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 expatriate guide! We discuss Lisbon’s neighborhoods, housing, and more.
Europe's westernmost capital welcomes you!

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. Quite unsurprisingly, 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 to Lisbon, you can leave those long, heavy coats, wool hats, and mittens behind without hesitation: the lowest recorded temperature in the city’s “harshest” winter to date just barely reached the freezing point.

In turn, 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 — chances are pretty much 50% that you will be moving to Lisbon in warm to hot temperatures. Not everyone is cut out to easily withstand temperatures which regularly exceed 35°C, so you might want to bring along some light, bright clothing, sunscreen, and whatever else helps you deal with the heat.

Lisbon and Its Neighborhoods

While the city administration has partitioned the area into 53 freguesias (civil parishes), the 550,000 inhabitants calling the city home mostly think of and refer to neighborhoods in terms of bairros. You will soon discover that this way of grouping areas into neighborhoods does not necessarily make use of any straightforward and clear boundaries, but refers to parts of the city with a common atmosphere or personality, history, or architectural features.

Some of these neighborhoods, all within the historic core of the city, are fairly well known outside of Lisbon and even Portugal, so you might have come across a few of the names we have listed below during your own research:

  • 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 districts anyone in Lisbon will frequent at one time or another. Even if you are not moving to Lisbon’s main entertainment district, chances are you will experience some nights to remember here.
  • Baixa: the Baixa is the city center of Lisbon and the principal shopping district. Particularly upon first moving to Lisbon, you might be tempted to go on a wild shopping spree in the elegant streets of the Baixa, so you might want to show some restraint when entering this neighborhood!
  • Chiado: particularly popular with young people and art aficionados, the Chiado abounds with cafés — including the iconic “A Brasileira” — art schools, theaters, and historic sights of note. 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 prove fruitful. Obviously, living here is not all that cheap, though!

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 made the Lisbon Metropolitan Area home to some 25% of the entire population. In fact, the Metro Area is more than five times as populous as its hub, with some 2.8 million inhabitants. The largest municipalities there include Amadora, Cascais, Loures, Sintra, Seixal, and Almada.


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