So, you’ve already made the best decision by choosing Portugal as your Erasmus destination. But now comes the hard part; do you choose to go to Lisbon, the cosmopolitan and trendy capital, or Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city full of character and charm. For me, it’s a no-brainer. Here are 7 reasons why you should make Porto your new home.
1. The people are friendlier
Moving abroad can be a nerve-wracking experience. Settling into a new culture where you don’t know anyone and may not master the local language is a challenge for even the bravest of people. For this reason, it helps to feel welcome in your new city. The Portuguese are known to be friendly, but it is largely agreed that portuenses are particularly warm and welcoming compared to lisboetas. Whether it’s your taxi driver enthusiastically telling you about his favourite spots in the city, a student helping you with directions when you’re totally lost, or a supermarket assistant encouraging you whilst you stutter your first words in Portuguese, you can be sure that the people of Porto will make you feel at home.
2. It has more of a neighbourhood vibe
Lisbon is a lot bigger and more difficult to navigate than Porto, which can be overwhelming for an Erasmus student. Porto, on the other hand, is the perfect size. It’s big enough to feel the hustle and bustle of a city where things are always going on, yet small enough to enable you to walk everywhere – although the city has a great public transport system, you won’t need to rely on it to get around. Within a few weeks, you’ll know the winding streets and narrow alleys like the back of your hand, like a true local.
3. The cost of living is lower
Portugal is one of the most affordable countries in Western Europe to study as an Erasmus student, but if you’re on a budget, Porto is the city for you. Rent prices can be up to 40% cheaper in Porto than in Lisbon and you’ll also save on every day costs such as transport – only €1,20 for a bus or metro ticket compared to €1,45 in Lisbon – leaving you more money to spend on drinks and Erasmus parties! In Lisbon you can expect to pay €2 for a draught beer in a bar whereas in Porto it’s just €1,50.
4. The beach is closer
Both Lisbon and Porto are blessed with their proximity to some incredible beaches. From the centre of Lisbon, you can reach the white-sand beaches of Cascais with a 45-minute train ride, however Porto’s distance to the beach makes it look far away in comparison. With a 10-minute bus ride, you can find yourself in Foz do Douro, meaning that if you ever want to go drink cocktails and chill, while watching the sunset after classes, it’s super easy. And seriously, who doesn’t love going to the beach?
5. The food is better
If you’re ever feeling homesick and missing your mum’s home-cooked meals, you can rely on Porto’s cuisine to satisfy your cravings for comfort food. People from Porto are nicknamed tripeiros, after the city’s traditional dish, Tripas à moda do Porto, which is a hearty meat stew, said to reflect the warmth and down-to-earthness of the people of Porto. Porto serves the ultimate comfort food, the Francesinha, the city’s famous toasted meat sandwich, covered in melted cheese and beer sauce and served with French fries. Trust me – try it! With so many delicious dishes to choose from, your only concern will be trying to resist the temptation!
6. It’s less touristy
Unlike Lisbon, Porto has managed to avoid being overrun by tourism and has retained much of its authentic Portuguese essence. The stunning historical district of Ribeira, considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, preserves a truly special atmosphere. If you are an Erasmus student seeking a culturally enriching experience, then Porto can definitely provide that.
7. It’s situated in the Douro wine region
Porto is situated on the Douro river, which not only makes for a stunning setting but also connects it to the Douro valley, an incredibly rich wine region in which the famous port wine is produced. Your experience in Porto will not be complete without a visit to the famous wine caves, followed by a wine-tasting experience on a terrace with a river view!
One thing everyone can agree on, locals and foreigners alike, is that there’s something special about Porto. It has a certain charm that enchants everyone who comes to visit it. It is time you discover it for yourself!
Thanks for reading this post!
Maybe you had your mind already set on Porto, but it you didn’t we hope these 7 reasons helped out.
If you need student accommodation, you’ll find the student home you’re looking for on Uniplaces.
Josephine is an undergraduate student currently studying in Porto, who has a passion for languages and cultural exchange which she loves to share through her writing. She is a keen traveller, so when she’s not on a plane, you’ll find her either learning a new language, in a yoga class, or cooking up an exotic dish in the kitchen.