Portugal Fast Facts

Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Population: 10,833,816

Capital City: Lisbon

Climate: Maritime temperate; cool and rainy in north, warmer and drier in south

Time Zone: GMT+00

Language: Portuguese

Country Code: 351

Coastline: 1,793km

Explore the Old World in Laidback Portugal

Rocky, rugged Atlantic coasts where salt spray mists the air…green hills and winding country roads…medieval towns perched above deep river gorges…graceful cities of broad boulevards and bustling cafés…

Portugal, continental Europe’s westernmost country, lies quietly in the shadow of the larger, more boisterous Spain. With a sliver of coastline and an interior that can take you back centuries in time, Portugal in many ways still belongs to an earlier era. People are friendly and courteous, with an almost courtly manner. Family and friends are important, and people know their neighbors and the local shopkeepers. Ancient buildings look worn and lived-in, and quiet, cobbled lanes wind through seaside villages.

This is Europe as it used to be. And though modernity is overtaking Portugal quickly, you can still enjoy an old-style, Old-World life here. Cascais, Portugal

Though its coast is the Atlantic, Portugal is typically Mediterranean, with the warm weather and lifestyle that you tend to find in Mediterranean countries. The sea, which forms the country’s western border, still plays a strong role in Portuguese life and diet: You’ll find fish and seafood on menus throughout the country.

Like countries around the Mediterranean, Portugal also produces good food, wine, and olive oil, at inexpensive prices. Try its slightly fizzy vinho verde or its port, the fortified wine that took its name from Portugal’s second city, Porto. Shop in modern supermarkets, or—as many Portuguese do—in the traditional markets found in cities throughout the country.

Overall, Portugal is arguably Western Europe’s most affordable country. Even in the capital, Lisbon—one of Europe’s most charming and underrated cities—a couple can live comfortably from about $2,200 a month in residential neighborhoods just a half-hour’s walk from Lisbon’s central, most tourist-driven areas. (And you’ll leave the tourists behind.) In Portugal’s smaller cities and in the country’s interior, a couple’s budget can run from $1,700 a month.

Enjoy all this…and yet have First-World amenities at hand, including road and highway systems, good telecommunications and high-speed internet, museums and concert halls, chic restaurants, cafés, bars, and much more. Portugal has extensive bus and metro services in cities like Lisbon and Porto. Long distance bus and train services carry you throughout Portugal and beyond, so you don’t need a car here. And modern airports can take you throughout Europe.

From the Archives of Portugal

A Laidback, Low-Key Life in a 200 Year-Old Portuguese Cottage

A Laidback, Low-Key Life in a 200 Year-Old Portuguese Cottage

My husband Keith and I sit at our neighborhood café, enjoying a coffee and ice-cold bubbly water. Our Maltese, Carson, appreciatively sniffs the fresh ocean breeze. The cost to spend a couple of hours relaxing and chatting like this—a daily ritual which punctuates the easy lifestyle we lead...

Enjoy Low Costs and Low Rent in Portugal

Enjoy Low Costs and Low Rent in Portugal

Internet research and guide books are useful for learning about new locales. But nothing compares to the experience of spending time in them. Sights like terracotta roofs topping white-washed cottages, aromas of fragrant wildflowers or your neighbor’s grilled chicken on an outdoor barbeque (churrasqueira), and the sounds of crashing ocean surf or the lilting trill of your local bird population are all characteristics of Portugal that you could never experience from reading a book.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

For many North Americans, Portugal is a somewhat undiscovered territory. Located west of Spain, it’s famous for Port wine. But there’s much to learn about this jewel of a country, especially its stunning geography. In broad strokes, the Douro River separates the northern region from the central. The Tejo (you may hear it referred to as the Tagus, its former Roman name) River outlines the center of the country from the Alentejo region (literally translated as “below Tejo”).

Live in Europe’s Best Towns and Cities for $2,500 a Month or Less

Live in Europe’s Best Towns and Cities for $2,500 a Month or Less

Many expats are drawn to the idea of retiring in Europe, but can be thrown off by the high prices of its most famous destinations. But while big cities such as Paris and Madrid may hit hard on the wallet, there are still many alternatives for those seeking the romance of Europe, but at an affordable cost.

Artboard 1Artboard 14Artboard 1Artboard 1down-arrowdown-arrowArtboard 1facebook-roundfacebook-squareArtboard 12Artboard 1googleplus-roundgoogle-squareheadphoneshealthcarehousehouseArtboard 2Artboard 1Artboard 1locksearch-mag3Artboard 1Artboard 15Artboard 1next-largenextArtboard 1plusprev-largeprevread-more-arrowread-more-arrowsearch-magSlider Arrowto-toptwitter-roundtwitter-squareyoutube-roundyoutube-square