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Lisbon, Portugal

Aquatic Ecosystems & Sustainability

Program at Capacity | Contact CIEE to be Waitlisted




3 weeks



Application Deadline

The application deadline has passed.

Enroll Now

Request Information



3 weeks



Application Deadline

The application deadline has passed.

Enroll Now

Request Information

Program Overview
Combine your passions for ecology and environmental sustainability in Lisbon and other port cities.

Explore aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity in and around the capital of Portugal alongside biologists and sustainability researchers. Field work and fun trips take you birdwatching at a coastal lagoon, snorkeling in a marine park, kayaking in the longest river of the Iberian Peninsula, observing dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean, and intertidal monitoring at Avencas beach. These three, action-packed weeks are all about water, so get ready to get wet!

Immerse yourself in conservation and sustainability projects, like assessing water quality and threats to ecosystems, census-taking of plant and animal species, and conducting local interviews on human and economic impacts on marine ecosystems. Work with local NGOs to raise public awareness around coastal dune preservation and the plastics crisis that is choking the ocean.

Immerse yourself, too, in Portuguese culture. Sample local specialties, such as the famous pastéis de Belém. Paint Portuguese tiles and try Portuguese dances. Practice Portuguese phrases with local teens and market vendors. Back home, share your appreciation for Portuguese culture and apply your sustainability insights to future studies and environmental initiatives.

The Take-Aways

Real-World Experience

Conduct field and lab work, collect data on plant and animal species, and assess threats to marine ecosystems. Conduct research for a sustainability challenge Project and come home ready to contribute to other environmental initiatives.

Credentials for Your Future

Topics for your college essays, experience to inform your future career, a portfolio of work to showcase your sustainability research and reflections, and service-learning hours documenting your engagement with the community.

Life Skills and New Friendships

Return with greater self-confidence, independence, and improved communication skills. Enjoy a broader worldview and friends of different backgrounds from across the U.S.


Hours of Expert Instruction


Hours of Service-Learning in the Community


Life-Changing Experience

The Destination
  • Group shot
  • Scenery in Lisbon
  • Group shot

The Destination

Welcome to Portugal, one of the oldest countries in Europe and a paradise for sea lovers. 

With half of its territory bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is a prime location to study aquatic ecosystems. It is home to the largest fully protected marine reserve in Europe and is packed with wildlife-filled wetlands, sandy beaches, and dramatic riverways. 

Portugal is also full of rich history. When you are not enjoying its natural landscapes and biodiversity, you can lose yourself in incredible architecture, medieval castles, and numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is more ancient than Rome. Here, you’ll love riding the old cable cars up the steep hills, admiring the buildings covered in tiles of countless colors and patterns, and basking in the spectacular views of the vibrant city.  

Magical Portugal—with its sunny cities, sea breezes, beautiful beaches, friendly people, and delicious food—awaits you! 

Cultural Awareness

CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. Local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter in Lisbon.

Daily Life

Daily Life


Each day offers a balance between interactive instruction and cultural activities with time on your own, too. Morning classes and afternoon activities may swap places. 

  • Breakfast at the residence hall
  • Hands-on classes with expert instructors and marine biologists 
  • Lunch in the community or in the field with your fellow Global Navigators 
  • Out and about for a cultural activity 
  • Dinner at a local restaurant or residence hall with your fellow Global Navigators


  • Overnight or day excursions to top sites 
  • Quality time with friends 

Check out the blog posts to discover more about daily life and excursions on program.   


Residence hall, shared rooms with other Global Navigators

24/7 Support

1 Program Leader for every 12 students and support from local staff

Weekly Learning Goals

Settle into the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. Investigate species and attributes of river, estuary, coastal and offshore marine ecosystems, human impacts, and habitat threats. Travel to the Tagus River to observe a riverine ecosystem firsthand and conduct experiments. Choose a local environmental challenge for your Project.   

Examine the rocky intertidal zone at Avencas beach, observe the aquatic bird populations at Lagoa Pequena, and participate in dune restoration with a local NGO. Research and assess the interdependence of local economies, human activities, and conservation of marine ecosystems. Apply insights to your Project.

Go snorkeling and observe the marine biodiversity in Arrábida Natural Park. Investigate ocean sounds and animal communication. Take a boat ride to survey and report dolphin sightings while learning about traditional fishing. Present your Project.

Program Blogs


Os Golfinhos!

By Haleigh Donovan at CIEE

Our last week in Portugal is in full swing!This morning, we journeyed to Setúbal, a port city on the south bank of the River Sado known for being a major... keep reading


Lisbon, July 12

By Connar Franklin at CIEE

Boa Tarde, After a few days of orientation, rest, and tracking down lost luggage, the cohort of students split into two groups to begin the program in earnest. Today, Group... keep reading


¡Bem vindo a Portugal!

By Jacquelyn Duffy at CIEE

Bon dia! Olá! My name is Jacqui and I am a Program Leader for Aquatic Ecosystems and Sustainibility in Lisboa. Session II arrived Saturday and we hit the ground running... keep reading


Sample Activities

High school girl surfing at the beach in Lisbon

Just Imagine All the Fun You’ll Have!

  • Grab your snorkeling gear and dive into the turquoise waters of Arrábida Natural Park. Encounter schools of fish, octopuses, sea cucumbers, and maybe even dolphins!   
  • Travel to Tomar and tour the 12th century castle and convent constructed by the Knights Templar. Step into the Middle Ages and feel the power of the Knights Templar, protecting the Holy Grail. 
  • Pop up and catch your first wave in the surf capital of Europe—don’t worry, a pro surf coach will teach you. 
  • Kayak down the magnificent Tagus River, teeming with fauna, to a breathtaking medieval castle atop an islet.  
  • Learn from a Portuguese chef how to make caldeirada de peixe (fish stew) and bring the recipe home. 

Please note activities are based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE’s discretion to adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when arranging activities is always to enhance your experience. 

What Students Are Saying

  • "I loved trying out new things like snorkeling and surfing, talking with the locals and making new friends."

    Meilee C., Global Navigator Alum

  • "In Portuguese culture, dinner is delivered very slowly. This is because they want you to have conversations. I loved this because I was able to talk among the other participants, who are now my very close friends."

    Sabrina C., Global Navigator Alum

  • "Seeing wild dolphins for the first time and snorkeling was the most incredible experience."

    Ahmad C., Global Navigator Alum

  • "My most memorable experiences were the hikes and conversations on the beach with my instructors. I don't think I've ever been with so many passionate and inspiring women at one time."

    Madeline C., Global Navigator Alum



  • Participants must be 14 years old and above.
  • Program open to all current high school students: Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors.  
  • For scholarship eligibility requirements, please check our  Scholarship page
  • This program involves engaging in moderate- to high-intensity physical activities, such as hiking, boating and snorkeling. Ability to swim is not required but strongly encouraged to enjoy the program and location at its fullest. 

For more information, refer to the detailed Program Essential Eligibility Criteria.

Dates & Fees

Dates & Fees

Application Fee


Program scholarships and tuition include iNext Travel Insurance, but do not cover the cost of flights. Find additional details about what’s included with your tuition.

More questions? Find answers, get application support, sign up for virtual presentations or contact us.


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Program Summer Session I 2024 3 weeks Application Due Deadline Passed Start Date End Date Costs $5,750
Program Summer Session II 2024 3 weeks Application Due Deadline Passed Start Date End Date Costs $5,750

What's Included

Interactive Classes


3 Meals/Day

(Dietary Needs Accommodated)

All Ground Transportation

(Once In-country)

Optional Flight Chaperone

(Flight Cost Not Included)

Pre-departure Advice and Orientation

Access to Local Phone and WIFI

All Cultural Activities and Excursions

Comprehensive Medical and Travel Protection

24/7 Emergency On-site Support

Our Staff

Our Staff

Joana Almeida

Center Director

Joana has been working with CIEE Lisbon since 2011. She holds a B.A. in Art History, an M.A. in Social Sciences, and a Ph.D. in Historical Sociology.

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