Discover the Top Schools in Portugal: Essential Guide for Expats

As a blog traveller and avid expat, I have had the privilege of immersing myself in the diverse educational systems of various countries, each with their unique approach and style. Portugal is no exception, with a rich history of education that spans centuries and continues to evolve with the times.

But what sets schools in Portugal apart? For starters, the emphasis on creativity and critical thinking is evident in every classroom. From kindergarten to university, students are encouraged to explore their unique perspectives and challenge traditional norms. As someone who has observed this firsthand, I can attest to the fact that Portugal’s education system truly cultivates individualism and empowers students to be their own advocates.

In addition, Portuguese schools place a strong focus on developing well-rounded individuals. Extracurricular activities like music, sports, and drama are not an afterthought but rather an integral part of the curriculum. This not only gives students a chance to discover and pursue their passions but also fosters a sense of community and camaraderie.

But of course, navigating the Portuguese education system can be a daunting task, especially for expats. From understanding the admission process to finding the right school for your child, there are many factors to consider. That’s where I come in, as someone who has gone through the process myself and has a wealth of knowledge to share. In this article, I’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to schools in Portugal, including practical tips and personal anecdotes. So whether you’re a newcomer to the country or simply curious about the education system, let’s dive in and explore all that Portuguese schools have to offer.

What is the school system like in Portugal?

If you’re considering a move to Portugal with your family, you’ll want to know about the school system here. As a parent and an expat, I know how important it is to have access to good education options for your children.

The Basics

In Portugal, children between the ages of 6 and 18 are required to attend school, and education is free for all students up to the age of 18. The school year typically starts in September and runs until June or July, depending on the school.

The Portuguese school system is divided into three levels:

  • Primary Education: Grades 1-4
  • Basic Education: Grades 5-9
  • Secondary Education: Grades 10-12

After completing secondary education, students may choose to pursue higher education by attending a university or technical school.

Types of Schools

There are several types of schools in Portugal, including public, private, and international schools. Public schools are free and available to all students, while private and international schools require tuition fees.

Public Schools: Public schools in Portugal are run by the government and provide education to students from primary through secondary levels. While public schools are free, you may still need to pay for textbooks, school supplies, and transportation.

Private Schools: Private schools in Portugal are run by private organizations and generally have smaller class sizes and more individualized attention for students. However, private schools can be expensive, and tuition fees vary depending on the school.

International Schools: International schools in Portugal follow an international curriculum and offer instruction in English or another foreign language. These schools are a popular option for expat families who want their children to continue their education in their native language. However, tuition fees for international schools can be quite high.


The curriculum for Portuguese schools is set by the Ministry of Education, and all schools, both public and private, are required to follow it. The curriculum includes subjects like math, science, Portuguese language and literature, history, and physical education.

Students in Portugal also have the option to enroll in extracurricular activities, such as sports, music, and art classes, which can be a great way to meet new friends and explore their interests.


There are several types of schools, including public, private, and international schools, each with its own pros and cons. The curriculum is set by the Ministry of Education and includes a variety of subjects and extracurricular activities.

As an expat and a parent, I have found the school system in Portugal to be both accessible and high-quality. Whether you’re planning a move to Portugal or simply curious about the education options here, I hope this guide has been helpful.

How long is a school day in Portugal?


If you’re considering a move to Portugal with children, one of the things you’ll likely be curious about is the school system. One question that often comes up is how long the school day is in Portugal. In this article, we’ll explore this topic in detail so that you can have a better idea of what to expect.

The Basics

In Portugal, the school day typically starts around 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning and ends around 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon. Most schools operate from Monday to Friday, with weekends off. There are also national holidays and school vacations throughout the year, which are usually scheduled to coincide with the rest of Europe.

The Breaks

During the school day, students in Portugal usually have two breaks: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The duration of these breaks varies depending on the age of the students. Younger children generally have shorter breaks, while older students may have longer ones.

The After-school Activities

In Portugal, there are a variety of after-school activities available for students, such as sports, music, and language classes. These activities usually take place outside of regular school hours and are often offered by community organizations or private companies. If your child is interested in participating in after-school activities, you’ll want to research what’s available in your area.

Is school free in Portugal?

If you’re considering moving to Portugal with your family, one of the questions you may have is whether school is free in this country. Well, the answer is yes, but with a few caveats.

Public Schools

In Portugal, public schools are free for all students, including expats. This means that if you have children of school age, you can enroll them in a public school without having to pay tuition fees. However, keep in mind that some costs may still apply, such as textbooks, school supplies, and transportation.

It’s also worth noting that public schools in Portugal are generally of a high standard, with qualified teachers and a well-rounded curriculum that includes not only academic subjects but also arts, sports, and civic education. Many schools also offer extracurricular activities and clubs that allow students to pursue their interests and develop their skills.

Private Schools

If you prefer to send your children to a private school, there are many options in Portugal, but you will have to pay tuition fees. Private schools in Portugal vary greatly in terms of quality and cost, so it’s important to do your research and choose a school that fits your budget and expectations.

International Schools

If you’re an expat and your children don’t speak Portuguese, you may want to consider an international school. These schools offer bilingual or English-language education and follow international curricula such as the International Baccalaureate or the British GCSE/A-levels. International schools in Portugal are generally more expensive than public or private schools, but they provide a familiar educational environment for expat children and facilitate their integration into the local community.

Does Portugal have English schools?

If you’re considering a move to Portugal with school-aged children, one of your biggest concerns may be their education. You may be wondering, does Portugal have English schools? The answer is yes, there are several English schools throughout the country.

International Schools

One option is to enroll your child in an international school. These schools typically follow an English curriculum and offer classes in English. They also often have a diverse student body, with children from various countries. Some of the most popular international schools in Portugal include:

International schools in Portugal can be expensive, with tuition fees ranging from €10,000 to €20,000 per year. However, they offer a high-quality education and the opportunity for your child to make friends with other expat children.

Bilingual Schools

Another option is to enroll your child in a bilingual school. These schools offer classes in both English and Portuguese, allowing your child to become fluent in both languages. Bilingual schools are often more affordable than international schools and may be more accessible for families living outside of major cities. Some popular bilingual schools in Portugal include:

Bilingual schools can be a great option for families who want their child to learn Portuguese and integrate into the local community. However, keep in mind that classes may be taught mainly in Portuguese, which could be challenging for children who don’t speak the language fluently.

Public Schools

Portugal also has public schools that offer English classes. However, these classes may not be as comprehensive as those offered in international or bilingual schools. Additionally, public schools in Portugal teach in Portuguese, so your child will need to be fluent in the language to keep up with the curriculum.

It’s important to consider your budget, location, and your child’s language abilities when choosing a school. Take time to research your options and visit schools before making your final decision.

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Originally posted 2023-07-19 10:01:29.