One of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon was recently voted the coolest capital city in Europe and is rich with both history and a modern, lively culture.
Here are 6 reasons why you should study abroad in Lisbon, Portugal:
1. The Language
Immerse yourself in the Portuguese language – the 6th most spoken language in the world! This global language is also spoken in South America and Northern Africa. Portuguese is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe.
Learning Portuguese opens up numerous opportunities in the global market, and many find that knowing the Portuguese language makes learning Spanish and French a bit easier.
2. Beautiful Scenery
Lisbon has a pleasant climate with nearly 300 days of sunshine a year. With an average annual temperature of 70°F, there are plenty of opportunities to visit Portugal’s stunning beaches – which are great for surfing or soaking up the sun with a new book.
Known as Portugal’s City of Seven Hills, Lisbon has many spots offering breathtaking views. Venture to the Alfama district, Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood, and ride the historic yellow number 28 tram through the windy cobbled hills. Here, intricately-tiled terraces, like the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, offer panoramic views of the city and Tagus River.
The nearby resort town of Sintra looks straight out of the pages of a fairytale. A day trip to Sintra – known as the “Portuguese Riviera” – is included in the program fee for AIFS students in Summer Session A and B, as well as January Term students.
This spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to a complex of beautiful parks, gardens, monasteries, palaces, and castles. Tour the initiation well at the Quinta da Regaleira mansion, consisting of a winding spiral staircase and nine platforms, said to be a nod to Dante’s Divine Comedy.
The Pena National Palace is a must-see site as well. Perched on a hilltop, the 19th-century palace is known for its whimsical design and bright colors. Go deeper into Portugal’s history and walk around the medieval Castle of the Moors, which offers visitors spectacular views of Sintra.
Situated at the mouth of the Tagus River a few miles from the heart of Lisbon, Belém is famous for its concentration of cultural and historical sites.
Visit the imposing Belém Tower, built in the 16th century as a fort on the northern bank of the Tagus River. Nearby, the Monument to the Discoveries stands and celebrates the 500th anniversary of Prince Henry the Navigator, regarded as the main initiator of the Age of Discovery, a powerful period of expansion and globalization in European history.
Across from the Monument to the Discoveries looms the stunning 15th-century Jerónimos Monastery, one of the most prominent examples of Manueline Gothic architecture. The former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome is a testament to Portugal’s rich history. Stroll through the Cloisters, the final resting place of several important poets and political figures, and the chapel, where you can find the tomb of navigator Vasco da Gama as well as the royal tombs.
Belém is also home to several important museums and the official residence of the Portuguese president. A day trip to Belém is included for AIFS students in Summer Session C and January Term students.
5. Lively Culture & Delicious Cuisine
Lisbon is home to countless cafés on dreamy cobblestone streets and traditional Portuguese fado music. With one of the best nightlife scenes in Europe, Lisbon is home to plenty of clubs open until dawn. Visit LxFactory, a revamped industrial park turned into a trendy urban hotspot, or Bairro Alto, a district filled with luxury shops and taverns with an avant-garde vibe.
Sample dishes from Lisbon’s best restaurants at the Time Out Market, an open-air food court. Try Portuguese staples like pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts), fresh seafood dishes like bacalhau à bras (dried and salted codfish with potatoes and eggs), and Azeitão cheese. Study abroad with AIFS and receive a weekly meal allowance!
6. Art & Architecture
With its colorful buildings, brightly painted tiles (‘azulejos’) and yellow trams, the city seems to breathe art around every corner. Lisbon is known in particular for its stunning street art. Visit the Mouraria district for street art dedicated to fado music or stroll through Travessa dos Fiéis de Dues in Bairro Alto for colorful murals.
There are many modern art museums in the city. The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), located in a dramatic building on the banks of the Tagus, focuses on the intersection of technology and contemporary art. If you want to view artwork with more history, visit the National Museum of Ancient Art – home to one of the largest art collections in the world!
A trip to Lisbon is not complete without a visit to the Praça do Comércio, the city’s largest square. Surrounded by bright yellow buildings, the square is home to the impressive Rua Augusta Arch and the statue of King José I riding his horse and symbolically crushing snakes on his path.
Ready to begin your Portuguese adventure? Learn more about how to study abroad in Lisbon with AIFS!