Written by Ben Taylor,
Last Modified: 2nd February 2022

The attractions of taking your retirement in Portugal are clear to see. Unsurprisingly, the climate is right there at the top of the list for many. But there’s also the low cost of living, the laid-back pace, and a focus on family life with notably less materialism than you see in many countries in northern Europe.

In this article, we look at some retirement activities that Portugal is perfect and – in some cases – famous for. They’re activities that can see you spending lots of time outside in that glorious climate, keeping fit and enjoying your retirement years.

It’s easy to keep coming back to the weather in Portugal as a key factor in the decision to move there. However, there’s good reason for that. It’s not just about warm weather, but dependable weather too. It makes the season for outdoor activity so much longer.

So, it’s no wonder a retirement in Portugal is such an appealing proposition for many. Let’s look at what’s on offer.

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We begin with something rather obvious! Golf is hugely popular in Portugal, and golfing trips are often what lead people to discover the country’s charms in the first place.

If you’re a keen golfer, Portugal is a paradise. The Algarve is usually the first place that springs to mind. The area’s renowned for golf and home to famous courses like the Royal Course at Vale do Lobo.

However, enjoying golf in Portugal neither means sticking to the Algarve region, nor paying the – let’s face it – sizeable green fees at the more glitzy courses. There are plenty of options for those with a higher handicap and a lower budget. Best of all, they’re often no less beautiful, with trademark views of the country’s Atlantic coastline. A great example is Vale de Milho, where an off-peak round can cost as little as €18.

There are also courses dotted around the country, putting golf within reach if you’d prefer a rural life in central Portugal to one along the Algarve coast.

Golf is hugely popular in Portugal, and golfing trips are often what lead people to discover the country’s charms.


Swimming in Portugal is accessible wherever you are, and there are plenty of year-round options for keen swimmers.

Let’s talk about the sea first. It’s worth remembering that Portugal is surrounded by the Atlantic. It’s not as warm as the nearby Mediterranean. While the sea around the Algarve can be seriously inviting throughout the long summer, especially in the east, only the hardiest swimmers venture in during the winter.

Thankfully there are other choices. Portugal is richly packed with hotels, complete with spas and sports centres, and it quite easy to find places that will allow access to local residents. Some towns also have great municipal pools, with incredibly affordable entry prices.

We should also mention river beaches. Inland Portugal has many of these beautiful environments, many with bath-temperature water in the summer.

If you want to spend your retirement in Portugal swimming, or simply floating whilst gazing up at the sun, options abound.

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Walking and hiking

Portugal is an incredible place for walking. Whether “walking” to you means a challenging hike or simply a long slow stroll along a boardwalk, you’ll find abundant options in all parts of the country.

There are many walking trails in Portugal, including one that spreads for the entire width of the Algarve. You will also find a huge community of enthusiastic walkers. If you enjoy walking, you could find it a great way to meet other overseas residents.

Best of all, there’s no price tag on exploring Portugal’s natural beauty on foot.

If you enjoy walking, you could find it a great way to meet other overseas residents.


Huge groups of cyclists are a common sight on Portugal’s roads. It’s a sport that’s taken very seriously in the country. Many global cycling groups fly in to practice in Portugal, and cycling’s also a surprisingly popular spectator sport.

But you don’t need a hugely expensive bike and a perfect cyclist’s physique to get involved! Portugal’s well-served for cycle routes, many of which are very flat and almost entirely routed off-road.

The Algarve’s “Ecovia” comprises miles of linked cycle routes, enabling you to explore the whole coast. It’s notably flatter at the eastern end. Whether you just fancy a quick point to point ride or have a grand plan to cycle the lot, you’re guaranteed a memorable journey.


Boating and kayaking

For many, a true dream scenario is taking retirement in Portugal and buying a boat. It’s a perfectly feasible option. You could acquire a small pleasure craft to explore the local coastline, or something far more impressive to head further afield. Just beware that there are strict laws around licenses and training, so ensure you do your research.

One thing you won’t need a license for is a kayak. Kayaking is incredibly popular in Portugal, because it enables you to explore the most stunning and often deserted islands and landscapes. It’s an extremely healthy activity that puts your core to work!

Many small companies, often run by expats, run kayak trips around the Portuguese coast. These start at as little as around €25. Try one out and you may well find you desperately want a kayak of your own afterwards.

For many, a true dream scenario is taking retirement in Portugal and buying a boat.


Portugal (and indeed Spain) prove that there are countries out there with even more of a football obsession than there is in the UK.

It isn’t, of course, only about watching the sport. There’s a vast network of amateur teams, including some made up entirely of foreign residents. In the East Algarve, there’s even a “walking football” team for older people who prefer a slower-paced game.

Like so many sporting activities in Portugal, football is something that costs next to nothing to get involved with.

“Extreme” Sports

“Extreme” is a relative term, but however daredevil you want to go, Portugal has you covered. If there’s a sport you’ve always wanted to try, the chances are you’ll find a way to do it.

Some examples: kite surfing, paragliding, off-road trekking, jet-skiing. They’re all available, and you have the option of dipping your toe in with a one-off experience, or going “all in” with your own equipment.

Maybe you don’t know which of these exciting options most appeal. If that’s the case, finding out as part of your retirement in Portugal will surely be a big part of the fun!

“Extreme” is a relative term, but however daredevil you want to go, Portugal has you covered.




About The Author

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor moved to Portugal with his wife in 2009, after failing in love with the Algarve several years before. He launched a blog to document his experiences, which gained unexpected momentum and evolved into the popular “Moving to Portugal” book. Ben has written about Portugal for several outlets, including A Place in the Sun, Cheapflights.com and TheTrainline.com. That particular job was particularly inspiring as it involved documenting train journeys across the country! Ben is also a keen foodie, and has reviewed restaurants for local magazines and websites.

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