its ancient towns, breathtaking beaches, and rugged coastline. Fairs and festivals run throughout the year, so you can always guarantee there will be interesting cultural events to look forward to. It is also a popular destination for surfers, and beaches such as Peniche and Nazare. This region (but also Algarve) is home to some of the best golf courses in Europe.

Setúbal and its surroundings, such as Tróia and Azeitão are also options to be considered, while combining sea and mountain. It is also near Lisbon, thus it can be suitable to enjoy the Cultural Offering such as museums and live shows.

Algarve offers all what you want, except cultural events, mainly out of summer season.

At site ciclovia.pt, you can check most of cycle roads (Ciclovias) in the country:
If you select region eg. Silver Coast (Leiria, Aveiro, Coimbra), you will find for each cycle road:
Start/end, km extension, cycling path characteristics, interest sights in its surroundings, and so on.

JohnnyPT :
travelerdhh :

Dear All
I am planning retirement to Portugal in the next 3-4 years.  I've decided on the following areas: Setubal, Silver Coast or the Algarve.
I've lived in 6 different countries and from my experience I'm looking for:
1. I want to be able to leave my home and be able to bike or hike (bicycle about 24 km or walk 8 km) daily.
2. Pretty view-water preferred.
3. Versatility: bike or hike, or paddleboard or go to a museum/concert
4. Walking or cycle to market and do most errands walking or by bicycle
5. Safe area for senior female.
Any suggestions or comment would be appreciated.

You do not need to speak portuguese as most expats don't.
English is widely spoken in Portugal and the expat population is growing. Nonetheless, most people around still prefer to speak Portuguese over English. Learning at least some basic Portuguese will always make your time in Portugal easier.

Silver Coast is a nice region, near the sea, with plenty of cycle roads.
Foz do Arelho, Óbidos, São Martinho do Porto, Lourinhã, Azoia, Malveira da Serra can be options in that area. This region is famous for its ancient towns, breathtaking beaches, and rugged coastline. Fairs and festivals run throughout the year, so you can always guarantee there will be interesting cultural events to look forward to. It is also a popular destination for surfers, and beaches such as Peniche and Nazare. This region (but also Algarve) is home to some of the best golf courses in Europe.

Setúbal and its surroundings, such as Tróia and Azeitão are also options to be considered, while combining sea and mountain. It is also near Lisbon, thus it can be suitable to enjoy the Cultural Offering such as museums and live shows.

Algarve offers all what you want, except cultural events, mainly out of summer season.

At site ciclovia.pt, you can check most of cycle roads (Ciclovias) in the country:
If you select region eg. Silver Coast (Leiria, Aveiro, Coimbra), you will find for each cycle road:
Start/end, km extension, cycling path characteristics, interest sights in its surroundings, and so on.

I couldn't agree more!
As  JohnnyPT suggests spending time in different areas may prove valuable.
Still learning Portuguese is the best option if you wish to watch/read the news, norms and regulations and interact with most people around you (of course you can hire a translator).  You may easily find courses online.  I lived in different countries and always made sure I could communicate before moving. That's if you'd rather fit in than stand out. Up to you, really
:/

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