Living in Lisbon
The Lisbon Experience
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is situated on the north bank of the Tagus River, on Europe’s Atlantic coast. It is the westernmost city in continental Europe but its location in the centre of Portugal makes exploring the country, and beyond, simple – it is only around 300 km to the resorts of the Algarve in the south and around 400 km to the northern border with Spain.
Lisbon offers the visitors a wide variety of sights and activities, including scenic countryside, breath-taking mountains, areas of historical interest and some of the best beaches in Europe, all just a few kilometres from the city centre. The city is extremely safe and tourist friendly - in 2010 Lisbon was named Europe's Leading City Break Destination.
In addition to mainland Portugal the country also includes the Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Azores, famous for their charm as well as their food and drink. Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe, where outstanding monuments, castles and churches have been joined by futuristic new buildings, advanced technology and a vibrant and forward thinking population. Portugal is a country where old-world charm meets modern facilities and convenience, and has long been a favourite destination for the discerning tourist.
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Studying business in Portugal also means entering a vibrant entrepreneurial arena, where companies strive for niches and end up successfully delivering their uniqueness to the world.
Portuguese brands are all over the world, though people may not realize their origins. One of the world's ten top producers of porcelain is Portuguese. Foreign friends and visitors also marvel at the fact that the country is building Europe's largest solar power station and already derives more than 40% of its power from renewable energy. Portugal also invented pre-payment cards for mobile communications and the automatic drive-through highway tolls that are used all over Europe and the US.
Portuguese architects, engineers, materials and systems have been presented to the world for centuries, through huge works and ingenious inventions that have made their mark and endured. Portuguese design and production is based on technology that is highly revolutionary. National software firms are global points of reference in the development of critical information systems, and currently attract some of the worlds' most demanding customers, such as NASA.
In addition, the Portuguese banking industry has been recognized as one of the most technologically advanced in the world. The processes used and the electronic remote level of services provided have resulted in outstanding productivity and customer satisfaction. The mutual fund and investment banking industries are innovative, sophisticated and enriched by the presence of leading international players. In short, it is a competitive and challenging environment that makes for a unique educational and professional experience.
Portugal has long been known as the world's leading cork producer, but there are also lesser known areas in which it has assumed the leadership position. International demand for machinery made in Portugal continues to grow and the country has made its mark on the development of countries throughout the world. Machinery is Portugal's #1 export. Portugal is sets the bar in terms of reliability in the moulds industry. It is one of Europe's top home textiles manufacturers and is the world's third largest textile exporter. The country also leads the world in footwear technology and is Europe's #3 exporter.
And let's not forget Portuguese table wines, Port wine, olive oil, fish, and shellfish - all examples of some of the delightful Mediterranean dining treats with an Atlantic flavour that Portugal promotes and that you will have a chance to experience. Portugal is indeed a unique destination: no other country in Europe can offer so much diversity within such a short and enchanting space.
In comparison with other major European cities, Lisbon is highly affordable. The following chart provides a rough idea of what you can expect to spend in each item category:
Housing (per month)
€350 to €600
Food (per month)
|Meal in a student canteen||€2,70|
|Meal in a budget restaurant||€7|
Transportation (monthly pass)
With about 2,800 sunshine hours per year - from average 4.6 hours of sunshine / day in December to average 11.4 hours of sunshine / day in July – Lisbon is the sunniest European capital, with Europe’s mildest winter and warm summers.
Enjoying a subtropical-Mediterranean climate, Lisbon’s typical summer season lasts about 6 months, from May to October, with an average temperature of 25°C (77°F) during the day and 16.2 °C (61.2 °F) at night.
December, January and February are the coldest months, with an average temperature of these three months amounting 15.2 °C (59.4 °F) during the day and 8.9 °C (48.0 °F) at night.
Rain occurs mainly in winters, the summers being generally dry.
Lisbon is the only European capital located close to a beautiful and sandy shoreline, with several nearby beaches that fly the European Union Blue Flag for excellence.
If you want to relax under the sun, in a few minutes away from city center by train, you reach Estoril Coast, with several beaches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Tagus river estuary, and just across the river you find Costa da Caparica, with dunes, pines trees and white sandy beaches, along with magnificent sea views restaurants, perfect for late afternoon drinks and early dinners.
Less than 30 minutes away from Lisbon, you can explore beaches that offer some of the world’s best waves, hotspots for surfers from all around the globe, including surf mecca Ericeira, recently approved as a World Surfing Reserve – the only in Europe - by the Save The Waves Coalition.
The average annual temperature of the sea is 17.5°C (63.5°F). During the summer the average sea temperature rises to 20°C (68°F).
From traditional and extremely friendly taverns to sophisticated and international prize-winning restaurants, everything is possible in Lisbon - the perfect place to have a meal!
Close to the sea, traditional Lisbon gastronomy includes fresh fish and delicious shellfish delights. Although the abundance of fresh fish, the salted and dried codfish - known as 'bacalhau' - is considered the national dish, prepared in 1001 different ways – all of them irresistible!
Lisboetas are coffee tireless drinkers. Strong and served in small shots, coffee is an institution in Portugal: the perfect reason for a break, going out after dinner, meeting friends or indulging yourself with a sweet or pastry, specially the famous custard tarts – 'pastéis de Belém' – always with cinnamon and sugar powder!
Lisbon is known for its bubbly nightlife. The old neighborhood of Bairro Alto is the place to go out in Lisbon for an after-dinner drink and crowd watching. Its tinny little streets, which are empty during daytime, become crowded walkways, difficult to get through. Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest, but the shabby-chic district rocks every night until 2 AM.
Also looking over the river, Alcântara and Santos are as well good places to go out for dinner or barhopping, with a wide array of restaurants, bars and clubs where you can relax and have fun.
Lisbon, forever known as the ancient city of the explorers, molded by generations of invaders and rulers from diverse cultures and backgrounds, has one of the most colorful cultures and architectures in Europe – you can easily find elements of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, Traditional Portuguese, Modern and Post-Modern styles in a single day around the city.
You can start your journey through time with two World Heritage architectural marvels, described by Unesco as 'Portuguese art at its best' and a 'reminder of the great maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world': the Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém. Then, find the way from the East to the West within the 6000 most precious treasures from Caloust Gulbenkian Collection, and the fantastic Berardo Collection, that offers a panorama of the creation of plastic arts in the twentieth century and the beginning of the XXI century – ending your expedition at the acclaimed Design Museum.
Built on seven legendary hills along the Tagus River and facing the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon will also seduce you with characteristic mosaic pavements and impressive tiled façades. To breathtaking panoramas of the city, hopp on one of the picturesque yellow tram – dating from the 1930’s – and explore the strategically-placed and so-called miradouros (viewpoints). If you want to see the most famous sites, you should try tram line no. 28 – a journey through colorful 18th century squares downtown and the medieval maze of the Alfama district overlooked by an ancient Castelo de São Jorge (Saint George’s Castle), that offers a great panorama over the city.
Once in Castelo, you will find yourself at the perfect setting for Lisbon’s emblematic music: Fado. For those who prefer less mournful lyrics and music, there is always something going on in Lisbon, from major concerts to film and music festivals.
What a wonderful mix of the old-fashioned and the trendy; the historic and the contemporary! There is always plenty to do, see and experience in Lisbon, the European Consumer's Choice Best Destination in 2010!
Lisbon, Europe's west coast capital, is the home for more than half a million people, the so-called Lisboetas or ‘alfacinhas’ (translation: little lettuce, Lisbon Local).
For the last millennium, the mingling between groups who have inhabited and traded in Portugal - Iberians, Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, Moors, Jews, and others – combined with the nation’s isolation from Spain and the rest of Europe, resulted in a homogeneous and peculiarly Portuguese population, both ethnically and culturally: about 97% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholic, but other religions enjoy freedom of worship, and most of them reveal typical Mediterranean physical characteristics like brown eyes, dark hair, and a height of less than 6 feet.
Defining a national character is never easy, but one can say that most Lisboetas are hospitable, easy-going and friendly. Although some at first sight may seem gloomy and morose to foreigners, they're known to be ready to go out of their way to help! Almost everyone, especially among the youngsters, speaks – or at least, understands and tries to speak – English!
Lisbon, an international city, with a population made up of different races, backgrounds and cultures, where everyone feels welcome!
(*) When Portuguese greet each other – men and a woman or between two women - they generally expect to be kissed on one or both cheeks, or exchange handshakes – between men and in a professional environment. So, don’t be afraid if someone tries to kiss you on your cheek!