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Six Portuguese universities in top 1000 of the world

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Six Portuguese universities have been included in the Xangai Ranking of the top 1000 universities in the world, reports Lusa. The list, published on Monday, was dominated by universities in the United States, with Harvard coming first for the 20th year in a row.

The following Portuguese universities appeared in the top 1000:

  • University of Lisbon
  • University of Porto
  • University of Aveiro
  • University of Minho
  • Nova University Lisbon
  • University of Coimbra

The University of Lisbon and the University of Porto are ranked among the world’s 201st and 300th best universities.

The University of Aveiro and the University of Minho ranked between the 400th and 500th best universities.

Nova University Lisbon and the University of Coimbra were listed between the 500th and 600th places.

The five best universities in the world according to the ranking are Harvard (100%), Stanford (76.8%), MIT (70.1%), Cambridge (69.6%), and Berkeley (65.3%). 39 North American universities made the top 100. 

Over 2000 universities were analyzed to receive their position on the Xangai Ranking. The ranking considers several criteria that differ in weight:

  • Quality of education: Nobel prizes and medals of alumni (10%)
  • Quality of faculty: Nobel prizes and medals of staff (20%) and whether the institution has highly cited researchers (20%)
  • Research output: Published research in fields of Nature and Science (20%) and papers in Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Science Citation Index (20%)
  • Per Capita Performance: Per capita academic performance of an institution (10%)

Universities in Portugal: Studying in Portugal

King Manuel I of Portugal

Also known as “the Fortunate,” Manuel I was the King of Portugal from 1495 to 1521. Manuel was a member of the House of Aviz, and the Duke of Beja and Viseu before taking the thrown. He became King after the heir to King John II of Portugal’s thrown, Prince Afonso, was killed in 1491. 

King Manuel I of Portugal is best known for overseeing the formation of the Portuguese empire with several Portuguese “discoveries” made during his reign. He sponsored Vasco da Gama which led to the discovery of the sea route to India in 1948 and began the Portuguese colonization of the Americas, as well as the establishment of a trade empire across Africa and Asia. 

Let’s take a look at the mark King Manuel I made on Portuguese history, from the Portuguese Inquisition and colonization efforts as well as his early life and death.

King Manuel I of Portugal’s Reign

Portuguese Exploration Under King Manuel I

King Manuel I promoted the Portuguese exploration of the Atlantic ocean and the development of trade from resources taken from colonization, such as spices from India. In 1498, his sponsorship of Vasco da Gama led to the discovery of the maritime route to India. 

During this trip, Vasco da Gama and the rest of the Portuguese navigators spent over 300 days at sea. They consolidated a monopoly over the Indian spice routes, boosting the Portuguese economy.

However, Vasco da Gama used violent tactics of colonization against indigenous people. Many historians say the Portuguese set this violent standard that was then adopted by other European countries. 

In 1500, King Manuel I’s empire also “discovered” Brazil. Pedro Alvares Cabral led the exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. The navigator was on his way to India and landed in Porto Seguro, between Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. Brazil remained a colony part of the Portuguese Empire until the early 19th century.

Throughout that time, indigenous Brazilians were beaten and killed. Predominantly Black men were enslaved on coffee plantations. Gold mining in Brazil became the main economic activity for Portugal in the 18th century, causing many Brazilian activists today to call for their gold back.

King Manuel I also sponsored the discovery of Labrador in 1501 and established the monopolies on maritime trade routes to the Indian Ocean and Persian Golf between 1503 and 1515, among others.

These events made Portugal very rich as it developed a profitable overseas empire and boosted foreign trade. Portugal also allied with other countries for commercial purposes, such as China. 

The Portuguese Inquisition & Anti-Semitism

King Manuel I sent missionaries to the new colonies during his reign to forcefully convert indigenous people to Christianity. He was extremely religious and, during this time, ordered the construction of religious infrastructure such as the iconic Monastery of Jeronimos, which is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

He also enforced highly anti-Semitic practices. While at the beginning of his reign, he released all the Jews who had been arrested during the reign of King John II, this did not last long.

When he wanted to marry Isabella of Aragon of Spain, her parents persuaded him to persecute Jewish people to allow the marriage to take place. In the marriage contract, King Manuel I agreed to this prosecution.

In 1496, King Manuel I declared that all Jewish people in the kingdom had to convert to Christianity. If they opposed doing so, they would be expelled from Portugal on a ship, losing their children. 

Science & Culture

In the context of the Renaissance, King Manuel I reign occurred during the development of the arts, science, and European philosophies in Portugal. There were major improvements in astronomy, cartography, medicine, as well as poetry, music, and painting.

A major proof of this is the introduction of the Manueline style, which remained even after King Manuel I’s death. If you have visited Portugal, chances are you have seen the Manueline architectural style.

This style is a Portuguese variation on the Gothic style, marked by iconography that symbolizes power and includes Italian renaissance ornaments. Some iconic examples include the Monastery of Jeronimos, Belem Tower, and the Convent of Christ. 

Belem Tower. Photo by Marin Barisic (Unsplash)

Early Life & Death of King Manuel I

King Manuel I was born on May 31, 1469, in Alcochete to Ferdinand, the Duke of Viseu, and Beatriz of Portugal, the Duchess of Viseu. His family line was a part of the monarchy. His grandfather was Duarte, King of Portugal, and his uncle, Afonso V of Portugal. His mother, Beatriz of Portugal, was the granddaughter of King John I of Portugal.

During his childhood, Manuel I saw the conspiracy within the aristocracy again King John II. Many men from his close circle were exiled or killed, including his older brother Diogo. Therefore, when King John II announced he would take the crown after the death of his son Afonso of Portugal, he was afraid something similar would happen to him.

King Manuel I had three wives. First, Isabella of Aragon who died giving birth to his son Miguel in 1498. Miguel later died in infancy. Manuel I then married Maria of Aragon, who was his first wife’s young sister who then later died in 1517. In 1518, he married Eleanor of Austria, his niece. His two other wives, Isabella and Maria were Eleanor’s maternal aunts.

Manuel I had 12 children in total with the three women. He had nine children with his second wife Maria of Aragon, one child with Isabella, and two children with Eleanor. 

King Manuel I died on December 13, 1521, at the age of 52 from the Black Plague. Before showing symptoms, he was quarantined inside Ribeira Palace as Lisbon was going through the outbreak. He began showing symptoms in early December and, a little over a week later, died. He was succeeded by John III of Portugal.

His death was marked by a large procession in Belem, and his remains were temporarily placed in Igreja Velha do Restelo, as the Monastery of Jeronimos was not yet completed.

In 1551, 30 years after his death, King John III order the transfer of D. Manuel I’s remains to the church in the Monastery of Jeronimos, along with his wife’s body, Maria of Aragon.

See More Portugal History & Culture

17 Things to Know Before Moving to Portugal

If you are packing up your whole life and moving to Portugal, you might be wondering what this life transition will look like. Portugal has a unique set of customs and realities that might come off as unusual to you at first.

From the lack of central heating in houses to the obsession with football and the bureaucracy, you might face some real cultural shock when relocating to Portugal.

Here are 17 things to know before moving to Portugal. Many of these might come as a surprise, but with time they will become a normal part of your daily life that you won’t think twice about. 

Moving to Portugal

1. No central heating in most houses in Portugal

While Portugal is generally a pretty warm country all year round, winter nights can still get quite cold.

Unfortunately, central heating is extremely rare in most Portuguese housing. You will find that when you are looking at properties to either rent or buy, they rarely have central heating. 

To keep warm, Portuguese people tend to just purchase electric heaters and use those. It’s quite common to layer up on jackets rather than turning these on during the day. 

2. Public healthcare is available and is (mostly) free

The 2019 Healthcare are Index lists Portugal’s system as 22nd best out of 89 countries. However, beware that while the quality of public healthcare in Portugal is good, waiting times are often long.

Public healthcare is available through the Servico Nacional de Saude (SNS) for legal residents in Portugal. Under the SNS, healthcare is mostly free of charge as it is funded through general taxation and social security contributions.

However,  there are certain costs for specific specialists, treatments, and prescriptions, but these will usually not cost more than 20 euros.

Guide to Healthcare in Portugal

3. Left-wing politics are popular in Portugal

A member of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) celebrating the 25th of April. Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões (Flickr)

If you’re coming from a country like the United States, where democrats and liberals are considered left-wing, Portuguese people will roll their eyes at such a statement. Portugal has a strong history of left-wing politics that is generally accepted in the country.

After over 40 years of fascism, on April 25th, 1974, a (peaceful) military coup led by leftist military officers known as the Carnation Revolution brought about freedom for the Portuguese. The struggle of both Socialists and Communists in overthrowing the fascist dictatorship is respected in Portugal.

This doesn’t mean that anti-communism is not present. However, it is not as mainstream as in the US or even the UK. 

In the 2022 general election, the Socialist Party (PS) won a majority government. This is where politics gets confusing in Portugal. Although it is called the Socialist Party, the political party‘s policies are considered center-left. 

4. Portuguese people don’t love it when you call Portugal “cheap” and “affordable”

The minimum wage in Portugal in 2022 is €705 BEFORE tax and a large portion of the population lives on this wage. The cost of living in Portugal is on the rise, especially rental prices in Lisbon and Porto. In Lisbon, most apartments are costing around at least €1000, making it impossible for many to live alone.

So when expats move to Portugal and tell citizens that they did so because the country is so “cheap”, this can rub people the wrong way. Although a €1000 rent for a 1-bedroom apartment might seem cheap to you in comparison to US cities, it can come off as out of touch to point this out. 

It’s also clear that the rise in housing prices is somewhat due to a large influx of wealthier people renting and purchasing property in major cities in Portugal (along with other factors such as the rise in tourist rental licenses).

Therefore, the same goes for making comments regarding purchasing a house in Portugal as most Portuguese will never be able to afford their own home. So just beware that comments such as “€150,000 for a house is so cheap” can sound privileged to many. 

5. International schools are VERY expensive

If you are moving to Portugal and want your children’s education to remain in English (or German or French), then you will have to enroll them in an international private school.

Although Portugal has some of the best international schools, some can be extremely expensive, particularly the ones in Greater Lisbon.

Private international schools in Portugal tend to cost anywhere between around €7,000 to almost €20,000 a year, depending on the school and your child’s grade. These costs usually don’t even include lunches, field trips, afterschool activities, supplies, and more. 

5 Best International Schools in Portugal

6. How you greet people matters

The Portuguese are very into their customs and etiquette. Greetings are important. If you are meeting a Portuguese friend, it is customary to give two kisses on the cheek from left to right. These are called “beijinhos”.

Men do not usually greet other men with “beijinhos”, only if they are family members. Rather, they shake hands or hug. 

In big cities, strangers do not greet each other in passing. In smaller villages, this is customary. Use “bom dia” (good morning), “boa tarde” (good afternoon) or “boa noite” (good night), depending on the time of day. 

Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões (Unsplash)

7. Expect loads of bureaucracy in Portugal

If you have already applied for a Portuguese visa, you know. Bureaucracy is a part of everyday life. Whether you are trying to open a water contract or get documents in a public sector service, you’ll find that patience is key.

Whatever it is you need to get done, expect to wait a while and have to fill out useful forms. Then they got lost in the mail and you fill out more useful forms. 

But throughout any process, you will at least be treated in a friendly way. A lot of times it’s not the workers’ fault, they are as annoyed by the bureaucracy as you so don’t take it out on them. 

8. Forget punctuality and expect shops to be closed at unexpected times

Photo by Evan Wise (Unsplash)

If you are moving to Portugal for a slow-paced life, expect to get that! And this applies to getting your groceries, as well as your social life.

If you arrange to meet a Portuguese friend for dinner at 8, chances are they won’t be there before 8:30. This might come as a bit of cultural shock and seem rude at first, but you will get used to it. Tip – don’t leave the house until you know for sure your friend is on their way.

The same applies to businesses and shops. You might see online that a shop is open on a random Tuesday and once you arrive, the “fechado” (closed) sign is at the door. Sometimes business owners will even leave a note explaining why. 

Beware that many shops are closed on Sundays and Mondays, with restaurants often closing on Mondays.

9. Be willing to learn Portuguese

As a tourist, no one would expect you to learn Portuguese. A third of people in Portugal can speak English fluently. The cities of PortoCoimbraBraga, and Lisbon have the best English speakers. 

However, if you are moving to Portugal, the nicest gesture you could make is learning the language. And it won’t be useful if you ever move away! Over 215 million people around the world speak Portuguese and it is the 6th most spoken language in the world. 

If you live away from the main cities, chances are many people might not even speak Portuguese, especially the older generation. It will just make your life 10x easier if you can speak the language. 

But Portuguese can be a hard language to learn if you don’t know languages such as Spanish, Italian, or French. However, it supposedly only takes a native English speaker around 600 hours or 6 months of study to become fluent in Portuguese. Putting in the effort is worth it!

Guide to Learning Portuguese

10. If you are working for a Portuguese employer, salaries are low

There’s a reason many Portuguese emigrants don’t return to Portugal – salaries are low. The minimum wage is €705 BEFORE tax. In 2020, the average gross monthly salary in Portugal was €1,314, around €18,000 a year. 

So if you are moving to Portugal to work, know that the financial opportunities aren’t the greatest. Still, there are high-paying jobs, but mostly for senior positions.

Another alternative is relocating your business to Portugal, working remotely, or freelancing with international clients.

Expat Guide to Working in Portugal

11. Portugal’s EU passport is the fifth most powerful in the world

Portugal’s passport is the fifth most powerful in the world in 2022, according to the Henley Passport Index. With a Portuguese passport, you have 187 visa-free destinations, including all of the Schengen area. 

After 6 years of residing in Portugal, you can actually apply to get a Portuguese passport and citizenship. Take a look at the types of visas in Portugal so that you can start the path to citizenship.

12. Figure out if you are eligible for the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Tax regime

Photo by Amol Tyagi (Unsplash)

The NHR tax regime was introduced in 2009 in order to attract “high-value” talent and wealth to Portugal. It offers reduced tax rates and even full tax exemptions for the first ten years of residency. 

The NHR tax regime is available to all new tax residents in Portugal that were not Portuguese tax residents for the 5 years prior. If this is your case, you might be eligible! 

If you have a “high valued” job that is related to activities of scientific, artistic, or technical character, you might be eligible for a 20% flat tax rate.

Under the NHR regime, you will also not pay any tax on dividends, interest, royalties, capital gains, rental income from real estate outside Portugal, and income from employment in another country. 

Guide to the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Tax Regime

13. The water can be quite cold

Portugal might have some hot summers, but it does not have a tropical climate. You might be surprised at the temperature of the water when you take a dip in the ocean. However, when temperatures are really high on a hot summer day, the cold water is a blessing. 

Some of the best beaches will actually have pretty cold water, particularly beaches in the north, as well as in the south in the Alentejo. 

However, the Algarve tends to have the warmest sea temperatures. The water temperature in the Algarve in August averages at around 71.1°F / 21.7°C.

Praia do Almograve, Alentejo. Photo by Vitor Oliveira (Flickr)

20 Best Beaches in Portugal

14. Buying a home rather than renting has great visa advantages

Purchasing a home could land you a Portuguese Golden Visa and eventually, Portuguese citizenship. Created in 2012, the Portugal Golden Visa is known as one of the most attractive in the world. 

The program allows non-EU citizens to qualify for a residency permit and eventually a passport in the country through investments. One of these investments can be purchasing a property. 

The general rule is the property must be at least €500,000. However, you can spend less. If you purchase real estate in a low-density area in Portugal, the minimum to spend is €400,000.

You can also buy real estate that is over 30 years old in an urban rehabilitation area and renovate it for at least €350,000.

The Portugal Golden Visa has amazing benefits such as allowing you to travel freely through the Schengen area and family reunification.

After legally residing in Portugal for at least 6 years, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship.

portugal golden visa benefits

Guide to the Portugal Golden Visa

15. Carry cash with you

This one is not too difficult to adapt to once you get used to it. While in most European countries a bank card is usually accepted everywhere, many shops and restaurants in Portugal will only take cash. This is also the case if you want to purchase train and bus tickets in certain places.

Cards are usually accepted in Lisbon and Porto, but even smaller establishments only take cash. To be safe, just always carry some with you!

16. Portugal has some of the highest energy bills in Portugal

While the cost of living is affordable in comparison to other European countries, the energy bills, not so much. Energy bills in Portugal are actually some of the highest in Europe.

Basic energy utilities average out at €150 depending on the size of the household. It’s part of the Portuguese mentality to save on energy bills as everyone watches their consumption. This is done by not leaving lights on when necessary and reducing any heating consumption (yes, even without central heating).

17. Drugs are NOT legal

Drugs are not legal in Portugal, this is a myth! However, all drugs are decriminalized, including largely stigmatized drugs such as meth and heroin.

Portugal decriminalization all drugs on July 1, 2001, making it the first country in the world to do so. The law made drug possession for personal use legally prohibited, while drug trafficking remains a criminal offense.

This does not mean drugs are legal. It means you won’t be fined or arrested for having a certain small amount for personal use.

If you carry over the legal amount of a specific drug, you could face criminal persecution. The legal amount will vary by drug. For cocaine, you can carry up to 2 grams and for hash, you can carry up to 5 grams in Portugal. 

Portugal now has some of the lowest drug usage rates in the European Union (EU), where most countries hold criminalization models.

Portugal Drug Laws under Decriminalization

Climate Change: Impact on Portugal

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In December 2019, during the European Council meeting, EU President Ursula von der Leyen said, “Portugal is one of the countries most affected by climate change.” 

Portugal is a climate hotspot, with the Mediterranean region projected to experience the greatest drying among 26 regions globally.

Portugal is showing a tendency towards more intense extreme weather events, such as heat waves and droughts. The increase in severity of drought, flooding, and wildfires is already having an impact on the population, as well as agriculture and the economy. 

In 2017, the BBC reported that climate change would extend Portugal’s standard “wildfire season” from two to five months. That same year, hundreds of people died during the wildfire season.

In 2022, Portugal saw one of the hottest summers and an increase in wildfires. In June, 96% of Portugal was classified as being in extreme or severe drought.

While many ignore the indirect and direct consequences of climate change in Portugal, this article will show you why scientists are worried about its impact on the country, backed by scientific evidence. 

Change in Weather Temperatures 

Temperatures have increased in the past decades in Portugal, and eight of Portugal’s ten warmest years have happened in the last 20 years. Heat waves have increased in frequency and intensity in Portugal, primarily affecting the northeast and southern regions of Portugal. Porto and Lisbon are also affected but at a smaller magnitude.

In mid-July 2022, many places in Portugal reached record high temperatures at around 47°C in the latest heatwave.

According to Climate Analytics, under a scenario RCP8.5, where global warming reaches 4.3°C by 2100, maximum summer and autumn temperatures in Portugal will increase by up to 8°C. Maximum spring and winter temperatures rise between 2°C and 4°C. Temperatures will never drop below 2°C under this scenario, and temperatures above 40°C will be common.

Photo by Xavier Coiffic (Unsplash)

Wild Fires in Portugal

Of all Mediterranean countries, Portugal is the one that has suffered the most from forest fires. In the last 30 years, 35% of the region’s fire incidents were located in Portugal. On average, 3% of Portugal’s forests burn every year. 

In 2017, Portugal made worldwide news due to extreme wildfires, burning a record 500,000 hectares and taking 120 human lives.

The increase in wildfires is caused by heat waves, including reduced precipitation and drought. Moreover, the lack of rain and warm temperatures decrease soil moisture, causing an increased fire risk. 

As temperatures and instances of drought continue to increase, wildfires will become even more frequent in Portugal.

Photo by Matt Howard (Unsplash)

Lack of Rain and Drought in Portugal

Droughts in Portugal are becoming increasingly common. Between 1902 and 2010, Portugal experienced 10 of the 12 driest winters in the last 20 years alone. As of 2017, annual precipitation decreased by 90mm per decade.

Climate models predict that a decrease in precipitation will continue. Under scenario RCP6.0, where global warming reaches 3°C by 2100, rainfall would decrease by 30% in the south of Portugal and by 15% in the north of the country.

Precipitation decreases are also heavily impacted by the seasons in Portugal. Values above 50% decrease are expected in the summer.

At the end of May 2022, almost all of Portugal was in severe drought, with major dams and bodies of water completely drying out.

Photo by Mike Erskine (Unsplash)

Geographical Area of Portugal & Sea Level Rise

Sea levels have increased worldwide, including on most European coasts such as Portugal. The global mean sea level is about 20cm tighter than at the beginning of the 20th century.

Southern Europe has seen temperature increases and decreases in precipitation due to climate change. Drought frequency and magnitude have also increased in the Mediterranean region.

With a coastline of 2,601 km, the sea level rises are a risk to Portugal and could impact biodiversity, human health, infrastructure, food systems, and even livelihoods. Portugal is predicted to see more than 0.4 change in relative sea level in 2081-2100 compared to 1986-2005 under scenario RCP4.5, where global warming reaches 2.5°C by 2100. This will lead to flooding and coastal erosion. 

Estuaries and coastal lagoons will be the most affected by sea level rise in Portugal. Some will have significant socio-economic impacts, such as the Sado and Tagus estuaries, the Ria de Aveiro, and the Ria Formosa coastal lagoons.

Photo by Artem Zhukov (Unsplash)

Impact on Agriculture & Food Production 

Climate change is predicted to reduce crop productivity in all of southern Europe, including Portugal. Droughts, floods, and heat waves have already reduced the yield of certain crops, particularly typical Mediterranean crops such as grapevine and olive.

The Portuguese wine industry is thus heavily impacted by climate change, as grapes are one of the most sensitive crops. Wheat production will also be negatively affected in Portugal, with mean wheat yields (-27% to -14%) expected due to drought.

Food production in Portugal could be reduced, causing a food security risk. There will be a more considerable demand for water irrigation to preserve crop yields, leading to a scarcity of water availability.

Photo by Maja Petric (Unsplash)

Economic Impacts

Climate change will also impact the Portuguese economy negatively. Under a projected scenario where global warming increases by 4.3°C by 2100, Portugal’s GDP is expected to decrease by up to 7.75%.

Tourism in Portugal is projected to decline by 2.5% and 5.2% due to temperature increases, reducing the Portuguese GDP between 0.19% and 0.40%. 

Farms will also be negatively impacted. The farmland value in Portugal is expected to decrease by more than 80% by 2100.

Economic losses have already been reported in Portugal due to climate change. Between 1980 and 2013, Portugal lost around 6.7 million euros from climate-related hazards, amounting to 0.14% of its GDP. 

Photo by Mathieu Stern (Unsplash)

Health Impacts

Climate change is studied to affect human health negatively and lead to fatal illnesses due to increased or decreased temperatures and air pollution levels. Young children and the elderly, the latter of which comprise almost 30% of the population, are particularly vulnerable to heat waves, leading to high mortality rates.

The long-term impact of exposure to reduced air quality will also increase premature mortality rates by leading to illnesses such as lung cancer. Moreover, climate change increases the risk of vector-borne diseases. For example, the number of days in Portugal where the temperature is suitable for malaria survival is rising.

How is Portugal fighting climate change?

According to the European Parliamentary Research Service, Portugal generates 1.8% of the EU’s total greenhouse emissions as of 2021. In 2019, the carbon intensity of the country’s economy (measured as CO2 emissions per unit of GDP) was 22% more than the EU average.

However, Portugal seems to be making progress to combat climate change.

In 2019, Portugal’s share of renewable energy sources was around 30%. By 2030, Portugal is striving to make its target of 47% renewable energy, with electricity alone making up 80%. These targets are some of the highest in the EU for renewables.

The sector with the highest emissions, the transport sector, reduced its emissions by over 10% between 2005 and 2019. The energy section reduced its emissions by 50% in this period. 

Portugal’s State Budget for 2022 includes the following measures concerning climate change:

  • €3.8 allocation of funds to combat climate change and for the environment. The government has stated that this amount is a 30% increase in relation to 2021.
  • Decabornization efforts will be reinforced by promoting public transport with €250 million in support.
  • Includes plans to further the objective to reduce 55% of greenhouse gases by 2030, compared to 2005.
  • Plan to have 47% of energy produced by renewables by 2030, such as through green hydrogen.
  • Development actions to fight energy poverty by partnering with local entities.
  • Financial support to purchase private electric vehicles and an increase in public electric vehicles.
  • 6% reduced VAT rate for solar panels.

Beja

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A city in the stunning region of the Alentejo, Beja has a small population of under 50,000 people. Beja sits on a 900 feet hill, overviewing the plains of the Baixo Alentejo. As Beja has not yet been discovered by mainstream tourism, it is the perfect place to go for a quiet but traditionally Portuguese trip.

Beja has an incredibly rich cultural heritage and history which can be seen in its architecture. The town was inhabited back in the Celtic times and later named Pax Julia by Julius Caesar in 48 BCE. The Visigoths also took over Beja at one time, but it was then taken by the Umayyad army in 713. It was named Baja in Arabic, which eventually became Beja!

In 1910, Christian Kings began fighting to conquest Beja. However, it was only retaken by the Portuguese in 1162 by Fernao Goncalves who led the army of King Afonso I. It was lost again around ten years later and remained under Muslim rule until 1234 when it was recaptured from the Moors by King Sancho II. 

From Roman ruins to medieval castles, the activities in Beja that tourists seem to enjoy reflect this interesting history. If you are planning your next trip to Beja, keep this guide with you. We have selected the 5 best things to do in Beja, as well as our top picks for hotels and restaurants. 

Guide to Alentejo

5 Best Things To Do in Beja

1. Visit the Beja Castle

A medieval castle, Beja castle was built somewhere between the beginning of the third century and the end of the fourth century. The castle was made a National Monument and is the heart of the city of Beja. Open to visitors every day and at an affordable ticket price, this is a must-see. 

Beja castle offers the best views of the city in every direction in the Torre de Menagem, a tower made of marble 40 meters tall. The castle reflects the Gothic and Manueline architectural periods with its distinctive style. 

This castle is highly historically significant, particularly for its role in the Reconquista from the Moors. The castle was first conquered from the Moors by King Afonso Henriques in 1159. Along the years, modifications were made. The tower was only built in 1307, for example.

Photo by Jose Losada (Flickr)

2. Discover the work of sculptor Jorge Vieira

If you’re an art lover, head to Jorge Vieira Museum where part of the sculptor’s life work is displayed. You can check out the permanent exhibition which was donated to the city of Beja, as well as other temporary exhibitions by other artists.
 
Who was Jorge Vieira? Jorge Vieira passed away in Estremoz in 1988, but throughout his life, had a spectacular career and is one of the most successful Portuguese artists. He frequented the Slade School of Fine Arts in London in the 30s, working under Henry Moore and Reg Butler. He then heads back to Portugal and settles as a sculptor there. 
 
Piece by Jorge Vieira. Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões (Flickr)

3. Explore the Roman ruins in Pisoes

In Pisoes, Beja lies the Roman ruins of an urban villa dating back to the first century, discovered in 1967 by accident. The artifacts discovered on this archeological sites, such as black ceramics indicate that different groups lived here, such as the Visigoths and Romans. Everything from ceramics, glass, bronze, and coins were found on the site.

A gorgeous part of the villa is a small altar than invocates the goddess Hygieia, which suggests that the Roman family occupying the residence belonged to the Gaio Atilio Gordo Clan. It is presumed that the building was used for agricultural enterprise, supplying food to the town of Beja, which in Roman times was called Pax Julia. The area has diverse biodiversity and fertile soil, making it the perfect place for this.

4. Tour the Botanical Museum of Beja

Located in the center of Beja, the Botanical Museums is situated in the Beja Agricultural School, committed to the conservation and study of economic and ethnobotanical botany. It is open to visitors, featuring temporary exhibitions throughout the year related to the field. You can learn about the different use of plants such as medicinal herbs and coloring agents, as well as discover diverse species. Don’t expect a huge museum, this is a small one, but very interesting if you are into this niche. 

5. Wine tasting in Vila de Frades

While you might have heard that the region of Douro is best known for its wine, it’s not the only one! The Alentejo is one of the main wine-producing regions of Portugal, therefore heading to a wine tasting in Beja is a must. Alentejo wine is thought to have started by the Romans in clay hoops. Today, many Alentejo wines are classified as DOCs, meaning Controlled Origin Denomination, a high-quality classification.

Book this DOC wine tasting to try out premium wines from the Alentejo, the best batch of the year. The wine tasting is hosted in Cella Vinaria Antiqua, a secular cellar-museum that has been converted into the production and preservation of the technique of producing wine clay hoops. You will get to witness this ancient technique and taste some of the best wine in Portugal.

Book DOC Wine Tasting

Transportation in Beja

Beja is a 2-hour drive from Lisbon and a 4-hour drive from Porto. You can also opt for a 3-hour train from Lisbon or a longer bus ride with Rede Expressos, the latter being more affordable. However, the best way to explore Beja and the surrounding areas is to rent a car. 

Photo by KK70088 (Flickr)

When you arrive in Beja, you can use the public bus system, however, the scheduled times are sparse and unreliable. Instead of having to walk 30 to 60 minutes for a bus, having a car gives you more flexibility. Parking is also very cheap and free in many places.

Top Restaurants in Beja

  • Intimo
  • Dom Dinis
  • Herdade dos Grous
  • Pulo do Lobo
  • Adega Tipica
  • Toi Farois
  • Espelho D’Agua
  • Taberna a Pipa
  • Sabores do Monte
  • O Arbitro

Book Top Hotels in Beja

Aljana Guest House Beja

5-day Portugal Itinerary: Make the most out of a short trip to Portugal

While we always recommend spending as much time as possible in Portugal, 5 days is plenty of time to see the largest two cities – Porto and Lisbon. 

Our 5-day Portugal itinerary starts in the beautiful city of Porto, early in the morning. We recommend flying here instead of Lisbon as flights tend to be cheaper, particularly from the US and UK. 

This breathtaking city of Porto lies along the Douro river and is home to Port wine, iconic historical monuments, and francesinhas, a meat and cheese sandwich with a delicious beer sauce. 

After two days in Porto, you will head to the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. The birthplace of Amália Rodrigues, the iconic Fado singer, Lisbon is rich in culture, history, and striking views. 

Let’s take a look at our very own 5-day Portugal itinerary so you can make the most out of a short trip to Portugal!

Day 1: Porto

Photo by Matt Roskovec (Unsplash)

One of the oldest in Europe, Porto’s old town in the city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996, so we recommend starting there! Head to the Clérigos Tower where after climbing the steps you can enjoy a 360 view of the city.

Then take a short walk to Livraria Lello, one of the oldest bookstores in the country with over a century of history. Although it used to be free, tickets now cost €5. Kids under 3 years old have free entrance.

For lunch, check out our favorite restaurants in Porto. We recommend starting out your Porto cuisine experience with a francesinha at Casa Guedes or Tasquinha Ze Povinho.

After lunch, it’s time to unwind. Take a walk along Ribeira to enjoy the views of the Douro river. Then head to the Dom Luis I bridge that connects the Ribeira district to Vila Nova de Gaia. 

Built in 1886 by designer and co-founder of the Eiffel company Théophile Seyrig, visitors can walk across the 60-meter-high bridge on the upper level of the bridge.

Walking through the 1-kilometer bridge, you will have one of the best views of the Douro river, as well as easy access to Vila Nova de Gaia.

Photo by Rui Alves (Unsplash)

In Vila Nova de Gaia, head to a wine tasting in a Port cellar. Caves Ferreira is one of our favorite places. Founded by a family of winemakers in 1751, Caves Ferreira is the only wine company from Porto that has always remained Portuguese throughout its history. They offer port tastings at different prices but a great option is a Classic visit for €15 per person.

For a unique experience, stay in Vila Nova de Gaia for dinner. We recommend having dinner at sunset time in the Yeatman’s restaurant. Located in a luxurious 5-star hotel, the Yeatman restaurant has 2 Michelin stars and offers one of the best views of Porto across the Douro river.

Guide to Porto

Top Hotels in Porto

  • NH Hotel Porto JardimThis four-star hotel feels like its five stars. It has a 70 cm deep outdoor people, a spa a few meters away, and a gym. It is located within walking distance of main attractions like Bolhão market, Aliados Avenue, and Ribeira. If you have a dog or cat, this hotel is pet-friendly.
  • Vila Gale Porto: Vila Gale is a well-known chain of hotels in Portugal and is always a safe option. This one was built in 1999 and recently renovated. The hotel has a spa with an indoor pool, a gym, a restaurant, and two bars.
  • Hotel Premium Porto Downtown: Located in the old town, this modern 4-star hotel has a sun terrace with views of the city of Porto, the perfect place to enjoy some port wine. You’ll be close to everything you need, Santa Catarina street, Aliados Avenue, and the cathedral.

Book Tours & Activities in Porto

Day 2: Porto

Start your second day in Porto with breakfast at Confeitaria Cristal in Cedofeita, a pastry shop. We recommend the courgette and ginger cookies, as well as the classic pastel de nata with an espresso.

After breakfast, head to Aliados Avenue, one of the most popular streets in Porto. Some call it Porto’s Champs Elysées, featuring luxurious cafes and spots, such as Guarany, a famous piano bar.

The avenue also features a statue of D. Pedro IV to symbolize his battles for liberalism and courage, the perfect spot for a touristy photo.

Walk for less than 10 minutes to Igreja do Carmo. A combination of two buildings, the church is one of the oldest buildings in the historical center of Porto, one built in the 1600s and one in the 1700s. The church is built in baroque style and features blue azulejo tiles. 

You can enter the church for free! However, to visit the museum, catacombs, and Casa Escondida, there is a fee of €3.50.

Then walk for less than five minutes to the Clérigos Tower where after climbing the steps you can enjoy a 360 view of the city.

Photo by Isabella Mann Machado (Unsplash)

For lunch, head to Chama, which offers a unique gastronomical experience. This place primarily serves grilled food and “sustainable slow-burning food.” Alternatively, head to a Cozinha do Manel, a family-run restaurant that opened in 1989. With a rustic appeal, they specialize in meat and fish dishes.

We recommend booking a tour for the afternoon. This private boat tour allows you to see the Douro river with up to four people, passing through Porto’s historic bridges and Gaia’s caves. A welcome drink is included.

Alternatively, this Porto walking tour delves into the history of Porto with a professional guide. You will get to see the UNESCO World Heritage city center in more detail and learn how Port is made.

For dinner, head to Cantinho do Avillez, founded by the famous Portuguese Chef Jose Avillez. Cantinho do Avillez is incredibly well decorated, with a retro feel and a homely environment. The restaurant offers main courses such as risotto and octopus, as well as shared tapas. 

After dinner, head to a Fado house to listen to the iconic style of Portuguese music. Most fado houses offer you a Port wine glass to enjoy with the live show. Book this Fado Live Show in Porto for an intimate setting in Casa da Guitarra near Sé. 

Tomorrow morning you are off to Lisbon bright and early!

Day 3: Lisbon

Get the train early to Lisbon Santa Apolonia. If you are in the historical center, you can get a ticket from Sao Bento train station to Santa Apolonia. However, the train does not go directly to Lisbon, it first rides for 5 minutes to Campanha. Alternatively, get the train directly from Campanha. The train is around 3 to 4 hours, and the tickets cost around 30 euros.

You’ll probably arrive hungry so it’s time to head for lunch. If you’re in the mood for pizza, CasaNova is a 2-minute walk from the station. This place serves delicious pizzas cooked on a wood-burning stove and offers a terrace with views of the Tagus river. Take a look at the best restaurants in Lisbon here if you are looking for alternatives.

After lunch, walk a few more minutes to Terreiro do Paco, the harbor-facing plaza and one of the largest in Portugal. Here, you can visit the Wines of Portugal Tasting Room, a large modern tasting room with shared tables and wine starting at €1.

Terreiro do Paco. Photo by Claudio Schwarz (Unsplash)

Then, head to Alfama. The oldest neighborhood in Lisbon and the home of fado, as well as Amalia Rodrigues’ birthplace. Explore the neighborhood and look out for Fado spots, as well as historical monuments such as the Lisbon Cathedral, the Convent of the Grace, and more.

Book a wine tasting in Lisbon

 

Walk towards Castelo de São Jorge, a medieval castle that overlooks the historical center of Lisbon from the fifth century. During the reign of Afonso I of Portugal in the twelfth century, it was altered and made into an official Royal Palace. It was then completely restored in 1938 by the dictatorship of Salazar as part of a commemoration of Portuguese patriotism and independence. Book a ticket to skip the line.

Take tram 15E from Praca Figueira, a 10-minute walk from the castle, towards Belem. The 20-minute tram journey stops at some iconic spots such as Praca do Comercio and Santos. 

Belem lies along the Tejo Estuary and is home to two UNESCO sites, Torre de Belem and Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. 

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is a former monastery in Belém constructed in Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style and you can visit the church for free.

Photo by Maria Orlova (Pexels)

A 2-minute walk from the monastery, head to Pasteis de Belem where the traditional Portuguese custard tart was first invented.

Then walk towards Torre de Belem. The 30m Belem Tower was built in the 1500s in Manuelino style, like the Jerónimos monastery. It was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. 

Belem has some great dinner spots, particularly for a sunset dinner. Portugalia Cervejaria is a classic franchise restaurant in Portugal that has tasty steak with a variety of sauces.

Alternatively, take the 30-minute train along the coast from Belem to Cascais for dinner. Head to Marisco na Praca in Cascais Marina, which serves quality seafood and fish dishes. Alternatively, at a more expensive price but even higher quality, Mar do Inferno in Boca do Inferno is one of the best seafood restaurants in Cascais, with views of the ocean.

Cascais. Photo by Jeroen den Otter (Unsplash)

Guide to Lisbon

Day 4: Lisbon

To start your last day in Lisbon, head to A Brasileira in Chiado, the heart of the city. A Brasileira is one of the oldest cafes in Lisbon that is still active. While it is expensive, having a coffee and toast on the terrace is a must-see experience in Lisbon for first-timers.

This main street in Chiado has many stores and boutiques for shopping, as well as Livraria Bertrand. Livraria Bertrand holds the Guinness world record for the world’s oldest bookstore still in operation, founded in 1732. 

Then walk for 5 minutes towards Santa Justa Lift, also known as Elevador do Carmo, a 45m tall elevator built by Raoul Mesnier in 1902, an architecture student of the man who built the Eiffel Tower. Its purpose was functional, but now it has turned into one of the most popular tourist attractions. From the top of the lift, you can enjoy a view of the Baixa Pombalina. 

(Pixabay)

For lunch, go to Cevicheria, a restaurant specializing in Portuguese cuisine and the traditional Peruvian dish, ceviche. We recommend trying the Portuguese ceviche, with octopus, codfish, and potatoes, as well as the tuna and foie gras ceviche. 

For a more authentic Portuguese restaurant with a more relaxed environment, head to Adega da Tia Matilde, a Lisbon local favorite for decades. Well-known for its friendly hospitality, Adega da Tia Matilde has some of the best duck dishes and large shrimps in the city.

 

 

After lunch, book a guided tour of the city so you can see as much as possible in the little time you have in Lisbon.

This 3-hour tuk-tuk tour of the city goes through the city’s oldest neighborhoods and main attractions, riding up and down the hills of Lisbon (which you do not want to walk).

If you want more flexibility, book this 24-hour bus ticket in the morning which allows you to visit different routes and hop in as you would like. 

After your tour, head to Principe Real to explore. One of the trendiest neighborhoods in Lisbon, Principe Real has the best restaurant, bars, and art galleries in the city, as well as stunning nineteenth-century buildings and plenty of green spaces. 

Have dinner at BouBou’s in Principe Real, a restaurant offering a variety of international dishes from pork belly, and octopus to lamb kebabs. This place has an outdoor patio with sparkling lights and banana trees, perfect for enjoying one of their cocktails. 

After dinner, walk to Bairro Alto, the most popular bar area where the nightlife comes to life. We recommend Ze dos Bois Gallery, a musical center that has live music and serves tasty drinks. 

Photo by Luca Dagaro (Unsplash)

Top Hotels in Lisbon

  • Inspira Liberdade Boutique Hotel: Awarded the Best Luxury Green Hotel in 2019, Inspira Liberdade provides a relaxing Feng-Shui vibe for its guests. The hotel has a SPA, fitness room, bar, and a restaurant with Portuguese food called Pen Brasserie Mediterrânica.
  • Selena Secret GardenThe hostel also has a rooftop deck, CoWork space for professionals, and a movie room. In the heart of Cais do Sodre, you are close to contemporary art galleries, bars with riverfront views, and within walking distance to Chiado.
  • Bairro Alto Hotel: This hotel is situated in the best location in Lisbon, between Bairro Alto and Chiado, in an 18th-century building in central Lisbon. The hotel features a restaurant with award-winning Chef Nuno Mendes and Executive Chef Bruno Rocha.

Day 5: Fly Back!

You can fly back home from Lisbon Airport, or you can take the train back to Campanha and fly from Porto Airport. If you’ve enjoyed your trip so much you want to come back soon for longer, take a look at our 14-day itinerary to Portugal. 

Ericeira

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A seaside town in Mafra, Ericeira is known to many as the surfing capital of Europe. The only World Surfing Reserve in Europe, Ericeira has the perfect coastline conditions for surfing. Not yet discovered by mass tourism, Ericeira is geared toward surfers and Portuguese tourists looking to experience all that the coast has to offer.

While Ericeira is best known for surfing, it has always been a popular summer spot for the Portuguese. In the 1940s, it became a retreat for families from Lisbon, while in recent years, both local and international tourists spend their summer here.

Boasting quaint architecture from the 15th century, Ericeira features blue and white buildings that make up the heart of the city center. From excellent seafood restaurants to recently vegan places, as well as trendy bars, Ericeira has a wide range of options for all tourists.

Our travel guide to Ericeira has everything you need to know. From the best things to do in Ericeira to how to get around the town, we have got you covered!

5 Best Things To Do in Ericeira

1. Best beaches in Ericeira

Ericeira has some of the best beaches in all of Portugal, including surfing and beaches that are perfect for a relaxing day. 

One of our favorite beaches in Ericeira is Foz Do Lizandro, 3 kilometers from the center of town. The river Lizandro flows through this beach onto the ocean, providing a warmer alternative to those who do not wish to swim in the colder more volatile sea. This beach has various modern bars, restaurants, and even a surf shop for renting boards and booking surf classes. You can also rent out sunbeds and beach umbrellas.

Foz do Lizandro. Photo by Vitor Oliveira (Flickr)

Another great beach is Praia dos Pescadores, the most central beach in Ericeira. Along with being within walking distance from the center, the “Fishermen’s beach” features beautiful fishing boats and is a family favorite. Located in a harbor, this beach is sheltered from the wind and has calmer waters than other Ericeira beaches. 

Praia dos Pescadores. Photo by Vitor Oliveira (Flickr).

Here are some other beautiful beaches in Ericeira:

  • Praia do Norte
  • Praia de Sao Sebastiao
  • Praia da Ribeira d’Ilhas
  • Praia do Sul
  • Praia do Matadouro

20 Best Beaches in Portugal

2. Surfing in Ericeira

Ericeira is surfer heaven! It is Europe’s only World Surfing Reserve and the unofficial surf capital of Portugal. Being labeled a surfing reserve, Ericeira is a protected surfing area covering 3 kilometers of great wave quality. The official Ericeira World Surfing Reserve spots are Cave, Pedra Branca, Reef, Crazy Left, Ribeira D’Ilhas, Coxos, and Sao Lourenco. 

The great thing about surfing in Ericeira is that the conditions cater to all, including newbies and those advanced. For beginners, we recommend booking a surf class! The best beaches for beginners are Foz do Lizandro and Praia do Sol. Beaches like Sao Lourenco and Ribeira D’Ilhas are more suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers.

You cant rent surfing gear on most beaches, as well as the various surf schools around Ericeira. 

Photo by Jarno Colijn (Unsplash)

3. Mafra Tour

Mafra is a beautiful city located a 10-minute drive from Ericeira. Mafra is best known for being the home of the Mafra National Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site constructed in Baroque style.

This four-square-km palace is open to the public and includes the royal palace and chapel, a monastery, and one of the most stunning libraries in Portugal with over 30,000 books. There are over 1,200 rooms in the place and two bell towers housing the world’s largest bell collections.

Mafra National Palace. Photo by prilfish (Flickr)

The Mafra National Palace was built by King John V as a religious offering. The King married Mary Anne, but the couple was unlucky with no healthy children. The palace was then constructed so a healthy heir would be born. The palace construction was so expensive that the monarchs were almost bankrupt. 

Along with the place, head to the Jardim do Cerco gardens and the Tapada Nacional de Mafra, the latter having been the hunting ground of Joao V. Mafra also has loads of lovely restaurants and shops to unwind in. 

We recommend booking a tour to get an insight into the area’s extensive history and find the best spots.

For the adventurous ones, this 2h30 e-bike tour starts in Ericeira and takes you to Mafra, allowing you to connect with nature. You will get views of the coastline along with a tour guide. Lunch is also included!

4. Hiking near Ericeira

Ericeira boasts several trails, providing both a rural feel and breathtaking ocean views. You can check these out on official trail maps or ask the locals. One of your favorite hike is over 10 kilometers, starting in Ericeira and going through Santo Isidoro, Paco de Ilhas, Marvao, and ending finally in Ribamar.

Alternatively, you can drive 10 minutes away from Ericeira and try out the trails in Mafra. From trails in Tapada Nacional de Mafra to some with views of large valleys, Mafra is more suitable for hiker lovers. 

Photo by Reiseuhu (Unsplash)

5. Camping

If you love to be in touch with nature and the outdoors, camping in Ericeira is a must. The most famous campsite in Ericeira is EriceiraCamping with views of the ocean. You can rent out a spot to pitch your tent or go for a teepee, mobile home, or bungalow. The facilities at this place are great, with multiple clean bathrooms, a restaurant, and even a surf school where you can rent equipment. 

If you go in the summer, check out when Sumol Summer Fest is on. This music festival is hosted at EriceiraCamping, and the likes of Post Malone, Burna Boy, and more have performed here. If you just want a quiet camping experience, do not visit at that time.

Photo by Alexevang (Unsplash)

Transportation in Ericeira

You can access public transportation between Lisbon, Sintra, and Ericeira. However, the timetables are inflexible and the bus, in particular, is not that frequent. 

Still, the Ericeira beach Bus is available during high beach and runs all day between 9 and 20h, taking you to the best beach spots. This bus is a lot more efficient. 

Therefore, if you just want to stay inside Ericeira, you do not necessarily need a car. If you stay in the center, you can also walk to nearby beaches.

Nevertheless, you will experience the coastal town and surrounding areas a lot more by renting a car. From hiking gorgeous trails to visiting the city of Mafra, it will be harder to do so by transport. This way, you won’t be relying on the bus schedules and losing time you could have spent exploring. 

Top Restaurants in Ericeira

  • Mar d’Areia
  • Mar das Latas
  • GiG – Green is Good 
  • Mar a Vista
  • Avo Restaurante

Book Top Hotels in Ericeira

You and the sea, Ericeira.

Energy in Portugal: Where does Portugal get its energy from?

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With the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, most of Europe has fallen into disarray trying to mitigate an energy crisis. However, while the majority coming into the EU came from Russia, Portugal only imports 5% of its energy from the country.

Nevertheless, this brought to light that Portugal relies heavily on imported energy. Almost two-thirds of all energy consumed in Portugal is imported. 

While Portugal has been making progress in shifting to renewable energy and a green economy, it still has a high fossil fuel consumption, most of which remains imported. 

However, the Portuguese government has made some of the EU’s most promising climate change commitments.

Portugal’s National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 includes reducing 45% to 55% of the emissions of greenhouse gases and achieving a 35% reduction in primary energy consumption through energy efficiency.

The government also plans to have 47% of energy produced by renewables by 2030, such as through green hydrogen.

Imported Energy in Portugal: Fossil Fuels

Portugal still gets a lot of its energy from other countries. The country is still particularly reliant on imported fossil fuels, above the average of the EU with 65% of imports. Only 5% of these imports come from Russia. However, all oil, natural gas, and coal in Portugal are imported. 

Due to around 70% reliance on fossil fuels, Portugal’s greenhouse gas emissions increase by 13% from 2014 to 2018. 

However, Portugal’s reliance on fossil fuels has decreased in recent decades, falling by 13% since 1990.

In 2020, Portugal was still behind the EU average of 71%, with only five countries falling below the 60% mark: Sweden (31%), Finland (41%), France (48%), Lithuania (57%), and Denmark (59%).

Renewable Energy in Portugal

Portugal has highly invested in renewable energy in the last decade. In 2013, 25.7% of the energy in Portugal was renewable, increasing to 27% in 2014 and 28% in 2016. By 2020, this number increased to around 30%. 

Portugal made worldwide news when in February 2016, 95% of the electricity produced in Portugal was sourced from renewable energy, including biomass, hydropower, wind power, and solar power.

Three months later, in May, 100% of Portugal’s electricity was produced through renewable energy for a period of four days.

The renewable energy sources in Portugal include the production of hydroelectric, wind, biomass, solar, oceanic, and geothermal. Portugal has heavily invested in wind and solar in particular.

Regarding solar energy, Portugal has increased its photovoltaic power and solar term energy in the last two decades. The country was actually 9th in solar heating in the whole of the European Union in 2010 based on total volume.

Portugal aims to be climate neutral by 2050 and to cover 80% of its electricity consumption with renewables by 2026.

Photo by Zbynek Burival (Unsplash)

Electricity in Portugal

Portugal has a high level of electrification. In 2019, electricity covered 25% of the total final energy demand, 56% of building energy demand, and 25% of industry energy demand, according to IEA.

A significant portion of the electricity in Portugal is produced through a renewable source, over 50%. Wind power amounted to 24% of the electricity production. Portugal mostly uses hydroelectricity and wind to produce electricity, with wind power being the largest.

However, Portugal is still heavily dependent on imported coal for electricity production. Still, Portugal agreed to close all coal facilities by 2030. 

Photo by Anthony Indraus (Unsplash)

Nuclear Energy in Portugal

There is no nuclear energy production in Portugal. While Portugal has one research reactor, it has been without nuclear fuel since early 2019 and will be decommissioned. No nuclear energy activities are planned in the future in Portugal, according to the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group.

Natural Gas in Portugal

From 2002 to 2007, Portugal mainly focused on natural gas to replace coal. However, in the next five years, the government shifted towards renewable energy and ways to improve energy efficiency. However, the government announced that natural gas electricity generation will continue until 2040. All of Portugal’s natural gas is imported, predominantly from Nigeria and Algeria.

Mining in Portugal

Portugal has a diversity of mineral resources, being a large EU producer of copper, tin, lithium, and tungsten and a global producer of marble, limestone, and granite. Portugal has over 850 mines, queries, and hydrotherapy entities as of 2019.

Portugal is developing its lithium industry, which has been criticized by many in the country. The country’s lithium reserves amount to around 60,000 tonnes, making it the 9th country in the world with the largest reserves. Portugal currently produces 11% of the global market. 

The Barroso Lithium Project in northern Portugal has been expanded to 5.42km2 until 2036. This project is operated by Uk company Savannah Resources and is the largest deposit of lithium-containing spodumene ore. However, its progression is still waiting to be approved by the Portuguese Environmental Agency.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) about Energy in Portugal

Where does Portugal get its gas from?

All of Portugal’s gas is imported, predominantly from Nigeria and Algeria. The natural gas from Algeria arrives via the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline (MEG), which links the Hassi R’Mel gas field through Morroco to Spanish and Portuguese gas grids.

The gas from Nigeria arrives from Nigeria LNG Limited, a liquefied natural gas company with a natural gas plant on Bonny Island.

What is the main source of energy in Portugal?

Portugal gets most of its energy from fossil fuels, amounting to 70% of the total gas consumption in Portugal in 2020. These fossil fuels are mostly imported, rather than produced in Portugal. 

How much energy does Portugal import?

Almost to thirds of the energy consumed in Portugal in 2020 was imported at 65%, well above the European average of 58%. Of these two-thirds, 99.3% is from natural gas and 97.6% from oil. However, Portugal is the fourth nation least dependent on Russian energy, only importing 5% from the country that has invaded Ukraine. 

How much of Portugal’s energy is renewable?

While Portugal made the news in 2016 for producing 100% of its electricity through renewables for four days straight, it is still dependent on fossil fuels. While progress has been made, only 30% of Portugal’s energy is renewable, as of 2020 figures.

Why are energy bills so expensive in Portugal?

Portugal’s energy bills are above the EU average for domestic consumers. Portugal was the 10th country in the EU with the highest electricity prices and 13th for natural gas in the second half of 2021, reports Idealista.

However, this is mainly due to fees and taxes. In reality, both the average price of electricity and natural gas in the domestic sector in Portugal are cheaper than the EU average.

In the second half of 2021, the average price of electricity in EU countries was 0.2447 euros per kilowatt-hour. This was 7% more expensive than the value in Portugal. 

Similarly, the average price of natural gas in EU countries was 0.1063 euros/kWh. This was 16% more expensive than the value in Portugal.

According to the Energy Services Regulatory Authority (ERSE), energy bills are expensive in Portugal as the fees and taxes on electricity and gas for domestic consumption are among the highest in the EU. However, for non-domestic consumers, these are in line with the European Union average”.

In the EU, only Denmark and Germany have higher taxes and fees on electricity and natural gas for domestic consumers than Portugal.

How does Portugal generate electricity?

The figures from 2019 state that Portugal generated electricity through the following:

  • Hydroelectricity 19%
  • Natural gas 32%
  • Wind 26%
  • Coal 10%
  • Biomass 6%
  • Solar 2%
  • Oil 2%
  • Others 1%

Pinhão

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Pinhão is one of the most well-known places to visit in the Douro region. The wine town of Pinhão is surrounded by vineyards that produce the world’s best Port wine, as well as Douro table wines. Located about 20 kilometers upriver from Regua, the town holds one of the most iconic train stations filled with traditional azulejo tiles. 

From tasting some of the best wine in the world to boat tours along the gorgeous Douro river, Pinhão offers a unique experience. Featuring outstanding hotels with poolside views of the hillside vineyards and unforgettable cuisine, do not miss a trip to Pinhão the next time you visit Northern Portugal. 

Our travel guide to Pinhão has everything you need from top picks for hotels and restaurants to the best things to do!

Guide to Porto & Northern Portugal

4 Best Things to do in Pinhão Portugal

1. Wine Tasting in a vineyard

Visiting a vineyard for a wine tasting is the number one thing to do in Pinhão. Thousands travel to this town every year from abroad, as well as Lisbon and Porto to taste and learn about some of the best wines in the world.

Douro wines, including Port wine, are grown and produced in these vineyards and wine cellars. Many have been in the hands of families for generations. 

Let’s take a look at our favorite wine tastings in vineyards in Pinhão.

Quinta da Manoella Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting

This tour includes a guide and explores a winery where fine wine is created and aging. You will get to taste three types of wine, a white, a red, and a glass of reserve. You will also get to walk through a beautiful green vineyard.

Wine Tasting and Class with Professional Sommelier

For those who to do more than just taste some wine and want to learn about this art, this tour is for you. Close to Pinhão train station, this is a 2-hour class where you get to try and learn about wines from various brands with a professional sommelier.

Casa da Encosta Wine Tasting and Course

In this initiation course, you will get to taste 7 Portuguese wines, as well as traditional pastries. Intended for beginners who want to increase their knowledge about wine, this activity in the House of Encosta allows you to learn about wine with a professional with 10 years experience. 

Photo by Kelsey Knight (Unsplash)

2. Boat trip in the Douro river

One of the best ways to see the region of Douro is through a boat tour. There are plenty of Douro river cruises from Pinhão, as well as Porto if that’s more convenient for you. We have selected our favorite Douro river trips that are affordable and worth the money!

2-hour Rabelo Boat Tour in Pinhão 

This rabelo boat tour starts in Pinhão, passing under the iron bridge towards the Tua. You will get to spot beautiful terraced vineyards and landmarks, without having to encounter national highways and traffic. Traditional rabelo boats have both open and closed areas so that you can be comfortable regardless of the weather.

1-hour Rabelo Boat Tour in Pinhão 

This 1-hour rabelo boat tour departs from Pinhão and heads towards the Roncao area. It then sails back to Pinhão. Although you travel the same route back, it will seem like you are going through two different ones as the views are completely different and offer a unique experience. You can enjoy the ride inside the boat, as well as relax in the open areas.

Day Cruise from Porto to Pinhão with Breakfast and Lunch

If you are staying in Porto, but still want to experience what Pinhão has to offer, we recommend this stunning day cruise that includes breakfast and lunch. It starts in Porto and sails along the Douro river, stopping in Pinhão for a wine tasting. It then heads back to Porto.

However, if you prefer to stay in Pinhão for a night, you can just hop off there. It’s not only a great activity to explore the region, but it also acts as a transportation method in this case!

3. Ride the Douro Historical Train

One of the most iconic train stations in all of Douro, the Pinhão train station is located in the middle of the town. Admiring the traditional azulejo tiles covering the station is a fun activity on its own. 

You can also ride a historical train that passes through Pinhão station, running daily between June and October. The train starts in Regua, then stops in Pinhão and continues to Tua.

The entire trip lasts around 3 hours and includes on-board entertainment such as singers and a glass of Port wine. 

You can purchase tickets from CP here. A return trip on the Douro Historical Train costs €45 for an adult and €22.50 for children up to 12 years old. If you have a group of 10 people or more, tickets cost €40 each.

Photo by Feliciano Guimarães (Flickr)

4. Travel to the Alvao Natural Park

An hour’s drive from Pinhão, Alvao Natural Park has been a protected area since the 80s and is the smallest natural park in all of Portugal. Less than 700 people live there!

If you are looking for a different experience, we recommend heading here and witnessing the 250-meter-high cascades falling into the rocks. 

You can also raft down the watercourses of the market and hike through the region. Try out local restaurants serving regional delicacies such as meatballs and roasted veal. 

Alvao Natural Park. Photo by Vitor Oliveira (Flickr)

Transportation in Pinhão: How to get around the Pinhão 

Pinhão train station is located in the heart of the town, making it useful to travel here from Porto and other places such as Regua. The train from Porto is around 2 hours long and there’s an early morning train at 7 am if you want to seize the day. 

While the train is the most affordable way to get to Pinhão, we recommend renting a car to experience as much as possible. This way, you can stop at different villages near Pinhão, as well as vineyard hop in your own time. Having a car gives you loads more flexibility. 

While you cannot travel to Pinhão by bus from Porto, if you are in Pinhão and want to visit other places, this is possible with Rede Expressos. 

Top Picks in Pinhão

Pinhão Restaurants

  • DOC
  • Cozinha da Clara
  • Quinta do Portal
  • Hotel Douro
  • Conceitus

Pinhão Hotels

Douro Valley Tours

Book Douro Valley Tours

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Universities in Portugal: Studying in Portugal

Studying in Portugal as an International Student

Is Portugal a good place to study for international students?

Portugal has been highly rated across studies as one of the best countries in Europe to study for international students. Many Portuguese universities are members of the Erasmus program so you will always have people from all over the world studying in Portugal. With a large international community all around the country, but particularly in Lisbon and Porto, Portugal will welcome you with open arms.

The country is also a more affordable alternative to places such as the United Kingdom where both tuition and housing costs are incredibly high. Students are also always surrounded by sunny weather and close to beautiful coastlines, allowing them to take a dip in the ocean after class.

Portugal is home to around 50 universities, each with its unique traditions and culture. However, all around the country, classes tend to be rather formal and start early in the morning. Unlike in many other places where professors are laidback, in Portugal, they are quite strict. 

For decades, universities only offered bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in Portuguese. However, in recent years, Portuguese universities have been introducing English degrees for most disciplines.

What to study in Portugal?

Portugal is particularly known for offering Bachelor, Master and PhD degrees in fields such as Biotechnology, Medicine, Social Sciences and Arts. However, since Portugal has started to welcome more and more international students each year, Portuguese universities have been introducing English-taught degrees for most disciplines, from Computer Science to Business.

Top 5 Universities in Portugal

1. University of Lisbon

The largest university in Portugal, Universidade de Lisboa ranks number one as the best university in Portugal. The University of Lisbon acquired its current status in 2013, with the merger of the former Universidade Tecnica de Lisbon and Universidade de Lisboa.

Offering bachelor’s degrees, integrated masters, masters, and doctorates, the university features 18 faculties, 19 dormitories, sports grounds, libraries, cafes, and more.

There are over 8,000 international students entering the school every year. From robotics, telecommunications, molecular medicine, political science, and more, the University of Lisbon offers a variety of degrees.

Tuition ranges anywhere from €3,000 to €12,500 a year.

2. University of Coimbra

First founded in 1290 in Lisbon and then relocating to Coimbra in 1537, the University of Coimbra is among the oldest universities in the world and the oldest in Portugal. The university was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 due to its historical significance.

The University of Coimbra features three campuses, a library, two museums, a stadium, and its own theater. The nine facilities offer the subjects of jurisprudence, medicine, and applied sciences.

The university mostly features Portuguese students, with foreign students making up 5% of the students. However, the university offers both English and Portuguese degrees.

Tuition is around €7,000 a year.

3. NOVA University Lisbon

Universidade NOVA was founded in 1973, making it the youngest of Lisbon’s three state universities. With 20,000 students and 1,800 teachers and researchers, NOVA consistently ranks high on European rankings.

There are over 3,000 students from an international background and the university offers many degrees in English.

The university features 9 schools, 9 libraries, 3 halls of residence, as well as hundreds of different degree programs such as medicine, business, law, and more.

Tuition at NOVA University Lisbon can range anywhere between €3,000 and €7,000.

4. University of Porto

The University of Porto was founded in 1911 and is one of the top 200 European Universities. Featuring 14 faculties, one business school, and over 50 research centers, University of Porto has some amazing facilities.

The university also features advanced laboratory equipment, modern libraries, cafes, bars, restaurants, and nine halls of residents. Social and medical services are provided free of charge to students and cultural activities are regularly organized.

The university has one of the highest student populations in Portugal, with around 30,00 students, of which 13% are international students from 100 countries. The University of Porto also has collaborations with international universities in African countries and Brazil.

Tuition at the University of Porto ranges between €3,000 and €6,000.

5. Catholic University of Portugal (UCP) 

Known as Universidade Catolica Portuguesa in Portugal, this university open in 1967 in Lisbon and is one of the top 10 universities in the country. 

There are around 15,000 students at the university and it offers international degrees, as well as international student exchange programs with partner universities. There are 60 nationalities on campus and around 750 teachers and professors.

Catolica is developing a new building that will be ready in 2025 to graduate over 1500 new students, more than half being international. The current campus facilities include a library, book store, canteens, bars, residencies, and more.

Tuition at the Catholic University of Portugal ranges between €3,500 and €10,000 for a full masters.

Student Accomodation in Portugal

Many universities offer on-campus residence such as the University of Porto. However, many times, these are already booked and you will have to find accommodation on your own from a private rental company.

In recent years, private student accommodations with modern studios and rooms have been showing up all over the country, but mostly in Lisbon. These accommodations come fully furnished and many offer great amenities including an equipped kitchen, study room, laundry space, gym, common room, and more.

Photo by Kelcie Papp (Unsplash)

However, prices are a lot more expensive in the capital. Tiny rooms go for around €600 and studios start at €700. However, if you are looking to save, you can just rent out a room in an apartment for less than €500.

Here are some websites to help you find student accommodation in Portugal:

  • Student.com
  • Uniplaces
  • University Living
  • Idealista

Student Nightlife in Portugal: Lisbon and Porto

The student nightlife in Portugal is unlike no other, particularly in Lisbon and Porto. Before we get into the best bars and clubs, let’s address the nightlife culture in Portugal. The night usually starts off at a bar until at least 1 am and then you head out to your favorite club for some dancing.

If you decide to go to the club earlier, chances are it will be mostly empty. Clubs usually close at 7 am. Also, be prepared to smell like an ashtray the morning after. Although smoking cigarettes inside most indoor public spaces is forbidden, this is not enforced.

Student Nightlife in Lisbon

Our favorite bar in Lisbon right now is Palheta, a bar in Cais do Sodre that is always filled with young people having a drink before going out clubbing. Located close to Pink Street, you can expect good music, cool vinyl records, and cheap drinks.

The inside of the bar is quite small, as well as cozy and well decorated. Most people stand outside the bar anyway, socializing and having a drink: the “Lisboeta” way.

Then, most Lisbon locals head to a club called Lux Fragil in Santa Apolonia. Lux is renowned in Europe for its selection of electronic music DJs. Although in recent years many have argued the club has lost its charm and quality, Lux Fragil is still the best club in the Portuguese capital.

Major DJs from all over Europe play in Lux every week and the club mostly plays techno, especially downstairs. Other popular clubs in Lisbon are Lust in Rio, Kremlin, and Docks. 

Photo by Ben Hope (Unsplash)

Student Nightlife in Porto

Porto has a wide variety of different bars to start your night out. One of our favorite bars in Porto is Bonaparte Downtown. An Irish-style Pub, Bonaparte Downtown is located in Foz do Douro, between Foz Castle and Cheese Castle.

This pub has more than 30 years of history, inviting an alternative crowd throughout the decades. Also known as “Bona”, the music played here provides homage to the 80s and in “British” style, you can watch a soccer game on a large screen while drinking a beer.

Another great bar is Cervejaria do Bairro in the center of Porto, a space dedicated to craft beer from national and international brands. Guests walk into a relaxed atmosphere, the bar boasting wooden touches and dimmed lighting.

Carmo Brewery also features a covered outdoor terrace for those rainy days. They offer 15 different brands of draft beer and also plenty of bottled beers, as well as Port wine and regular wine. For the hungry ones, they also have plenty of snacks like cheese toasties.

Photo by Juan Gomez (Unsplash)