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Childcare and Education in Porto: Best Porto Schools

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If you are planning on moving to Porto with your family, it’s natural that your kids’ education is on your mind. Luckily, Porto boasts a number of options for your children’s education, including private international schools for a multicultural environment. 

It’s important to know your way around the education system in Portugal, particularly if you want to navigate the public system. Fortunately, Portugal has a quality education system where all children can access free education.

However, it is oftentimes difficult to place kids under 5 in public preschools due to a lack of slots. Still, international private schools do not have this issue. Let’s take a look at the education system in Portugal and the 3 best international schools in Porto.

Expat Guide: Moving to Porto

Education System in Portugal

Before we get into the 3 best international schools in Lisbon, let’s take a look at a quick overview of the education system in Portugal. Compulsory education only starts at 6 years old with the 1st cycle, going until the 12th grade in the Ensino Secundario

Before that, education isn’t compulsory. However, schooling can start with nurseries and then preschool. 

Photo by Jessica Ruscello (Unsplash)

Creches/Nurseries

Creches are for kids under three years old. Portugal has private and IPSS creches. An IPSS is a Particular Social Solidarity Institution.

As a general rule, these are always paid by the family, although the government subsidizes a part of the value in relation to the tax bracket of each family for most facilities. 

The general value for a creche in Portugal is around €200 and €300 per child. Again, this depends on your family’s tax bracket.

However, the Portuguese government announced back in April of 2022 that daycares, with agreements with the social security system, would be free for all children up to one year old for the years 2022/2023.

Here are some popular creches in Porto:

  • Surpresa do Bebe
  • Casa do Cuco
  • Criancas e Companhia
  • Associação Infantário e Jardim de Infância Carolina Michaëlis
  • Colegio das Antas

Preschool/Kindergarten

After nurseries, we move on to preschool for children from the ages of three to five years old. At this point, kids are taught the basics of reading, writing, drawing, and counting. They also enjoy social activities, sports, and music. 

While there are free state preschools, almost 50% of Portuguese kids attend private preschools. This is because there are limited spots in public preschools, and economically disadvantaged kids are given priority. 

Even though a state school is free, if you need meals and transport for your child, this could cost you around €50 a month. 

If you are not able to place your child in a state preschool, a private kindergarten costs anywhere between €350 and €1500 a month. 

Photo by Jerry Wang (Unsplash)

Compulsory Education

At six years old, basic education begins, also known as Primeiro Ciclo. Take a look at the stages of mandatory education in Portugal:

  • Primeiro Ciclo (1st Cycle): Ages 6 to 10 (1st to 4th grade)
  • Segundo Ciclo (2nd Cycle): Ages 10 to 12 (5th and 6th grade)
  • Terceiro Ciclo (Third Cycle): Ages 12 to 15 (7th to 9th grade)
  • Ensino Secundario: Ages 15 to 18 (10th to 12th grade)

At this point, it could make sense to invest in a private international school if you want your kids to learn in a language other than Portuguese, particularly English. Take a look at the 3 best international schools in Porto below. 

3 Best International Schools in Porto

1. Oporto British School

Founded in 1894, Oporto British School boasts a large international community, making up 48% of the school population of 540 students. This is the only school in Northern Portugal offering the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB). 

Oporto British School follows the British curriculum until the completion of the IGCSE, and then senior students follow the IB Diploma. Throughout their school life, students get to learn English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Mandarin.

Yearly tuition ranges from €8000 for the youngest kids to €13,000 for forms 11 and 12. 

2. CLIP Oporto International School

Founded in 1986, CLIP Oporto International School is a large school with over 1,000 students, with around 35% of these being international. CLIP offers both IGCSE and A Levels education, likewise to the British national curriculum. However, the school has applied modifications to suit the school’s philosophy and the local environment in Porto. 

While classes are taught in English, Portuguese is naturally offered as a second language. There are 6 students per teacher and around 20.4 students per class. Yearly tuition at CLIP ranges from €7900 to €11900.

3. Deutsche Schule Porto

Not all international schools need to be English! The Deutsche Schule Porto is a German school in Porto teaching kids from ages 3 all the way to grade 12. A school with over a century of experience, the school has undergone many renovations and is constantly modernized.

Along with learning in German, kids get to learn other languages, including Portuguese and English.

Yearly tuition at the Deutsche Schule Porto ranges from €5290 to €4645 for grade 12. It is, therefore, a lot more affordable than the other top 2 schools. 

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The Poor Transport Network in The Portuguese Interior

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When I was 17, I became friends with another girl from Famalicão, a city between Porto’s metropolitan area and Braga. It is an economically prosperous part of the country, and much of Portugal’s industrial fabric is found there.

As such, there is a greater flow of young people, businesses, and means of transportation. Medium-sized cities proliferate, all part of the fabric of the Oporto metropolitan area. 

And if all these words are used to describe it, all its antonyms could be used about Portugal’s Interior. A place that is economically stagnant, aging in age and mentality, and where only the wheels of a car or someone’s legs are used as a means of transportation.

But, unlike me, who only had the deserted streets of my village to roam after school, my friend had more options. She could leave school and go to McDonald’s, to the mall, or better yet, hop on a train and go for a walk in Oporto. 

Although we were the same age and lived in the same country, our lives could not be more different. 

From my small village to the city where she lived was only 90 miles away. An irrelevant distance in miles, but essential in Portuguese culture and what it means to grow up on the coast or in the Interior. 

And I, who was young in the Interior, one day, attacked by the typical anxiety of a teenager who wants to have fun, I told her how much I wanted to travel, even if it was just for an afternoon.

What she next said to me would remain engraved in my memory forever. “Why don’t you go to a station, get on the train, and go somewhere with no destination? I do that all the time.”

I remember being as jealous as I was angry. 

I was jealous that I didn’t have that opportunity, the one of just letting myself go on a train to a random city, and mad at her ignorance for not knowing there wasn’t even a train in the area where I lived.  

I was irritated by the petulance in her statement, which represented the entire voice of a coastline and that of a country that ignored itself, like a vain and wealthy son who is ashamed of his parents of humble origins and does everything to avoid mentioning them. 

And I was also annoyed by her historical ignorance, amazed by the lack of trains, disregarding that we once had some of the most beautiful trips one could make in Portugal by train. 

Once, the old and beautiful Vouga line crossed my town, São Pedro do Sul, considered one of the most attractive trips in Portugal.

In the village of Vouzela, just before the millenary bridge, little remains of the black locomotive that used to tear through the forests of the Lafões region in the direction of Aveiro But the journey only exists in the memories of those who lived during that time.

But, I, born in 1990, never witnessed that old, still steam-powered train that crossed my town. And as such, it is almost as if it never existed.

The time of my birth meant quite the opposite. The railway lines were demolished. Instead, with funds coming from the newly-entered European Union, the investment was made in highways, often unnecessary.

The car seemed to be the future, and the train the past. We could not see then how much we were going backward, especially on a planet heading to a climate disaster. And we could also not see how unjust it was to destroy such a perfect and clean means of transportation.

And I, as a teenager, had been caught up in these bad decisions. I was neither licensed nor old enough to drive. Thus, I was limited to wandering around and staying in my village.

And just like me were all my classmates and everyone who lived in this region, most of them even less privileged than me, with families that didn’t own a car and didn’t even consider taking vacations outside their birthplace.

In contrast, the same generation that had grown up on the coast had greater freedom of choice, of movement, and a more prosperous life that was never offered to us as an option.

Our lives, my friends and I’s, couldn’t be more different than that of my friend in Famalicão. We were both Portuguese, but that didn’t necessarily mean we had similar lives or even the same opportunities.

She went to an excellent public school but could attend a private one if she wanted to. Not only because she had that option but because her parents, who were my parent’s age, had also had different lives than mine.

They all lived better, were better educated, and had better incomes. I, in turn, had no other option but to go to the only public school available; whether it was good or bad, it was all I had.

But at that time, even more than that, I envied her freedom and her range of options. I would have to wait a few years before I left my town and went to live in Porto. 

She didn’t know that the biggest and closest city to me, Viseu, was and still is the biggest city in continental Europe that is not served by train. Meanwhile, politicians talk about high-speed projects and TGV lines connecting the two Iberian capitals, while here, there isn’t even a railway line.

All this is a tragedy in several aspects. It is an environmental catastrophe that constantly forces us to drive our cars, which is responsible for many fossil fuel emissions contributing to climate change.

It is a tremendous injustice to the Portuguese, who pay the same taxes but are not served equally, in having access to different means of transportation. And considering all the costs of owning a car, from mechanical repairs, taxes, and insurance to increasing fuel prices, one can only feel how unjust this is.

It’s a social injustice also because those who can’t afford a car don’t commute, don’t travel, and don’t experience different ways of life.

All this raises social and economic justice problems, favoring one social class more privileged than another. Ultimately, it is a tragedy in the cultural development of land. 

One of these days, I was commenting on this affliction with my father, the lack of trains. But he has lived here all his life, never got on a train, and has always used the car to get around.

I told him the wonders about Italy, where I lived for a good part of my adult life, how even the smallest villages have railway lines and how easy it is to get in, get out, travel, and get to know other places.

And as such, how wonderful it is for your spirit to experience that freedom and how much you learn and grow. But unfortunately, he didn’t understand. How could he? And like him, almost everyone doesn’t get it because when we don’t know a better reality, we often accept the world as it is offered to us. 

Until my friend suggested I get on a train and go for a ride, I had no other option but to walk and take the same routes in my city repeatedly. A light was shed when I realized not only the injustice and inequalities between Portugal and other more developed European countries but even more significantly, the injustices within the same country. 

Poor mobility may be the first point of discussion among the many problems that plague the Interior. And in a country full of tourism, both the country and the tourists would benefit from a decentration of the tourism focus, which would bring money and different forms of life here.

In other words, the Portuguese Interior would witness a cultural revolution in a part of the country that has been waiting so long for a change that insists on not arriving.  

I guess we will keep waiting, but for how long?

Christmas in Lisbon: 7 Things to Do in Lisbon for Christmas

During the Christmas season, the streets of Lisbon are lit up with Christmas lights, people gather at the best bakeries to buy Bolo Rei (King’s Cake), and families spend precious time together. 

As a historically Catholic country, Christmas is probably the most popular holiday in Portugal. However, the emphasis given to this holiday goes beyond religion and has mostly become cultural. 

Unlike many other European countries, Christmas in Lisbon is not a snowy one. Winter temperatures are quite mild. Even in the coldest month of January, temperatures range between 8° and 15°C (46-59°F). 

Due to its importance, during the month of December, the capital of Lisbon has plenty of activities to celebrate Christmas. Let’s take a look at 

Winter Guide to Lisbon

1. Visit Wonderland Lisboa

Our favorite Christmas activity in Lisbon is Wonderland Lisbon. If you’ve been to London, this is basically a smaller Winter Wonderland version, the perfect spot for a Christmas fanatic. 

Wonderland Lisboa opens on December 1 until January 2 in Parque Eduardo VII in the center of Lisbon for its 7th edition. 

You will find a quaint Christmas market, a large Ferris wheel with warm cabins, an ice skating ring, and more.

At the market, you can find clothes, regional products, accessories, and more. There are a bunch of Portuguese food stalls, as well as international cuisine. Kids can take photos with Santa!

Photo by F Delventhal (Unsplash)

2. Cirque du Soleil Crystal

A cirque du Soleil meets ice skating performance is coming to Lisbon this Christmas season. Starting December 22 until January 1 in Altice Arena, Cirque du Soleil Crystal is a new and unique experience that is set to sell out. 

World-class ice skaters and acrobats will be challenging the laws of gravity with outstanding acrobatics. This is rumored to blow the minds of those lucky enough to grab a ticket and caters to all ages.

A first-time show, Cirque du Soleil Crystal, is directed by Shana Carroll and Sebastien Soldevilla. 

3. Christmas lights in Rossio & Terreiro do Paco

Lisbon streets fill up with colorful lights during the Christmas season, starting at the end of November. The most important locations of Lisbon light up with incredible illuminations. A great Christmas activity is to head to the best spots and capture some beautiful photos.

Our two favorite places for Christmas lights in Lisbon are the emblematic Terreiro do Paco and Rossio. Along with gorgeous lights, Rossio also features a quaint Christmas Market. 

In Terreiro do Paco, you will see one of the largest Christmas trees in Europe that lights up in early December. The lighting of this tree is an incredible event, with fireworks lighting up the sky. 

4. Try Portuguese Christmas desserts

During Christmas time, Portuguese bakeries and cafes are filled with traditional Portuguese desserts that are enjoyed during the season. At the end of the day, Christmas in Portugal is about food and family, as well as enjoying these together! We recommend heating to the best places in Lisbon, such as Manteigaria, A Padaria Portuguesa, Alfama Doce, and more.

Here are the best Christmas desserts from Portugal you cannot miss:

Bolo Rei: A fluffy cake filled with fruits and nuts traditionally eaten on Christmas Day (December 25) and Kings Day (January 6). 

Photo by Britta Frahm (Flickr)

Arroz Doce: This “sweet rice” recipe is made with rice slow cooked in sweet milk and topped with cinnamon.

Photo by PortoBay Experiences (Flickr)

Rabanadas: Similar to French toast, the Portuguese rabanadas are fried bread coated with sugar and cinnamon. 

Photo by Francisco Antunes (Flickr)

Pão de Ló: This Portuguese dessert is a humid cake with egg yolks. Some are made drier, and others are covered with sugar for an added flavor.

Sonhos: Meaning “dreams” in Portuguese, sonhos are deep-fried pastry balls covered with sugar and cinnamon. 

5. Campo Pequeno Christmas Market

Wonderland Lisboa is not the only Christmas Market worth visiting in Lisbon. Located in Campo Pequeno, known as a bullfighting ring from the 19th century, the Mercado de Natal do Campo Pequeno is on between November 30 and December 4.

This market is more catered to adults, allowing you to find the perfect Christmas gift! There are around 90 stalls selling objects, decorations, arts & crafts, toys, tapestries, and a lot more.

After the original market, from 7 to 11 December Campo Pequeno also hosts a lifestyle and gourmet market, which is worth a visit. 

6. Night out on December 24

In Portugal, Christmas Night is often more important than the day of December 25. On the 24th, families gather for dinner and open presents at night, oftentimes at midnight. However, there’s another Christmas Night tradition many who are new to Portugal do not know about.

After dinner and opening presents, young people often have a night out in a club. It might seem weird as this is a traditional holiday, but nightlife is also a part of Portuguese culture. Young people head to a club between 1 to 2 am in Lisbon. 

This night is a busy one in Lisbon clubs, one of the hardest to get into, so dress accordingly. No need to overdo it, people in Portugal do not go out in heels and dresses, but a nice outfit is recommended. Sneakers are allowed!

One of the best clubs in Lisbon for this night out is Lux Fragil. Founded in 1991 in Santa Apolonia, Lux Fragil is one of the most exclusive clubs in Lisbon and is renowned in Europe for its selection of electronic music DJs. Other clubs include Ministerium, Kremlin, Lust in Rio, and more. 

7. Traditional Christmas lunch on December 25

On December 25, Christmas Day, families once again get together for lunch. This day is often more laid back, with many families even eating out at a restaurant instead of celebrating the festivities at home. 

If you are in Lisbon on December 25, we definitely recommend experiencing this Christmas tradition. Many restaurants will have Christmas menus, so you know exactly what to expect beforehand. However, do not forget to book a table in advance!

The most common meal for Christmas lunch tends to be roasted lamb and goatling, while the codfish is reserved for the night before.

Here are our favorite restaurants for Christmas day lunch in Lisbon:

  • Rocco
  • Delfina-Cantina Portuguesa
  • A Cozinha do Miguel
  • Sao Bernardo
  • Sacramento do Chiado
  • O Nobre
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Is Portugal a Poor or Rich Country?

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The question of whether Portugal is a poor or rich country is a complex one to answer. In terms of GDP, Portugal ranks #47 in the world and falls way behind major economies such as the USA and the UK.

Nevertheless, the European Commission’s projects place Portugal as the European country with the highest growth in 2022. 

Portugal also still remains a country dealing with poverty, with over 9% of the population living in such conditions. Salaries remain comparably low to the cost of living.

While many argue Portugal is relatively affordable, this is not the case for those receiving a Portuguese wage.

A 2022 study called “The Cost of Living Crisis: How big is the gap between outgoings and incomings around the world” found that Lisbon is the third most expensive city to live in in the world, taking into account income and cost of living.

Poverty in Portugal: Is Portugal a poor country?

If this question refers to GDP, Portugal is not necessarily a poor country. However, how many people live in poverty in Portugal?

Over 1.6 million Portuguese people lived below the poverty line in 2020, meaning less than 540 euros per month. This amounts to 9.5% of the population working in Portugal. 

Only the following countries in Europe have more people living in poverty: Romania (14.9%), Spain (11.8%), Germany (10.6%), Estonia (10%), Greece (9.9%), Poland (9.6%), and Bulgaria (9.6%). 

Moreover, according to the National Institute of Statistics, 17.2% of the population in Portugal was at risk of poverty in 2018, amounting to 1.7 million people. Portugal remains one of the countries in Europe with the highest risk of poverty among workers.

Those between the ages of 18 and 64 are most at risk of poverty, as well as those living in less populated areas.

Salaries in Portugal

In 2022, the national minimum salary in Portugal is €705 a month before tax. This value refers to 14 salaries, including the two extra payments on Christmas and summer. If you look at 12 salaries, it amounts to €822.50. 

If you receive the minimum salary, after paying income tax, you receive around €630. Those working in restaurants, hotels, stores, cleaning, and more tend to receive the minimum wage. 

The average gross monthly salary is €1,361. As Portugal has a progressive taxation system, those receiving the average salary will pay more. After paying income tax and social security, you will be left with €960.

However, sadly, over half of young people up to 34 years old make less than €767 a month. Only 3% of young people make more than €1,642 a month. 

Along with cultural norms, the salaries in Portugal make it so that the average Portuguese person only leaves their parent’s home at 33.6 years of age, the oldest in the European Union (EU). The average age at which young people leave their parental home in the EU is 26.5 years.

There are exceptions to these low salaries. Certain jobs pay a lot better, but the vacancies are low, and oftentimes over a decade of experience is required.

The best paid jobs in Portugal include: general director in the private health sector (€120k – €150 per year), chief information officer (€110k – €140k per year), and commercial director (€100k – €150k per year). 

Photo by Marten Bjork (Unsplash)

Why are salaries in Portugal so low? 

It is incredibly complex to explain why salaries in Portugal are so low. Those center-right and right will argue that this is the case due to high corporate taxation, as companies cannot afford to increase salaries.

However, those on the left argue that lower taxation would not mean corporations would pay their workers more. Instead, they want to raise the minimum salary.

Nevertheless, there are huge disagreements on a fair amount, with parties such as the Portuguese Communist Party wanting an €850 minimum salary by early 2023. This will not happen. Instead, the minimum salary is set to increase to €760 in 2023 by €55. 

The government has also proposed that the minimum salary should grow to €814 in 2024, €855 in 2025, and €900 in 2026. 

Is Portugal a developed country?

The Human Development Index (HDI) was created by the United Nations to assess the development of a country. It measures different factors such as the standard of living, education, and life expectancy.

Under the UN’s definition, Portugal is thus highly developed, with a score of 0.866 in 2021. A score between 0.8 and 1.0 refers to very high human development.

Portugal scored above the world average of 0.732 in 2021. However, Portugal does score below the USA with 0.921 and the United Kingdom with 0.929. 

Lagos, Portugal. Photo by Katarzyna Grabowska (Unsplash)

Portugal’s Economy

Portugal’s economy ranks number 47 in the world in terms of GDP in 2020. As of 2021, Portugal’s GDP stands at 249.9 billion USD.

How does that compare to other countries?

Greece has a GDP of 216.2 billion USD, while other European nations such as France (2.937 trillion USD) and Spain (1.425 trillion USD) have higher GDPs. The USA’s GDP stands at 23 trillion USD.

In October 2022, Portugal’s central bank raised its 2022 economic growth forecast to 6.7% instead of the previously projected 6.3%. This is predominantly due to a strong recovery in the tourism industry and higher private consumption.

However, in 2023, a slowdown is projected. Back in 2021, Portugal’s economy grew by 4.9%.

What makes Portugal rich?

In terms of GDP, Portugal is not necessarily considered a “rich” country, ranking number 47 worldwide. A country’s richness cannot also be measured solely through GDP.

However, the Portuguese economy has been growing in recent years, despite the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The tourism industry is the biggest sector of the Portuguese economy. In 2019, travel and tourism contributed 41.4 billion USD to the GDP. This slow downed in 2021 (19.2 billion USD) but increased in 2021 after the pandemic (25.5 billion USD).

The tourism industry employed 266,600 people in the first quarter of 2022, 45,200 more than the same period last year.

Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Alano Oliveira (Unsplash)

Moreover, Portugal’s trade has a great impact on the economy. Portugal’s economy ranks number 43 in total exports and number 40 in total imports in the world. When it comes to exports, Portugal’s economy heavily relies on leading Portuguese companies, including EDP (electric utilities), Galp Energia (oil and gas), and Jeronimo Martins (food).

In 2021, Portugal exported $75.1 billion worth of goods, around a 20% increase since 2017.

Two-thirds of exports from Portugal were bought by Spain (26.7%), France (13.1%), Germany (11%), the USA (5.6%), the UK (5.2%), Italy (4.5%), Netherlands (3.9%), Belgium (2.5%), Angola (1.5%), Poland (1.4%), Morocco (1.4%), and Sweden (1.2%).

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Christmas in Óbidos: Óbidos Christmas Village

If you are feeling the start of the Christmas spirit, we know just what to do to elevate it! Located in the town of Obidos in the Leiria district, the Obidos Christmas Village is a yearly event celebrating the happiest time of the year.

Running the whole month of December 2022, the Christmas village takes place around the astonishing Obidos Castle, creating a backdrop like no other. Tickets are affordable and even discounted for the little ones, making it the perfect family day trip! 

What is the Óbidos Christmas Village?

The Obidos Christmas Village, known in Portuguese as Obidos Vila Natal runs from November 30 to December 31, 2022. This yearly event in the town of Obidos, an hour from Lisbon, brings about the Christmas spirit every year.

Around the Obidos Castle, you will find a Christmas theme park featuring shows, exhibitions, an ice ramp, a Santa house, and much more.  Featuring a picturesque atmosphere in the historical center, the Obidos Christmas Village is welcoming to those of all ages but particularly geared towards the little ones.

Travel Guide to Obidos

Best Things to Do at Óbidos Christmas Village

There is so much to do at the Obidos Christmas Village, with activities for those of all ages. However, keep in mind that not all of these are included in the entrance ticket.

  • Ice skating 
  • Ride the Christmas carousel
  • Visit Santa and his elves at his chalet
  • Nativity exhibition
  • Circus show
  • Candy shop
  • Face painting
  • Chrismas train
  • Ice ramp
  • Food court
  • And much more!

Óbidos Christmas Village: Tickets & Prices

You can buy tickets at the door, but it’s recommended to buy them online beforehand here

Ticket Prices

Children up to the age of three years old are welcome free of charge.

Online

  • Regular Ticket (Kids 12 and above) – 10,00 Euros
  • Child Regular Ticket (3 to 11 years old) – 8,00 Euros

In Person 

  • Group Ticket (more than 20 people) – 9,00 Euros
  • Students (12 to 15 years old with student card) – 9,00 Euros
  • Senior Tickets (Over 65 years old) – 9 Euros
  • Adults with disabilities- 8 Euros
  • Children with disabilities – 6 Euros

More Things to Do in Óbidos 

While during the Christmas season, the Obidos Christmas Village takes center stage, there is a lot more to explore in the town.

1. Obidos Castle

One of the Architectural Wonders of Portugal, Obidos Castle, is placed on a cliff, and inside the city is at the end of Rua Direita.

The medieval castle was conquered by the Portuguese to the Moors, being a reconstructed Roman outpost. It suffered various repairing and fortification efforts, mixing Romanic, Gothic, Manueline, and Baroque architecture, as well as some Moorish characteristics.

Today, it’s completely restored and is one of the most beautiful castles open to the public, functioning today as a hotel. 

Obidos Castle. Photo by Vitor Olveira (Flickr)

2. Rua Direita

Rua Direita is the main road in the city, connecting the Village Door to the Castle, on opposite sides of it. Most of the buildings on it are souvenir stores, restaurants, and town attractions, making this road a very popular one. 

This road has cobbled stoned floors, adding a picturesque ambiance. You can see beautiful flowers on the windows, exposed handicrafts by local builders, and many small streets connecting to the Rua Direita with an inviting atmosphere.

3. Obidos Aqueduct

Also known as the Aqueduto da Usseira in Portugal, you can see the Óbidos’ Aqueduct from the highest tower in the wall. Built in 1573 by Queen Catherine, the aqueduct is around 3km long (around 1.86 miles) and was constructed to deliver water to two fountains in the town. Currently, it is a Public Interest Monument in Portugal and a unique sight to hold. 

Obidos Aqueduct. Photo by Pedro (Flickr)

4. Taste the traditional Ginjinha

Ginjinha is a Obidos staple. Ginjinha, or just Ginja, is a liquor made out of Ginja berries, also known in English as sour cherry. It is one of Portugal’s most famous liquors and one that takes the shelves of many shops in Obidos. 

It is said that Obidos is the original place where ginjas were first grown, although those from Alcobaca also make this claim. However, Obidos remains the most famous place for Ginjinha. 

Here, it is often sold in an edible chocolate cup for a flavorful experience. Moreover, the sellers will often ask you: “Com elas ou sem elas?” meaning “with them or without them?”. They will be referring to the Ginja cherry, which can be added inside the cup for you to eat after.   

5. Lagoa de Obidos

A lagoon between Obidos and Caldas da Rainha, Lagoa de Obidos is a beautiful natural barrier that separates the Atlantic Ocean, and the Foz do Arelho river. This lagoon fills a depression of four kilometers before emptying into the ocean. We recommend taking a walk along the coast for a stunning view.

You can also head to Praia do Bom Sucesso and Praia do Mar, beaches that provide views of the lagoon and allow you to take a dip if the season allows.

Lagoa de Obidos. Photo by Vitor Oliveira (Flickr)

Book Tours & Activities in Obidos

Óbidos Hotels: Where to Stay in Óbidos 

If you want to stay more than one day or explore Obidos beyond the Christmas village, I would recommend you stay in a hotel inside the walled city. It’s where all of the main attractions are, and you will be able to enjoy yourself and the city more there. Here are the 5 best hotels in Óbidos.

1. Vale do Grou Natura

Located 13 kilometers from Obidos Castle, Vale do Grou Natura features a shared lounge, a garden, and a large communal kitchen with traditional materials. An authentic country house, each unit offers a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries. Guests can enjoy a free breakfast in the shared kitchen.

 

2. Casa Picva

Located near the medieval wall, Casa Picva is a traditional guest house with a large garden for guests to enjoy. The guest rooms can accommodate between 2 and 4 guests, all including a private bathroom with free toiletries. Casa Picva also offers a unique dining room where guests can enjoy their breakfast.               

 

3. Hostel Argonauta

200 meters from Obidos Castle, Hostel Argonauta offers both private bedrooms and shared dormitory rooms. The shared bathrooms feature a hairdryer and free toiletries for guests to enjoy. The hostel also features a shared kitchen, a shared lounge, and luggage storage.

 

4. Adubai Obidos

Founded by a couple from Obidos, Adubai Obidos is a renovated home that you can rent all for yourself. A one-bedroom with a private bathroom, living room with sofa bed, kitchen, and extra bathroom, the 80m2 space is a great alternative to a hotel. The property has a gorgeous view of the Obidos Castle, located within the Obidos medieval town.

 

5. Exe Vila D’Óbidos

The 4-star Hotel Hotel Vila D’Óbidos is a 5-minute drive from the medieval village and 6 kilometers from Obidos lagoon for those wanting to engage in water sports. The rooms at this place feature artworks of national artists and include a mini-bar, a private bathroom, and some a private terrace. Guests can enjoy a continental breakfast every day while enjoying a view of Obidos castle, as well as enjoy the spa and outdoor pool.

 

Top Óbidos Restaurants: Where to Eat in Óbidos 

  • Pontinha
  • Jamon Jamon
  • A Nova Casa de Ramiro
  • Petrarum Domus
  • Poco dos Sabores
  • Pousada do Castelo de Óbidos
  • Vila Infanta

Getting to Óbidos

How do you get to Obidos and the Christmas Village? You can get to Óbidos by car, bus, or train. The drive from Lisbon will take a bit over an hour and cost you around €10 in fuel and tolls. You are allowed to park outside the Obidos walls and then walk inside the village on foot.

If you do not have access to a vehicle, taking the bus is the best option in terms of public transport. You can get to Obidos from Lisbon in an hour for €8. The bus stop is just 100 meters from the city center of Obidos. 

While a train ride might seem more comfortable, the route set up from Lisbon and Obidos is not great. It would take you around 2 hours and 30 minutes by train which is incredibly wrong for the distance. Moreover, the train station is over one kilometer away from the historical center of Obidos.

Portugal to advance to round of 16 after beating Uruguay 2 – 0

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Last night’s last game was an eventful one. Portugal will advance to the round of 16 after beating Uruguay 2 – 0, both goals scored by Bruno Fernandes.

However, Cristiano Ronaldo thought he touched the ball in the first goal with his head, although this wasn’t the case, and the goal was credited to the Manchester United midfielder.

Bruno Fernandes scored twice at 54′ and 90 + 3′, the last goal during a penalty. 

On top of that, a protester invaded the pitch wearing a “Save Ukraine” shirt and carrying an LGBTQ+ rainbow flag at 53 minutes.

This means that Portugal has become the third team to qualify for the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup, joining France and Brazil. 

Group H will come to an end on Friday after Portugal plays South Korea and Ghana face Uruguay.

Bruno Fernandes has been crowned man of the match after scoring two goals.

Portugal – Uruguay Game Stats

Possession

  • Portugal 60%
  • Uruguay 40%

Shots

  • Portugal 15
  • Uruguay 11

Shots on Target

  • Portugal 3
  • Uruguay 3

Passes

  • Portugal 603
  • Uruguay 403

Pass Accuracy

  • Portugal 83%
  • Uruguay 73%

Fouls

  • Portugal 10
  • Uruguay 16

Yellow Cards

  • Portugal 3
  • Uruguay 2

Red Cards

  • Portugal 0
  • Uruguay 0

Portugal will next play against South Korea on Friday, December 2.

What were your thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments below!

Getting a Mortgage in Portugal

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Looking for your dream home in Portugal? You’re not the only one! Portugal is home to hundreds of thousands of expats due to the year-round warm climate and relatively affordable cost of living. Portugal also has one of the highest numbers of homeowners, with about 75% of the population owning their home. 

Luckily, Portugal offers mortgage loans to both residents and non-residents. Nevertheless, not being a resident will impact how much you can borrow and lead you to need to make a much larger deposit on a house.

Keep in mind that on top of the cost of the property deposit, you’ll also need to pay anywhere from around 6-10% extra for other buying costs. 

This guide has everything you need to know about getting a mortgage in Portugal as a non-resident or resident. 

International Guide to Real Estate in Portugal: Buying a House in Portugal

Can foreigners get a mortgage in Portugal?

Anyone can buy a house in Portugal, and you might even be eligible for a mortgage. Foreigners can get a mortgage in Portugal, but their residency will impact how much they can borrow. 

Mortgage: How much can you borrow in Portugal?

Non-residents will only be offered loans up to 65-75% of the value of the home or the sale price (whichever is lower), while fiscal residents can borrow up to 90% of the sale price (whichever higher).

This can, of course, be lower depending on your income and employment status, leading you to have to put down a larger deposit. 

As a non-resident, if you are purchasing a 200,000 euro home, you would generally thus only get around 130,000 euros from the bank, meaning a down payment of 70,000. However, buying a house would include other costs, which we will get into later on such as taxes and other payments.

There are plenty of calculators out there to help you figure out the full cost.

Photo by Ibrahim Boran (Unsplash)

Types of Mortgages in Portugal

There are two main types of mortgages in Portugal: fixed-rate mortgages and variable-rate mortgages.

Fixed-rate Mortgage

A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to pay your mortgage at a constant rate for a certain amount of time. This could be fixed for one year or extended up to 30 years. By having a fixed-rate mortgage, you are protected from increases in the bank’s rate and the European base rate. 

Variable-rate Mortgage

On the other hand, a variable-rate mortgage adapts to the bank’s rate and European base rate, meaning you can end up paying different amounts each month. This type of mortgage is connected to the EURIBOR. Mortgage lenders typically revise monthly payments every six months according to this rate.

The EURIBOR is “a daily reference rate, published by the European Money Markets Institute, based on the averaged interest rates at which Eurozone banks offer to lend unsecured funds to other banks in the euro wholesale money market.” 

With an increase in interest rates, this frightens many families. However, it is still the most common type of mortgage. 

Mortgage Costs in Portugal

There are a few mortgage-related fees that you might need to pay:

  • Deed registration: 1%
  • Mortgage arrangement: 1%
  • Mortgage administration: 1%
  • Non-refundable commitment fee: around €600
  • Survey and appraisal: €500–€800
  • Legal fees (optional): at least €1,000

There are also taxes and other payments to be paid. Therefore, on top of the cost of the property, you’ll also need to pay anywhere from around 6-10% extra for other buying costs.

House of Portugal. Photo by Leonie Janko (Unsplash)

Necessary Documents

You will need to submit multiple documents when applying for a mortgage. You will then need to submit additional documents depending on your employment type. Here are the required documents for all:

  • Passport copy
  • Portuguese tax identification number
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of income
  • Bank statements for the last three months
  • Proof of savings
  • Bank reference letter
  • Mortgage statement
  • Sales contract or CPCV (contract of commitment to purchase property)

If you are employed, you will also need to submit last year’s tax returns, the last three months’ payslips, and a letter from your employer.

As a self-employed person holding at least a 20% share in a limited company, you will need last year’s tax returns, business bank statements of the last three months, and a balance sheet for the last three years.

If you are neither employed nor self-employed under similar terms and have different incomes, don’t worry. You can show various documents such as pension income of the last three months, tenancy agreements of rental apartments, proof of investments, and more.

Mortgage Conditions

Once you apply for a mortgage, a bank will send you their conditions. The conditions could differ whether you get a fixed-rate or variable-rate mortgage. These include:

  • Loan amount (determined by many factors, including your income, debts, employment, and property valuation)
  • Interest rate
  • Mortgage years (most for non-residents are between 25 to 30 years, keep in mind that mortgages for those over 70 are uncommon right now)
  • Insurance prices (you will need to purchase life insurance and home insurance)

Step-by-Step: How to Apply for a Portuguese Mortgage

1. Request an initial assessment 

The first step to take is to request an initial assessment from a bank or mortgage broker. You can do this even before you find your dream property with your budget in mind. It’s advisable to request initial assessments from multiple brokers so that you can then select the best conditions. This preliminary analysis is a no-obligation estimate and is free.

2. Get a mortgage quote

If you are happy with an initial assessment and wish to proceed, you will then receive a full mortgage quote. There can be a charge for this official quote. 

3. Submit the application form and documents

Your next step will be to submit the application form and all the necessary documents, such as employment contract, proof of income, etc. 

4. Valuation report

After submitting your documents and having a formal mortgage offer, the bank will need to go to the property for the valuation. Hopefully, there are no issues with the property or its value, so you will receive the loan amount you would have hoped for. 

5. Transfer funds and final arrangements

It’s time for the final arrangements! The funds to purchase a home should be transferred to the necessary account. After the funds are available, the mortgage lender will arrange the completion date officially. 

6. Completion at the notary

It’s that special day! With all the funds in the correct account, the mortgage lender will thus arrange the payment for you. You will sign the property and mortgage deeds in front of a Portuguese Notary. You will pay the fees and taxes yourself. You will then become the owner of your new property!

Photo by Van Tay Media (Unsplash)

Buying Real Estate in Portugal

Should you buy a house in Portugal?

Pros

  • Arguably olid investment, Portugal has great rental potential.
  • Low cost of living in comparison to other European countries.
  • Moderately warm climate.
  •  In 2019, Global Finance magazine ranked Portugal fourth among the safest countries in the world.
  • High-quality education and healthcare services
  • A large number of English speakers, so not necessary to learn Portuguese (however, this is helpful).

Cons

  • No central heating in most houses in Portugal.
  • Bureaucratic systems, things get done slowly and sometimes inefficiently in Portugal, so it might take longer than expected to buy property.

guide to real estate in portugal buying a house in portugal

Taxes for Buying Property in Portugal

So you have obtained a mortgage that covers 65% of a property’s cost. Is your only cost the other 35%? Not at all! Beyond your deposit, you will need to pay certain property taxes to the government, regardless of your mortgage costs. You’ll need to calculate each of them, which a Portugal property tax calculator is helpful with.

Property owners have to pay three types of taxes: Municipal Property Tax (IMI), Property Purchase Tax (IMT), and Tax on Stamps (IS).

1. Municipal Property Tax (IMI)

The IMI translates to Imposto Municipal Sobre Imóveis and will be different in each municipality. This money is used to maintain public infrastructures in municipalities.

The IMI rates usually range from 0.3% to 0.45%. To calculate the IMI, you multiply the value of the tax asset by the IMI rate. You must pay the IMI every year.

For example, if your property is valued at €500,000 and you live in the municipality of Cascais with a rate of 0.34%, then your yearly IMI is €1,700.

You can be exempted from the IMI if your annual taxable income of the whole household does not surpass €15,295.

2. Property Purchase Tax (IMT)

The IMT is also known as the Imposto Municipal Sobre as Transmissões Onerosas de Imóveis. This tax is paid when a house is bought in Portugal, so it is a one-time payment for buying a house.

The rate of the IMT will depend on the type and value of the property, as well as whether this property is a principal or secondary residence. You must pay for this before you buy a house.

This is how you calculate the IMT = value of the deed or net worth tax (the larger amount) x rate – tax reduction.

You won’t have to pay IMT if you buy a house in mainland Portugal and the price doesn’t exceed €92,407. IMT usually will range between 2% to 8%, depending on the case. However, properties acquired by companies located in a “blacklisted jurisdiction” pay 10% for IMT.

3. Tax on Stamps (IS)

You’ll also need to pay an Imposto de Selo, a stamp tax, contracts, loans, documents, and more. The rate also changes depending on the property and task, but it is usually between 0.4% and 0.8%. For example, for a mortgage of five years, the stamp duty tax is 0.6%.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Mortgages in Portugal

Can a foreigner get a mortgage in Portugal?

A foreigner can get a mortgage in Portugal. However, non-residents will only be offered loans up to 65-75% of the value of the home or the sale price (whichever is lower).

Can you apply for the Portugal Golden Visa with a mortgage?

You cannot take out a loan or mortgage from a Portuguese financial institution to pay for your investment for the Portugal Golden Visa. However, you can take out a loan from a bank outside of Portugal.

Is it easy to get a mortgage in Portugal?

It is not necessarily difficult to get a mortgage in Portugal as a non-resident, but this will depend on your income and employment status. Ideally, loan payments should amount to around 30% of your monthly salary or less.

Does your age affect your chance of getting a mortgage in Portugal?

Yes! The best age to get a mortgage in Portugal is between 25 to 55 years. The limits depend on the bank, but the maximum age tends to be 75 years old.

6 Facts About Portuguese Goalkeeper Diogo Costa

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Diogo Costa’s journey toward his main goal of becoming a successful goalkeeper started young and proved successful. At only 23 years old, he’s arguably one of the best young goalkeepers out there. Let’s take a look at 6 facts about Portuguese goalkeeper Diogo Costa, as the FIFA World Cup’s first week begins.

1. Costa was actually born in Switzerland

Diogo Costa was born in Rothrist, Switzerland, on September 19, 1999, making him 23 years old of age. He was born to Portuguese parents, Armanda Meireles and Francisco Costa, who led a middle-class life in a small Swiss village on the outskirts of Zurich. Diogo would play football in the village with friends every day.

In 2006, at the age of seven, Diogo and his family relocated to Portugal to Vila das Aves so that he could pursue his dream of goalkeeping. His dad would often commute back and forth from Switzerland for work. 

2. Costa made his senior international debut in 2021

At the age of 22, Diogo Costa made his senior international debut after being called up to the senior team of Portugal on August 26, 2021. After the UEFA Euro 2020 round of 16 elimination against Belgium, the decision was made by Fernando Santos to drop Rui Patricio. This opening allowed Costa to make his debut and get chosen as Portugal’s first-choice goalkeeper.

3. Diogo Costa will be one of the goalkeepers for the FIFA World Cup 2022

Fernando Santos announced on November 10 his final 26-man roster for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. The goalkeepers include Diogo Costa, José Sá, and Rui Patrício. It’s rumored that Diogo Costa will be the main goalkeeper to help the team achieve a possible victory.

4. Growing up, his idol was Vítor Baía

Growing up in Vila de Alves, Diogo and his cousin would spend their time in the main square playing football with each other. They were both FC Porto fans and looked up to their idol, Vítor Baía.

Baía was a Portuguese goalkeeper for Porto, helping the team win 25 titles. He also played for Barcelona and the Portugal national team in the Euros and 2002 World Cup.

5. Diogo welcomed a son in November 2022

The same day he got the news he would be playing in the FIFA World Cup 2022, on November 10, Diogo Costa welcomed the birth of his son, Tomás Costa. His first child, Costa took to Instagram to say, “Welcome, Tomás. You are and will always be the best of our lives.” 

Diogo began dating his wife and mother of his child, Catarina Machado, around six years ago. The couple announced their pregnancy in May of 2022. Catarina Machado is a fashion designer in Porto. 

6. Costa allegedly makes over €800,000 a year

Diogo Costa is a well-paid goalkeeper. According to the information out there, he makes over €800,000 a year. This is over €65,000 a month and over €16,000 a week, almost the average salary in Portugal a year. The average person makes around €16,500 a year. His contract with FC Porto was recently renovated until 2027.

The new contract includes a clause that if a team wanted to get Costa, they would need to offer the club at least €75 million instead of the initial €60 million.

Portugal beats Ghana 3 – 2 in historic night for Ronaldo

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Cristiano Ronaldo made history on Thursday, becoming the first male player to score at five World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2022). Ronaldo scored in the 65th-minute penalty, making it a historic night for the Portuguese forward.

Portugal beat Ghana 3 – 2 in their opening game for Group H, marking their fifth successive game without defeat against African sides at the World Cup.

Portugal v Ghana – Game Summary

There were no goals in the first 64 minutes until Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal. Andre Ayew then scored a goal for Ghana at 73′. At this point, tension fills the stadium as the teams are tied.

However, only five minutes later, at 78′ Joao Felix scores a goal after a long pass from Bruno Fernandes. Portugal is in the lead again with 2 – 1 against Ghana!

No more than two minutes later, Rafael Leao scores at minute 80 after another assist by Bruno Fernandes. Things are looking good for Portugal.

At 89′, Ghana scores another goal after substitute Osman Bukari takes the game to 3 – 2.

At minute 90, 9 more minutes are added to the game. There’s still time for a tie. Ghana’s players make a couple of attempts at Costa’s goal but fail. Portugal wins 3 -2.

Team Stats

Possession

  • Portugal 62%
  • Ghana 38%

Shots

  • Portugal 11
  • Ghana 9

Shots on Target

  • Portugal 5
  • Ghana 3

Passes

  • Portugal 622
  • Ghana 387

Pass Accuracy

  • Portugal 88%
  • Ghana 81%

Fouls

  • Portugal 14
  • Ghana 19

Yellow Cards

  • Portugal 2
  • Ghana 4

Red Cards

  • Portugal 0
  • Ghana 0

Portugal will next play against Uruguay on Monday, November 28, and then South Korea on Friday, December 2. 

What were your thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments below!

Portugal National Team: FIFA World Cup 2022

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18, with Portugal playing a few days later.

On March 24, 2022, Portugal secured its place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The team was put into Group A for the qualifiers with Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Serbia. Portugal lost against Serbia but then beat Turkey 3-1 in the playoff semi-final. Less than a week later, Portugal defeated North Macedonia 2-0.

Portugal Matches: FIFA World Cup 2022

The FIFA World Cup in Qatar begins on November 21. However, Portugal only plays for the first time on November 24. Let’s take a look at the dates of the Group Stage matches:

  • Nov 24 Portugal – Ghana 17:00
  • Nov 28 Portugal – Uruguay 20:00
  • Dec 2 Portugal – South Korea 16:00

What group is Portugal in for the World Cup?

Portugal is in Group H for the FIFA World Cup 2022, along with Ghana, Uruguay, and Korea. 

Portugal National Team Players for World Cup

Santos selected on November 10 his final 26-man roster for Qatar. So, which players will be playing in the FIFA World Cup 2022?

Goalkeepers

  • Diogo Costa
  • José Sá
  • Rui Patrício

Defenders

  • Diogo Dalot
  • João Cancelo
  • António Silva
  • Danilo
  • Pepe
  • Ruben Dias
  • Nuno Mendes
  • Raphael Guerreiro

Midfielders

  • João Palhinha
  • Rúben Neves
  • Bernardo Silva
  • Bruno Fernandes
  • João Mário
  • Matheus Nunes
  • Otávio
  • Vitinha
  • William Carvalho

Forwards

  • André Silva
  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Gonçalo Ramos
  • João Félix
  • Rafael Leão
  • Ricardo Horta

Key Facts about the Portugal National Team

  • Full name in Portuguese: Seleção Portuguesa de Futebol
  • Managed: Portuguese Football Federation
  • Founded: 1914
  • Captain: Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Coach: Fernando Santos
  • Assistant coaches: Ilidio Vale, Nuno Sampaio, Fernando Meira
  • Goalkeeping coach: Rui Ouriques
  • Top goalscorers: Cristiano Ronaldo (117), Pauleta (88), Eusebio (64)
  • Team home kit: Portugal’s traditional home kit is red and green like the Portuguese flag. Alterations have been made over the years, such as dark burgundy and light scarlet.
  • Team away kit: Portugal’s away kits vary a lot. Usually, they are white with blue shorts or red and green highlights. A fully black kit has also been used. 

Who is the Portuguese coach for the World Cup?

The Portuguese coach for the Portugal National Football team and upcoming World Cup is Fernando Santos. The former defender was born on October 10, 1954, in Lisbon, Portugal. 

After retiring as a defender, he became a coach in 1988. Throughout his career, Santos managed Portugal’s Big Three (Benfica, Sporting, and Porto). He won five major titles with Porto and also managed Estoril.

In the early 2000s, he relocated to Greece, where he managed mostly AEK Athens and PAOK. In 2010, he coached the Greek national team for the World Cup and Euro. 

In September 2014, he was chosen as the manager of Portugal after the dismissal of Paulo Bento.

In 2016, he led the team to the finals with France, where Portugal won its first Euro. 

Portugal National Team’s Captain Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is the captain of the Portuguese National Team, as well as forward for Manchester United. He was born in Funchal, Madeira, on February 5, 1985. To many, he is considered the best soccer player in the world.

Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or awards and four European Golden Shoes. His track record is astonishing, with 32 trophies in his career. Ronaldo holds many records, including for most appearances in a game (183) and goals (140).

The forward began his football career at Sporting CP and then signed with Manchester United at 18. In 2009, he was the most expensive football transfer at the time when he signed with Real Madrid for €94 million. 

Cristiano Ronaldo Facts