Updated: February 15, 2023Portugal has cemented itself as one of the best destinations for expats seeking a good quality of life in a thriving Mediterranean country. Retirees, digital nomads, young professionals, and families are all discovering the many perks that moving to Portugal brings. However, a significant concern many parents with children may face when moving abroad is: What about education in the country? As an expat parent, there's no need to worry about your child's/children's education in Portugal, least of all when it comes to schools in Lisbon. Many of the best international schools in the country are situated in the Portuguese capital and the Greater Lisbon Area, where children can receive an excellent international education. What's more, Portugal's educational system is very well regarded and ranks in 24th position in the 2022 Best Countries for Education Report, produced by the US News and World Report, BAV Group, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Finding the ideal school is crucial to further your child's personal and professional development. You'll find plenty of choices in Lisbon, the second oldest capital in Europe. In this article, we'll delve into Lisbon neighborhoods close to international schools so that you are best positioned to move to the country. We'll also touch upon the Portuguese education system, the types of international schools in Lisbon, and how to choose from the many international schools in and around Lisbon. The Portuguese capital has many diverse neighborhoods, and the Greater Lisbon area also has much to offer. Alongside this, our residency and citizenship division, Global Citizen Solutions, has developed an international school guide for Portugal. Their international school guide provides you with everything you’ll need to know about the education system in Portugal, including a complete list of the international schools in the country.
Which Lisbon neighborhoods are close to international schools?
There are 30 international schools in the Greater Lisbon area out of the 51 international schools in the country. And, if you move to the Portuguese capital or the surrounding area, you should find that many Lisbon neighborhoods are close to international schools. You can see in the maps below the locations of the international schools in and around Lisbon.
Central Lisbon – A breakdown of the locations of international schools in Lisbon
International schools in the Greater Lisbon Area
With 30 international schools available, you will have quite a lot of options when it comes to deciding on a specific school. A few examples of international schools in the Lisbon area include United Lisbon International School, Carlucci American International School, and PaRk International School.
The following neighborhoods should be on your radar if you are looking to move to Lisbon with your family and would like to be close to one of the international schools in the city or the surrounding area. Where you are going to live can certainly be influenced by the logistics of taking your child to school, so it is worth scouting which neighborhood is close to your school of choice.
Saldanha is situated in the heart of Lisbon and is considered the city’s central business district. However, you’ll also find many residential properties, modern apartments, and older abodes here. From Saldanha, it’s extremely easy to get around, with excellent transport links to the whole city. You’ll find many excellent restaurants, green spaces, and amenities nearby. You’ll find the diverse neighborhood of Anjos close by, with its trendy bars, innovative restaurants, and street art. If you are looking for a convenient, smart, central location, this could be the ideal place.
Campo de Ourique
Campo de Ourique is well known as one of the city’s quieter spots, situated in western Lisbon. Here, you have the large Amoreiras shopping center and many green spaces. Campo de Ourique is not as busy as many other parts of Lisbon, making it the ideal place for families looking for somewhere a little less busy. You are also not far from Monsanto, the beautiful national park that borders Lisbon to the west, perfect for weekend picnics, walks, or bike trips. Redbridge School and Lycée Francais Charles LePierre Lisbonne are located very close to Campo do Ourique, and the British School of Lisbon is also not far away.
Parque de Nacoes
In the west of Lisbon, Parque das Nações is a unique part of the city, providing modern properties, bustling restaurants, and top views of the River Tagus. The cable cars overhead add to its futuristic look, and the aquarium of Lisbon can also be found here, which is the perfect weekend escape for a rainy day. You are also very close to the airport and have good travel links to the city.
Some have said that Parque das Nações is slightly similar to Canary Wharf in London in terms of architecture. If you visit the area, you will likely be able to see for yourself the similarities. When it comes to schools, the modern United Lisbon International School is situated close to Parque das Nações in Marvila.
If you follow the River Tagus west from the center of Lisbon on the way to Cascais, you’ll come across Oeiras. This is an excellent place to live for families, as you’ll find spacious properties, many of which have fantastic views of the river, and will also be close to sandy beaches, parks, green spaces, and international schools.
As this part of the city is a little further out, to the west of Belém, you’ll also find more affordable properties. The Oeiras International School and the International Sharing School Tagus Park are two excellent options to consider in Oeiras. The Oeiras International School is for children aged six to eighteen, while the International Sharing School provides a unique experience based on learning by sharing.
Belém and Restelo
In the western part of Lisbon, Belém and Restelo are excellent options when considering Lisbon neighborhoods close to international schools. You’ll be near the river, not far from top beaches, either by car or train, and will find many parks, museums, and restaurants to enjoy. The original “pastel de nata” can also be traced back to Belém, at the Jerónimos Monastery in Santa Maria de Belem, a bonus of living in this area.
In the heart of Restelo, you’ll come across L’Ecole Trilingue, a small school where children discover the world in English, French, and Portuguese and receive individual attention.
You’ll find an impressive 13 international schools in the Cascais/Estoril catchment area, such as PaRK International School. Cascais is a peaceful seaside town home to glorious beaches, watersports activities, and excellent seafood. You’ll find that the town gets much livelier in the summer months, as vacationing families and locals head to the seaside town to relax on the sandy beaches. However, if you live a little outside the center or in neighboring Estoril, you’ll find stunning, spacious properties, many equipped with a swimming pool, private gym, and added security. You are just a short 30-minute drive from Lisbon and close to the stunning Sintra-Cascais National Park by car.
Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage town, and, despite its rise in popularity, it retains its authenticity and local customs. The Sintra-Cascais National Park is home to some of the most beautiful palaces in Europe, and it’s perfect for active families exploring the stunning scenery and pristine beaches. You’ll find three top-quality international schools in Sintra, the Carlucci International School of Lisbon, Prime School, and TASIS Portugal. The Prime School follows the Cambridge international curriculum if this interests you. You are still under an hour’s drive from Sintra from Lisbon, so you can easily enjoy the capital’s delights while appreciating peace and quiet.
Setúbal, a historic coastal city, is situated 50 km south of Lisbon and is home to one of Portugal’s largest expat populations. The stunning Arrábida Natural Park, one of the most beautiful areas of Portugal, is close by, so it’s no surprise why many expats are taking notice and moving here. If you are looking for a quiet spot not far from the city’s bright lights, then Setúbal could be the perfect location for you. You’ll find two excellent international schools close to Setúbal – St Peter’s International School and Seixal International School.
While it can be a great idea to live in the capital of Lisbon itself, the Greater Lisbon Area has much to offer, including providing a wide range of top-quality international schools. You’ll find plenty of top locations from Sintra to Cascais and from Setúbal to Oeiras. One commonality, however, is that you’ll be able to live a high quality of life and be close to incredible natural landforms, beaches, and national parks while offering a plethora of fun activities. Another benefit of choosing properties outside central Lisbon is that they are often more affordable.
Additional Information on Education in Portugal
In this section of our Lisbon Neighborhoods Close to International Schools article, we’ll provide some basic information on the Portuguese education system and the types of international schools you’ll come across.
The Portuguese education system
There are public and private schools in Portugal where your children will receive a proper education at different ages. The Ministry of Education (Direção-Geral da Educação – DGE) regulates schooling in Portugal, starting from pre-school up until secondary school. School groups (agrupamentos escolares) also work closely with local municipalities to assign funding and define the curriculum. The Ministry of Science, Technology, and Higher Education (Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior – MCTES) oversees policies and budgets for higher education.
Both public schools and private schools in Lisbon offer an education system that consists of four stages and comprises the following educational levels:
- Pre-school education (Educação Pré-escolar): ages 3 to 6
- Primary education (Ensino Básico): ages 6 to 15
- Secondary education (Ensino Secundário): ages 15 to 18
- Higher education (Ensino Superior): ages 18 and above
School is mandatory from the age of 6 to 18. After that, students can proceed to university or apply for a job.
For more information, you can consult our article: The Education System in Portugal.
International schools in Lisbon
International schools are often the best option for expats living in Lisbon, Portugal. These schools offer a multicultural environment that provides students with transferable skills and the ability to engage more with different cultures. Whether you are looking for an international preparatory school or secondary education, you’ll find plenty of choices.
Parents in Lisbon can choose from British, American, French, German, and other international schools. It is ideal if they want their child or children to learn in their native language or be familiar with a specific curriculum. This is particularly important if, in the future, you may return to the UK, as if your child is already following the British curriculum, this may make the transition much more accessible.
Luckily, in Lisbon, international school fees are relatively affordable compared to other European countries, starting at around €5,000 a year. Because the educational system in Portugal consists of different stages, you should consider this while searching for a school in the Portuguese capital for your child. Check carefully if the school you’re targeting is a good option for your children to continue their studies at advanced levels. Also, ensuring that the Lisbon neighborhood where you live is close to the international school that you want to send your children to is important.
Types of international schools in Lisbon
Lisbon international schools have different options for expat children. The first step is to decide what you are looking for. After this, you’ll be able to narrow down your options and choose the best schools in Portugal that suit your needs and that of your child. Following this, you can continue to focus on the schools that you would like to visit, where you can get a feel for what they are about.
In this section of our Lisbon Neighborhoods Close to International Schools article, we’ll briefly overview each type of international school that you can expect to find in and around Lisbon.
Schools with the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a pre-university education curriculum preparing students for more significant challenges in higher education. Students can graduate from secondary school with the IB, and the diploma is internationally recognized. The course focuses on children’s creativity, sense of community, and professional development. There are also some English-speaking schools in Portugal where students can graduate with an IB diploma.
American international schools and Advanced Placement (AP)
The American education system consists of elementary, middle, and high school. During the different cycles of American education, your children will study social studies, math, English, science, and usually a foreign language.
Graduating from an American school, especially if the United States Department of State recognizes the school, can help students if they hope to attend university in the USA or Canada. Some American schools may offer Advanced Placement (AP) college-level courses, SAT preparation, or university application support.
A couple of good examples of schools that follow the American curriculum in Lisbon are the Carlucci American International School of Lisbon and the International Christian School of Cascais, located just outside of Lisbon. The Carlucci American International School is an excellent option if you are looking for an American international school in Portugal. As the name suggested, the International Christian School of Cascais is also religious.
You can read more about living in Portugal as an American here.
British international schools
British schools in Lisbon are good options for expat parents considering a British education for their children, perhaps with the intention that they will be able to continue their studies in the UK in the future. Generally, students study science, math, history, English, and foreign languages. Of course, the language of instruction is English, and the focus is on problem-solving, confidence-building, and student growth.
One of the highlights and the biggest reasons why people consider a British school is that most offer students International General Certificates of Secondary School (IGCSE), facilitating more accessible access to universities. The British School of Lisbon and St. Julian’s School, just outside Lisbon, are good examples of British schools in Lisbon.
Other national curricula
You’ll also find other national curricula in the Portuguese capital with different languages. For example, the German School of Lisbon (Deutsche Schule Lissabon) and the Lycée français Charles Lepierre (Lisbon) offer German and French curriculums, respectively, and are both well-established schools. And, of course, you will also come across the Portuguese curriculum.
A good number of secondary schools in Portugal are Catholic institutions, where students study some religious subjects along with the primary core curriculum. Many parents choose these schools because they perform better in the annual exams (in Portuguese) and offer a broader range of extramural activities. There are also some English-speaking schools in Portugal where students can graduate with an IB diploma. Fees for international schools in Portugal can range between €2,500 and €10,000 a year. The International Christian School of Cascais is a good example of a religious school in Lisbon.
At method schools, your child will learn at a different pace and with a style that suits them. You should be aware that some methods schools may only accept students within specific cycles. Additionally, some schools may teach in one language or offer multilingual education, so do your research. The Lisbon Montessori School is an excellent example of such a school in Lisbon.
How to choose an international school in Lisbon?
You may be wondering what the top international schools in Lisbon are. While this will depend on what you are looking for in a school – curriculum, language of instruction, school fees – you can rest assured that you will find many top international schools in Lisbon, some of which have been discussed in this article: United Lisbon International School, Carlucci American International School of Lisbon, PaRk International School, Lisbon Montessori School, St Dominic’s International School, and more.
The best way to begin your search is by asking yourself simple questions, such as:
- What are the languages I want my children to learn?
- How far away is the school from our home?
- What type of education system would I like my children to be enrolled in?
- Where are the possible countries where my children can attend universities?
- What is an affordable budget to maintain a good and cost-effective education?
Once you have clear answers to these questions, this will help you decide which schools are good options for you.
Here are some of the valuable resources that might help you while deciding:
- Secretaria-Geral do Ministério da Educação e Ciência – Portuguese General Secretariat for Education and Science (in Portuguese)
- Direção-Geral da Educação – Information on essential programs from the Portuguese Directorate-General for Education (in Portuguese)
- Your Europe – Information on starting school in another country in the European Union
Goldcrest: How We Can Help
Goldcrest is a property buyer’s agent based in Lisbon, Portugal. With years of experience in the market, we provide a tailored service to our clients, from sourcing to acquisition. If you are currently looking for the perfect home in Lisbon or the surrounding area, you can contact us.
The following articles may also be of interest to you:
- How to Buy a Property in Lisbon
- Homes for Sale in Lisbon Portugal: Top Ten Neighborhoods
- Where to Live in Lisbon with your Family
- An Expert Guide to Buying Real Estate in Lisbon
- The Best Neighborhoods in Lisbon
- National Parks in Portugal
Portuguese schools provide high-quality education with many options for expat families. An international school is an excellent choice if you would like your child to follow a specific curriculum or be taught in a particular language.
You will also find some international schools in Lisbon that offer Portuguese classes for your children, along with other subjects, which will be helpful for them to get to grips with living in Portugal while studying in their native language. Note that the international school that proves to be the ideal fit for someone else may not be the right one for you, something to bear when narrowing down your international school choices.
When it comes to neighborhoods close to international schools in Lisbon, we have shown that there are many different options to consider. The main thing is to feel confident that you are choosing the right international school for your child or children, as this is one of the most important decisions that will help shape them throughout their lives.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lisbon Neighborhoods Close to International Schools:
Does Lisbon have good schools?
Lisbon offers a variety of high-quality international schools with various languages and curricula to choose from.
Are international schools free in Portugal?
Unlike public schools, international schools come with annual fees in Portugal, but Portugal has one of the most affordable education systems in Europe. Many schools in Portugal for international students allow children to study in their native language and interact with other children from across the world.
Are schools good in Portugal?
The education system in Portugal is excellent, offering families a variety of choices for schools and universities, including international schools. There are both private and free public schools in Portugal to choose from.
What is the best international school in Lisbon?
There are many excellent international schools in Lisbon, including United Lisbon International School, the British School of Lisbon, St Julian’s School, Carlucci American International School of Lisbon, St Peter’s School, St Dominic’s International School, International Sharing School Tagus Park, and PaRk International School.
Are there English-speaking schools in Portugal?
Yes, there are plenty of English-speaking schools in Portugal. You will find a mix of American and British schools where your child or children can get different English educational programs.
Are there English high schools in Lisbon, Portugal?
Yes, there are English-speaking high schools in Portugal and Lisbon. International schools here include several English-speaking ones, with many following British or American curricula.
What is the education system like in Portugal?
In Portugal, the Basic Education program lasts nine years, broken into three successive cycles of four, two, and three years. Children begin their first school year on 15 September once they turn six years old.
How many international schools are there in Lisbon?
There are around 26 international schools in Lisbon and its surroundings, with 15 British schools, 9 are IB schools and 8 are American schools. Most are English speaking and some are bi and multi-lingual.