So, you’ve made the decision to go spend some time abroad but you haven’t been able to decide where to go just yet? After all, there are so many interesting countries and cities in Europe alone and each would give you a completely different experience. If you’re looking to live in a country a little off the beaten track but with the beauty of France and Italy, the yummy food of Spain, yet with the price of Eastern European countries, then Portugal might be what you’re looking for. Here are eleven great reasons to make Portugal your home, at least for a while.
1. The sunny weather
Did you know that Portugal is one of the sunniest countries in Europe with around 300 clear days per year? If you’re a person who loves those deep blue skies and the warmth of the sun hitting your face, then Portugal is definitely a place for you. All of this sunny weather also allows you to explore the country in any season. Sure, there are overcast and rainy days too but it’s not long before the sun emerges from behind the clouds.
2. The cost of living
Fancy having a beer for 1€ and an espresso for 0.60€? In Portugal, you can. Compared to many other European countries, the prices in Portugal are more affordable, which makes it a perfect place youngsters. Who does not want to enjoy an amazing dinner with a glass (or several glasses) of wine with a total bill of under 15€?
3.The beach and nature
From the turquoise water of the Algarve to the beautiful vineyards of the Rio Douro to the snow-topped Serra de Estrela mountain, Portugal is full of amazing nature and stunning beaches. After all, Portugal has one of the longest coastlines in Europe and it borders the majestic Atlantic Ocean. This makes it a great country for surfers and beach lovers. There are also beautiful national parks, like Parque Peneda-Geres with its emerald lagoons and waterfalls.
4. The food
Portugal is a paradise for meat and fish lovers. It has been said that the Portuguese have over 100 recipes made with codfish (bacalhau) alone. Each region has its own specialities, for example in Porto you’ll need to try the wonderfully delicious (and calorie-rich) Francesinha. Portuguese cafés also offer a variety of tasty pastries and sweets, such as the world famous Pastel de Nata, to satisfy even the severest of sweet tooths.
5. The beautiful towns and architecture
Portuguese cities have a mixture of Moorish and European architecture which makes them very special and pretty. Many buildings in the cities are also decorated with beautifully painted tiles (azulejos). Some of the most beautiful places to visit are the fairytale castle of Sintra and the church of Braga, the whitewashed town of Óbidos, the charming city of Oporto and the majestic capital, Lisbon.
6. The nightlife
If you enjoy a night out where you first have a long dinner until midnight with friends, then hit some bars for some cheap beers and then dance the night away until 6 am, then you’ll love the nightlife in Portugal. Everything is typically done a bit later in southern Europe than in northern Europe and this includes the nightlife. Since the climate is generally warm then it’s not uncommon to spend the entire night just talking on the streets with a beer in your hand.
7. The relaxed pace of life
There is no stressing in southern Europe. People walk at a slower pace and take time eating their lunches and dinners. Portuguese workers typically have an hour to two hours break for lunch where everyone actually has a proper meal. This relaxed pace translated into every aspect of life, from university to work. Besides, who even wants to be stressed when the weather and the food are so great?
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8. The ESN offices
Having an active Erasmus Student Network presence in many Portuguese cities means that there are a variety of activities, trips and events already planned for Erasmus students. You’re in for an amazing experience!
9. The universities and their traditions
Portugal is home to one of the oldest universities in the world – Universidade de Coimbra, founded in 1290 and currently a UNESCO heritage site. There are several other renowned universities in Portugal, such as the Universidade do Porto, which is known for its excellent engineering and medical departments and Universidade de Lisboa, as well as Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Portugal also has very unique university traditions, from the songs that the tunas (student ensembles) play on the streets of Coimbra, to the black robes that students wear in Porto that inspired non-other than J.K Rowling herself.
10. The people!
Undoubtedly, the most important part of any country lies within its people. The Portuguese people are warm and friendly and will welcome you with open arms.
11. The charm
There’s something about Portugal that’s hard to put in words. It is what the Portuguese call sentimento (a feeling). There’s something ancient and magical about the well-trodden streets that have been worn down by centuries of footsteps and the charming weatherbeaten buildings. They carry the charm of the country and its people.
We hope that this article inspired you to take the first step and to decide to spend some time abroad in Portugal. We hope you enjoy it and get to experience all of the above and more!
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Alice is a student of Political Science and International Relations, an avid news reader and a brand ambassador for Uniplaces in Porto. She has lived in the USA, Estonia, UK and currently resides in Portugal. Besides being a student and an ambassador for Uniplaces, she’s also an ambassador for SPEAK, a social enterprise aiming to connect migrants and locals. In her free time she loves to travel, watch movies, meet new people and play music.