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London vs Lisbon – Which is the best city for students?

London vs Lisbon – Which is the best city for students?

London has a great student life

Editor’s note: Francisco studied Medicine in Universidade de Lisboa, and is now studying at UCL – the University College of London. We asked him what the student experience in Lisbon was like compared to studying abroad in London. In other words, ‘which is the best city for students?’ This is what he wrote:

Having lived in these two very different cities I can say that they offer very different and very worthwhile student experiences.

The three years I spent studying in Lisbon were made memorable not only through the people I met but also because of the comforts and quality of life the city offers. The nightlife is the most varied in the country and you will always find something happening every night of the week. The weather is spectacular, having some of the best sunlight conditions in the world. The downside of this is that since the academic years are quite long you may find yourself studying for final exams with temperatures of 30ºC.

Downtown lisbon in summer.
Downtown Lisbon in summer

The city has many comforts to offer, but not nearly as many opportunities since Portugal is still struggling out of the economic downturn. It still remains the best place to be for young professionals, but many find better opportunities abroad.

London is a busy and expensive city but it's s a great city for studying abroad
‘By far the greatest strength of London is the people that live and work here’

After 18 months living and studying in London, I realise that it has most of the things that Lisbon lacks, and lacks those that I enjoyed about Lisbon. For some it may be prohibitively expensive, but part-time jobs and other sources of additional income are not difficult to come by. The weather is harsh, although not half as much as one would expect. By far the greatest strength of London is the people that live and work here. In this cosmopolitan environment you will find the right people to help you grow professionally and intellectually. It is a city of great opportunities if you know where to look. You will be exposed to numerous cultures and points of view that will challenge your assumptions on a daily basis. You can also enjoy a wide variety of museums and art galleries, some of them completely free, concerts, musicals and performances of all kinds.

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If asked to choose one over the other I’m not sure if I could. I was fortunate to have experienced both and collected such fond memories in the process.

(Photo credits: photo of Lisbon's Downtown by guest photographer Luisa Dias, check out her amazing blog at

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