Moving to Lisbon?

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Moving to Lisbon

Lisbon is not only the heart of Portugal’s economy, but also one of the nation’s most notable cities in terms of culture. Find out about what to expect after moving to Lisbon in our InterNations Expat Guide! We discuss Lisbon’s neighborhoods, housing, and more.
Europe's westernmost capital welcomes you!

At a Glance:

  • Lisbon has a subtropical Mediterranean climate, with very hot summers and mild winters.
  • The city is divided into many districts, all unique in character.
  • There are many available and beautiful properties in Lisbon, although they can be pricey.
  • EU/Schengen Area citizens staying longer than three months must register with the local authorities.

A Western Location and a Sunny City

Lisbon lies just south of the center of Portugal’s Atlantic coast. With the exception of Reykjavik in Iceland, no other major European city is located this far west. Given the city’s significance as Portugal’s (nearly) unrivalled cultural and economic powerhouse, moving to Lisbon is an immensely popular idea with both expats and Portuguese citizens, making the city the most densely populated area in the country.

Living in mainland Europe’s westernmost capital city comes with quite a few perks — at least for those of you who prefer heat to cold. When preparing and packing for your move, you can leave those long, heavy coats, wool hats, and mittens behind: the lowest temperature ever recorded in Lisbon was barely below freezing, just minus one degree back in 1956.

On the other hand, if you are not too good at coping with heat, you might need some time adjusting to the city’s four to six months of summer. Temperatures regularly exceed 35°C, so make sure you pack appropriately for the heat and always wear sunscreen.

Lisbon and Its Neighborhoods

While the city administration has divided the area into 53 freguesias (civil parishes), the 550,000 inhabitants calling the city home mostly think of and refer to neighborhoods as bairros. Bairros are not defined by clear boundaries, but they refer to parts of the city with a common atmosphere, personality, or history.

Some of these neighborhoods, all within the historic core of the city, are fairly well known outside of Lisbon and even Portugal, so you may even have come across a few of the names we have listed before:

  • Bairro Alto: Described as one of the most attractive neighborhoods of the city, it is arguably also the best-known. Luring both locals and expats with its wealth of cafés, restaurants, bars, shops, and various hotspots of subcultural life, Bairro Alto is definitely one of the most popular districts in Lisbon. Even if you are not moving to Lisbon’s main entertainment district, chances are you will experience some nights to remember here.
  • Baixa: Located in the heart of the city, Baixa is extremely popular amongst both local residents and tourists due to its close proximity to Lisbon’s best tourist attractions, cafes and restaurants, and shopping districts.
  • Chiado: This area is particularly popular among young people and art aficionados. Chiado is a nice area to relax with plenty of cafés — including the iconic “A Brasileira” — art schools, theaters, and historic sights such as the Carmo Convent and Church and the São Carlos National Theater. If you want to be surrounded with culture, both contemporary and historical, this might be for you.
  • Parque de Nações: Locally known simply as Expo, this area was the site of the World Exhibition of 1998. Today, it is a modern, emerging neighborhood, combining features of commercial and upscale residential areas — if you prefer not to live in the historic city center, looking for apartments here might be the better option.

Área Metropolitana de Lisboa

As with nearly any metropolis around the globe, moving to Lisbon does not necessarily mean relocating to the city center. The Lisbon Metropolitan Area (Área Metropolitana de Lisboa in Portuguese) is home to large-scale industrial activities, making it a feasible option for people moving to Lisbon for employment reasons. Portugal’s smallest region in terms of total area is also the nation’s most populous: the steady stream of people moving to Lisbon and its 18 satellite municipalities has resulted in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area being home to almost 27% of Portugal’s population. In fact, the Metro Area is more than five times as populous as its hub, with roughly three million inhabitants. The largest municipalities there include Amadora, Cascais, Loures, Sintra, Seixal, and Almada.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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