Investing in a new business in Portugal is a great idea. But where? Discover the best cities to start a business in Portugal.

Last Updated on May 4, 2022 by Letícia Melo

Portugal is popular now. The economy is going through a great phase, even after the pandemic, and investors keep arriving in the country. But where is the best place to start a business? Although each case is different, there are some factors that make some of them the best cities to start a business in Portugal.

What are the best cities to start a business in Portugal?

All of Portugal nowadays represents a great business opportunity. Investors from all over the world are looking to this small country in Southern Europe, which has long been underestimated. However, some cities stand out as being a center of modernity, startups, and prospect.

Of course, each company is a different case, and it is impossible to say which are the definitive best cities to start a business in Portugal. But there are those who study statistics and see patterns that indicate greater success in some regions.

According to what is shown in Portugal City Brand Ranking 2021, held annually by Bloom Consulting, the best cities to start a business in Portugal can be:

1. Lisbon

The largest city in Portugal, capital, and business, tourist, and cultural center, Lisbon has it all. It is located on the central coast of Portugal and is bathed by the Tagus River. It is also one of the oldest cities in Europe but has seen great advances in recent years.

Lisbon is the best city to start a business in Portugal

Living in Lisbon, you get access to all types of businesses. This European capital has high standards, and you’ll find any business here. Micro, medium, and macro. Most of the best places to work are in Lisbon, and this is also where it’s best to start a new business. Of course, being so good, Lisbon has the highest costs in the country. Get to know some facts about Lisbon:

Lisbon Info Data
Population544,851
Average wage1,669€
Number of companies per 100 inhabitants23.7
Average number of people per company5.6
Square meter price4,993€ / m²

2. Porto

Porto is known for being the strong arm of the Portuguese industry. While the capital, Lisbon, is a globalized metropolis, Porto retains much of what is traditionally considered Portuguese. The city, which is the capital of the northern region, is colder and rainier, with a hard-working population.

Porto InfoData
Population231,962
Average wage1,417€
Number of companies per 100 inhabitants19.9
Average number of people per company3.5
Square meter price3,010€ / m²

Other than that, Porto has been standing out from businesspeople lately because, unlike Lisbon, it offers more reasonable prices and even greater prospects for appreciation. Living in Porto is considered cool, and many artists, hipsters, and investors find a home here. In addition, the tourism here is also strong most of the year, and the expatriate population grows more every day.

3. Cascais

One of the most expensive cities to live in, but most prestigious in Portugal, Cascais is just 30 km from the center of Lisbon. What was once a small fishing village, Cascais has evolved into the Portuguese Riviera today.

Here, the rich and famous stroll along the seashore, many entrepreneurs work in the town or in Lisbon, and there is no lack of infrastructure for all social classes. It’s in the tourist area, but it’s not the center of attention. Even so, Cascais has a considerable population and tends to grow, especially due to foreign residents.

Cascais infoData
Population214,134
Average wage1,216€
Number of companies per 100 inhabitants15.1
Average number of people per company2.5
Square meter price3,835€ / m²

Read also: How is Portugal becoming the new Startup Hub in Europe?

4. Vila Nova de Gaia

The younger sister of the great city of Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia is growing to become much more than just that. The city is on the south bank of the Douro river, opposite Porto, but shares many qualities with the northern capital.

Getting from one to the other is easy, and Vila Nova de Gaia is much cheaper, but with just as much potential. In addition, there are many good industries in the area, and the local population is one of the largest in the country. A good place to start a new business.

Vila Nova de Gaia Info Data
Population304,149
Average wage1,157€
Number of companies per 100 inhabitants12.8
Average number of people per company2.7
Square meter price1,782€ / m²

5. Coimbra

Located in central Portugal, Coimbra is one of the most important Portuguese cities. The city is one of the cradles of Portuguese culture, and home to one of the oldest universities in Portugal and in Europe. Just as the past is great, Coimbra residents plan for the future to be just as bright.

Start a business in Coimbra Portugal

The local government launches many entrepreneurship initiatives, and the city also attracts many scientific researchers due to the university’s academic renown. It’s worth checking out more about Coimbra if you want to invest in a business in a quieter city, but with all the infrastructure, close to the Silver Coast.

Coimbra Info Data
Population140,796
Average wage1,182€
Number of companies per 100 inhabitants15
Average number of people per company2.3
Square meter price1,599€ / m²

6. Braga

Braga is one of the most important cities in northern Portugal. It has suddenly been filled with expatriates in recent years and promises to be a favorable environment for companies of all sizes and areas.

There is religious tourism in the city, but the local inhabitants are more dedicated to services and industrial production. It’s not as big and busy a city as Porto or Lisbon, but it’s worth it if you want quiet routines.

Braga Info Data
Population193,333
Average wage1,146€
Number of companies per 100 inhabitants12.6
Average number of people per company3.5
Square meter price1,368€ / m²

7. Sintra

Sintra is one of the most beautiful, famous, and therefore tourist destinations in all of Portugal. The small village and its surroundings, full of medieval attractions and even the homes of international celebrities, prove to be a great place to start a business. Mainly those dedicated to tourism, such as restaurants, hotels, and so on. Furthermore, Sintra is only 30 km from Lisbon and 15 km from Cascais. In other words, on the route to success.

Sintra Info Data
Population385,954
Average wage1,221€
Number of companies per 100 inhabitants10.9
Average number of people per company2.8
Square meter price1,869€ / m²

Read also: 3 types of investments in Portugal you should consider making

8. Faro

Capital and largest city in the Algarve, the city of Faro is the best in the southern Portuguese region for starting a business. Workers in Faro have the highest wage average in the Algarve, and also the biggest purchasing power. And though the Algarve is a very touristic region, the city of Faro is not its greatest attraction. So businesses here are in various sectors, such as IT, digital marketing, retail commerce, and construction.

Faro Info Data
Population67,566
Average wage1,170€
Number of companies per 100 inhabitants17.5
Average number of people per company2.4
Square meter price2,129€ / m²

9. Leiria

The humble city of Leiria, in central Portugal, also joined the ranking of best Portuguese cities for business in 2021. In the entire Beira Interior area, Leiria is the city with the most potential for business success, especially in the sector of industries and commerce. Unlike larger cities, Leiria has a local population that doesn’t have as many foreigners, but it is suitable for entrepreneurs looking for a less busy environment.

Leiria Info Data
Population128,640
Average wage1,126€
Number of companies per 100 inhabitants13.9
Average number of people per company3.3
Square meter price1,105€ / m²

10. Funchal

The imposing capital city of the island and archipelago of Madeira, Funchal is one of the best cities to start a business in Portugal. In addition to companies on Portuguese islands benefiting from lower taxes, they are also fortunate to have a unique environment in Europe.

Funchal in Madeira is a good place to start a business

Funchal is not only a city where businesses can thrive but also where real estate investors will look to 2022 to secure a Golden Visa. A destination to consider.

Funchal Info Data
Population105,919
Average wage1,172€
Number of companies per 100 inhabitants13.5
Average number of people per company3.5
Square meter price2,075€ / m²

What are the sectors of the economy in Portugal with the most employees?

According to official data published in Pordata in 2019, Portugal has more workers in the following sectors:

  1. Wholesale and retail trade;
  2. Manufacturing industries;
  3. Administrative and support services activities;
  4. Accommodation, restaurants, and similar;
  5. Construction;
  6. Consulting, scientific, technical, and similar activities;
  7. Agriculture, animal production, hunting, forestry, and fishing;
  8. Human health and social support activities;
  9. Transport and storage;
  10. Information and communication activity.

Why are expats investing in new businesses in Portugal?

While in other European countries, foreigners investing in companies can be very complicated, Portugal welcomes expatriates with open arms.

There are tax benefits for new residents, a safe environment in which to live with quality of life, and great prospects for the future of the economy.

The real question is why there are still foreigners not investing in Portugal.

How to get a business visa to Portugal?

Foreigners who want to live in Portugal while starting a new business must apply for a D2 visa. This visa, also known as an entrepreneur or business visa, is intended for non-EU citizens with the potential and motivation to make a new company successful in Portuguese lands.

It gives you and your family permission to live in Portugal and move freely through the Schengen countries. With it, you get a Residence Permit valid for a period of 2 years, with the right to renewal.

Best cities to start a business in Portugal

As with the other visa procedures in Portugal, for D2 you need to fulfill the prerequisites of the Portuguese consulate, apply, and have your application evaluated. After the consulate grants you the visa, you can travel to Portugal and change to a residence permit.

Some suggested activities for obtaining the D2 Visa are:

  • Submit a business plan to the consulate
  • Create a personal tax number (NIF) and open a bank account in Portugal.
  • Create the company in Portugal, and company’s tax number (NIPC) and Social Security number (NISS), and corporate bank account.
  • Register the company’s trademark.

But you can access more info about this complex them on our article All About Starting a Business in Portugal and Obtaining a D2 Visa.

When are you starting your business in Portugal?

Deciding to invest in a new business abroad is a big deal. While planning and researching, check out our articles on business in Portugal.

Furthermore, our team at Viv Europe provides professional assistance to foreign entrepreneurs who want to start a business here.

Who knows, you might also be inspired by our content and make your Portugal dream a reality.

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