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Living in Portugal

General Information

BEM-VINDO TO PORTUGAL, a land of culture, beautiful beaches, great weather, excellent wine and wonderful people.
Moving to Lisbon in particular must sound to an expat like a dream come true, an invite to live la dolce vita, but in some regards it means settling in a metropolis like any other, with traffic, administrative hurdles and an overstrained transport infrastructure.
If you’re about to relocate to Lisbon, here is some essential information for your settling into daily life in the land of the discoveries.


Portugal has a typical Mediterranean climate, with rainy winters and hot summers. When you prepare for moving to Portugal, you should take the climate into account, especially if you arrive in summer: in July and August, average temperatures range from 20°C at night to 30°C or more during the day. However, evenings can be quite chilly, even in the Summer. As soon as the sun goes down, the temperatures drop and a cool breeze settles in. It has been said by a famous writer that "Portugal is a cool country with a very hot sun".

Although modern houses and aprtments all have central heating, some of the older constructions do not have heaters (for example the castles and palaces you may visit during the winter time) and can be very cold in the winter.


Lisbon, like any western european capital is a safe and relatively crime-free place. Public drunkenness and violent crime are very rare and you can walk practically everywhere without being harmed by anybody. But as often happens in an unfamiliar environment, expats moving to Lisbon can be concerned about their safety.

The most frequent crimes you might come across is pick-pocketing (in train stations and in public transport vehicles).
Leave your passport and your most valuable belongings at home and make sure to have the number of your embassy and bank at hand in case you lose a passport or credit card after all. If you are new in the city, you should remember not to take an unlicensed taxi.

All in all, however, Lisbon is largely safe. You shouldn’t be afraid to discover this magnificent city on your own.

Choosing a Place to Live in Lisbon: Popular Neighborhoods

If you are still abroad but about to move to Lisbon or if you have just arrived, consult the POSTED TO PORTUGAL page webpage I LIVE WHERE YOU LIVE: you will find a group of volunteers ready to answer all your questions about different neighborhoods and help you!

As an expat planning a life in Lisbon you will face the important question “where should I live?”. When you look for the ideal neighborhood in Lisbon, the area of your choice may depend mostly on the proximity to work or school and local transport. You must consider that even the most beautiful apartment will soon lose its attraction if endless traffic jams and commutes become part of your daily life.

The cities of CASCAIS, ESTORIL and CARCAVELOS, which are located approx. 20-30 km out of Lisbon on the sea-side, are often favored by expatriates, due to the presence of large houses and villas, condominiums, green spaces (golf courses), beaches, and the proximity to several international schools (St. Julian's, American International School, German pre-school and elementary school) and some international organisations, such as the NATO Command the EU Agencies, which are easily accessible by train. However the commute to the city center is not ideal; traffic into the city can be very heavy on the A5 highway and it takes about one hour to reach the city center. There is a train line that takes you into the city in 35 minutes, but the line is very crowded and it may also take you about an hour to reach your final destination.

Within LISBON, the most popular areas for exparts are the historical neighbourhoods of Restelo, Lapa, Principe Real and Amoreiras, which are close to the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the French School. LAPA and RESTELO are the neighbourhoods where you will find most Embassy residences. Principe Real / Rato is the new fashionable district with many boutiques, cafés, restaurants and a young population. Amoreiras is the neighbourhood close to the French school, with beautiful apartment buildings that have stunning views over the city. There is also a big shopping mall there with plenty of shops, supermarkets and cinemas.

Several diplomats also enjoy living in typical portuguese neighbourhoods in the Castelo and Alfama neighboorhoods. Here it is quite difficult to get around by car, you have to walk your way through tiny streets and use the cable cars and city elevators to get from one hill to the other, but you can find beautiful apartments and dive into the real "picture book" Lisbon.

There is also a new modern neighboorhood in the EXPO area, with modern apartments looking over the Tagus river, plenty of services, excellent infrastructures (parkings, metro, train station), museums and a shopping mall. You will find here plenty of modern state of the art Portuguese preschools and schools - but the international schools are far from here and there is not much of an expat community..

Renting Accomodation

It is relatively easy to find a good accommodation in Lisbon and in the greater Lisbon area. It is most convenient to use the services of an agency to find an apartment, since the owner pays for the agency fees in Portugal. As a tenant, you should not be asked to pay any agency fees.

For recommended rental/real estate agencies, please visit the "What and Where" section of this website and select the category "rental/real estate agents"

Things you should know before renting an apartment:

  • A “T3” means 3 rooms in addition to the kitchen and the bathroom.
  • The price of an apartment can be negotiated. You may also accept the proposed rental price, but ask for some refurbishment.
  • Any lease should be formalized in a contract (with three copies) and the owner should present one copy to the Portuguese fiscal administration. The contract must indicate the price, the modalities of payment, the identity of the owner and of the tenant, a starting date and an end date for the contract, the utilities and the conditions for terminating the contract.
  • When you receive the keys of the apartment, you need to pay 3 months of rent upfront: two rents for the first 2 months and one rent is for the guarantee (“Caution”). The Guarantee will be refunded to you when you leave the apartment, unless there are some damages that need to be paid for.
  • The owner should always give you a receipt for each month of rent that you pay.
  • When you move in, make sure to check the water, electricity and gas meters and see if the contracts need to be changed to your name or if you will pay the bills to the owner.
  • The owner will probably have an insurance regarding water/fire damages to the house, but you are responsible for your goods inside the apartment and may therefore wish to have your own insurance against theft or damages.

Lisbon neighbourhood guides

Practical Information

Important phone numbers  
Emergencies (Police, Fire, Ambulance) 112
Forest fire 117
Information 182
International operator 177
Pharmacy emergencies 118
Emergency response in case of poisoning 808 250 143

1) Acquiring a Fiscal number (« Numero de contribuente »)
The first thing you will need when you move to Lisbon is a fiscal number for “Non-resident” (NÃO RESIDENTE). It is a number that identifies you for the fiscal authorities. In Portugal, this number is required for almost every transaction you make (purchasing goods, renting a place to live, school inscriptions, etc.).

Where and how to get the fiscal number?
There are two options:

  • In one of the offices of the fiscal administration of Lisbon (Finanças).
  • In one of the administration centers called « Loja do Cidadão »: www.lojadocidadao.pt

You will receive a document signed by the Fiscal Administration. The cost of this inscription is 6,40 EUR.

2) Opening a bank account
It is possible to open a bank account as a non-resident.

The documents usually requested are the following:

  • Identity card or passport
  • Proof of residence in Portugal (rental contract, electricity bill) or in your country of origin
  • Fiscal number (see above)
  • An address where the bank can reach you
  • A certificate/attestation from your Embassy

Opening a bank account takes less than one hour and then you will receive a “Multibanco” card (ATM card), a VISA or MasterCard and a checkbook if you wish.

3) Using the Multibanco (ATM)
Portugal has a very modern « Multibanco » (ATM) system. Using your ATM card, you can perform almost any financial transaction, such as:

  • Lifting cash money
  • Bank transfers from one account to another
  • Paying your bills (phone, electricity, gas bills)
  • Paying for items purchased on the internet (such as flight tickets, for example)
  • Adding money to the account of your mobile phone

This system avoids long queues in bank agencies and allows you to make your payments at any street corner and at any time of the day. You do not have to use the ATM machines of the bank where you have your bank account, you can use any ATM associated with any bank – there are no extra fees.

4) Water, gas and electricity
There are two options:

  • The contracts for water, gas and electricity are in the name of the apartment owner: in this case, you pay the bills to the owner each month.
  • You sign contracts in your name directly with the energy providers

Water: In most cases you can make the new contract by telephone: Tel 213 221 111.
You can also go to the office of the water distributer: EPAL, Avenida da Liberdade, 24, Lisbon 1250-144) from 9:00 until 17:00. You will need to bring your identification (passport/Identity Card), your Fiscal number (« numero de contribuente »), your rental agreement, and the meter reading.
More detailed information available in English and Portuguese on the website: http://www.epal.pt/

Electricity and gas: In principle you can make all the necessary arrangements by via the internet https://energia.edp.pt/particulares/aderir or by telephone 808 53 53 53
You can also go to any « Loja do Cidadão ».
You will need to bring your identification (passport/Identity Card), your Fiscal number (« numero de contribuente »), your rental agreement, and the meter reading.

5) Internet, television and telephone
There are several operators on the Portuguese market that offer complete packages that include telephone fixed line + cable tv + internet broadband, or telephone fixed line + mobile telephone + internet, etc.

Regarding the mobile phones, you can choose between two billing systems:

  • The monthly bill, which requires you to pay all your communications at the end of the month (either by direct debit or by transfer)
  • The “pay-as-you-go” system, where you buy pre-paid cards and then refill the cards as you need.

International schools and nurseries in Lisbon, Porto and Algarve


Lycée Français Charles Lepièrre (French) –Pre-school, elementary, secondary school
Avenida Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco
1071-811 Lisboa
Tel: +351 21 38 81 101/2/3
E-mail: info.lfcl@laposte.net

Deutsche Schule Lissabon (German) –Pre-school, elementary, secondary school
Rua Professor Francisco Lucas Pires
1600-111 Lisboa
Tel: +351 21 75 10 260
E-mail: schulleitung@dslissabon.com
Website: www.ealisboa.com

Deutsche Schule Estoril (German) – Pre-school and elementary
Av. Doutor António Martins, 26
2765-194 Estoril
Tel: +351 21 46 80327/32
E-mail: schuelersekretariat@dslissabon.com
Website: www.ealisboa.com

Instituto Español (Spanish) –Pre-school, elementary, secondary school
Rua Direita do Dafundo, 40
1495-717 Cruz Quebrada
Tel: +351 21 41 14 114 / +351 21 41 16 696
E-mail: instituto.lisboa@gmail.com
Website: www.ielisboa.net

Swedish School (Swedish) – Pre-school and elementary
Rua de Quelimane, 10 - Carcavelos
2775-620 Parede
Tel: +351 21 45 70 646
E-mail: externatosueco@mail.telepac.pt

IPS - International Preparatory School (English) – Pre-school and elementary
Rua da Lagoa, 171
2645-344 Alcabideche  
Tel: +351 21 45 70 149 / 21 49 97 440
E-mail: info@ipsschool.org
Website: www.ipsschool.org

Saint Julian’s School (English) – Elementary, Secondary
Quinta Nova
2776-601 Carcavelos
Tel: +351 21 45 85 300
E-mail: pr@stjulians.com, mail@stjulians.com
Website: www.stjulians.com

Saint Dominic's International School (English), Pre-school, Elementary, Secondary (IB)  
Rua Maria Brown
Outeiro de Polima
2789-506 São Domingos de Rana
Tel: +351 21 44 40 434
E-mail: school@dominics-int.org
Website: www.dominics-int.org

Oeiras International School (English) – Secondary (Year 6 until IB)
Quinta de Nossa Senhora da Conceição
Barcarena | 2780-001 Oeiras
Mobile: +351 91 92 43 735 / +351 91 92 39 810 
E-mail: info@oeirasinternationalschool.com
Website: www.oeirasinternationalschool.com

Carlucci American International School of Lisbon (American) – Pre-school, elementary, secondary school
Rua António dos Reis, 95 - Linhó
2710-301 Sintra
Tel: +351 21 92 39 800
E-mail: info@caislisbon.org
Website: www.caislisbon.org

Littlehampton (English) – Nursery/Pre-school
Avenida de Sabóia, 1341
2765-279 Monte Estoril
Tel: +351 21 46 71 600
E-mail: estoril@lancastercollege.pt
Website: www.lancastercollege.pt

Boa Ventura Montessori School (English) – Nursery / Pre-school
Rua Nunes dos Santos, 5
2765-546 São Pedro do Estoril
Tel: +351 21 46 88 023
Mobiel: +351 93 63 19 160
E-mail: info@boaventuramontessori.com
Website: www.boaventuramontessori.com

Jill's Place (English) – Nursery / Pre-school
Avenida do Loureiro, 248
2775 Carcavelos
Tel: +351 91 28 25 936
E-mail: jill.hichwa@oniduo.pt

International Childrens's Play Corner (English) - Nursery
Rua de Santo Isidro, 60
Areia | 2750-067 Cascais
Tel: +351 91 21 45 018

St. John's School (English) – Pre-school
Avenida Marechal Carmona, 366
2750-312 Cascais
Tel: +351 21 48 67 966
E-mail: stjohns@mail.telepac.pt


Lycée Français International de Porto (French) - Pre-school, elementary, high school
Rua Gil Eanes, 27
4150-348 Porto
Tel: +351 22 61 53 030
E-mail: secretariat.direction@lyceefrancaisdeporto.pt

Colégio Alemão do Porto | Deutsche Schule (German) - Pre-school, elementary, high school
Rua Guerra Junqueiro, 162
4150-386 Porto
Tel: +351 22 60 76 570
E-mail: info@dsporto.de
Website: www.dsporto.de

Oporto British School (English) - Pre-school, elementary, high school
Rua da Cerca, 326/350
4150-201 Porto
Tel: +351 22 61 66 660
E-mail: school@obs.edu.pt
Website: www.obs.edu.pt

Oporto International School (English)  - Pre-school, elementary, high school
CLIP - Colégio Luso-Internacional do Porto
Rua de Vila Nova, 1071
4100-506 Porto
Tel: +351 22 61 99 160
E-mail: info@clip.pt
Website: www.clip.pt


International School of the Algarve (English) - Pre-school, elementary, high school
Escola Internacional do Algarve
Apartado 80
8401-901 Lagoa
Barros Brancos
Tel: +351 28 23 42 547/8
E-mail: geral@eialgarve.com
Website: www.internationalschoolalgarve.com

Vilamoura International School (English) - Pre-school, elementary, high school
Colégio Internacional de Vilamoura
Apartado 856
Sítio das Quintinhas
8125-911 Vilamoura
Tel: +351 28 93 03 280
E-mail: info@civ.com..pt
Website: www.civ.com.pt

East - Eastern Algarve International School of Tavira (English) - Pre-school, elementary, high school
Caminho da Bodega – Assêca
8801-904 Tavira
Tel: +351 28 13 25 333
E-mail: director@east-pt.com
Website: www.east-pt.com

International School São Lourenço (English)
Corgo da Zorra
Sítio da Rabona
8135 Almancil
Tel: +351 28 93 98 328
E-mail: eisl@mail.telepac.pt
Website: www.eisl-pt.org


Portugal is an ideal posting for families with children. Firstly, because the Portuguese are very “children-friendly” and place a lot of importance on family life. Secondly, because there are plenty of activities to do with children, thanks to the mild climate and outdoor possibilities.
Outsiders are often surprised by the attention that children receive in Portugal. They are always welcome in restaurants and public spaces and they have priority when waiting in lines (there are specific priority lanes in supermarkets and pharmacies for pregnant women and families with small children, as well as at the security control in airports).

You may find that relocating to Portugal with children will make you more approachable. Other parents are likely to invite you over to their house or to social events. Children are also quicker at picking up a new language and this can help the whole family integrate. Conversations will start naturally on the beach when the children interact with each other.

The first decision you will have to make regarding your kids is whether to send them to public nurseries/schools or to private, international nurseries/schools. Public schools are free and will instruct in Portuguese. For the youngest, this may be the preferred option, as they will learn the language quickly and will eventually feel more at home in the community. This will allow them, and perhaps the rest of the family to enjoy local customs and culture. However, there are many international schools to pick from (see our section “schools”). Older children may already be accustomed to the international systems and it makes sense to continue as they approach examinations.

Your children will benefit from the warm climate and relatively safe streets. A lot of time can be spent playing outdoors. The beaches are great from April until November, and in the winter there are many indoor and outdoor activities to choose from. In Lisbon, children between four to 12 years receive 50 percent off tickets on railways, and those under 4 travel free of charge. Young children usually get into museums free of charge and many restaurants will serve child-size portions for lower prices.

Our favorite parks & playgrounds

“Parque infantile do Alvito” in the Monsanto Park (Lisboa):
The Alvito playground is one of the most emblematic children playgrounds in Lisbon. It has dozens of swings, slides and structures to play on (including a huge pirate ship) for children of all ages, as well as picnic tables, a food and drinks bar and picnic tables. The park also has public toilets.
Address: Estrada do Alvito, Lisboa
Opening hours:
From 01 October until 31 March: 09h00 -18h00
From 01 April until 30 September: 09h00 - 20h00
Closed on 1 May

Park Marechal Carmona (Cascais):
The Park Marechal Carmona, situated close to the Cidadella, has a bit of everything: green areas, a big lawn to play ball games, playgrounds for children, animals wondering through the park (chicken, ducks, peacocks, turtles…), a café, an area where you can play “traditional games” (19th century games), and there is also a public children’s library.
Every Saturday the park hosts the Bio Fruit and Vegetables Market, where you can find certified fruits from biological agriculture.
If it starts to rain, the Maritime Museum and the Paula Rego Museum (both free) are just across the street and offer a nice visit with children. The Paula Rego Museum also has a nice book & gift shop and a nice café.
Address: Praceta Domingos D’Avilez - Av. da República, Cascais
Opening hours:
November- March: 8h30 - 17h45
April – October: 8h30 - 19h45

Parque dos Passerinhos (Monte Estoril):
This is a tiny square with a tiny playground – you cannot even describe it as a “park”. There are only two swings and one slide, and a small structure to climb on… However, the place is charming, there is a big cage with parrots and a very cute kiosk with a terrace where you can have a coffee and buy ice creams. All around the square there are charming cafés and shops. If you live in the area, it is a nice place to know and to spend time on a sunny day.
Address: Jardim Carlos Anjos, Monte Estoril, Cascais

Jardim da Estrela (Lisboa, Largo da Estrela)
One of the nicest parks in Lisbon with a great play area, two cafés and plenty of space to relax.
Address: Largo da Estrela
Opening hours: Eveyt day from 7 am until Midnight.
Busses – 709, 713, 720, 738, 773
Tramway – 25 e 28
Metro station – Rato

Jardim da Parada (Lisboa, Campo de Ourique)
Note: Campo de Ourique is a popular neighborhood for families with children, as this part of town has a large quantity of children’s shops and boutiques. Here you can find beautiful fashion for children, as well as decoration for children’s rooms.
Bus: 774

Jardim do Príncipe Real
The Principe Real square is centrally located in Lisbon and has a lot to offer. In addition to the well-equipped playground, there is also a few cafés and restaurants.
Open every day, 24 hours.

Busses – 58, 773, 790, 92
Metro – Rato

Jardim da Cerca da Graça
With 1,7 hectares, the Jardim da Cerca da Graça is one of the largest green areas in the historic part of Lisbon.
Public transport: tramway 28
Address: Jardim na Praça Dom Luís I

Praça D. Luís e Estátua do Marquês Sá da Bandeira
Public transport: tramway 25

Sightseeing with children

In Lisbon, the “Parque das Nações” (Expo area) is the district with the most family fun. It is mostly traffic-free and lined with riverside walkways. You can enjoy cable car rides, bikes for hire, water gardens, bowling, restaurants, and playgrounds. The Oceanario (www.oceanario.pt/en) and the interactive Science Museum (www.pavconhecimento.pt) are very much worth the visit!
The Belem Tower and St. Georges Castle allow children to run around as you enjoy the sights.
As for museums, there are many with various themes, you can see model ships at the Maritime Museum (http://museu.marinha.pt), fun exhibits at the free Design and Fashion Museum (http://www.mude.pt), and puppets at the Marionette Museum (http://www.museudamarioneta.pt/).

Uptown is the Lisbon Zoo (http://www.zoo.pt) with as many as two thousand animals. It puts on a dolphin show, has an elephant that knows tricks and a monkey village. In the Colombo Shopping Centre there is a fun fair known as the largest European indoor amusement park. It has roller coasters, but also arcades and a go cart track. This will keep your children entertained if you would like to do some shopping.

In Sintra, half an hour from Lisbon, there are many sights to appreciate. The Pena Palace with its fairytale elements is a must-see for young and old. It offers many family programmes, tours, horse-carriage rides, etc. (http://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en/parks-and-monuments/park-and-national-palace-of-pena). The Quinta da Regalera has fantastic gardens with underground tunnels, hidden passages, bridges…. (www.regaleira.pt). The Montserrate Palace also has beautiful gardens that will be appreciated by young and old (not very practical with a baby-pram though, wait until the children can walk to appreciate it fully!). (www.parquesdesintra.pt/parques-jardins-e-monumentos/parque-e-palacio-de-monserrate/). In the Parque da Liberdade, in Sintra, there is also a roller-skating rink.

On a rainy day

If you need a short and easy programme on rainy day, here are a couple of suggestions:

The Aquario Vasco de Gama in Algès (between Lisbon and Cascais) is the small and inexpensive alternative to the Oceanario of Lisbon. It is very cute and has many beautiful fish to admire, as well as two seals and a giant turtle. There are usually few people there, unless you coincide with class visits. There is a small cafeteria where you can have a lunch. They also organize birthday parties.
Address: Rua Direita do Dafundo , 1495 - 718 Cruz Quebrada - Dafundo

The Museu do Traje – Costume museum
Largo Júlio de Castilho - Lumiar

The Museu do Oriente has activities for families on the week-ends

The Museu Berardo

Children-friendly Restaurants

Nobai (Sta. Catarina, Lisboa)
Miradouro do Adamastor
Tel: 21 346 50 14

Résvés (Campo de Ourique)
Rua 4 da Infantaria, 26, Campo de Ourique, Lisboa
Tel. 21 1316252

Rua Anchieta 3, 1200-023 Lisboa, Portugal
Tel. 210 956 828

Private transportation for children:

As Lisbon is a very big city and international schools are often far from one’s house, many families hire private bus companies to handle the transportation of their children to/from school. Here is a selection of recommendable transportation companies (see also under “what and where”).

A Avó Leva a Avó Cuida
Rua de Santo Amaro, 22B (à Estrela), 1200-803 Lisboa
Directora: Sofia Burnay
Tel: 96 230 10 98

Comandante Augusto Castilho, n.º 4
2620-088 Póvoa Stº Adrião
Tel. 219 374 738
Telemóvel: 939 306 705 / 937 514 001

Carrinho de Esferas
Pç. Rainha Santa N.º 3 – C
1600-687 Lisboa
Tel. (+351) 213 151 819
Geral (+351) 707 200 959

Private hospitals with pediatric emergency services:

CUF das Descobertas
Rua Mário Botas (Parque das Nações)
1998-018 Lisboa
Tel: +351 210 025 200

Hospital Lusíadas
Rua Abílio Mendes
1500 - 458 Lisboa
Tel. 800 20 1000
24h/365dias - Gratuito

Hospital da Luz
Avenida Lusíada, 100
1500-650 Lisboa
Telefone Geral: 217 104 400
Telefone para Marcações: +351 217 104 400

British Hospital
R. Tomás da Fonseca, 1600-209 Lisboa
Tel: 21 721 3400


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