Erasmus in Lisbon: practical info & tips

  • martina_lisbona

    First-cycle Degree in Economy and Management

    Università degli Studi di Padova

    September 2015 – January 2016

    “I believe there’s no better city for those who want to visit and discover, who love mild temperatures, good food, night-life, sports and culture”


    • Which tips would you give to someone who is looking for a house or an accommodation in Lisbon? What is the average monthly rent?
      The first main suggestion I would give is: do not trust any of the photos and comments you can find on networks such as Uniplaces. Personally visit the house, but be prepared for broken basins, three-legged chairs (and I’m not talking about design) and toilets with no flush. These are all magical personal experiences which make me suggest you to prefer going to Lisbon without an accommodation, rather than discovering that your house is everything but what you expected.
      On average, the monthly rent goes from € 250 (electricity and gas excluded) to € 400. It depends on how far the house is from the city centre, on the number of flatmates and on the amount of stairs you’ll have to do.
    • In general, how would you describe the cost of living in Lisbon?
      The cost of living is definitely low. From supermarkets and sport activities to restaurants and public transport… I’m talking about € 0,70 for a coffee, € 10 for a two-hour surf lesson, € 11 for a full dinner in the very city centre and € 9 to cross the whole city by taxi!
    • Was Portuguese a problem? Have you ever had problems in interacting with local people? Did you attend any specific course?
      I had four flatmates, who came from four different countries. As a consequence, at the beginning, the language I used (or tried to use) was English, both at home and at the university. Initially, even speaking English wasn’t easy because, school excluded, I had never practiced it in every-day life. But, after some weeks, things got better!
      However, for what concerns Portuguese, I attended a basic-level course at the university, which helped me to survive (together with Google translator) in more than one occasion. Some words are similar to Italian and Spanish, but I should have practiced for some other months in order to interact with local people.
    • Was it difficult to adapt to Lisbon’s lifestyle (e.g. cooking, public transport etc.)?
      To be honest, if we turn a blind eye to a couple of inefficiencies in public transport and to too spicy local food, Portuguese lifestyle wasn’t that different from mine (I’m Italian). So, for me it was easy to adapt to Lisbon’s lifestyle, but of course it depends from your nationality.
      Maybe it was more difficult to get used to my roommate going to bed when I was getting up!
    • List the 3 main problems you faced during your Erasmus in Lisbon:
      1. Communicating with the secretariat of a clinic (exclusively run by over-60 Portuguese women) to do the blood tests.
      2. This combo: sloped roads + triple stairs (wooden, 1 meter width. No lift.) to come back home. Every day.
      3. Learning how to balance on a surfboard for more than 3 seconds.
    • The 3 best aspects of your Erasmus in Lisbon:
      Ok, maybe my critical sense hasn’t conveyed any particularly positive image of Lisbon so far… But, even though there are many cons, the pros are much more!
    1. Lisbon is beautiful. Cultural tourism, night-life, sports and good food… There’s something for everybody, all the year long.
    2. Sunsets. My favourite ones: the one from Miradouro de Senhora do Monte, the city’s highest lookout point, which will offer you a stunning view over Lisbon; the one from the Cristo Rei statue, on the left bank of the Tago river; those from Costa de Caparica’s beaches and the one from the top the Sintra Castle.
    3. My flatmates: they’ve represented a fundamental part of my Erasmus experience and they’ve been my special little family for five months.
    • 3 tips you would give to those who are going to begin their Erasmus in Lisbon :
      1. “Assorted” clothes: it is true that people in Lisbon go to the beach until November, but it is also true that in some autumn and winter days it’s better not to underestimate rain and wind.
      2. No matter how much you have to study, take the time to go to the city’s beaches: Carcavelos, Cascais, Costa de Caparica and Cabo de Roca. Google images doesn’t lie about them!
      3. If you want to use public transport, do not trust Lisbon’s buses: no matter the timetables written at the bus stop, your bus won’t pick you up when you’ll need it.
    • Would you suggest Lisbon as an Erasmus destination?
      OF COURSE YES! I have no regrets about my choice and I believe there’s no better city for those who want to visit and discover, who love mild temperatures, good food, night-life, sports and culture. Everything at a low budget.
    • And, if you had the chance, would you move to Lisbon?
      Yes, I would move to Lisbon, but only for a limited period. I would love to visit and live in some other cities before electing Lisbon as “my city”. However, at the moment it is at the top of my list.
    • Say hello in the local language! 🙂
      Vais à Lisboa! Até logo!

About the Author


Sono Martina, abito a Padova e nella vita, oltre ad essere un’instancabile viaggiatrice, sono una Web Developer a tempo pieno. Amo la fotografia. Spero di riuscire ad ispirare chi, come me, è animato da una grande passione per la scoperta di posti nuovi.


  1. che ricordi magici! anche io ho studiato un anno a Lisbona e da quell esperienza ogni scusa è buona per tornare nella capitale del portogallo, anche perchè perfortuna ho trovato davvero un amica speciale in Portogallo..e facendo l autostop! ai mie tempi non c’erano né uber né google translator! Io però lo devo dire ho trovato che i mezzi pubblici fornissero un ottimo servizio, migliore rispetto a quelli di milano, città dove studiavo a quei tempi, e le vecchiette portoghesi mi facevano spaccare perché parlavano tutte inglese ,è difficile non capire l inglese in una nazione dove si ha la fortuna di non avere film doppiati …cque Lisbona e la sua costa non si possono non amare! è proprio vero!

    • Ciao Roberta,

      grazie per la tua testimonianza, che sicuramente sarà interessante per chi leggerà questa intervista!
      Pur non avendo mai vissuto a Lisbona sono bastati pochi giorni questo autunno per farmene innamorare. Una città davvero unica, viva e variegata!
      Spero di avere presto l’occasione di esplorare il Portogallo.


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