Braga: Unveiling the Timeless Beauty and Rich Heritage of Portugal’s ‘Roman City


Robert Eduard Antal » Urban Innovation » Braga's Pioneering Smart City Initiatives in Eurocities

Contributions and Roles of Member Cities in the Eurocities Network: Braga, Portugal

Innovation and Sustainability

Sustainable Commitments

As a member of the Eurocities network, Braga actively commits to sustainability and innovation. The city has established ambitious goals to reduce CO2 emissions, in line with the European Union’s Green Deal. Braga is dedicated to promoting green technology through widespread use of renewable energy sources and sustainable urban mobility solutions.

Green Technology Promotion

Braga embraces green technology by integrating smart grids, enhancing energy efficiency in public buildings, and deploying electric vehicle infrastructure. These measures are aimed at reducing the city’s carbon footprint and fostering a sustainable urban environment.

Smart City Initiatives

Technological Advancements

Braga leverages cutting-edge technology to improve various aspects of urban life. Through initiatives like the Smart Water Management System, the city ensures the cleanliness of waterways and minimizes water wastage. Additionally, Braga has incorporated advanced healthcare technology to provide better services to its residents.

Official City Website:

Examples of Smart City Projects

  • Smart Water Management System for monitoring and reducing water consumption
  • Telemedicine platforms to deliver healthcare services remotely
  • Intelligent street lighting to reduce energy use
  • Public transportation optimization using real-time data

Cultural and Social Projects

Engagement in Culture and Social Welfare

Braga engages significantly in cultural and social projects to enrich community life and support vulnerable groups. The city hosts numerous cultural events, fostering a vibrant cultural scene that promotes diversity and inclusion. Social initiatives include support programs for the elderly, immigrants, and low-income families.

Examples of Cultural and Social Initiatives

  • Braga International Arts Festival promoting cultural diversity
  • Community support programs for the elderly and disabled
  • Language and integration courses for immigrants
  • Affordable housing projects for low-income families

Urban Planning and Development

Livability and Climate Change Resilience

Braga is actively involved in urban planning and development projects to enhance livability and address climate change challenges. Projects include the redevelopment of urban spaces to be more pedestrian-friendly, the expansion of green areas, and improvements in public transportation infrastructure.

Examples of Urban Development Projects

  • Pedestrianization of the historic city center
  • Expansion of public parks and recreational areas
  • Development of efficient bike-sharing programs
  • Modernization of the public transportation fleet with electric buses

Youth and Education

Support for Students and Young Professionals

Braga creates a vibrant environment for students and young professionals by offering various educational and professional development programs. The city collaborates with local universities and businesses to provide internships, scholarships, and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Examples of Youth and Education Initiatives

  • Scholarship programs for higher education students
  • Internship opportunities with local businesses
  • Start-up incubators and co-working spaces for young entrepreneurs
  • STEM workshops and coding bootcamps for high school students

Benefits of Participation in Eurocities

Being part of the Eurocities network offers numerous benefits to Braga. The city gains access to a broad network of best practices, resources, and expertise from other member cities. This affiliation helps Braga enhance its policy-making, secure funding for projects, and strengthen its voice in European Union policymaking. Participation in Eurocities fosters international collaboration, leading to more innovative and sustainable urban development.

City Description: Braga, Portugal

City Name



Braga is located in the northwestern part of Portugal, within the historical and cultural region known as Minho. The city lies in a valley dominated by several hills and is bisected by the Cávado River. Braga is situated near the Atlantic coast, providing it with a temperate maritime climate.


As of the last official census, Braga has a population of approximately 192,494 residents. The demographic profile of Braga is diverse, with a blend of young professionals and older generations contributing to a vibrant and dynamic community.

Economic Overview

Braga’s economy is driven by a combination of traditional industries and modern sectors. Key industries include manufacturing, information technology, and services. The city is known for its strong entrepreneurial spirit, particularly in the tech and innovation sectors. Braga’s GDP is bolstered by its numerous technology start-ups, as well as its historic industrial base specializing in textiles and metallurgy.

Historical Significance

Braga is one of Portugal’s oldest cities, with a history dating back over 2000 years. It was founded by the Romans as Bracara Augusta. Throughout the medieval period, it became an important religious center and the seat of the Portuguese archbishopric. Important historical events include the Christian reconquest and the Portuguese Renaissance, which saw the city grow in architectural and cultural significance.

Cultural Attractions

  • Bom Jesus do Monte: A stunning sanctuary offering panoramic views of the city, known for its baroque stairway.
  • Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga): One of the oldest cathedrals in Portugal, exhibiting Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural styles.
  • Theatro Circo: A historical theater that hosts a wide range of cultural events and performances.
  • Braga Roman Thermae: Ancient Roman baths that provide insight into the city’s early history.

Education System

Primary and Secondary Education

Braga has a well-structured education system, with numerous public and private schools offering quality primary and secondary education.

Higher Education Institutions

  • University of Minho: One of Portugal’s top universities, offering a range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various fields.
  • Catholic University of Portugal – Braga Regional Centre: Known for its focus on arts, humanities, and theology.

Transportation Infrastructure

Braga boasts an efficient transportation network that includes:

  • Public Transit: An extensive bus network operated by TUB (Transportes Urbanos de Braga) connects various parts of the city and neighboring areas.
  • Rail Connectivity: Braga is connected to major Portuguese cities like Porto and Lisbon via the CP – Comboios de Portugal rail service.
  • Airports: The nearest major airport is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto, approximately 50 kilometers away, providing international and domestic flights.

Urban Development Projects

Braga is undergoing several urban development projects focused on sustainability and enhancing the quality of life:

  • Smart City Initiatives: Projects such as advanced traffic management systems, smart lighting, and waste management solutions.
  • Green Spaces Expansion: Initiatives to increase the number of parks and recreational areas, including the revitalization of existing green spaces.
  • Affordable Housing Development: Projects aimed at providing affordable housing options to residents.

Environmental Initiatives

Braga is actively involved in several environmental sustainability efforts:

  • Renewable Energy Programs: Expansion of solar and wind energy installations to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Recycling Campaigns: City-wide initiatives to increase recycling rates and reduce waste.
  • Eco-Mobility Projects: Promotion of cycling and electric vehicle usage, supported by an increasing number of charging stations and bike lanes.

Quality of Living

Braga offers a high quality of living characterized by excellent healthcare facilities, low crime rates, and ample amenities. The city has modern hospitals and clinics providing comprehensive medical services. The community is known for its safety and the availability of various recreational and cultural activities for residents of all ages.

Quality of Life Indexes

Braga consistently ranks high on various quality of life indexes. Notable rankings include:

  • Livability Ranking: Braga is often listed among the best cities to live in Portugal due to its blend of historical charm and modern amenities.
  • Health Index: The city boasts high scores in health indexes thanks to its robust healthcare system and healthy lifestyle promoted by local initiatives.
  • Environmental Quality Scores: Braga receives commendable scores for its environmental clean-up efforts and sustainability practices.

Mayor Profile: Ricardo Rio

Current Position

Mayor of Braga, Portugal

Political Affiliation

Social Democratic Party (PSD)


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Economics – University of Porto
  • Master’s Degree in Marketing – Portuguese Catholic University

Professional Background

  • Deputy Mayor of Braga (2001-2009)
  • City Councilor for Finance, Economic Development, and Administrative Modernization in Braga
  • Professor of Economics – Minho University

Achievements as Mayor

Vision for the Future

Mayor Ricardo Rio envisions Braga as a leading “Smart City,” integrating cutting-edge technologies to improve urban living, enhance sustainability, and foster community engagement. Key goals include:

  • Smart City Initiatives: Expansion of IoT (Internet of Things) solutions to optimize traffic management, waste collection, and energy consumption.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 through clean energy projects and extensive tree planting programs.
  • Community Engagement: Increased participation channels for residents in local governance, including digital platforms for feedback and suggestions.

Personal Life

In his personal life, Mayor Ricardo Rio is an avid reader and enjoys hiking in the natural parks around Braga. He is also heavily involved in community service and volunteers with local environmental groups, working to preserve Braga’s natural beauty.

Awards and Honors

  • European Green Capital Award (2021) – Recognized for outstanding environmental practices.
  • Innovative City Leader Award (2019) – For exceptional contributions to the Smart City initiative in Braga.
  • Order of Merit – Awarded for significant service to the city of Braga and its residents.

Braga, Portugal: Quality of Life and Cost of Living

Quality of Life


Braga is renowned for its safety, holding an impressive safety index of 80.29. This high score indicates that Braga is a secure place to live and visit, offering peace of mind to residents and tourists alike.


The healthcare quality index in Braga is equally commendable, standing at 71.34. The city boasts a well-developed healthcare system with reliable services, good medical facilities, and access to both public and private health services. Critical and specialized care are readily available, further enhancing the living standards in Braga.


Braga’s pollution index is notably low at 30.57, reflecting the city’s commitment to cleanliness and environmentally-friendly practices. Residents benefit from clean air, well-maintained public spaces, and a general sense of environmental stewardship, which contributes to the overall quality of life.


The transportation index in Braga is 38.89, indicating moderate efficiency and coverage of the public transport system. The city primarily relies on public buses and taxis, which provide reasonably good connectivity and are relatively punctual. While not extensive, the transportation network is adequate for daily commuting and covers the essential routes within the city and its outskirts.


Education is a notable strongpoint in Braga, home to the prestigious University of Minho. The university is highly regarded not only within Portugal but also internationally, known for its academic excellence, research output, and modern facilities. The presence of such an institution significantly enhances the educational landscape of the city.

Cost of Living


Braga offers affordable housing options, with the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center being around €450 per month. This makes the city a financially attractive option for both locals and expatriates.

Groceries and Dining

  • Monthly Grocery Costs: Approximately €200 for a single person.
  • Average Cost of Dining Out: About €10 per person.

The cost of groceries and dining out in Braga is quite reasonable, making it easier for residents to enjoy a balanced diet and occasional leisure meals at local restaurants without straining their budgets.


Utility costs in Braga are also manageable, with monthly expenses for an 85m2 apartment averaging around €100. This typically includes electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage services.


A monthly public transport pass costs about €30 on average, making daily commuting affordable. Whether you rely on buses or occasional taxis, the cost of getting around in Braga is modest and budget-friendly.


  • Gym Membership: Approximately €30 per month.
  • Cinema Ticket: Around €6 per ticket.

Entertainment and leisure activities in Braga are accessible and inexpensive. Residents can stay fit and entertained without significant expense, contributing to a well-rounded and active lifestyle.

Braga’s Role in the Eurocities Network

Within the Eurocities network, Braga is known for its active participation in various working groups, notably in areas such as environment, mobility, and culture. This involvement underscores the city’s commitment to continuous improvement and collaboration with other European cities to share best practices and innovative solutions.

Overall, Braga offers an excellent blend of high living standards and affordable living costs. Its commitment to safety, healthcare, cleanliness, and education, combined with reasonable expenses for housing, utilities, and entertainment, makes it a highly attractive place to live. The data presented here draws on Numbeo’s comprehensive databases, reflecting the real experiences of residents and visitors in Braga.

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