Braga is not so well known amongst expats, who tend to favor Lisbon, the Algarve, or perhaps Porto, and it’s this status as a hidden gem that makes it so desirable. So, if you are looking for a quieter city lifestyle, living in Braga could be the perfect place in Portugal for you. In this article, we’ll uncover everything about this charming city, a city that can boast a laid-back vibe, some of the best food in the country, and friendly locals who are very welcoming of epxats. Indeed, Braga was named the best European destination in 2021, showing that the city is beginning to get the international recognition that it deserves.
In this article, we’ll delve into:
- Where is Braga?
- Top reasons for living in Braga
- Best neighborhoods in Braga
- Buying or renting a house in Braga as a foreigner
- How to live in Braga as a foreign citizen: residence permits and visas
- Cost of living in Braga
- Getting around
- Weather in Porto
- Festivals and attractions
- Living in Porto: pros and cons
- Is Porto safe?
- The bottom line of living in Porto
- Plus much more!
Where is Braga?
Braga is situated in the northwestern corner of Portugal, not far away from the Spanish border. A city that is famous for its historic monuments, eye-catching landscapes, and quiet charm, Braga has a rich history dating back 2000 years. You are very close to Porto for the perfect weekend getaway and can even head to Spain and the north of Portugal very easily, enjoying the rustic countryside of the region.
Top reasons for living in Braga
There are many reasons to live in Braga. In this part of our living in Porto article, we’ll provide you with some of the most important reasons to consider Braga.
Outstanding business location
Braga has developed into a thriving business hub and employment hotspot in recent years. Most of the job opportunities here are in customer service and IT, with some big companies setting up shop here. For jobs in Braga, Portugal, some companies are looking for French, English, Dutch, German, and Spanish speakers, which are in high demand.
Safe and tolerant
Portugal is the fourth safest country in the world, according to the 2021 Global Peace Index, trailing only Iceland, New Zealand, and Denmark. Braga has low crime rates, is liberal and accepting, and is, on the whole, very welcoming to foreigners. From whichever walk of life, whether a local or foreigner, you should find this city safe and tolerant.
Although Braga is not right by the ocean, there are some nice beaches around, both fluvial and sea beaches. Here are some of our favorite beaches in the area:
- Fluvial beach of Vermin
- Praia Fluvial do Faial
- Praia de Cepães
- Praia Fluvial de Cavez
- Samil Beach (In Spain)
Portugal provides many tax benefits to foreigners coming to live in Portugal through the favorable non-habitual residence (NHS) scheme. If structured correctly, the scheme provides significant tax benefits for up to ten years. This has been a major draw for expats moving to Portugal over the years.
Best neighborhoods in Braga
In this section of our living in Braga article, we’ll provide you with some information on the neighborhoods and best places to live in this part of Portugal.
The universtiy quarter of Braga is perfect if you are looking for a taste of fashionable Braga, home to thousands of students and young professionals. In this part of town, you will find very nice bars, restaurants, and trendy cafés.
Bom Jesus do Monte
Bom Jesus do Monte is one of the best-known sites in northern Portugal. It is an ancient pilgrimage church that you can reach via a zig-zag stairway that has been the setting for many a picture over the years. A little outside the city, here you can find very exclusive properties for those looking for a little bit of peace in this part of the country. You should be able to find more spacious properties here, and the spectacular views are an added bonus.
Maximinos, Sé e Cividade
The parish of Maximinos, Sé e Cividade was created in 2013 by merging its two former namesake parishes. Here you can find the traditional buildings of the old town that have been revitalized, providing an excellent part of the city in which to live.
Briteiros, Vila Verde or Espinho
For famlies, Briteiros, Vila Verde or Espinho are very good options. In these parts of Braga, outside the city, you will have the space you need to live well, with all the amenities that you could want. With good transport links, you should also be able to get to the city center easily enough.
Buying or renting a house in Braga as a foreigner
For foreigners looking to buy a property in Braga, or in anywhere in Portugal for that matter, the policies are very flexible for foreigners.
Buying a home in Braga
If you are living in Braga, you will be living in one of the gems of Portugal, which is increasingly attracting digital nomads and expats, but that still retains its authentic Portuguese character. You will find many different property types and houses for sale in Braga, Portugal, whether you are looking for a modern townhouse or a country house with a large garden.
Although there are certain steps to follow, you will be pleased to know that the procedure for buying property in Portugal is relatively straightforward.
For further information, you can consult our article on how to buy an article in Portugal here.
You can also see our article on the best places in Portugal to buy property here if you are still debating which part of the country is right for you.
Renting a house in Braga
Renting a house in Braga will be comfortably more affordable than Lisbon, and even Porto, allowing you to save some cash on this front. Living in Braga is an excellent option, as you will be able to find spacious and modern properties to rent at a very good price.
How to live in Braga as a foreign citizen: residence permits and visas
In this part of our living in Porto article, we’ll provide you with crucial information about the different visa types and residence permits that you will need to live in Braga as a foreign citizen.
Living in Braga as an EU citizen
If you are an EU citizen are would like to stay in Portugal for more than three months, you will need to apply for a registration certificate. You can apply for this certificate after entering Portugal, and the registration certificate is valid for a period of up to five years.
Living in Braga as a non-EU citizen
If you are a non-EU national and would like to live in Portugal, you will need to apply for a Portuguese residency before you arrive in the country. Once your visa expires, you will need to apply for a residence permit.
Living in Braga with the Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa is for individuals that are looking to invest in the country, whether through a fund investment, company formation, or through a donation to the arts, scientific research, or natural heritage.
You can see our step-by-step guide to the Portugal Golden Visa here.
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.
Braga, Portugal cost of living
If you are looking to move to Portugal and are considering living in Braga, you will be happy to know that Braga is a very affordable city to live in, particularly when compared to the cost of living in other western European cities. In this section of our living in Braga article, we’ll provide you with some further information on the cost of living in Braga, Portugal.
Rent in Braga is significantly lower than in Lisbon. To rent a one-bedroom apartment, starting prices are around 400€ per month, and, for a three-bedroom apartment, you should expect to pay around 600€ per month.
As with most other cities, as you move further out of the city, rental prices will decrease.
Grocery shopping in the city of Braga is cheaper than in most other European cities. The main supermarket chains are Continente, Auchan, Pingo Doce, Lidl, and Intermarché.
It is relatively inexpensive to eat out in Braga, and round and about the city, you will come across great food and drink. Try the Francesinha (a meat-stuffed sandwich with a special sauce) that is typical from the north of Portugal, or venture into any of the local cafés for a sweet treat. It is said that the north of Portugal has the best food in the country, so you will have much to enjoy!
Braga is not as big as Lisbon and Porto, so if you live in the city center, you can easily reach every place, more or less, by foot. There are good bus connections to get around the immediate surrounding and the nearby towns, and Porto is easily reachable by train, which has the closest airport.
There are more international schools in Porto and in Lisbon than in Braga. However, a good option to consider is CLIB – The Braga International school. which is a private school for children between the ages of three and 18 years old.
As already mentioned, Braga is not such a big city, so it’s relatively easy to get around and about by foot. There are also very good bus services to surrounding towns and villages, and the train to Porto allows you easily reach the second biggest city in the county.
Many Portuguese cities have a specific street for shopping. In Braga, the street is called “Rua do Souto” in the city center, where you can find a nice mix of well-known brands, and more local shops, where you can find hand-crafted Portuguese specialties.
There are good healthcare facilities in Braga. Rest assured that if you are looking to retire to Portugal, the country has a good healthcare reputation that is increasingly incorporating English into its practice, with most doctors speaking the language.
For residents of Portugal, you can have access to public healthcare through Portugal’s National Health Service, which is called the SNS (Serviço Nacional de Saúde). In Braga, there are also an increasing number of private healthcare providers, so if you have health insurance or would like to pay while you are there, this could be an option for you.
In recent years, healthcare for foreigners in Portugal has improved a lot, probably fueled by more expats moving to the country. Indeed, the Euro Health Consumer Index ranked Portuguese healthcare as the 13th best in Europe in 2018, ranking in a higher position than the UK, Spain, Italy, and Ireland. Portuguese healthcare ranked the highest in terms of patient rights and providing information, waiting times, and accessibility, alongside overall healthcare outcomes. Portugal has an average life expectancy of 81 years.
Although English will not be as widely spoken as in Lisbon or Porto, you will easily be able to get by in Braga. In general, the younger generation has an excellent command of the English language. Living in Braga, you can pick up some of the language as this will be sure to impress locals and help you to integrate fully into your life in Portugal.
Weather in Braga
Portugal is renowned for its mild climate. However, as a northern city, Braga is not as warm as some other areas of the country. The summers are short, warm, dry, and clear, but the winters can be cold, wet, and a little cloudy. The temperature over the course of the year typically varies from 42°F (6°C to 80°F 27°C).
Festivals and attractions
Although not as big as Lisbon and Porto, there are plenty of things to do in Braga Portugal. You can experience a variety of live events, cultural attractions, and film and food festivals. Some of the popular festivals and attractions to watch out for if you are living are the following:
- Braga Romana is one of the most famous festivals in Braga. The festival takes place every year at the start of June and was created from an initiative launched to relive the past of the ancient city of Bracara Augusta, the metropolis that was founded on the site of the modern city of Braga around 2000 years ago by the Romans. With a Roman market, Roman procession, and entertainment from the townspeople’s ancient forebears, this is a festival worth attending.
- Although the one in Porto is bigger, the Braga São João festival can definitely hold its own. This is a big street party and feast that goes on from night until dawn. You’ll find delicious food in the markets, and the event is an incredible celebration.
- MIMARTE: Braga’s theatre festival hosts an array of performances from Portuguese and international acts during the first half of July.
- BragaJazz has been attracting lovers of jazz music for many a year, allowing you to experience a different side of the city.
- If jazz is not your thing, there is also the Braga International Folk Festival, a three-day event that brings together Braga’s rich past with the modern vibe of the city.
Living in Braga: pros and cons
In this section of our living in Braga article, we’ll provide you with some of the pros and cons of living in Braga.
Living in Braga pros and cons:
- Affordable cost of living in a cultural European city
- Good climate
- Some of the best food in Portugal, cultural events, and attractions
- Quieter than some other cities in Portugal
- High quality of life
- The bureaucracy process can be slow
- Some properties may not have central heating
- Not as big a city as Lisbon and Porto, so not as much choice in regards to schools for example
Is Braga safe?
Braga is probably one of the safest cities in Europe to live in, with low crime rates. Portugal is the fourth safest country in the world, after Iceland, New Zealand, and Denmark, according to the 2021 Global Peace Index, showing the country a very good place to relocate to. However, as with any city, it is best to be careful in busy areas, particularly in tourist areas.
The bottom line on living in Braga Portugal
So, what are the key takeaways from living in Braga? If you choose to move to this northern Portuguese city, you’ll find an affordable, historical, modern city that has retained a very authentic Portuguese lifestyle. That’s not to say that expats are not discovering the city, with Braga becoming somewhat of an international tech and business hub. As such, digital nomads will feel right at home; with some excellent coworking spaces, families can embrace the city life while also managing to explore the rustic beauty of the north of Portugal, and retirees can settle down to enjoy the good things in life.
If you would like some more information on certain topics, here are a couple of other articles that may be useful to you:
- The ultimate guide to buying property in Porto, Portugal
- Portugal for digital nomads: all you need to know
Frequently asked questions about living in Braga:
Is Braga a good place to live?
Yes, Braga is a very good city to live in for digital nomads, retirees, and families. In Braga, there is a relaxed vibe, some of the best gastronomy in Portugal, and friendly locals, in addition to the fact that Braga is a very picturesque city with stunning landscapes to be found if you do a day trip in any direction.
Is Braga a beautiful city?
Yes, the historic city of Braga is a very picturesque city, that manages to blend the old with the new in its architecture.
Is Braga cheaper than Porto?
Yes, Braga is slightly cheaper than Porto.
Is Braga Portugal expensive?
Braga is a very affordable city, particularly by western European city standards.