Portugal is known for its laid-back lifestyle, friendly locals, idyllic climate, exceptional sights and vibrant culture. Regularly ranking as one of the best places for expats, this beautiful Mediterranean destination is truly a special country to call home.
On the most southwestern point in Europe, the Portuguese Republic can be found nestled on the Iberian Peninsula between the North Atlantic Ocean and Spain. With its Capital of Lisbon, Portugal spans 92 212 km², and is divided into many regions, each with its own unique history, landscapes, and cuisine.
Portugal is divided by the Tagus, the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula, separating the rolling plains of the south from the mountains and forest of the north. Not to forget the islands of Madeira and the Azores.
Mainland Portugal is separated into 18 districts, as well as two autonomous regions. The Portuguese Autonomous Regions of Azores and Madeira (are no longer divided into districts).
Mainland Portugal Districts:
Mainland Portugal consists of the following Disctricts; Aveiro, Beja, Braga, Bragança, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Evora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisboa, Portalegre, Porto, Santarém, Setúbal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real and Viseu.
With mild weather year-round, Portugal is known to have a typical Mediterranean climate.
This means warm to hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters. However, there are some variations between the regions.
In the mountainous region of the north, snowfall and low temperatures are quite common, while temperatures exceeding 35°C often occur in more central areas.
The Azores and Madeira archipelagos both have subtropical climates.
Average Temperatures (Mainland)
- January – Average temperatures – Low 11⁰C
- February -Average temperatures – Low 12⁰C
- March -Average temperatures – Low 15⁰C
- April – Average temperatures – Low 15⁰C
- May – Average temperatures – Low 18⁰C
- June – Average temperatures – Low 21⁰C
- July – Average temperatures – Low 24⁰C
- August – Average temperatures – Low 24⁰C
- September – Average temperatures – Low 23⁰C
- October – Average temperatures – Low 19⁰C
- November – Average temperatures – Low 14⁰C
- December -Average temperatures – Low 12⁰C
Living in Portugal
Portugal has fast become a popular option for South Africans looking to settle abroad. With its fantastic climate, safe neighbourhoods and stable economy, it is no surprise why so many SA locals have chosen to put down roots in this country.
Due to the above and a welcoming immigration system, there is a growing South African community across many of Portugal’s various regions.
The people of Portugal are some of the most hospitable and helpful in the world. However, with approximately only 27% of the country’s population speaking English, expats are advised to learn Portuguese.
When relocating to a new country with your family, one of the first considerations is education.
Portugal offers education through public, private and international schools. Excluding tertiary institutions such as universities, public schools in Portugal are free, while private schools require tuition.
Public school curriculums are taught in Portuguese, but as an expat, your child can be enrolled in an international school which offers education in English and other languages.
Some of these schools include;
Portugal has a comprehensive public healthcare system that is tax-funded. Known as the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS), it offers essential services free of charge for children under the age of 18 and individuals over the age of 65.
Otherwise, unless it is for urgent care or falls under specific circumstances, healthcare is available at a low rate under the SNS. One should note that other conditions may apply to expats.
Portugal ranked 17th in the 2021 World Index of Healthcare Innovation, 3rd in patient-centred care and 11th for overall patient choice.
Portugal’s Global Rankings 2021
- Portugal ranked first as the best European travel destination.
- Portugal is ranked as the 5th best country overall for expats.
- Portugal is ranked first as the best country in Europe for expats.
- Portugal ranked 3rd as the best quality of life for expats.
- Portugal ranked first for the country where expats most feel at home.
- Portugal is ranked 9th for the country with the best Cost of Living and 14th for Personal Finance.
- Portugal ranked 4th in the Global Peace Index for the most peaceful country.
Attractions in Portugal
Portugal is home to a multitude of historical, cultural and natural attractions. Apart from the stunning beaches, charming eateries and exciting activities, here are some not to be missed attractions: