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Things to know
about Lisbon

Capital City of Portugal


Lisbon is a VERY old city. It’s the second oldest capital city in Europe, actually, after Athens.


The great earthquake in 1755 destroyed the town’s commercial centre of Chiado, which was rebuilt in a classical style with wide boulevards and mosaic cobblestones.


Our advice - Take a camera!

You’ll want to capture all the tiled buildings and colourful higgledy-piggledy neighbourhoods.

Being the most westerly capital city in Europe means Lisbon enjoys more hours of daylight than any other European city break destination – no matter what time of year you visit, there’s always plenty of time to explore the sights.

Lisbon was built on seven steep hills.  Pack comfy shoes and don’t miss out on the chance to experience a trip on one of the antique wooden trams that happily rumble up the steepest and narrowest streets of the Alfama neighbourhood.


Tram 28 takes in many of the city’s most popular attractions including the Castle of St. George and Miradouro das Portas do Sol, a panoramic viewpoint where you can chill with a coffee or get some selfies against the backdrop of the beautiful terracotta rooftops.

Amazing sights, amazing food!


Lisbon is one of Europe’s best value cities. You can find beautiful accommodation in stylish apartments and guesthouses from around €20 per night and get change from a €5 note for a quick breakfast, sandwich lunch, or cheeky sun-downer at one of the open-air kiosks.


Scattered through the city, the wrought iron kiosks have long been a key part of Lisbon’s way of life.

Don’t leave Lisbon without trying a Pasteis de Nata: the most deliciously creamy, warm and flaky custard tarts.


The best are to be found at the Pasteis de Belem, where they’ve been using the same recipe for 170 years.  While you’re in the area, be sure to check out the beautiful Jerónimos Monastery and the waterfront Discoveries Monument dedicated to all those famous Portuguese explorers you’ll remember from your history books.

Panoramic views over terracotta rooftops materialise at every turn from vantage points called miradouros. My favourite vista is from Teatro da Garagem; the theatre sits on an unassuming street, and only until you venture down two flights of stairs to the cafe does it reveal its extraordinary view.

From the crowded hole-in-the-wall bars of Bairro Alto to the thumping clubs of Cais do Sodré’s Pink Street, Lisbon is a city that knows how to show you a good time. Pace yourself for a long night – the party doesn’t really get going until around 2am.


How does Lisbon Compare? 

Rent will probably be your biggest cost in Lisbon. Monthly rental prices for a 1-bedroom (called a T1) in the city centre start from around €600-700, but it’s rare to meet someone (especially an expat) who’s paying that.

€1,000 seems to be closer to the average, although you will meet people who are paying twice that.

A room in an apartment, if you end up flat-sharing, starts at around €200 but typical prices are closer to €400.

In Lisbon, it’s not uncommon for flatshares to contain 4+ bedrooms (even 10+ sometimes) and you may want to spend €50-100 more so that you can live with fewer people.

The rental prices above are for long-term rentals, but many people visiting Lisbon stay for less than six months.


Short and medium-term apartment rentals (28 days – several months) are usually more expensive and harder to find (medium-term room rentals aren’t too difficult to find, however).


Airbnb does allow hosts to set monthly pricing for stays that are longer than 28 days, but it’s still rare to find apartments for the €1,000 per month mark. Some people are able to negotiate the price down, particularly if they are staying for longer than 28 days.

Spotahome and Flatio are two websites that cater to medium-term rentals. Between them, they have several hundred medium-term rentals in Lisbon.

Cost of Living
in Lisbon

Your tax liability as an ex-pat depends on your residency status, which is defined by how much time you spend living and working in Portugal each year.

If you reside in Portugal for 183 days or more in a calendar year, you’ll be considered a resident and will need to pay income tax on your worldwide income. If you live in Portugal for fewer than 183 days, you’ll only need to pay on income earned within Portugal.


Income tax rates for residents in Portugal are progressive, meaning you pay more tax the more you earn. Non-residents are taxed at a flat rate of 25% of income.

Some ex-pats living in Portugal can take advantage of the "Non-Habitual Residency" (NHR) tax codes, which provide substantial exemptions for the first 10 years of residence.

NHR status is available for workers in qualifying professions and has two main benefits.

Firstly, you can live as a Portuguese resident but not pay tax on your earnings elsewhere in the world (including employment and capital gains), effectively giving you non-resident status.

Secondly, you’ll pay income tax on Portuguese earnings at a flat rate of 20%, rather than the standard progressive rates of up to 48%.

In 2020, the Portuguese government increased the tax rate on foreign pension income from 0% to 10%.

Eligibility to Work in Lisbon

Non-EU nationals who want to work in Portugal will have to apply for a Portugal Work Visa.

To be eligible for a Portuguese work visa:

You must have a job offer from an employer in Portugal. The job opening must have been posted for at least one month, so the relevant authorities can ensure that a Portuguese or EU citizen could not have filled the position instead.
Your employer must apply for a Work Permit on your behalf. They submit the application to the Portuguese Labor Authorities.Do I Need a Visa to Work in Portugal?

If you are not an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen, then you need to apply for a visa to be allowed to work in Portugal. If you are from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, then you can work without a visa, but you have to get a Residence Certificate (Certificado de Registo) if you intend to live in Portugal for longer than three months.

       Portugal Work Visa Requirements:

  • The documents you need when you apply for a Portugal work visa are:

  • Your valid passport.

  • Passport-size pictures, following Schengen visa picture guidelines.

  • Proof of sufficient funds to sustain yourself.

  • Your criminal records from your country of residence. If you have lived in another country for more than one year, you have to get criminal records from there as well.

  • A document giving permission to the SEF to check your Portuguese criminal records.

  • Proof of health insurance.

  • Proof of accommodation in Portugal.

  • Your employment contract.

  • If you are already in Portugal: Proof of legal entry into Portuguese territory, such as a visa.

  • If you are applying from a country other than that of your origin: Proof of legal stay, such as a residence permit or a visa.

    Document guidelines:


  • All the documents you submit have to be in English or Portuguese. If they are not, you must have them translated by a certified translator and then notarized.

  • Certain documents, such as diplomas or civil documents, may have to be legalized. You can legalize documents through an Apostille Stamp or through the Portuguese Embassy in your country.

    How to Apply for a Portugal Work Visa?

  • Once you have secured a job offer, the application for the Portuguese work visa is divided into three parts:

  • Your employer applies for the Work Permit. They must do this after they have offered the job to you but before you travel to Portugal.

  • You apply for a Work Visa at the Portuguese Embassy. Once you have a Work Permit, you must apply for a work visa at the Portugal Embassy, which you will use to enter the country.

  • You apply for a Portugal Residence Permit. Once you have arrived in Portugal, you must apply for your Residence Permit for Work at the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). This is what allows you to live in Portugal long-term.

    Step 1: Work Permit Application

  • Once your employer offers you the job, they have to apply for a Work Permit (Autorização de Trabalho) at the Portuguese Labor Authorities or the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras – SEF) on your behalf.

    They must submit several documents, such as:

  • The employment contract

  • Company tax statements

  • Proof of having registered with Social Security

  • Proof that an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen could not have filled the position.

    Step 2: Work Visa Application

  • Once you receive authorization to work in Portugal, then you can go ahead and apply for a work visa from the Portugal Embassy in your country. This visa will allow you to travel to Portugal for work purposes and apply for a residence permit. The application process is as follows:

  • Locate the nearest Portuguese Embassy or Consulate. Find where you need to apply depending on your country of residence here.

  • Make an appointment to submit the application. You may have to call or email ahead.

  • Collect the required documents.

  • Submit the documents on the date of the appointment. You may also need to enter a visa interview.

  • This type of visa is valid for about three to four months, during which time you have to apply for a residence permit and register your stay.

    Step 3: Residence Permit Application

  • Once you arrive in Portugal, you have to apply for a residence permit as well as register for social security and get a tax number.

  • To register for security, you must visit the Social Security Office.

  • To apply for a residence permit, your first stop is the website of the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF).

  • Appointment: When you apply for a visa at the Embassy, they may make an appointment for you at the SEF, provided you tell them the date on which you intend to travel and where in Portugal you will be settled.

    Types of Portuguese Work Visas

  • You can apply for the following types of work visas, depending on your profession or qualifications:

  • Work Visa for Skilled Workers. You must have a job offer in one of the qualifying professions or positions. For example, scientists, medical professionals, IT professionals, engineers, or someone working in high-ranking or administrative positions in a company.

  • Work Visa for Self-Employment. If you own a business or offer services you can apply for a self-employment visa in Portugal as an independent worker.

  • Work Visa for Highly-Skilled Workers. If you have exceptional qualifications in your profession and are paid at least 1.5 times the national average gross annual salary of Portugal.

  • Work Visa for Cultural Activities. If you will be involved in a cultural activity carried out in Portugal, in a project which is recognized by the relevant Portuguese authorities.

  • Work Visa for Teaching. You are eligible for this visa if you have a job offer from an educational or vocational training institution or from a research centre in Portugal.

  • “Tech” Visa. You can apply for this type of work visa if you are employed by a company that is “active in the area of technology and innovation”.

    Processing Time for a Portuguese Work Visa

  • It may be several months before your work visa application is finalized; it can take up to 60 days for the SEF to process the Work Permit application and two to three months for the Embassy to issue an entry visa.

  • That doesn’t necessarily mean it will take that long, however, and your visa could be processed quicker depending on your specific circumstances.

    Work Visa Fees

  • There is more than one fee you have to pay when applying for a work visa.

  • Cost of the entry visa issued by the Portuguese Embassy – €90 (may be subject to change from country to country)

  • To submit the application for a residence permit for work at the SEF – €83

  • To receive the residence permit for work from the SEF – €72

    What Is the Duration of a Work Visa?

  • When you apply for a work visa, you will receive a residence permit which allows you to live and work in Portugal for one to two years. After 1-2 years, you can renew this permit at the SEF before it expires, as long as you still have a job offer from your employer.

  • Then, you can continue to live and work in Portugal for the duration that the residence permit is issued. Five years later, you can apply for permanent residency.

    Does a Work Visa Lead to Permanent Residency in Portugal?

  • Yes, after you have lived in Portugal for five years using a temporary resident permit, then you can apply for a permanent resident permit. Once you become a permanent resident, you will be open to the job market and no longer need to apply for a work permit.

  • Permanent resident permits also have a longer duration, are more easily renewed, and you will enjoy similar benefits to a Portuguese citizen.

    Does a Work Visa Lead to Portuguese Citizenship?

  • Yes, if you have lived in Portugal as a permanent or temporary resident for at least six years, then you can apply for Portuguese citizenship. You must be proficient in the Portuguese language and have links to the Portuguese community.

    Can I Work in Portugal as an International Student?

  • Yes, international students are allowed to work in Portugal. The permitted hours of work depend on your nationality:

  • If you have EU/EEA/Swiss nationality: You can work without any restrictions on a time limit.

  • If you do not have EU/EEA/Swiss nationality: You can only work for up to 20 hours/week (part-time) during the semester. During semester breaks or holidays, you may work full time.

    Can I Work in Portugal if I Have a Family Visa?

  • Yes, if you are joining a family member who lives in Portugal, then you are allowed to work and study. You may have to seek authorization for work, however, so you should contact the SEF.

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