Best Things to do in Portugal
Picture the scene – you’ve just started university in a new country and you’re surrounded by beautiful beaches, historical towns filled with breathtaking architecture, and delicious local food. It’s warm, vibrant and full of community spirit. Then welcome to Portugal!
Studying in Portugal offers you the chance to explore its deep history and culture, such as Ponte de Dom Luís I and Quinta da Regaleira. Whatever your interests are, there is something for everyone. You don’t need to worry about the cost of living in Portugal either as not only is it a cheap place to live, there are also plenty of free things to do that will help you stick to your student budget.
So, what are the best things to do in Portugal for students? At Nido, we want to help you reach your full potential and live your best student life so we’ve created a guide on the top things to do in Portugal, Lisbon, Porto and other Portuguese cities.
This guide will cover:
- Student life in Portugal
- What to do in Portugal when friends and family visit
- Things to do in summer in Portugal
- What to do in Portugal in winter
Whether you’ve visited Portugal before or are only thinking of visiting, this guide will take you through everything you need to know about all the wonderful things to do in Portugal.
Student Life in Portugal
We know how important the cost of living in Portugal will be to you but please don’t worry as there are lots of cheap ways to get around each city and make brilliant memories without spending a fortune. You can get pretty much anywhere in the country by either train or bus, and they also have fantastic metro services in some cities too!
With the weather usually being warm and sunny, walking is a great way of getting around Portugal. Walking gives you a chance to explore cities from a different angle, taking detours down quaint side streets, strolling along the coast and enjoying as many coffee breaks as you want.
So, what are some of the best things to do in Portugal that will introduce you to its culture, history and community spirit?
- Find your bearings by exploring shops, restaurants, bars and essential facilities nearby where you’re going to be living
- Have a taste-testing day with your friends and try local foods from Portugal, such as sardines, Francesinha Sandwiches and Pastel de Natas
- Go on an adventure to other cities in Portugal. If you’re staying in Porto, why not take a day trip to the capital city of Lisbon and enjoy the hustle and bustle of daily life. If you’re in the busy city of Lisbon, why not go and relax at the beach for the day?
- Go to museums, castles and art galleries to learn more about Portuguese history and culture – a lot of cities, such as Sintra, have beautiful architecture with hundreds, if not thousands, of years of history behind them.
The best part about student life in Portugal? You don’t have to do any of these activities alone because there will be other students in the same boat as you. Some may have never been before so you can explore together, while others may be local so they’ll know all the trendiest spots! With new friends and a new country to explore, you’ll never be stuck for fun things to do in Portugal.
What To Do in Portugal When Family & Friends Visit
As a student, there’s no feeling like having your friends and family visit from home. It gives you the chance to see people you love, show them how you’re living your best university life, and also give them a taste of what you get up to in Portugal.
Once you’ve given them a tour around your accommodation, shown them your favourite local hotspots and taken them to sample delicious Portuguese delicacies, you might be looking for other fun things to do in Portugal that will give your friends and family the experience of a lifetime.
Here are our top 4 cool things to do in Portugal with your friends and family to show them Portuguese culture, history and way of living:
Oceanário de Lisboa
You’ve come to university to enjoy a blend of studying and socialising, so you want to offer the same experience to friends and family who visit. If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Portugal, Lisbon that are both educational and super fun, you have to take a trip to Oceanário de Lisboa.
This oceanarium is designed to promote knowledge of the ocean and teach people about the importance of protecting our oceans. Visitors are taught how small changes they make can help conserve the environment and protect our planet.
We’ve put this on our top things to do in Portugal and Lisbon because sustainability is at the heart of how we do things at Nido. There’s nothing better than learning how to protect the planet while also having fun at the same time!
Ponte de Dom Luís I
Something every tourist loves doing is visiting cultural and historical landmarks, and your friends and family will be no different when they learn about Ponte de Dom Luís I.
Visiting Ponte de Dom Luís I is great because it’s one of the many free things to do in Portugal so it won’t take a chunk out of your budget.
This double decker bridge sits over the river Douro and links Porto and Gaia, representing around 900 years of history. Watch the sunset, try some Port and check out life on the river from far above with your friends and family. If that doesn’t show them about the cultural richness and beauty of Portugal, nothing will!
Pico do Areeiro
Are you friends and family thrill seekers? One of the most adventurous things to do in Portugal is hiking up the third highest peak of the Madeira Islands, Pico do Areeiro!
You and your friends can embrace the fresh air as you soak in the views at this 5,965 ft high peak. To make it even more special, there is a restaurant at the summit so you can refuel and take in the breathtaking landscape before heading back down.
Want to see the glorious views but don’t think your family will want to hike? No worries, you can also access the peak by car so everyone can still be involved.
Quinta da Regaleira
When your friends and family visit, visiting Quinta da Regaleira is an absolute must!
This world heritage site in Sintra was built at the start of the 20th century and is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Portugal with family and friends. Its beautiful romantic architectural complex combined with its cultural significance makes it the ideal place for your family to learn more about Portugal.
Quinta da Regaleira has a palace, chapel and garden so you and your friends can spend the whole day here before heading out to sample local foods in the evening. Sounds perfect to us!
Things To Do in Summer in Portugal
Summer in Portugal is a dream come true if you enjoy hot weather, beautiful beaches and getting outdoors.
As exam season finishes and you look forward to a long summer in Portugal, we want to make sure you have everything you need to celebrate before university starts. So, what are the best things to do in Portugal over the summer months?
Travelling around Portugal in Summer
How well do you know Portugal? Whether you’ve been living here for your whole life, a few years or you’re going to be moving here soon, do you truly know every city and town, or just the one you live in/are going to live in?
We have a challenge for you! That’s right, one of the most adventurous things to do in Portugal is to explore and discover your new favourite cities outside of Lisbon, Porto and anywhere else you may know.
Spend your summer in Portugal visiting the stunning city of Braga, known for its impressive buildings and history, or Amarante which is home to the breathtaking arched bridge of Ponte São Gonçalo. If you’re a fan of Medieval architecture, be sure to visit Sortelha and wander around its castle grounds. Wherever you go, you’ll be seeing Portugal in all its glory!
Sea you at the beach
Over the summer you’ll be looking for cool things to do in Portugal, literally! With Portugal reaching a high average of 29 degrees celsius in July, you should look for things to do in Portugal that will help you beat the heat.
There are hundreds of beaches in Portugal, over 850 km, so you can relax, cool down and live your best student life when exam season is over.
Praia de Benagil is one of the most famous beaches, known for its beautiful sandy beach and piercing blue water. You’ll fall in love with Praia de Benagil and who can blame you! Plus, there are nearby caves you can explore so if you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Portugal, this ticks all the boxes.
Enjoy visiting national and natural parks
If you’re someone who doesn’t like sand getting everywhere, you may choose to visit green spaces or the pool instead over your summer in Portugal.
Portugal is home to a wide range of national and natural parks, all of which are breathtakingly beautiful. With a mixture of forests, rock cliffs, lakes, wildlife and so much more, you’ll be able to explore in the wilderness for hours!
What To Do in Portugal in Winter
We all know that tourists love a summer in Portugal, so you’ll never be short of something to do, but have you thought about what to do in Portugal in winter?
You’ll be pleased to know the winter in Portugal is absolutely delightful as you can look forward to beautiful Christmas displays, delicious food and even some well-needed winter sun!
Embrace the winter sun
Sitting by a fireplace, wrapped up in blankets and still freezing your toes off isn’t some people’s idea of a good time and we totally understand why. You may be looking for things to do in Portugal during the winter that will help you avoid the cold, and you’ll be pleased to know that temperatures in Lisbon don’t tend to drop below 14 degrees celsius, even in December! It may not be blistering sun, but it’s enough to not need a thick winter coat and to allow you to go outside to explore the city without a woolly hat.
Take a tour of the world famous nativity scenes
Portugal loves Christmas! When we say love, think of a huge Christmas tree in Lisbon, streets lined with glistening lights and beautiful Christmas markets everywhere you turn.
However, if you’re spending Christmas in Portugal there’s something we think you should do: go on a tour of the world famous nativity scenes!
What do we mean? Portugal is famous for having giant nativity scenes around their cities and they are marvellous. They also have a lot of live nativity scenes where local residents dress up and re-enact scenes too. Did you know, the town of São Paio de Oleiros actually holds a Guinness World Record for the largest moving nativity scene? We guarantee visiting nativity scenes over Christmas is one of the most unusual things to do in Portugal but also most fun.
Enjoy traditional Portuguese delicacies
Do you love food as much as we do? Portugal is home to many delicacies, including seafood such as sardines and octopus, and Pastel de Nata – the famous and traditional Portuguese custard tart.
So, if you’re looking for crazy things to do in Portugal, why not spend a day taste testing foods you’ve never tried before and opening yourself up to new dishes?
The winter is a great time to do this because you can spend your time in cosy cafes and restaurants trying delicious food, or wandering through the various Christmas markets and tasting traditional Christmas delicacies. We’ve heard that rabanadas and sonhos will put you in the Christmas spirit, as they’re both deep-fried, covered in sugar and have a festive feel about them!
Not Found Your Perfect Student Accommodation in Portugal?
Living in Portugal as a student is a dream come true. With the perfect blend of world-class academic facilities, rich cultural history and fun things to do in Portugal, you’ll be living your best life all year around.
Whether you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Portugal, such as travelling to new cities like Amarante, or free things to do in Portugal like visiting Ponte de Dom Luís I, you’ll never be short of something to do.
So, you’ve got your university sorted and you’ve got a plan of fun things to do in Portugal…have you organised your accommodation yet?
If you haven’t, you should be looking for accommodation that’s right in the heart of the city you’re studying in, has brilliant facilities that will help you maintain a study-life balance, and is close to lots of amenities such as shops and restaurants – we’ve got you covered!
At Nido, we prioritise your wellbeing and understand the importance of having a study-life balance – which is why we have contemporary student accommodation in both Porto and Lisbon. Our accommodation has a mixture of quiet study spaces and fun games rooms so you can work hard and relax with friends in your spare time.Want to join the Nido family in Portugal? Get in touch with us with any questions you have and a member of our friendly team will be happy to help.