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Money Diaries: The Cost of Living in Portugal

It cost me slightly over $1,500 a month to live in Porto, the second-largest city in the country

The oldest wine cellar in the country - in the birthplace and the only region in the world allowed to produce port wine.

The magnificent Douro River that you can cruise up and down to explore everything from the vineyards and wine production to the cellars.

A thriving art scene including both modern art and historical architecture dating back to the B.C. era.

Glistening beaches and sunny balconies and a food scene that will bring you to tears.

Serralves Foundation.


Jardins do Palacio de Cristal.

Church of Saint Ildefonso and Igreja de Santa Clara.

Portugal (Porto, especially) might be the most charming place in Europe. 

It has all of the nature, beauty, and charm that you would find in another popular city - but because of the small size of the country, a fraction of the chaos.

I’ve walked through town on a Sunday in February and felt like I had the entire place to myself.

Given the proximity and affordability ($30-$100 roundtrip) to cities like London, Madrid, Marrakesh and Paris, I was blown away by how much I spent in Portugal, on average - and I was spending at the higher-end of the spectrum.

Initially, I had reserved a gorgeous apartment that was only 600 Euros - but I decided not to rent because I didn’t want to deal with their security deposit process.

There were many tons of cute studios on AirBnB but after staying at an apartment-style hotel for a few days, I fell madly in love with the unit and rented it for three months at 1000 Euros a month.

Lunch in Porto from any local restaurant or shop could range from 4 to 8 euros even with wine. I’m a fruit, tea, oatmeal type of breakfast easter, but if I did go out for a cappuccino and croissant, I rarely spent more than 3 euros. Bigger breakfasts of eggs, fresh juice, etc. often ran me closer to 6, but in general, it was easy to cap food spending to 10 a day. Groceries in the region are extremely affordable with 1L of milk going for under 1 Euro.

Overall, I found that I didn't need to spend more than $1,500 a month for my essentials

  • $1,200 for a hotel in center city including a concierge, housekeeping and done-for-you laundry service
  • $300 on food and entertainment (around $10 a day)

There is tons to do in the city:

- Get swept away by Livraria Lello - the bookstore that inspired Hogwarts (JK Rowling began writing Harry Potter when she lived in Porto)

- Trek across the Dom Luis I Bridge by Gustave Eiffel (yes, the same designer of the Eiffel tower)

- Take pictures of the Palacio do Bolsa

- Dedicate an afternoon to the art and beauty of the Serralves Foundation

- Wander Clerigos Church and Tower

- Cruise the Douro river

- Admire the tiles of Sao Bento Railway

- Visit Casa da Musica

- Discover the cellars in Villa Nova de Gaia

- Walk around the beaches in Foz do Douro

- Study the cities azulejos

- Eat your way through Bolhao market

The more costly-entertainment options would be full-day trips to Douro Valley (100 euros for a vineyard tour, picnic and cruise to the valley is a steal) - and the shorter trips in the region like Aveiro and Coimbra are under 50 euros. Wine cellar tours and shorter river cruises will run you less than 25 euros.


Portugal is much greater than a stopover trip or a base while you travel to Morocco or Spain - it is the destination.

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