Portugal is famous for its olive groves, gourmet seafood, and oceanside views. The delicious food and natural splendor of the Portuguese landscape make this seaside paradise one of the most common travel destinations in Europe.

But Portugal is much more than a tourist destination. The Portuguese have a unique perspective on living that has actually made this nation one of the happiest places to live in the world. Intentional living, a connection to nature, social connection, and work-life balance can have a big impact on happiness, so it’s no wonder why scenic Portugal is one of the happiest countries in the world.

Luis Horta e Costa, Others, Explain What Makes Portugal One of the Happiest Places to Live - safety, portugal, earth, countries, community

The seaside country is renowned for its temperate climate and friendly people, but what makes this nation so happy? Luis Horta e Costa, Aliénor Salmon, and Lea Melo share their insights into why Portugal is one of the happiest places to live in the world.

Portugal Scores Highly as One of the Best Places to Live

While local residents like Luis Horta e Costa might already know that Portugal is one of the happiest countries in the world, research also supports this.

The 2023 World Happiness Report looked at happiness on a three-year average from 2020 to 2022. It found that Portugal ranked #56 out of 137 countries.

According to the U.S. News & World Report, Portugal ranks as #12 on its list of the most friendly countries in the world, beating out Denmark and Switzerland.

Passport Index also ranked Portugal highly for its friendliness to tourists. Portugal accepts 92 passport types visa-free, which makes the country a popular destination for international travelers.

Why Portugal Is One of the Happiest Countries on Earth

Portugal consistently ranks as one of the happiest places in the world. But why is that the case?

Luis Horta e Costa, the Portuguese co-founder of the real estate investment company Square View, believes that it’s because of the community and natural beauty. “What I think is more attractive in Portugal is the people, the [cost of living], the safety. And the weather, for sure,” he says.

More tourists and expatriates are flocking to Portugal for its natural splendor, slow pace of life, and safe communities.

Unspoiled Natural Beauty and Scenic Sites

As a seaside nation, Portugal is known for its mild winters and sunny summers. But the temperate climate isn’t the only reason the Portuguese are so happy.

Aliénor Salmon is a happiness researcher who moved to Portugal in 2020. She believes Portugal’s natural beauty plays a key role in the locals’ happiness. In an interview with CNBC, Salmon says, “It’s clean air, clean drinking water, safety, being able to walk along the river. Within 25 minutes, I can either be in a forest, on a beach, or a winery.”

Madeira—which is often called the “Hawaii of Europe”—is easily the most popular tourist destination in Portugal. However, Luis Horta e Costa encourages people to explore other areas of Portugal, including its more traditional cities.

More tourists and residents are visiting small towns with great history—and views. For example, Luis Horta e Costa moved to the small town of Melides 25 years ago and believes its traditional charms support a slower pace of life. “Melides is a very nice, small Alentejo village. It’s ten minutes away from the sea,” he says. There is clearly no shortage of wonders to explore in Portugal.

Portuguese citizens are working hard to preserve the country’s natural beauty, too. According to Luis Horta e Costa, real estate developers are using more eco-friendly materials with lower carbon emissions to work with Portugal’s beautiful landscape. These eco-friendly approaches promise to conserve Portugal’s charm for future generations.

The Slow Pace of Life

The Portuguese believe in living a slow, meaningful life. Instead of packing their days full of work and tasks, the Portuguese spend more time enjoying their days.

Lea Melo is a writer who moved to Portugal in 2017. In an article for Viv Europe, Lea Melo says, “The Portuguese way of life can make a huge difference in how you see the world. It can be seen as a philosophy, a religion, or a point of view.”

Research supports Lea Melo’s experience. According to a report by Gallup, the world’s happiest people find fulfillment at work, build strong relationships and communities, lack financial stress, and have good health.

According to a report by the OECD Better Life Index, people in Portugal tend to work fewer hours than those in other countries. “Unlike most European countries, it’s not uncommon for people in Portugal to take a 2-hour lunch break from work to eat calmly and deeply,” Melo says.

Safety and Community

Portugal also has a very low crime rate. In fact, the 2022 Global Peace Index rated Portugal the sixth safest country in the world. In 2020 it ranked as the third safest.

In the Better Life Index, Portugal outperforms average scores in housing safety and environmental quality. But the true secret to Portugal’s safety is its strong sense of community. One of the most striking characteristics of the Portuguese people is their willingness to help. They are very welcoming and friendly,” Lea Melo says.

The secret to Portuguese happiness lies in the culture of the people who live there, although the nation’s natural beauty is also a cherished treasure by both Portuguese natives and immigrants. “This way of life is much more relaxing,” Melo says.