What are the main differences between Porto and Lisbon?

So you’ve decided to study abroad in Portugal, but having a hard time choosing whether you should move to Porto or Lisbon? We get the struggle. After all, these are two of Portugal’s largest and most popular cities, and both Lisbon and Porto offer great advantages for your student life in Portugal. So it’s perfectly normal to be a little bit indecisive about it.

In this post, we’ll help you make up your mind, by breaking down the main differences between Porto and Lisbon. That way, you can wisely choose which one is the best for your study abroad experience in Portugal.

1. Cost of Living Porto vs Lisbon:

In general, Portugal has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe. And that’s actually one of the reasons why Portugal became such an attractive option for students, who want to study in Europe.

Lisbon:  Lisbon has a slightly higher cost of living – about 7% – than Porto. Renting student accommodation in Lisbon, for instance, can be much more expensive than in Porto, around 27% higher. Eating out in Lisbon can also be more expensive than in Porto, mostly because Lisbon is more touristic. If you’re a true foodie who wants to find affordable places to eat in Lisbon, it’s possible. In Portugal both in Lisbon and in Porto, you can eat super well for very decent prices. In Lisbon, there are many amazing Tascas, traditional Portuguese restaurants, that have great meals for 9€.

Porto: As we mentioned, renting student accommodation in Porto can be slightly lower. On the other hand, Porto is slightly more expensive when it comes to groceries – an average of 6% higher. Costs with transportation are almost the same in Porto and Lisbon, but Porto is a smaller city, and if you decide to live in the city centre, you’ll be able to walk almost everywhere.

2. Food in Porto vs Lisbon:

When studying in  Portugal,  we promise you’ll try amazing cheese,  super fresh seafood, delicious pastries, and, of course, lots of wine!

Lisbon: Lisbon has amazing seafood. In the Capital, you can try many dishes made with codfish, the iconic Bacalhau. For even fresher seafood, you can head over to cities like Setúbal, in the south of Lisbon, to try famous seafood dishes like fried cuttlefish. You can also try the Portuguese pastries, such as the Pastel de Nata, which costs around 1€. Lisbon also has great restaurants from India, Nepal, Brazil, Mozambique, and Japan, among others. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll also find great healthy restaurants and cafes.

Porto: Porto’s cuisine goes far beyond the beloved Francesinha. Porto is located between the Atlantic Ocean and mountains, and its cuisine reflects the surrounding regions. When studying in Porto, you’ll try a little bit of everything, from fresh seafood – like shellfish and clams – to hearty meats and cheeses. One of the words that best describe Porto’s cuisine is “comfort”, as it gives you a feeling of well-being. But in case you’re feeling adventurous, try the Tripas à Moda do Porto (Porto Tripe), their signature dish, which is made with beans, sausage, vegetables, and herbs.

3. Lifestyle in Porto vs in Lisbon:

Both Lisbon and Porto have a lively atmosphere, but each one of them has a unique vibe.

Lisbon: For the past years, Lisbon has been under the spotlight and it became the place where everything happens. First of all, Lisbon has a thriving startup scene and it has been hosting world-class tech events such as the Web Summit. Tourism in Lisbon has also grown over the years, which led to the revitalization of many neighbourhoods that are now cool hotspots full of Instagrammable cafes, new restaurants, and boutique shops.

Lisbon also has a lively and happy atmosphere, especially in the summer, when bars and rooftops get packed with people from all around the globe. As we mentioned before, Lisbon is quite international, and while walking down the streets, expect to hear many different languages, from Portuguese to French. Lisbon also has great museums, parks, and many leisure options.

Porto: Porto is a smaller city, so even though it is almost as touristic as Lisbon, it is a bit quieter. While Lisbon is more bohemian, Porto boasts a more traditional atmosphere, which is not bad at all. Porto has a rich cultural heritage, so prepare yourself to be fully immersed in history while you get lost in its charming medieval alleys. Did you know that Porto’s historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

The richness of culture is one of the best things about Porto, and the city is home to world-class monuments, such as the iconic Luiz I Bridge, the stunning São Bento Railway Station, built in the 20th-century, and the 12th century Porto Cathedral, with walls covered in tiles. But aside from all the culture and history, Porto is also home to a youthful population who loves to party. In the Midsummer, there’s the Festa de São João, a traditional festival that starts early in the afternoon of 23 June and usually lasts until the morning of 24 June. Sounds like fun!

Final verdict:

Ok,  so which city is better for students who want to live in Portugal, Lisbon or Porto? It depends! Both Lisbon and Porto are equal in charm, amazing food, cool people, and things to do. Lisbon might offer you a more vibrant and cosmopolitan lifestyle, while Porto can be more affordable. You just have to prioritize and see what’s best for you.

To know more about studying abroad in Porto or Lisbon, you can check U.Hub Xior and get to know our amazing student residences, where you can enjoy your experience in Portugal to its fullest!

Guest blog by UHUB

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