Portugal vs. Spain Study Abroad: Which is Better?

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College Study Abroad

Portugal and Spain are both incredible European destinations that offer an immersive study abroad experience. From their histories, cuisines, architecture, cultural events, and more, exploring Portugal or Spain will be a ton of fun.  

So, if you find yourself considering both countries as study abroad options, bookmark this piece for reference as we provide a quick overview of studying abroad in Spain and Portugal to help you determine which location makes the most sense for your personal and academic goals.  

Portugal Study Abroad: Overview 

Portugal is a multicultural metropolis with a vibrant art scene, many historical attractions, concert venues, and incredible natural landscapes. You’ll get to explore it all while taking a variety of intriguing courses. Studying abroad in Portugal guarantees an amazing experience.  

Fast Facts About Portugal  

Portugal is amazing. A few unbelievable facts about this surprising country:  

  • Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is older than London, Paris, and even Rome 
  • Portugal is considered one of the most peaceful countries in the world 
  • Most drugs have been decriminalized in Portugal 
  • Lisbon is home to the oldest bookstore in the world, Livraria Bertrand 
  • Portugal is a coastal country, with water making up 90% of the country’s mass  

Portugal’s longstanding history and unique culture make it a wonderful place to study abroad.  

lisbon portugal houses

Portugal Language and Culture 101  

Portuguese is the official language of the country, but English is widely spoken. Portuguese is one of the fastest-growing European languages in the world.  

Like any culture, Portuguese culture is diverse. The country, and its inhabitants, are known to be open-minded, family-focused, and place value on a variety of things including art, music, religion and spirituality, and soccer (futebol in Portuguese). A lot of Portuguese festivals and holidays center around food each year as well, meaning Portuguese cuisine is also highly treasured.   

You’ll get to learn more and experience the culture firsthand with our Portugal study abroad programs 

Cost of Living as a Student in Portugal  

Portugal has a relatively low cost of living and is considered one of the more affordable countries in Western Europe, and is substantially cheaper than living in the U.S.  

Our Portugal study abroad programs range from about $4,350-$19,000 depending on the length of the program and additional factors. It’s important to remember that this one-time fee covers most expenses including: 

  • Tuition 
  • Housing 
  • Pre-departure advising 
  • Orientation 
  • On-site staff and 24/7 emergency support 
  • Culture and co-curricular activities 
  • Travel protection  

We also offer millions in scholarships and grants each year to ensure you’re able to make your study abroad dream a reality so make sure to check out what type of financial aid you may be eligible for when you apply.  

Best Study Abroad Programs in Portugal  

We offer several exciting Portugal study abroad programs that take place in beautiful Lisbon: 

Check them out to determine which makes the most sense for you! And don’t worry; they’re all great options.  

lisbon study abroad students on coast

Spain Study Abroad: Overview  

Spain’s rich culture, history, tapas, literature, and cultural celebrations make this a perfect study abroad location to dive deep into a variety of subjects. And with CIEE, we have exciting programs taking place in several Spanish cities including Seville, Madrid, Barcelona, Alcalá de Henares, Palma de Mallorca, and Alicante 

Fast Facts About Spain  

There’s likely a lot you don’t know about remarkable Spain including some of these interesting fast facts: 

  • Spain is the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco!)  
  • The country has nearly 50 islands 
  • The capital of Spain, Madrid, features the oldest restaurant in the world, Casa Botín 
  • La Tomatina, the world’s biggest food fight, is a Spanish tradition held each year   
  • Spain has more than 3,000 miles of coastline with some incredible beaches 

Spain’s culture and beautiful natural landscapes guarantee a study abroad adventure.  

barcelona city overlook

Spain Language and Culture 101  

The official language of Spain is Spanish (one of the most spoken languages in the world) while some of the population also speaks Catalan, Galician, and Basque. Having some Spanish language experience is helpful for a Spain study abroad program, but many people speak English in the country too.  

Like Portugal, and other countries, Spanish culture is mixed. The country and its people are known for many celebrations and place emphasis on shared mealtimes, cuisine, art, history, and literature. Spanish people are known to be a bit more traditional and are warm and welcoming.  

You’ll get to learn more and experience the culture firsthand with our Spain study abroad programs 

Cost of Living as a Student in Spain  

The cost of living in Spain is considerably less expensive than living in the U.S. but is slightly more costly than living in Portugal.  

Our Spain study abroad programs range from $7,000-$21,000 depending on the length of the program and additional factors. Don’t forget we offer scholarship and grant options for each of our study abroad programs, including those taking place in Spain, so check them out ahead of your trip!    

Best Study Abroad Programs in Spain  

We offer tons of exciting Spain study abroad programs across six Spanish cities! Note some of them below:  

12 programs in beautiful Barcelona including: 

Six programs in spirited Madrid including:  

12 programs in inspired Seville including:  

One program in charming Alcalá de Henares: 

Two programs in dreamy Palma de Mallorca: 

Three programs in colorful Alicante: 

We know that’s a lot of programs to consider! We recommend meeting with your campus experts to help you choose a program that makes the most sense for your personal and academic goals. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have too!  

madrid study abroad student walking tour

Portugal vs. Spain Study Abroad: The Choice is Yours 

By now, we’re sure you’re realizing that a study abroad trip to Portugal or Spain guarantees an incredible experience. Check out our programs in each location thoroughly, dig into the exciting attractions in both Portugal and Spain, and choose a program that you’re most excited about. You can’t go wrong with studying abroad in either country. The choice is yours!