Retiring to Portugal as a pensioner is a dream for many, however, it is important to analyse the specific features of the cities and areas, as they can differ a lot economically, environmentally and socially.
Discover the vital statistics of these 6 wonderful places to retire to in Portugal.
Originally written in Italian, by an expert author, Giovanna De Vicari and translated by Valentino Coletto – CEO of Reframed – helping Italian citizens to retire and relocate abroad via a wide range of services.
6 wonderful places to retire to in Portugal
1. The Algarve
1. The Algarve
Renowned and very popular, the Algarve region is a place that can meet all kinds of needs. Temperate weather even in winter, great golden beaches, many local restaurants and bars and the chance of living in a typical village or in a more urban environment make this region really interesting. It is no coincidence that it is the most requested location by the retirees who wish to move to Portugal.
Over 150 kilometres of beaches, interrupted only near Faro by the beautiful “Ria Formosa” lagoon, a protected area and natural park that gathers an incredible variety of ecosystems, protected animal and plant species, as well as being a true paradise for lovers of fishing.
The city of Faro, the capital of the region is the greatest city that can be found in Algarve: here you can find the international airport, the hospital, many hotels and guesthouses and all possible conveniences: shops, markets, pharmacies, efficient infrastructures and rapid connections also with Lisbon.
Moving westwards from Faro, there are the towns of Quarteira, Albufeira, Portimao and Lagos. Not far from the quiet town of Quarteira, there is the Vilamoura area: an exclusive place that is famous for its golf courses and modern white houses, a residential area loved especially by North European pensioners.
Albufeira is the most touristic location ever, here the rent is higher than in the east of the region and it can easily start from €750/month. The city of Lagos is highly appreciated by young people, especially by surfers: there is no shortage of waves but also quiet and newly built residential locations. Rents in Lagos are lower than in Albuferia, Quarteira and Vilamoura.
The eastern part of the Algarve region includes the cities of Olhao, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo Antonio: here rents are lower, from €600 euros per month. These are still very touristic places, but also an area with a high concentration of Italians pensioners: many of them have chosen to move here and enjoy their free time going out for get-togethers, dinners and cultural activities.
The city of Tavira is also nicknamed “Small Venice” for because it looks somewhat similar to the famous city in Italy: a small river crosses the city dividing it in two, while characteristic bridges reminiscent of Venice, allow you to move from one side to the other one. The cleanliness of the city is one of the first things that retired people from other countries generally notice in addition to the politeness and friendliness of Portuguese locals.
If you are thinking of moving to Portugal and you are looking for a place with wonderful weather, if you love the sea and long walks on the beach, and you like to eat fresh, locally produced food, and enjoy a very active social environment, then the Algarve region is the right place for you.
2. Cascais and Estoril
Cascais is pure elegance. Wonderful architecture dating back to the 19th century, typical shops, stalls and flea markets, beach and parks where you can relax, reading a book or simply enjoying the view.
Half an hour by train and you will find yourself in the centre of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, you will be able to meet other pensioners who have relocated here. You will find a welcoming feeling and you won’t have to worry about walking alone even at night. Public transportation services are fast and efficient and you can enjoy the fantastic light that has made many call it the City of Light.
The cost of renting an apartment in this area can be found starting from €700-800/month, the average cost of living is about 20% lower than in Italy, especially when it comes to food. Near Cascais, there are two other cities: Sintra that is famous for its colourful Castelo dos Mouros and the beautiful historical centre and the city of Estoril with its exceptional seaside and definitely a leisure place where you can find for example the best-known casino in Portugal.
If you love culture and you are attracted to cities with a timeless charm, plus you want to live in a place not far from an international airport, then Cascais is the right city for you.
Nazaré is the most picturesque city of central Portugal is Nazaré on Portugal’s Silver Coast. Colourful and still linked to ancient traditions, such as the fishmongers who wear seven skirts, this location is famous above all for its incredible big waves that hurl over the lighthouse right on the top of the promontory that gives its name to the Sitio district. Nazaré is a delight for surfers from all over the world.
Nazaré is mainly divided into three areas: Praia, located right on the beach as its name suggests (Portuguese for beach), Sitio, the area around the promontory where the lighthouse and Pederneira.
The main beach of Nazaré is located right in front of the city: gold sand and with the shape of a crescent moon, it’s undoubtedly the most popular and touristic one. The second beach, located at the north of the promontory, is called Praia do Norte: completely wild, it is ideal for long walks or sunbathing, while if you want to swim there it is better to be… expert surfers, given the waves that are rarely calm… The charm of this location can be discovered in its connection with the deep blue of the ocean and the atmosphere of ancient times that can be felt everywhere.
4. Figueira da Foz
West coast of central Portugal: between the capital Lisbon and the economic centre of the North of the country, the charming city of Porto, lies Figueira da Foz. The city stands right on the mouth of the Mondego river and it’s nicknamed the “Queen of the Beaches”, already popular in the 19th century when it was an exclusive tourist resort.
Today Figueira is a place for everyone, it is possible to find an apartment to rent from €400/ month, for a long-term contract, but it is necessary to get the status of Non-Habitual Resident in Portugal.
Walking through the historic centre you can admire fascinating buildings dating back to the last century, museums of art and history, floors decorated with typical Portuguese tiles and much more. Beaches are wonderful as well: from the famous Praia da Caridade, the preferred one by locals, to the nearby beaches located in neighbouring towns such as Buarcos, a less touristic and surely quieter place even during the summer season.
The proximity to more than one big city (Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra) and to two international airports easily reachable by bus, matched with the chance of having a healthy and low-cost lifestyle makes Figueira da Foz very interesting if you want to move permanently as a pensioner.
Also called the Capital of the North, the great city of Porto is enchanting and offers many places from where to admire it: its splendid belvedere terraces are very famous from where you can enjoy a beautiful panorama. The Ribeira district is the most touristic one, characterized by the colourful houses lined up on the banks of the Douro river, which runs through the city: cobblestone roads, ceramic decorations (the famous azulejos), restaurants where you can taste local delicacies based on fresh fish and more.
The city of Porto has nothing to envy to a European capital, there is no shortage of services, infrastructures (such as the Dom Luis I bridge, which connects the two banks of the river and can also be crossed by car), banks, hotels and also architectural and cultural attractions, for example, the most important Concert Hall in the country: the Casa da Musica.
Exactly on the opposite bank of the Douro river, you could enjoy the sister city Vila Nova da Gaia, renowned above all for the production of Porto wine: there are many wineries where you can taste this port wine that’s so popular all over the world.
Where to shop on a budget? At the Mercado do Bolhão: here you can find almost anything, from liqueurs to fresh fruit to souvenirs for tourists. Around the market, you can enjoy the fashion streets of the city: clothes and accessories shops and fashion brands that you could find in the centre of Milan.
The rent of an apartment in the central areas of the city of Porto or Vila Nova da Gaia can start from €800/month but moving a few kilometres to the neighbouring towns, such as the beautiful town of Ermesinde, you will find a house to rent at prices that are much more convenient, just 20 minutes from the centre of Porto.
The “Island of Flowers”, the largest of the archipelago of the same name, has nothing to envy to the nearby Canary Islands: the dominant colour is green and all the shades of the rainbow, due to the huge variety of flowers present in this location. Botanical gardens, lush gardens, unspoiled nature and cliffs overlooking the sea, if you decide to visit Madeira, it will be so difficult to go back home!
In addition to its unbelievable natural beauty, the island of Madeira is a welcoming and comfortable place as it is equipped with all essential services, including the brand new hospital built right near the capital Funchal. The connections between different areas on the island are efficient, the traffic-free road network and international flights to all major European cities are a nice feature for all visitors. The pensioners’ community is active and it will not be difficult to make new friends locally.
The price of an apartment to rent in Funchal is about €600/month but moving to the neighbouring towns it is easy to find rents at lower costs, even near the sea. The island of Madeira does not have large sandy beaches but small bays and natural pools close to the ocean. A true paradise for nature lovers with fabulous weather: the temperature fluctuates between 16 and 25 degrees during the year. Not bad, isn’t it?
If you are an Italian citizen considering relocating abroad, be sure to check out the expert services offered by Reframed.
If you wish to explore Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, head over to the Lisbon Portugal Travel Guide.
As the topic of sustainability is so important, you may be interested to learn more about Why Lisbon Is A Top Sustainable Destination by Eduardo Lera Latorre
Other articles featured in the Travel Inspires Lisbon series are:
- Lisbon ceramics – how azulejos are a huge feature in the city
- Lisbon as a romantic destination
- Lisbon sports destination
- Lisbon solo travel
- Lisbon with children
- Instagrammable Lisbon
- Sustainable Lisbon
- Lisbon for Millennials
- Lisbon Girlies Weekend
- Lisbon Local Dishes & Top Places To Eat
- Fado in Lisbon (typical Portuguese music)
- Lisbon Architecture
- Lisbon After The Earthquake
- Heading 150 km north of Lisbon – be sure to check out the article on the Silver Coast Portugal – written by my Portuguese partner!!