Are you moving to Portugal and searching for the perfect school for your children? Look no further. With Portugal’s education system ranking highly on a global scale, the choices are plenty, but finding the right fit is key. Our straightforward guide to international schools in Portugal gives you the essential information without the fluff.
We understand that every family’s needs are unique. That’s why we’ve created a user-friendly tool that allows you to search for schools by name, region, curriculum, and language. Our list is comprehensive and designed to help you make an informed decision quickly and efficiently.
Whether you’re looking for a school with a specific language of instruction or one that offers the International Baccalaureate, our guide has got you covered. Start your journey with us and find the ideal international school in Portugal for your children today.
How to find the best international school in Portugal
- Start the search early as school places can fill up fast
- Understand the curriculum options and how they will impact your child’s learning in the long run
- Visit all the schools that you are interested in – this is the best way to get a feel for them
- Apply to at least three schools, its best to hedge your bets
- Bear in mind that what works for one family may not work for you
- Seek professional assistance to find the schools that best match your expectations and educational goals
In our International School Guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about the education system in Portugal, including how to navigate the booming international school market in Portugal, maps of the international school locations across the country, and a complete list of these schools, from Braga in the north to the Algarve in the south.
List of International Schools in Portugal
Map of International Schools in Portugal
International Schools in Lisbon
International Schools in the Greater Lisbon Area
International Schools in the Algarve
International Schools in other regions
Why choose Portugal?
Cities like Lisbon and Porto combine old-world architecture, independent boutique shops, and a vibrant arts and culture scene with access to a multitude of outdoor activities. The energy is unpretentious, relaxed, and safe, with family festivals throughout the year. And you’ll be able to find excellent international schools across the country.
Residence in Portugal can be obtained through a number of different methods. Among them is the highly popular Golden Visa program.
What can international schools in Portugal offer my child?
Choosing a school in a foreign country can be challenging for parents who want the best for their children’s future. On a positive note, education in Portugal is of a high standard, with plenty of reputable international schools to choose from.
In Portugal, international schools offer an exceptional standard of education and typically hold accreditations from international organizations. These schools create a multicultural environment where students have the opportunity to interact with peers from various countries, fostering openness, empathy, and respect for diverse cultures. These schools tend to focus on multilingual education, a holistic curriculum, and academic achievement.
Furthermore, international schools provide an extensive array of extracurricular activities and programs that support the development of children’s skills, talents, and interests.
Moreover, many of these schools follow globally recognized curricula like the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the British curriculum. These curricula are specifically designed to cultivate critical and independent thinking, creativity, and problem-solving abilities, all of which are essential for thriving in the 21st century.
Some families choose international schools because they focus on children becoming curious and collaborative individuals. Other international schools excel in STEM subjects or place an emphasis on arts and music. You’ll find several English-speaking schools in Portugal with a wide range of curricula.
Thinking about the future
It’s at school that children develop tools to conquer the rapidly changing job market. With high-quality public and private schools, renowned educational institutions can be found in abundance across the country. Numerous schools in Portugal provide globally renowned qualifications like the IB or Cambridge International Examinations, offering your child a competitive edge when applying to universities worldwide.
Attending an international school in Portugal presents a significant advantage as it opens a realm of opportunities for your child. A global education equips them to excel in higher education anywhere across the globe.
How to choose an international school in Portugal
Portugal boasts 51 international schools spread across seven distinct cities. The majority of these schools are concentrated in the Greater Lisbon area, Porto, and the Algarve region.
In Lisbon, you can find international schools in various neighborhoods, including Cascais, Estoril, Sintra, Oeiras, and Carcavelos. Meanwhile, the Algarve region offers international schools in Faro, Almancil, Lagoa, and Portimão. Additionally, other regions like Braga, Madeira, and Leiria also have a handful of international schools, albeit in smaller numbers.
The journey of choosing your child’s school can be stressful and exhausting. You will need to visit schools, talk to teachers and principals, read up on the school curriculum, and take into account your child’s abilities and personality to find the perfect match.
The choice can be made easier if you know where to start. To help you, the Global Citizen Solutions team in Portugal has launched the International School Guide, providing you with a complete list of schools in the country, plus a checklist with top tips.
Tips for selecting the best international school for your child
When deciding on the best international schools in Portugal for your children, there are several crucial factors to take into account. Here are some top tips to assist you in making the best decision:
- Accreditation: Ensure the school is accredited by recognized organizations like CIS, NEASC, or IBO, guaranteeing high standards in curriculum, teaching, and facilities.
- Curriculum: Consider the offered curriculum, whether it’s the IB diploma or whether the school offers a North American style education, based on your child’s needs and future aspirations.
- Location: Think about the school’s proximity to your home or workplace and access to public transportation for easy commuting.
- Extracurricular activities: Explore the range of extracurricular offerings, such as sports, music, and drama, to help your child make friends and develop new skills.
- Teacher qualifications: Verify the qualifications and experience of the teachers, as they play a vital role in your child’s learning experience.
You might also want to consider longevity. Some international schools have an in-built elementary school (primary school) and secondary school and can educate children aged from four years old right school up to eighteen.
By taking these factors into consideration, you can ensure that you choose the ideal international school in Portugal for your child’s education journey. Additionally, consider the continuity of education offered, whether the school covers both primary education and secondary education levels, depending on your long-term plans for your child’s education.
British international schools, German schools, French schools, and American international schools
Note that Portugal offers many different types of international schools, all teaching through different languages and using different curricula.
For example, Deutsche Schule Lissabon is an established German school in Lisbon, and Deutsche Schule zu Porto is the second oldest German school in Portugal, located in Porto.
The largest British international school, meanwhile, would be the Nobel Algarve British International School.
Whether you prioritize a specific language of instruction or wish to follow a particular educational system, Portugal’s best international schools cater to diverse preferences and needs. So, whether your child needs an English-based curriculum, a German-focused education, or any other international approach, rest assured that Portugal’s best international schools stand ready to provide a rich and fulfilling learning experience for students of all backgrounds and aspirations.
The Portuguese Grading System
The Portuguese grading system may be a little different from what you are used to in your home country. Here, we’ll provide you with some insights on what to expect.
For middle school, a five-scale grading system is used:
- The lowest grade, fail to pass
High schools are graded on a 20-point scale. You can see a comparison of the Portuguese and US grading systems below:
What is the cheapest international school?
All international schools in Portugal are private institutions and charge tuition fees, but the costs can vary significantly. Among the options, Instituto Espanhol Giner de Los Rios and the International School of Madeira stand out as schools with lower-cost tuition fees.
International Schools versus Public Schools
When deciding on your child’s schooling in Portugal, you may be contemplating the differences between public schools and private or international schools. Public schools in Portugal are generally well-regarded, emphasizing public education and following the national curriculum standards.
Moreover, public schools are more budget-friendly as they receive government funding and do not require tuition fees. This makes them an attractive choice for families prioritizing education accessibility or those on a tight budget.
However, international schools in Portugal offer distinct advantages that might appeal to specific families. For foreign residents or international students, attending school at an international or private school can facilitate the transition to a new country due to its diverse student body and tailored curriculum catering to various backgrounds.
Furthermore, international and private schools can often provide a more rigorous academic program with smaller class sizes, offering individualized attention from teachers. Although private school tuition fees may be higher than public schools, many families believe that the benefits of an international or private education outweigh the costs.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to choose a top public school or private school in Portugal will depend on your unique priorities and circumstances.
If you're considering making the move to Portugal, it's essential to be informed about the various visa and residency options available. The Golden Visa Portugal program is an attractive option for many, offering residency to investors and their families. For those eyeing retirement in this beautiful country, the Retirement Visa (D7) is tailored for you. Digital nomads can take advantage of both short and long stay options with the Nomad Visa (D8). Meanwhile, the NHR - Non Habitual Tax regime provides significant tax benefits for new residents. For the entrepreneurial spirit, Portugal offers the Entrepreneurship/startup Visa (D2) - Start-up Visa (open company) tailored for those looking to establish their businesses in the country. Those with specialized skills can explore the Work visa for highly qualified employees (D3). Additionally, if you have Portuguese ancestry, you might be eligible for Citizenship by descent. However, moving to a new country isn't just about visas. If you're thinking of buying property, our guide on Buying Property in Portugal can offer invaluable insights. Dive deeper into the immigration process with our comprehensive Portugal immigration guide. For Americans specifically looking to relocate, we have curated information on Americans moving to Portugal. Lastly, one can't forget the importance of the NIF (Tax Registration Number), a crucial step in any relocation process.
Exploring Visa and Immigration Options for Portugal
If you're considering making the move to Portugal, it's essential to be informed about the various visa and residency options available. The Golden Visa Portugal program is an attractive option for many, offering residency to investors and their families. For those eyeing retirement in this beautiful country, the Retirement Visa (D7) is tailored for you. Digital nomads can take advantage of both short and long stay options with the Nomad Visa (D8). Meanwhile, the NHR - Non Habitual Tax regime provides significant tax benefits for new residents.
For the entrepreneurial spirit, Portugal offers the Entrepreneurship/startup Visa (D2) - Start-up Visa (open company) tailored for those looking to establish their businesses in the country. Those with specialized skills can explore the Work visa for highly qualified employees (D3). Additionally, if you have Portuguese ancestry, you might be eligible for Citizenship by descent.
However, moving to a new country isn't just about visas. If you're thinking of buying property, our guide on Buying Property in Portugal can offer invaluable insights. Dive deeper into the immigration process with our comprehensive Portugal immigration guide. For Americans specifically looking to relocate, we have curated information on Americans moving to Portugal. Lastly, one can't forget the importance of the NIF (Tax Registration Number), a crucial step in any relocation process.
To Wrap Things Up
In summary, international schools in Portugal present a high-quality education system with outstanding opportunities for students’ personal and professional growth. These institutions cover education from primary to secondary levels, placing a strong emphasis on preparing students for their foundational university education and beyond.
Private schools in Portugal deliver a world-class educational experience, boasting experienced educators and staff, modern facilities, and a curriculum that prioritizes language acquisition.
With a comprehensive approach encompassing foreign language instruction and a diverse range of extracurricular activities, international schools in Portugal provide students with a well-rounded education, equipping them with the essential skills for future success.
Portugal’s international schools pave the way towards a bright future for your children by offering everything from basic education to foreign language assistance and certifications, and so much more.
For instance, private international schools such as St. Peter’s International School in Palmela, southeast of Lisbon, cater to parents looking to enroll their kids in private pre-schools, elementary schools or primary schools, and even an international preparatory school or secondary school that offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma or (IB Diploma program). You will find the annual tuition and fee breakdown for the Portuguese National curriculum and international curriculum on the school website.
For parents looking for the benefits of religious education, schools like St. Dominic’s International School (SDIS) in São Domingos de Rana, Cascais, could be a good fit for you and your family. Additionally, British schools like IPS British International School in Cascais, near Lisbon, offer the English National Curriculum Educational stages at the foundation stage, primary school, and secondary school levels. There are many respected international schools offering world-class education, even the cheapest international school in Portugal with low yearly fees still offers top-class curriculums and extra-curricular activities.
Whether you’re a parent seeking the best education for your child or a student aspiring for a transformative learning journey, international schools in Portugal stand as an exceptional choice.
Frequently Asked Questions about International Schools in Portugal
What are the international schools in Lisbon?
There are 28 international schools in the Greater Lisbon region alone, including the British School of Lisbon, Lycée Francais Charles Le Pierre de Lisbonne, and The Lisboan.
What are the international schools in Porto?
There are four international schools in Porto, including CLIP – Oporto International School, Oporto British School, and Lycée Français International de Porto – LFIP.
What are the international schools in the Algarve?
There are 12 international schools in the Algarve, including the Nobel Algarve British International School, Vale Verde International School, Colegio Santiago Internacional, CIV – Vilamoura International School, and Aljezur International School.
What are the best international schools in Portugal?
The best international schools, whether in Porto, Lisbon, or the Algarve, will depend on the priorities chosen by the parents for the education of their child. You should also take into account your new location and your family’s lifestyle. The best international schools for you may be completely different from something else. This will just depend on what you are looking for.
Alongside international schools, you’ll also find private schools in Portugal that are taught in the Portuguese language. This can be an excellent option if you would like your child to be integrated into the Portuguese system. Do note, however, that while many of these schools provide extra Portuguese language teaching, the classes are taught in Portuguese, and, particularly if your child is older, they may struggle to keep up.
Are international schools free in Portugal?
No, international schools are not free in Portugal. However, you will find fees for international schools here much more affordable than in other European countries.
Are there English-speaking schools in Portugal?
From primary school through to secondary education, you’ll find English-speaking schools in Portugal. English-speaking schools in Portugal are focused in Lisbon, the Algarve, and Porto.
Some examples include the Nobel International School, PaRK International School (English and Portuguese), Oeiras International School, Carluccio International School, St Dominic’s International, the International Christian School of Cascais, International Sharing School, and the British International School of Lisbon.
There are many different curricula, such as the British curriculum, the American curriculum (such as the Carlucci American International School), and the International Baccalaureate (IB), which follows an international curriculum that is globally recognized. International students in these schools will have a good foundation and will be set up for the challenges of life in the best possible way.
An American international school will provide your child with a good base in case you may relocate to America and would like your child to be familiar with the curriculum.
Which is the cheapest international school in Portugal?
The cost of international schools will vary. Two international schools with affordable fees are the Instituto Espanhol Giner de Los Rios and the International School of Madeira. You can find more about the fees for each international school in our International School Guide (see the link at the beginning of this article). You will discover that boarding schools, as expected, will be more expensive.
How many international schools are in Portugal?
There are 51 international schools, mostly focused in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, including primary school level through to secondary school level. There are many different curricula to be found in Portugal, such as the British curriculum, the American curriculum, and the International Baccalaureate (IB). American international schools provide your child with a good base in case you may relocate to America and would like your child to be familiar with the curriculum.
How do international schools in Portugal differ from local Portuguese schools?
International schools in Portugal differ from local Portuguese schools in several key aspects. While local Portuguese schools follow the national curriculum and primarily use the Portuguese language for instruction, international schools typically offer a diverse range of curricula, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), British, American, or German systems, among others.
The language of instruction in international schools can vary, and many schools provide bilingual or multilingual education, accommodating students from different linguistic backgrounds. Additionally, international schools often have a more diverse student body, with students from various countries, creating a multicultural and international environment throughout.
Are international schools in Portugal open to both expatriate and local students?
Yes, most international schools in Portugal are open to both expatriate and local students. While these schools are commonly associated with serving the expatriate community, they are also open to local students who wish to benefit from an international education and the opportunities it offers.
International schools in Portugal welcome students from different cultural backgrounds and often play a vital role in fostering cultural exchange and global perspectives among their students.
Can my child transition easily from an international school in Portugal to a school in another country?
Yes, students who attend an international school in Portugal can generally transition smoothly to schools in other countries. International schools follow globally recognized curricula, making it easier for students to adapt to different educational systems.
The international focus of these schools also helps students develop transferable skills and adaptability, which can aid in their transition to new environments. Additionally, many international schools provide support for students during the transition process to ensure seamless integration into their new educational setting.
Do international schools in Portugal provide support for non-English speaking students?
Yes, international schools in Portugal typically provide support for non-English speaking students. Many international schools have language support programs to help non-English speakers develop their language proficiency and integrate into the English-based curriculum. These schools often have English as a Second Language (ESL) programs or specialized language classes to facilitate the learning process for students whose first language is not English.
What extracurricular activities are available in international schools in Portugal?
International schools in Portugal offer a wide range of extracurricular activities to enrich students’ learning experiences and cater to their diverse interests and talents.
These activities may include sports like soccer, basketball, and swimming, as well as music, drama, arts, debate clubs, and various academic or interest-based clubs. Additionally, some international schools may organize field trips, community service projects, and cultural events to provide a holistic educational experience beyond the classroom.