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Best cities in Portugal

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Portugal is a beautiful country with a rich history and cultural heritage. In recent years, it has become a popular destination for emigration and relocation. This is due not only to its favorable climate and beautiful nature, but also to its high quality of life. In this article, we will look at the best cities to live in Portugal.


A real gem of the north-east of Portugal. This city, famous for its medieval castles, towers, panoramas, is one of the most peaceful and cozy corners of the country.

Bragança tops the list of the cheapest places to live. This city is ideal for a quiet life. Everything is beautiful here: nature, a charming historical center and an incredibly harmonious combination of old buildings and new buildings. Bragança is famous for its castles, wines and olive oil production.

The population is just over 20,000. The city is only 500 kilometers from Lisbon (just over 4 hours by car on the beautiful Portuguese roads).

Rental accommodation

The city’s property market combines the charm of traditional Portuguese dwellings with modern amenities and offers a unique range of rental accommodation options.

Bragança boasts well-preserved historic houses that are examples of classic Portuguese architecture. For those who like to live a modern lifestyle, you can find apartments equipped with all the necessary amenities.

The cost of renting in Bragança is noticeably more economical compared to larger urban centers in Portugal. Monthly rent for a one-bedroom flat typically starts from 300 to 400 euros, depending on location and amenities.

For larger apartments suitable for families, a two-bedroom apartment can cost between €450 and €600 per month. Renting a historic house, very popular nowadays, is quite expensive. Monthly rents can range from €400 to €800 or more.

The rental market is generally stable, with demand influenced by factors such as proximity to amenities, historical significance and property condition. Finding rental accommodation in Bragansa can be done through local estate agents, online property platforms or community noticeboards. Engaging with local residents and networking within the community can also help you find information about available rentals.

In addition to rent, residents usually incur costs for utilities, which may include water, electricity and internet. These additional costs can range from €80 to €150 per month, depending on consumption and the size of the property.


Bragança is very proud of its culinary heritage. Special attention is paid to meat dishes. The most popular are the succulent meat steak served with aromatic herbs and salted cod.

It is also worth getting to know the cheeses. They are offered in abundance in local taverns, restaurants and street cafes.

There are not many of the latter in the city, but there are meat, fish and even vegetarian restaurants, with attractive interiors and live music at weekends. The average cheque is 20-30 euros for two in a mid-range restaurant and 5-8 euros for two in a small coffee shop.

For sweet lovers, the city has several specialized cafes serving sweet bread filled with nuts and dried fruits, desserts like caramelized pudding and many types of ice cream.


Bragança, with its rich history and natural beauty, offers a unique environment for students seeking secondary and tertiary education. Although the number of international schools is small, there are a number of local institutions in the city that are just as good as other Portuguese schools and universities.

Local public schools follow the Portuguese curriculum. Enrolment of international students usually requires the same documents as in other regions: copies of passports, a medical certificate with vaccinations, proof of residence and the taxpayer identification number (TIN) of the parent.

One important problem for migrants is the language of instruction. Portuguese is not similar to Spanish and there are very few schools teaching in English, which can be an obstacle for those who do not know the official language.

Instituto Politécnico de Bragança (IPB) is a renowned institution offering a variety of undergraduate and graduate programmes. IPB stands out for its emphasis on practical knowledge and its close links with local industry. Graduates are placed in in-demand specializations. The institute offers degrees in fields such as agriculture, health, engineering and social sciences.

While some programmes are available in English (a small percentage), many are taught in Portuguese. Language courses run by schools and universities may be necessary for those who do not speak Portuguese to be able to enrol in programmes that are taught only in the national language.

Portugal’s public universities are known for their affordability: tuition fees are considerably lower than in many other countries, reaching an average of €1,000 – €1,500 per year. The cost of living in Bragança is generally lower than in major urban centers. In addition, IPB, like other Portuguese institutions, may offer scholarships based on merit or financial need.

While Bragança may have fewer international education options compared to larger cities, it has the advantage of accessibility and a commitment to the tradition of modern education. Foreigners considering Bragança should weigh the language challenge against the benefits of a unique cultural and academic experience.


The city’s health care is of a high standard, despite the small number of citizens. There are two large hospitals for a total of 20,000 inhabitants, where you can receive a variety of highly qualified care, including dental implants.

The health system ranks 12th in Portugal and is characterized by a low percentage of citizens seeking health care outside the country.

Local residents have the opportunity to choose between public and private health services.

Having health insurance is a must for all residents of Portugal. It ensures that people cover medical expenses and that the health care system runs smoothly.

The cost of health care in Bragança, as in the rest of Portugal, varies depending on factors such as whether it is public or private and the nature of the health services. For example, the cost of insurance will be around 30 euros per month, and a single visit to a doctor will either be fully covered by health insurance or reach 50-80 euros.

Entertainment for adults and children

With a rich cultural history, Bragança offers its inhabitants a medieval experience, with quaint streets and traditional Portuguese architecture.

For hiking for adults and children, Montesinho Park, just outside the city, is perfect. There you will find hiking trails, unique natural landscapes and an ideal holiday destination for the whole family.

The city regularly hosts music, theater and food festivals. Whenever you visit, you will almost certainly catch one of the city’s colourful festivals.

There are several museums for children. For example, the Museu do Abade de Baçal offers a journey through time, attracting children with exhibits that “bring history to life”. Art workshops are regularly held in the city, where children can feel like artists and draw a picture in the style of a particular century.

There are no large shopping centres in the city, nor are there any large amusement parks. For these, residents travel to Bilbao in Spain (a distance of 477 kilometers and easily accessible by car, bus or train).


City of students and capital of the Kingdom of Portugal from 1139 to 1256.

Situated along the serene Mondego River, Coimbra is like a detailed storybook of Portugal’s past. Its ancient streets echo the tales of the Middle Ages.

Rental accommodation

The city has a wide range of housing options to suit all tastes and budgets: from flats in the historic center to modern residences on the outskirts, there is something for everyone. The cost of renting an apartment varies greatly depending on the neighborhood. It is more expensive to live in the historical center.

Rents for a one-bedroom flat in the central area typically range from 600 to 800 euros per month.

Those looking for a more modern lifestyle can look to neighborhoods with modern apartments. Neighborhoods such as Santo António dos Olivais provide a more relaxed atmosphere while ensuring proximity to basic services. Monthly rents for a studio flat in such neighborhoods range from 500 to 700 euros.

Due to the popularity and importance of the local university to city life, the areas around the university campuses attract an active student community. Rental options including shared accommodation, studios and one-bedroom apartments are available in a variety of price ranges. Monthly rents in these locations typically start from €300 for shared spaces and €500 for private flats.

All rental agreements usually require a deposit of one or two months’ rent. Although furnished flats are common, it is important to check the terms of the lease and the amenities included.


As the center of Portugal’s academic and cultural life, Coimbra not only fascinates with its historical sites, but also attracts with its diverse culinary landscape.

Coimbra’s restaurants are a classic example of Portuguese culinary traditions. Taverns offer a taste of local specialities. From the famous Bacalhau à Bras (codfish) to the hearty Cozido à Portuguesa (Portuguese stew), these establishments are a great choice for those looking for authentic Portuguese cuisine.

Coimbra is dotted with charming cafés that cater to students and locals alike. These cozy spaces, such as Café Santa Cruz, provide the perfect atmosphere to sip coffee, enjoy pastries and immerse yourself in the intellectual atmosphere of the city. The average cost of lunch at them is low, ranging from €7 to €15 for two people.

Apart from cafes and taverns, you can also find restaurants in medieval buildings. The price of a dinner in these restaurants will be considerably more expensive, reaching 70-100 euros for two people. The restaurants O Trovador and Zé Manel dos Ossos, offer not only traditional Portuguese cuisine, but also a time-traveling experience with a rustic medieval setting and hearty dishes.

Restaurants along the Mondego River boast not only stunning views but also a rich fish menu. Lunch here varies in price, costing around €25-50 for two people.

Coimbra is also renowned for its delicious pastries, with pastelaria (pastry shops) showcasing many unrivaled treats. The iconic pastel de nata is the pride of the city.


Coimbra offers a wide range of primary and secondary schools that provide a good primary education. These institutions, both public and private, strictly follow the national curriculum.

Local schools often provide curricula in both Portuguese and English, fostering a global perspective and preparing students for life in an interconnected world.

Coimbra has several schools that are famous throughout Portugal:

  • Escola Secundária Infanta Dona Maria. This public high school is known for its rigorous academic programmes and commitment to student success. It has one of the highest rankings among secondary schools;

  • Escola Secundária José Falcão is a high school with a rich history and a scattering of successful graduates. The names of writers such as João de Deus, Almada Negreiros; presidents of the Portuguese Republic (António José de Almeida, Bernardino Machado, Manuel Teixeira Gomes) and statesmen (José Veiga Simão, António de Almeida Santos, Carlos Mota Pinto or Francisco Lucas Pires) are worth mentioning as examples;

  • St Paul’s School is an educational institution offering bilingual education. The school is known for its commitment to providing a stimulating learning environment. The curriculum is aligned with international educational standards.

In most primary and secondary schools, the language of instruction is Portuguese. However, some international and bilingual schools provide classes in both Portuguese and English to meet the needs of students with different language backgrounds.

Schools in Coimbra place great importance on extra-curricular activities, recognising the role they play in a child’s holistic development. Whether it be sports, arts or cultural activities, students have the opportunity to explore and develop their talents outside the traditional classroom.

For those who want to pursue higher education, there is also a place to study. The local university is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in 1290, it continues the academic tradition and is the pride of the city. The university comprises various faculties offering a wide range of courses, from the humanities to the sciences, attracting students from all over the world.

The University boasts a diverse range of faculties catering to a wide range of academic interests. Students can study disciplines ranging from arts and humanities to programming, medicine and law.

The tuition fees are quite high at around 7000 euros per year, but it is possible to get a government scholarship to study.

Although many courses are offered in Portuguese, some programmes, especially at postgraduate level, are available in English. This linguistic diversity opens doors to international students, creating a multicultural and inclusive learning environment.

In addition to the university, research and innovative science centres are opening in the city. They co-operate with many universities in Portugal and abroad, so they are developing very quickly.


The city’s healthcare infrastructure combines both public and private facilities. Coimbra residents have access to all types of clinics providing a wide range of medical services. Private and public clinics offer a full range of medical services.

The University Hospital of Coimbra (HUC) is a symbol of quality health care not only in the region, but in the whole of Portugal. It is not only a training hospital for aspiring health professionals, but also a centre for the provision of advanced medical care.

If you are moving to Coimbra, it is recommended that you have health insurance. It provides additional health care options, faster access to specialists and coverage for some routine procedures. Health insurance is often a requirement for those applying for a residence permit in Portugal.

The cost of medical services in Coimbra varies depending on whether a person seeks public or private care.

Approximate range of some services:

  • A general medical consultation at a public clinic from 5 euros;

  • A general medical consultation at a private clinic from 40 euros;

  • Dental check-up from 30 euros;

  • Basic health insurance from 30 euros per month.

Pharmacies, known as ‘farmácias’, also play an important role in the healthcare system, providing over-the-counter medicines and even medical advice.

Entertainment for adults and children

Coimbra boasts several family-friendly parks, including the Mondego River Park, which provides a tranquil setting for picnics, outdoor activities and leisurely strolls. Another favorite is the Dr Manuel Braga Park, which has playgrounds for children and scenic areas for adults to relax.

Families with children love to visit Portugal dos Pequenitos, a miniature park that captures the essence of Portugal through scaled-down replicas of famous monuments. This allows children to explore the country and its history in one day.

Conimbrig, an archaeological site near Coimbra with well-preserved Roman ruins, is also worth a visit. Adults can admire the ancient structures, while children can enjoy the open spaces and interactive exhibits that make learning fun and interesting.

The University Botanical Garden is a paradise for nature lovers. Adults can enjoy the diverse plant collections and children can participate in numerous educational activities.

Throughout the year, Coimbra, like many cities in Portugal, hosts colorful festivals celebrating art, music and local traditions. Notable events include the Santa Clara a Velha and Academic Fiestas, offering a lively atmosphere and plenty of entertainment for adults and children alike.

There are also many theaters and cinemas in the city. Ticket prices for these can start from 1 euro, and discounts are usually available for students and schoolchildren.


Located west of Lisbon on the coast, this city is known for its sandy beaches and medieval fort. It combines nature, history and modern landscape. The population is 33,000 and the city is constantly growing and developing.

Rental accommodation

The availability of properties will cater for a wide variety of preferences, from charming apartments to spacious villas overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

For those seeking the glamour of ocean panoramas, apartments on the Cascais coast are a popular choice. Rental prices for one-bedroom flats typically start at around €1,200 per month and vary depending on location and amenities.

The historic center of Cascais boasts characterful residences, often located on cobbled streets surrounded by cafes and boutiques. These one or more bedroom apartments offer a glimpse of the city’s rich heritage. Monthly rents for properties located in the center can range from €1,000 to €1,800.

Families looking for spacious accommodation often choose villas in Cascais. These multi-bedroom houses with private gardens and sometimes a swimming pool provide complete privacy. The monthly cost of renting a villa for a family can start from around €2,500, depending on the size and amenities.

There are also gated communities in Cascais. They offer a modern lifestyle with amenities such as swimming pools, gyms and common areas. They are designed for those who desire a modern and safe living environment. Monthly rents can vary greatly, usually from €1,500 to €3,500 or more, depending on the amenities offered.

There are many short-term rental options in the city. Prices can vary depending on factors such as location, season and length of stay. But the average cost of renting a double room between October and April varies between 45-65 euros per night.

The rental conditions in Cascais are the same as throughout Portugal. Landlords usually ask for a deposit equivalent to one or two months’ rent. Rental terms are negotiable, with both short and long term agreements possible. Many landlords in Cascais are open to discussing terms to suit the needs of tenants.


Combining traditional Portuguese flavors with international trends, Cascais offers a wide range of cafes and restaurants that can please the most demanding clientele.

Cascais establishments recommended by locals:

  • Mar do Inferno Restaurant. Located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Mar do Inferno is a paradise for seafood lovers. Panoramic ocean view and freshly caught fish dishes will leave no one indifferent. The cost of dinner varies from 30 to 50 euros per person;

  • Furnas do Guincho. The Michelin-starred Furnas do Guincho restaurant is located next to the stunning Guincho beach and offers exquisite cuisine. The chef’s innovative approach to Portuguese cuisine results in skilfully prepared dishes using local and seasonal ingredients;

  • Gelateria Santini. No culinary exploration is without a sweet treat, and Gelateria Santini is a local institution that makes homemade gelato. It is the city’s most popular dessert cafe with locals.


There are about 20 secondary education institutions per small town (9 of them private), which satisfies the educational needs of both locals and migrants who have come to the country.

The level of education is very high (as in Portugal in general) and aims to make it interesting for students to learn.

There are two schools in the city that are famous throughout Portugal. These are Escola Secundária de Cascais and St. Julian’s School. Both schools offer a broad and comprehensive educational programme, with the compulsory study of several foreign languages and in-depth study of exact sciences. The schools educate future leaders in various fields: from science to arts and sports. The only difference between them is that St. Julian’s School is a private international school, more focused on the British educational programme, while Escola Secundária de Cascais is a public school with strong academic exchanges and extensive extracurricular activities.

Public school fees range from €8,000 to €15,000 per year, while public schools are free.

Higher education in the city is represented by several highly successful institutions:

  • Nova School of Business and Economics (Nova SBE). It is a prestigious business school and has a modern campus in Cascais. Offering undergraduate and graduate programmes in business and economics, it provides students with a world-class education and international internship opportunities;

  • Lisbon’s Polytechnic Institute is the city’s second most important university. A branch of the renowned IPL, the Cascais campus offers a variety of polytechnic programmes, from technology to medical sciences.

University tuition fees range from €2,500 to €8,000 per year depending on the speciality chosen.

In addition to educational schools and universities, language schools, programming courses and art schools are widely represented in the city.


As in other Portuguese cities, Cascais has a developed network of both public and private clinics. There are about 5 of them, which is quite a lot for a small town, and all of them are equipped with the most modern equipment. Assistance is provided 24 hours a day and covers all types of medical care.

Medical care in public clinics is covered by insurance (it is compulsory for everyone), while you have to pay for the services of specialists in private hospitals. The cost of a doctor’s appointment starts from 50 euros.

When comparing health care to Coimbra and Bragança, Cascais is more expensive, and queues at public clinics, according to locals, can be up to several weeks long (which is not common in the other two cities).

Otherwise, residents are satisfied with the quality of medical services and prefer to be treated in their city.

Entertainment for adults and children

Cascais has a large number of parks, museums and cinemas. This city has a large number of sandy beaches that are clean and safe. The most popular ones are:

  • Tamariz Beach;

  • Praia da Parede;

  • Praia da Rainha;

  • Cresmina Beach.

Cascais is home to the beautiful Marechal Carmona Park, which has lots of trees and peacocks.

Another option for children and adults is the Museo do Mar. This museum is dedicated to everything related to the sea.

In our top 3 cities in Portugal, we deliberately left out Lisbon and Porto. A large number of articles and guidebooks have been written about them. The peculiarities of these cities are widely known, and the pros and cons of living in them are regularly debated. We have focused our attention on smaller, but no less beautiful cities in Portugal.

FAQ about cities in Portugal

Which region of Portugal has the best beaches?

Some of the best beaches (both in Portugal and the rest of Europe), honored with the famous Blue Flag, are in the Algarve region. It is there that the soft golden sand, picturesque cliffs and the always different ocean. On the photos devoted to beach holidays in Portugal, most often there are exactly the beaches of the Algarve. In addition, this region has a developed network of entertainment for adults and children, and hotels for every taste. Surfers train on these beaches — the waves are good, suitable for beginners and professionals alike, and lessons can be organized all year round.

At what time of year and where are the maximum number of holidays in Portugal?

If you want to come to the country and see a particular bank holidays, any time of the year will do. There are many holidays in Portugal and they are fairly evenly spread throughout the year. Whichever region you choose, you will find one in every region:

  • Wine Festival;

  • Sardine Day;

  • Carnivals (take place in February and last several days);

  • Chestnut festivals, etc.

The locals are very fond of this kind of entertainment and are happy to invite guests to attend.

Which cities in Portugal (other than Lisbon and Porto) have the most developed infrastructure?

Cascais, Braga, Coimbra, Bragança, Sintra. These cities have an extensive network of roads and railways, and public transport works well. If you rarely go out of town, there is no need for a private car, and there are regular transport links between the cities.

Which cities in Portugal have the best cycling infrastructure?

The cult of the bicycle is a characteristic of the whole of Portugal. Lots of cycle lanes, inexpensive bikes, convenient car parks all over the country. But there are a few cities where cyclists are treated with particular reverence, rightly believing that they improve the environment and make cities more attractive to tourists. These are Cascais, Maia, Aveira and Torriz Vedras. Here you can borrow a bike for free and ride it throughout the day.

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