5 Reasons to Study in Portugal

While I might be biased since I studied in Lisbon, I believe that Portugal is a great place to do your exchange or Erasmus. Below are my top 5 reasons why that is.

Many students take up surfing when studying in Portugal. Image from Carcavelos beach by Sonse CC-BY2.0

1. Great Universities

The oldest universities can be found in Portugal. For example, the University of Coimbra was founded in the year 1290! However, more recent schools like the Nova Business School are also world-renowned. A few of the best schools in Portugal are:

  • Nova School of Business & Economics in Lisbon ranks as #42 in the World
  • Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon is the 11th-best engineering school in Europe
  • Universidade do Coimbra is ranked as Portugal’s best university. Moreover, 20% of its students are international making it one of the most diverse universities in Europe.
  • Universidade de Porto is located in the most beautiful city in Portugal and is a center of culture and history. The coast is also close-by so perfect if you want to enjoy the sea after a day of lectures.
University of Évora is located in a historical city which has had a univeristy since the 1500s. Its priests studied here before being sent of to the new worlds of Americas and Asia. Image by J. Erskine-Kellie CC-BY2.0
Beach of Carcavelos located right next to the Nova Business school which can be seen as the white buildings to the far left. Image by V. Oliveira CC-BY2.0

2. Rich Culture with a lot of History

As mentioned above, the universities in Portugal are very old and so is the country’s history. Portugal was a world superpower for several hundred years and its heritage can be found in the many museums and traditions. Portuguese is spoken by over 200 million people in the world and its culture reaches far across the continents. The best month of the year is June due to the many celebrations called “Santos Populares” where the Portuguese would celebrate their saints in the street with music, dance, and delicious street food late into the night. Another festivity in Spring is the Queima das Fitas “burning of rubans” which is a celebration for students held in the main university cities like Coimbra, Porto, and Lisbon. The students would hold processions across the city and party during the night.

Santos Populares is the celebration of the saints and the entire Portugal would meet in festivities. It goes on for the entire month of June.

3. Beautiful Coastline and National parks

Portugal has an amazing coastline with pristine beaches and breathtaking cliffs. But Portugal has also more to offer with beautiful landscapes inland with rolling hills, mountains, and valleys. If you are studying in Porto or Lisbon for example, you are only a 10min ride away from the beach by public transport. Furthermore, if you have a transport pass (which I recommend you get) you can easily travel to the neighboring coastal towns for some sunbathing or surfing. If you are studying in Coimbra or Évora for example, you have great hikes as well as lagoons if you feel for a swim.

4. Affordable living

Portugal, just like many southern countries in Europe, have way more affordable prices compared to Northern Europe. Housing can be easily found at a student-friendly price. Moreover, eating out is very cheap so going out at night can be easily done without breaking your piggy bank so to say. Traveling can be done by Flixbus or similar low-cost buses and the trains are pretty cheap and connect the north and the south. Renting cars is also pretty cheap if you want to drive.

5. Good connections to rest of the World

Portugal is located between America and the rest of Europe. A lot of flights from South America fly to Lisbon or Porto. Furthermore, you can easily catch flights to the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores or the Canaries as well as Madeira or Cabo Verde. Faro in the south and Porto in the north are the smaller airports in Portugal but have a lot of connections to the UK and other countries in Europe

Maybe use the opportunity when studying in Portugal to fly to the many archipelagos connected by flights. Here is for example the island of Pico in the Azores which I have written about in my Azores-category

To sum-up

While the rest of Europe like France, Italy, or Sweden has a lot to offer to students, many are unaware that Portugal should also be taken into account when choosing where to do an exchange. Portugal has been an underdog in Europe for many years and many are still unaware of how beautiful Portugal is with its beaches, culture, and food. I did my exchange in Lisbon and ever since then I always seem to return somehow. Choose Portugal to do your exchange and I guarantee that you will not regret it!

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