Braga, Portugal

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Braga, Portugal: Everything You Need To Know

Reviewed by Lief Simon

Lief Simon is the managing editor of Global Property Advisor, Simon Letter, and Offshore Living Letter. He has purchased more than 45 properties, investing in 23 different countries around the world.

Fort of St John the Baptist in Berlenga. Peniche Portugal

Braga is the culturally vibrant capital of Portugal’s northern Minho Province, famous for its lush, green landscapes that produce vinho verde wine.

It’s an off-the-radar retirement choice in Portugal… especially compared to the Algarve, Lisbon, and Porto…

What has us turning our gaze away from those more stereotypical choices?

In short, Portugal has long been popular with expats, but its popularity has skyrocketed in the past two or three years.

Most of the attention is focused on those three areas (the Algarve, Lisbon, and Porto), and that attention has driven up property prices and costs of living.

Braga is Portugal’s third-largest city, famous for its historical buildings, monuments,gardens, and fountains.

For instance, Braga is known as the Rome of Portugal because of its numerous churches and religious sites. Pilgrims have journeyed here for centuries. But life in Braga is not all about penance, mass, and homilies…

Retirement In Braga

Braga has a smaller expat community than the Algarve, Lisbon, and Porto. That’s part of its appeal—it’s authentic, laid-back, uncrowded, and tranquil.

That said, you won’t be isolated here as an expat; there’s an active community of international folks who organize social activities, making it easy to make connections.

Is Portuguese An Easy Language To Learn?

Learning Portuguese is a wise move if you’re planning on living here. It can be difficult, and you’ll need support; try different teaching methods to figure out what works for you.

A few of the local services are innovative. For example, Portuguese with Carla takes a film in Portuguese and pauses after every scene to break down the language in the scene.

Duolingo, the world’s most popular language-learning program, teachesBrazilian, not European Portuguese… the alternative is Drops, which is similar to the way Duo works, but teaches traditional Portuguese.

In nearby Porto, you’ll find several language schools offering Portuguese lessons, both online and in person. The University of Porto also has Portuguese language courses in several modalities (semester, intensive, and summer courses).

You can get by with English alone in Braga and shouldn’t have a problem finding English-speaking doctors, real estate agents, and lawyers, as well as English-language media.

Historic Church of Bom Jesus do Monte and her public garden in Braga Portugal. best places to retire 2024
Adobe Stock/bennymarty

Cost Of Living In Braga, Portugal

Braga is affordable not only relative to the costs of living in the United States and Canada; it’s also affordable relative to other places in Portugal.

For its rich lifestyle, Braga is a bargain. In fact, it is a small city with a population of under 200,000 people.

But because it’s a university town, the ambiance is always lively, with people out enjoying its gastronomic offerings, parks, and plazas.

Internet is fast and reliable in Braga.

Braga is compact. So, you can easily get by without a car and make your way from A to B on foot.

Our Overseas Retirement Index 2024 determined that Braga is 41% cheaper than the cost of living in the United States. For example, Braga’s average cost of living for a couple is US$2,855.

Above all, what Braga offers is tranquility in a well-appointed, well-maintained, and elegant city.

This is a place that enchants visitors with its vibrant cultural offerings, blending ancient and youthful energies with its historical ambiance and modern-day university town buzz.

Real Estate In Braga

Braga is the center of Portugal’s Minho region, an area that’s famous for outstanding natural beauty, with lush landscapes, mountains, river valleys, and a rugged Atlantic coastline.

While many countries overseas do not require credentials for real estate agents, Portugal does.

You’ll find agents in the city with licenses issued by the government.

Most property is sold freehold. Portugal’s property registry system is centralized and very reliable.

Property prices and costs of living in Braga haven’t been inflated as much as in places like the Algarve, Lisbon, and Porto.

So, let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in Braga, Portugal.

Apartment Or House Rental Budget (For A Couple)

ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
RentUS$650Two-bedroom apartment in the city center.
TransportationUS$63Monthly pass for a couple.
UtilitiesUS$181Electricity (including air conditioning), gas, and water. Internet and Cable TV.
Cell PhoneUS$41Monthly plan with calls and 10GB+ data.
EntertainmentUS$450Eating out twice a week, going for drinks twice a week, and going to the movies twice a month.
GroceriesUS$300Monthly grocery haul.
Extra - Medical AppointmentUS$55Basic consultation at a private clinic.
Extra - Household HelpUS$60Twice per week.

Portugal’s Low-Key, Elegant, Culturally Rich Northern Haven

Aerial drone view of historic city of Braga in northern Portugal.
AdobeStock/Alexandre Rotenberg

Things To Do In Braga, Portugal

Braga in a nutshell is a culturally vibrant.

Its key appeal comes from its historic center, a dense, buzzy neighborhood that’s full of cafés, restaurants, boutiques, churches, supermarkets, businesses, hotels, homes, and more…

Once surrounded by medieval walls, a stunning Renaissance gate announces the entrance to Braga’s pedestrianized historic heart today.

Sites of historical significance abound in Braga.

For example, the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary and Sé de Braga Cathedral, and the sound of church bells, are reminders of Braga’s significance as a religious center.

On the other hand, Portuguese people love a good party. So, the cultural events calendar in Braga is stacked with festivals, concerts, and exhibitions year-round…

Braga is big on festivals and has annual events. Braga Romana, held every June, is its most famous festival, which celebrates the city’s ancient Roman roots. Other festivals throughout the year celebrate theatre and jazz and folk music.

Braga also has lots of restaurants, bars, and a vibrant nightlife—so you’ll never be stuck for choice if you want a fantastic meal, delicious wine, or a cocktail with friends.

Golfers will have their choice of golf courses in the area which offer stunning views all around you.

Plus, within a 30-minute drive, you can be at the beaches of Portugal’s northwest coast, including Esposende, Fao, Ofir, Geres, and Porto. And, a river access across the region, provides opportunities for kayaking and waterfall canyoning.

What’s The Food Like In Braga, Portugal?

The cuisine here is extraordinary… especially the seafood. Every menu has at least one entire page of fish options, whatever typically comes off the boats: sardines, mackerel, cod, octopus, shrimp, and on, and on… They grill it up and serve it whole. The simplicity is refreshing and the meals are light yet filling.

Porto Is A Train Ride Away

Take the short (one hour) train ride to Porto. This city is packed with art, impressive architecture, historical neighborhoods, beaches, parks, and gardens. And of course, don’t forget to try the port wine.

Porto is also home to the international English-speaking church of Saint James (Anglican) and the Kadoorie—Mekor Haim synagogue, which is the largest synagogue on the Iberian Peninsula and one of the largest in Europe.

Health Care In Braga, Portugal

The standard of health care in Portugal is excellent. The country ranks by WHO as the 12th (out of 190) best system among UN-member countries.

General rule of thumb for health care in Portugal: All procedures are free except for dental care and cosmetic surgery.

Expect to pay minor fees when it comes to visits to the emergency room, your family doctor, or requesting an ambulance (fees are affordable and range from US$6 to US$22).

The health care systems and the medical staff in Portugal are highly qualified, and the public hospitals in the larger urban cities have state-of-the-art facilities.

Once you are a resident in Portugal, register yourself with your local health center, your centro de saúde.

For private facilities and primary care facilities, you will also be required to pay for a percentage of the diagnostic exams and the appointments.

While health care in Portugal is free and available to all, you are expected to pay some fees.

Depending on your needs, it’s a good idea to also get private insurance to balance out the extra fees incurred.

On average, per year, private health insurance in Portugal will run you from US$440 (for a basic plan) to US$1,100 (for a fuller plan).

In Braga, there are public hospitals and health centers, as well as private hospitals and clinics.

Hospital de Braga is one of the biggest hospitals in the region. And, the Braga Private Hospital provides quality care in the private system.

Porto, a major city with several more hospitals, is less than an hour away for anything that can’t be treated in Braga.

You should have no trouble meeting your health care needs here. In fact, you’ll likely be upgrading the quality of care you receive by relocating to Braga, Portugal.

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Visa And Residency For Portugal

It’s easy to get to Braga from North America, with a handful of direct flights to Porto. Porto is less than an hour from Braga on a train or in a car.

Getting a visa, and later a residence permit, to remain in Portugal for an extended period is a straightforward process, depending on where you’re from.

Portugal also offers a wide variety of interesting and appealing residency types.

For retirees, the Passive Income Visa (also known as the D7 Visa) is the most relevant. It’s not a retiree-specific visa, but it’s the option most retirees use to live in Portugal long-term.

These are the basic requirements:

  • Receive an income of about US$1,200 per month (this is the amount Live And Invest Overseas recommends; the official amount is even lower).
  • Supply proof of housing (rental contract or property deed).
  • Pre-pay for 12 months of EU-wide health insurance with about US$30,000 of coverage.
  • Spend at least 16 months in Portugal within the first two years.

Portugal D7 Visa allows you to enter Portugal and the Schengen area (26 EU countries) without a visa. It grants you travel rights like those of European Union citizens.

Portugal’s Digital Nomad Visa

The Digital Nomad Visa is a recent development in Portugal. It is quite like the retirement visa.

However, instead of showing proof of passive income, to qualify you must verify your active income and an employment contract from a foreign employer. Your monthly earnings, in 2023, must be US$3,339.

Weather In Braga, Portugal

Braga has the Mediterranean climate that Portugal is famous for, despite not being on the Mediterranean. It gets a full four seasons, including warm to hot summers and mild winters.

Because it’s inland, summers are hotter and winters are cooler than in other places in Portugal.

The coldest month in Braga is January when temperatures can dip to 48°F. The hottest months are July and August when the average temperature is 70.5°F.

Minho Province is the wettest area of the country, so expect rainfall.

Average humidity in Braga, Portugal is 80%.

Braga is prone to flooding, heat waves, wildfires, and earthquakes, although major events are rare.

Portugal has your typical Mediterranean temperate climate, except you will not experience extreme weather like you would in other European countries.

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Braga, Portugal - FAQ’s

Is Tipping Custom In Portugal?

Tipping in Portugal differs from the States and other European destinations. Those who choose to spend time in Portugal should learn the local standards.

You have no obligation to tip in restaurants, hotels, bars, or personal service locations like salons and spas. However, a tip is appreciated by the service provider and tips are more common in tourist areas or places with a high expat population.

What’s The Banking System Like In Portugal?

In Portugal you can find over 150 banks including a range of private national retail banks, public and cooperative banks, international banks, and mobile banks.

Portugal’s banking system is modern and advanced. Many of their banks are linked up to its Multibanco system.

Get Your Free Portugal Report Today!

Learn more about PORTUGAL and other countries in our free, daily Overseas Opportunity Letter. Simply enter your email address below and we’ll send you our FREE REPORT: Portugal – The World's Number #1 Retirement Haven