14 Most Beautiful Places to Retire Abroad

When the time comes to retire, and you’ve decided to spend your golden years abroad, the world becomes your oyster. You’ve likely traveled, and you may already have a favorite destination based on your experience or simply because it’s the most beautiful place you’ve seen.

However, beauty, as it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. For some, a gorgeous place means historic buildings, ancient towns, and quaint neighborhoods. Others find beauty in nature, vineyards, palm trees, and blue seas. And some want a bit of everything — vintage charm with access to modern amenities.

We’ve assembled a list of 25 beautiful destinations to retire abroad. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to visit one or more — if not to relocate, then for an enjoyable vacation.

Porto, Portugal

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Set along the Douro River with colorful terra-cotta-roofed buildings rising from the river’s edge, Porto offers medieval charm. Its narrow, winding alleys, public art, cathedrals, and gardens are filled with picturesque surprises, including hand-painted tiles called azulejos. Six bridges span the Douro, the most beautiful being the Dom Luis, designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel. Aside from the graceful beauty of the bridge itself, it’s the place to go for stunning views of the city and river. Not far away, the Douro Valley’s lush green hills and vineyards are gorgeous locales for retirees who choose Porto for its beauty.

Tuscany, Italy

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From the lovely city of Florence, with the Arno winding through its medieval and Renaissance-era buildings, to the rolling hills and green valleys of its small towns, Tuscany is one of Italy’s most beautiful areas. Montalcino is set on a hilltop overlooking a green valley and the vineyards that produce its famed Brunello wine. Nearby, Pienza overlooks the Val d’Orcia  and verdant hills with rows of tall cypress trees, vineyards, olive groves, farmhouses, and in season, fields of sunflowers and bright red poppies. The walled city of Lucca is another charming Tuscan destination, with a welcoming small-town atmosphere.

San Sebastián, Spain

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Located on the north Atlantic coast of Spain near the French border, the Basque Country area has its own language, though most residents also speak Spanish. The Playa de la Concha offers a sandy beach, seaside promenade, and lovely views of the ocean and Santa Clara Island. The green island, meanwhile, enhances the view from the beach, and in turn provides a picturesque view of the town. Rugged mountains, coastline, lush hillsides, and narrow cobblestone streets combine to create a picture-perfect scene in San Sebastián. From casual pintxos to Michelin-starred restaurants, delicious food is another attraction in this Basque city.

Provence, France

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This region in southeastern France bordering the Mediterranean Sea is home to charming towns, vineyards, beaches, and mountains. In the Luberon area, medieval hilltop villages like Ansouis feature rows of grapevines, olive trees, ancient castles, and lovely gardens. Along the Mediterranean coast, the Camargue offers outdoor activities, beaches, wetlands, and wildlife. Few areas of the world have the glamour and beauty of the French Riviera, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Alps, and cities like Nice and Cannes attract visitors with their mild climate and gorgeous scenery.

Lucerne, Switzerland

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Located on the shores of Lake Lucerne and surrounded by steep mountains, this medieval city is one of Europe’s most beautiful places. The old town’s statues, fountains, and fresco-adorned vintage houses make strolling along the cobblestone streets a distinct pleasure. The Reuss River flows through Lucerne, and the picturesque 14th-century Chapel Bridge offers views of the city and river. The Kornmarkt is a charming plaza with a clock tower and market with local products and antiques. Visitors and residents can take boat trips on the lake for another way to enjoy Lucerne.

Bergen, Norway

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On the southwest coast of Norway, amid mountains in every shade of green, the port city of Bergen is the gateway to the fjords. Living among the colorful wooden homes and shops, strolling along cobblestone lanes in historic neighborhoods, shopping for fresh seafood at the fish market, and enjoying the scenery on the harbor all make Bergen a beautiful retirement city, especially for those who don’t mind some rain. The lush green mountains stay that way because of the area’s more than 200 annual days of precipitation.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Dubrovnik is located on the Adriatic Sea at the southernmost tip of Croatia. The Old City of Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is surrounded by massive limestone walls dating back to the Middle Ages. A favorite activity for residents and visitors is walking around the walls. The city, nicknamed “Pearl of the Adriatic” for its beauty, offers beaches, ancient architecture, and gorgeous vistas. A cable car or hike to the top of Mount Srd affords visitors a panoramic view of Dubrovnik, the Adriatic, and the Dalmatian Coast.

Bruges, Belgium

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Exquisitely preserved medieval architecture, wide canals, chocolate shops, and cobblestone streets are all part of the beauty of Bruges. Rows of ornate brick buildings with step-gabled facades and its stunning Gothic city hall give Bruges a unique look. Stroll along the ancient streets or explore on a canal cruise to appreciate the charm of this city. The Market Square is a gathering place with shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars — ideal for relaxing with one of Belgium’s famed beers or indulging in pastries or chocolates. Called “Venice of the North,” Bruges is one of Europe’s most romantic cities.

Gold Coast, Australia

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On the eastern end of Australia in Queensland, the Gold Coast offers residents and visitors everything from beaches to rain forests to city life. Known for its sunny, mild weather, the area is popular with surfers and nature lovers. Not far from its stunning skyline and shore, Gondwana Rainforest is home to waterfalls, hiking trails, wildlife, and ancient plants. Burleigh Head National Park, in the heart of the Gold Coast, combining rain forest and shoreline, with views of migrating whales during spring.

Prague, Czech Republic

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Travelers and retirees who love history and appreciate medieval architecture will enjoy Prague for its Old Town, Jewish Quarter, and stunning Gothic-style Charles Bridge. The 14th-century stone bridge spans the Vltava River, which flows through the center of the city, and its pedestrian walkway provides views of historic buildings, the river, and Prague Castle. River cruises offer another perspective of the well-preserved structures along its banks. Browse the public art along Prague’s streets, including the John Lennon Wall, with quotes from Beatles songs painted by locals to protest Communism. Parks, gardens, cafes, art galleries, and the Vltava River all create a serene atmosphere in this beautiful city.

North Island, New Zealand

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The smaller of New Zealand’s two main islands, the North Island is home to the country’s capital, Wellington, as well as the major city of Auckland. Wellington, on the island’s southernmost point is a cosmopolitan city with a beautiful waterfront, public art, parks, and beaches. Auckland, meanwhile, combines city living with beaches, rain forests, waterfalls, and a nearby wine-growing region, Waiheke Island, a short ferry ride away. The unspoiled Coromandel Peninsula offers beaches, hiking trails, fishing, and resort towns. Rotorua, known as a center of Maori culture, is located in a geothermal region with geysers, mud and hot mineral pools, and steaming lakes. Overall, it’s the natural beauty, sophisticated cities, and gorgeous beaches that make New Zealand’s North Island one of the world’s most beautiful places.

Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

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Located on Mexico’s east coast and surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, the Yucatán Peninsula has resorts, beaches, and several significant Mayan archaeological sites — Chichén Itzá, Tulum, and Uxmal are the best known. And Cancun, home to the main international airport, boasts hotels, resorts, beaches, and expats from around the world. The Riviera Maya also includes plush resorts along its white-sand beaches, including the upscale Mayakoba destination with both hotels and residences. The mild tropical climate is an attraction, with the rainy season falling in autumn.

Cartagena, Colombia

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Located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Cartagena is known for its beautiful beaches and walled city. The colorful homes, balconies, and colonial architecture along the walkable neighborhood’s cobblestone streets date back to the 16th century and are still well-preserved. The area of Getsemani similarly demonstrates colorful vintage buildings, along with street art and trendy style. Several beaches are located on Cartagena’s coast, and the nearby Rosario Islands offer white-sand shores and hotels.

Society Islands, French Polynesia

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Tropical surroundings, year-round warm weather, coral reefs, and clear seas make the Society Islands a beautiful place to live and visit. Tahiti is the largest and main island, with an international airport at Papeete, a city with hotels, restaurants, shopping, markets, museums, and nightlife. Most residents live close to the island’s shores, which has a green backdrop of the interior mountains. Bora Bora, formed by a volcano, is surrounded by a coral reef, perfect for exploring the stunning underwater marine life. The island of Moorea is also ideal for diving, and its lush valley offers hiking trails, horseback riding, and other ways to explore the land. More secluded Huahine, Raiatea, and several other Society Islands feature gorgeous beaches and lush surroundings.