During your studies, you will probably have the opportunity to go abroad for part of your studies thanks to the erasmus program. As a university student or as an intern, it is the best way to discover a country and to get to know people of different nationalities. Being able to go on an Erasmus program is an opportunity that you should take if you have the chance, it allows you to take real independence because you will have to settle abroad far from your comfort zone and your habits. This experience allows you to gain maturity and discover a new way of life. If your wanderlust is drawn to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal and one of the hottest countries in Europe, you will discover warm, helpful people who care about the people around them. We have a list of things you can do to discover the country and its wonders that will enhance your experience abroad.
After arriving in Lisbon, you can immerse yourself in the city’s history by walking the streets and alleys of Lisbon’s old town. Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in the city and dates back to 1755, but in addition to being the oldest in Lisbon, it is also the second oldest neighborhood in Europe!
At every corner you can hear the fado sung by women. The emblematic music of this neighborhood will immerse you as soon as you arrive in the city.
At the highest point of Alfama is the old castle of Sao Jorge, during your visit you will discover through the battlements of the castle an incredible view of the rest of the city.
Let yourself get lost during your walk to discover all the little corners, small shops and typical restaurants.
Tramway and Buses
Here is another way to visit the city if you don’t like walking too much, discover all the tourist areas including Alfama, you can take the tramway line 28. You can walk along the line to enjoy the visit and you avoid taking all the steep streets of the old neighborhoods. We advise you to take the line early or late enough to avoid the crowds and maybe get a seat. If you stay upright, hang on tight because the brakes are powerful.
The tourist buses are well named, they are full of tourists who want to discover the city. However, as a newcomer to Lisbon discovering the city through the multi-stop tour buses with audio guides, you will be able to discover the city in a different way.
To visit the historical monuments we are going to talk about, we advise you to take the Lisboa Card which is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours, it also allows you to take public transport during this time.
Jerónimos Monastery: this is one of the must-see visits to make during your university exchange in Lisbon. It has splendid architecture with religious references and symbols of royalty. Be careful because a long line forms very quickly as the place is so popular.
Belem Tower: Just like the monastery, the Belem Tower is very popular with tourists and the lines form very quickly, it is better to buy your ticket in advance or use the Lisboa Card to access the monument more quickly. This tower located on the seafront was built to protect the city in the 15th century, you can now visit it and enjoy the terrace to observe the city and its estuary.
Monument to the discoveries: This monument represents a ship’s prow with many characters that marked the discovery of the world by the Portuguese, the most famous being Henry the Navigator. The top of the monument is accessible by elevator which offers an incredible view of the Tagus and the neighboring monuments such as the monastery and the Belem Tower.
25 de abril Bridge: This bridge is the largest in Europe with a length of 2,277 meters. It is often compared to the Golden Bridge in San Francisco because of its shape and color but fun fact is that they were both built by the same company. You can go to the 7th pillar which is an observation point and watch the statue of Christ the King on the other side of the Tagus.
National Coach Museum: With this museum you will discover the most widespread means of transportation between the 16th and 19th century, mainly used by important people or royalty. It also shows you the evolution of the means of transport over the years. You don’t have to be a carriage fan to appreciate the unique collection that this museum has.
Park of the Nations
The Park of Nations district is the most modern and futuristic of Lisbon. It runs along a part of the Tagus River and offers a lot of original activities and new sensations. It was built following the 1998 World Expo. This district has many very original buildings and about the marine world.
Vasco de Gama shopping mall: what could be better than shopping in a place with impressive architecture. This shopping center is on the marine theme and offers 160 stores for all kinds of purchases as well as original souvenirs of your stay in Lisbon. As a student, having an afternoon out is always a great way to unwind.
Orient Station: Even if you don’t take the train, take the time to visit this station with a roof that has an amazing architecture, it imitates the sails of a caravel.
It is one of the most important aquariums in Europe. This aquarium was built on water and is connected to the land by a bridge. It has a very large number of different species such as manta rays, sharks, octopuses, and even sunfish. It is made up of four different biomes: North Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean, all grouped in a central basin of 5 million liters of salt water. We can also find different species of birds, mammals, and invertebrates related to the aquatic world.
Erasmus Corner is probably the most popular thing for exchange students, it is a place of Erasmus information during the day and turns into a bar open to the street in the evening so that you can interact with students from all over the world. You can meet a lot of people and maybe find some friends to do activities with or visit the area during your exchange.
Lisbon can offer you a wide range of sports activities that can occupy your late afternoons or weekends after a day of work or study. When the weather is nice, try to learn how to surf. There are also privileged hiking and climbing trails for students who wish to do so.
If you want to discover Portugal beyond Lisbon, you can go to Sintra, a small town not far from the capital, only 30 minutes by car or one hour by bus. This village was the residence of the royal families due to the refreshing hills. You will discover the Pena Palace with its brightly colored facades, making it one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe. The Palace of Monserrate is a palace of Arab inspiration with lattice walls and gardens that are not overflowing with tourists, which will let you enjoy a quiet walk.
Sesimbra is one of the most beautiful seaside resorts in Portugal, if you have the opportunity, go for a weekend with friends to enjoy the beaches nestled between cliffs. If you want to do some activities, you can go kayaking or go on boat trips to watch dolphins. As in all seaside resorts, you will be able to taste menus based on seafood in many restaurants
Lisbon is located by the sea, so the culinary specialties are often based on fish. For starters, you can find fried codfish cakes, which are becoming more and more popular internationally. For the main courses, codfish is still frequent in many recipes such as cod gratin with cream, however rice with shellfish is also a typical Portuguese dish. Another dish quite common in Portugal and quite original is the steak with coffee, it is a steak covered with a sauce of pepper and coffee. For dessert, you can taste a religious recipe from the Hieronymites monastery which is a mini pastry flan with a vanilla taste, it is the most famous dessert in Portugal.
As for drinks, you can try the ginjinha, which is a macerated liqueur made from cherries, served in a small chocolate glass that you can eat afterwards.
Ilona is a final year student of Applied Foreign Languages English – Spanish – Italian in France, and is looking for a professionalization in the field of marketing. She loves to constantly learn new things and has always shown an interest in discovering different cultures from around the world by traveling.