Study Abroad in Portugal: FAQs

Programs for this blog post

Summer Global Internship

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College Study Abroad

Portugal has it all: mountains and sea, modern metropolises and old history, culture and booming business; this country’s unique parallels make it an ideal study abroad location.  

Is Portugal good for study abroad?  

Portugal isn’t just good for study abroad; it could be the perfect place for you to take your studies. This small European country boasts many attractions and is home to a fun, multicultural scene.  

We’ve listed just a few reasons why a Portugal study abroad program may be ideal for you, and we’ve answered some frequently asked questions. If you’re thinking Portugal for study abroad, then this is one post you’ll definitely want to check out! 

Reason #1: Portugal is steeped in history. 

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is older than London, Paris, and even Rome. Crazy, right? It’s one of the oldest nation-states in Europe and has served as home for many different peoples and cultures including the Celts, Carthaginians, Romans, and much more. Truth be told, humans have inhabited the area since prehistoric times! 

In fact, Portugal is credited with establishing one of the first global empires. Since the 15th century, this small but mighty country was heavily involved in overseas colonization for nearly 600 years. So, Portugal’s influence is, quite literally, worldwide.  

Study abroad here and you will have the chance to discover for yourself this complex history with visits to a variety of sites and museums, like:  

  • Ingreja de São Roque: One of the first Jesuit churches in the world 
  • Carmo Archaeological Museum: First built as a church in the 14th century, this fascinating museum features pre-human artifacts and much more 
  • Sandeman Cellars: An exclusive wine cellar that not only houses some of the most impressive Porto wines in all of Europe, but also boasts paintings and photographs from several centuries  
  • Museu Nacional dos Coches: An impressive museum displaying important artifacts from Portugal’s royal history 

And much more! Dive right into Portugal’s history by not only visiting these museums but walking the country’s cobblestone streets and taking in views of their colorfully clad homes. You’ll be blown away! 

downtown portugal buildings

Reason #2: Portugal is home to both a historic and flourishing art scene.  

During a Portugal study abroad program, you’ll have the chance to explore the country’s many art museums and galleries while also visiting a progressive and vibrant theater scene, opera houses, concert venues, and even a cinematheque.  

Some essential museums to check out include:  

  • Calouste Gulbenkian Museum: Home to one of the world’s largest private art collections, this museum includes works from Ancient Egypt, China, and Japan 
  • Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro: A fabulous display of ancient architecture, sculptures, and more 
  • Museu Serralves: Boasting incredible contemporary art, this attraction is a must-see 
  • Museu Nacional do Azulejo: A museum dedicated to the history of ceramic tiles  

These are just a few of many. Seriously, Portugal’s art attractions are like no other.  

Reason #3: Portuguese cuisine is deliciosa. 

There are a few traditional Portuguese dishes that may surprise you. Tempura, also known as delicately fried meat or vegetables, is popular in Japan and is widely thought to have originated there. However, it was the Portuguese who introduced tempura and the art of batter frying to the country in the 16th century.  

In fact, tempura isn’t the only dish that the Portuguese introduced throughout the world. Even the country’s cuisine history has a story to tell! 

While studying abroad in Portugal, be sure to indulge in some of these other famous Portuguese dishes:  

  • Pastel de nata (custard tart): One of Portugal’s most famous desserts 
  • Arroz de pato: Also known as duck rice 
  • Grilled sardines: Seafood is hugely popular in Portugal – this is considered a main dish 

Your tastebuds will be thanking you during your Portugal study abroad.  

Do you need to speak Portuguese to study in Portugal?  

While Portuguese is the official language of the country, English is widely spoken throughout Portugal, so you’re unlikely to run into many communication issues during your Portugal study abroad trip.  

Plus, with CIEE, you’ll have the option to choose from courses in either English or Portuguese. But it’s important to note, some of our programs do require a Portuguese language course. Practicing the language should come pretty easily as you’ll be immersed in the culture on a daily basis. Moreover, it’s an important language to learn; Portuguese is currently the fifth most spoken language in the world!  

A few other cool facts you might not know about the Portuguese language:  

  • It’s the fastest-growing European language behind English 
  • It’s heavily influenced by the Arabic language 
  • Portuguese in Brazil is much different than Portuguese spoken throughout the rest of the world 

Before you know it, you’ll be saying “¡Obrigada!” for the Portuguese language lessons!  

portugal cliff into the ocean

Is Portugal expensive for students?   

While Portugal is rich with things to do and see, it has a relatively low cost of living. It is considered one of the more affordable countries in Western Europe and is on average, cheaper than living in the U.S.   

Our Portugal study abroad program costs range from about $4,350 - $19,000

We also offer millions in scholarships and grants each year to ensure you’re able to make your study abroad dream a reality. We offer three categories of scholarships and grants: 

  • Need-Based: Based on students’ Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) and from their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at their enrolled institution  
  • Merit-Based: Based on academic achievement 
  • Other areas of funding: Based on various programs or alumni status 

Make sure to check out what sort of financial aid you’re eligible for when you’re applying. (And we’re always here to help if you have any questions!) 

What are the best study abroad programs in Portugal?  

All our Portugal study abroad programs take place in Lisbon, a city that served as the inspiration for James Bond and is covered entirely in patterned stone. Trust us when we say there will be a lot more fun facts to unearth when you study abroad in Portugal.  

We currently offer four different Portugal study abroad programs: 

If you’re interested in learning history, customs, cultural entertainment, and more, our Language + Culture program is perfect for you.  

  • Length of Program: 15 weeks 
  • Credit: 15-18 semester hours / 22.5-27 quarter hours 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA 
  • Course Highlight: The Portuguese Colonial Experience (16th-19th centuries) 
lisbon portugal cultural excursion

Dive into Lisbon’s start-up scene and local and international entrepreneurship hub with our Business + Culture program.  

  • Length of Program: 15 weeks 
  • Credit: 15-18 semester hours / 22.5-27 quarter hours 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA 
  • Course Highlight: Intercultural Communication and Leadership 

Slightly different than our traditional study abroad programs, our Summer Global Internship is a great way to immerse yourself in Portuguese culture while gaining firsthand professional experience in an industry you’re passionate about. Bonus: you’ll learn the ins and outs of an international industry and will gain guaranteed stand-out experience for your resume.  

In addition to your internship hours, you’ll also take an integrated class or seminar to really delve into the skills you’re learning.  

  • Length of Program: 8 weeks 
  • Credit: 6 semester hours 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA  

What better way to spend your summer than in beautiful coastal Lisbon?   

  • Length of Program: 4 weeks 
  • Credit: 3-4 per session semester hours / 4.5-6 per session quarter hours  
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA 
  • Course Highlight: Portuguese Gastronomy and Culture  
study abroad student in lisbon by ocean overlook

Get on Your Way 

Ready to find your dream program? Discover which CIEE Lisbon program best suits your interests and personal and academic goals and then make sure to apply – Portugal is calling!