Why International Students Choose Lisbon
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Why International Students Choose Lisbon

Publish date : October 12, 2022

Portugal is considered to be one of the friendliest countries for foreign students, tourists, and expats alike. Of the many choices, Lisbon is the favorite among international students, boasting a rich history, sunny weather, the best universities nationwide, and a vibrant student life. Whether through the Erasmus+ program, student exchanges, or regular studies, it’s no surprise that many young people from all over the world choose to come to the sunny capital. Here are the top reasons why.

High-quality education

First and foremost, most students pick Lisbon because of its high-quality educational facilities. Lisbon is home to world-class universities offering excellent programs, a rich educational environment, and possibilities of early connections to the business world. All these things combined make it easier to find first employment. The most popular choices for foreign students include the University of Lisbon and NOVA University Lisbon — both, public institutions — and the private Catholic University of Portugal with its world-class master’s in Management.

Although many courses are taught in English, it’s still advisable to learn Portuguese. And where better to do that than at the epicenter? In any case, the majority of the population speaks a second language, so you will get by without mastering Portuguese.

Everyone feels welcome

The Portuguese are known to be very welcoming to foreigners. With over 16% of students in Lisbon coming from outside of Portugal, the student community is very diverse.


Portugal is by far the most affordable country in western Europe, therefore making Lisbon very budget-friendly compared to other big cities in this part of the continent. Although rent prices have been steadily rising, housing is still somewhat inexpensive. There is also a number of student residences available throughout the city. Other living expenses are similarly on the lower end, especially if you avoid the touristy downtown area.

Using public transportation or renting an e-bike or e-scooter can be quite a cheap way to climb Lisbon’s steep hills. The monthly Navegante pass costs just €30 (or €40 for traveling within the larger metropolitan area), so commuting on a regular basis is fast and relatively cheap.

With the average tuition being around $5,000 per year, it’s quite an affordable option for many international students.

Big but not too big

Even though Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal, it’s not unmanageable or overwhelming for students moving to a major city for the first time. Commuting by metro or bus is fast and convenient.

It’s the kind of a place where one comes across familiar faces all the time. And being among many national and foreign students, newcomers can easily form new friendships and connections.

The fun part

The sunniest capital in Europe has a lot to offer. A rich culture, beautiful live music, amazing food and wine, the nearby coastline, and the nature surrounding the city will entertain even the pickiest.

The Lisbon area has a lot of diverse options for outdoor enthusiasts: from surfing at Costa da Caparica, hiking or rock climbing in Sintra, and sailing in the Tagus River to stand-up paddling or kayaking in Cascais. With a little bit of luck, good planning, and a quick train ride, one can even attend morning classes and enjoy beach afternoons on the same day.

And after a long sunny day, Lisbon definitely does not go to sleep just yet. The city is known for its great nightlife. Whether you prefer having a beer with your friends at one of the many viewpoints, bar hopping through the Bairro Alto maze, or going clubbing, you are most probably going to have an unforgettable night.

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