Historic trolley car in Lisbon. Photo: Leon Haupt
Lisbon, the city of 7 hills, is one of the most popular destinations of Europe. With its rich history and cultural remains that go back to the Romans you will find some spectacular monuments and be confronted with the romantic stories that accompany them. That being said, Lisbon also has one of the highest student populations. A large number of Erasmus students come here to experience the dream of living and studying in Southern Europe and embrace the vast diversity it offers. For an InnoEnergy student, you couldn’t be at a better place than Lisbon. With students from 4 IE Master’s programmes you will find a large student community here. Apart from accompanying you to the beaches or lending a shoulder to walk down the hills of Bairro Alto, they also conduct various speaker sessions and other programmes that help you connect with entrepreneurs. IST is one of the top universities of Europe and offers various high-quality subjects. Overall, Lisbon is a city you will fall in love with from the first moment. We wish you all a wonderful time here and we hope you carry home some amazing memories to last a lifetime.
Useful to know:
The official language is Portuguese, but English is widely spoken and understood by most of the people you will likely encounter. It is extremely rare that a person below the age of 30 can’t speak English. Announcements for public transportation are only in Portuguese, but signboards are typically in both languages and the ticket vending machines also work with both. If you can't find a translation, just ask a local to help you and you'll be fine.
It's not easy to find a place since Lisbon is a popular tourist city and most of the places are rented for short term. The ones which are not are getting more and more into the hands of AirBnb and Uniplaces (a local student housing portal) which unfortunately add up to the average price. Alternatively people might have a look at olx.pt (the most popular local announcements portal). Expect to pay between 250 up to 450 euros for a room depending on the quality and the level of sub-letting.
The currency is the euro, and Portugal is thought to be one of the cheapest countries of western Europe (if not the cheapest). It is possible to open a bank account if you're a foreigner, and by doing so you will receive a MULTIBANCO card which apart from working as a bank card also allows you to do nice things such as refilling your phone and pay your bills directly from any ATM. Cash is still the main currency here and it is very possible that bank cards are not accepted if the amount is too low (usually below 5€). Some places won't even accept a card that is not MULTIBANCO-compatible.
Lisbon has 4 Metro lines (Vermelha, Verde, Azul and Amarela, which translate to red, green, blue and yellow) plus an extensive network of trams and buses. A single ticket is 1.45€ and is issued on a weak-looking rechargeable card whose price is 0.50€. You can buy and charge it either at the served kiosks or at the automatic vending machines in every Metro station. The card can also be charged with a chosen amount of money (ZAPPING mode on the vending machines) which will be scaled at every use. This way the ticket price is discounted to 1.30€. If you plan to use the transportation network often, you can buy a monthly pass for 36.50€ which allows you to move with no limits within the city zone (with the Metro, bus, tram and commuter rail within city limits). To get it however, you will need to register for a more sophisticated subscription card in one of the CARRIS customer offices (CARRIS is the name of the transportation provider) which will take a few days and a processing fee of around 8€. This subscription card is much more resistant and looks much better though.
Taxis are omnipresent and just slightly more expensive than Uber, which is presently used..
Pro-tip: on the top of the bus stations you will see a yellow signal with a phone symbol and two strings of numbers. If you send an SMS with the 6 digit number to the 4 digit one you will instantly receive an updated schedule of the buses for that station in the next few minutes, GPS tracked!
Photo: Trip Advisor
Need to get a haircut? Around Alameda/Arroios there are several hairstylists, prices starting from 4-5€. There are also hairstylists at shopping malls but at a much higher price.
Key piece of advice from Carmine Piparo: The best advice I would give is to live the city, explore, meet locals and enjoy life here. Don't "close" yourself only around international students, otherwise you will probably always end up in the same places doing the same stuff and you'll get bored sooner or later. Also, it is definitely worth it to admire the sunset from the many panoramic spots spread around Lisbon! Don't miss that! Que Saudades!
- Arco do Cego: Park behind IST with cheap places to drink and eat where students usually hang out.
- LX Factory: Great place to go for dinner and drinks. Usually hosts art-related events.
- Beco do Forno (in Martim Moniz): very typical Portuguese restaurant; family-owned, extremely nice couple, food is great and cheap!
- Travessa do Forno (in Praça do Rossio): this is a small street in the center in a very touristy area with non-touristy restaurants - a gem in the middle of expensive tourist traps! Went to 2 different restaurants on this street and both are very typical Portuguese places with very good prices
- Casa Madeirense (in Arroios): great place for large groups (should make a reservation if you go on the weekend); typical food from Madeira - try the bolo de caco!
- RDA 69 (in Anjos): a vegan cooperative that on Sunday nights has a pizza night with vegetarian and vegan pizzas! 2.50€ for a small pizza, with 2 you are more than full. You also get to repair your bicycle or enjoy a game of Fussball while enjoying some delightful craft beers.
- Casanova (in Santa Apolónia): best pizza in Lisbon - a long line but worth it!
- Jardim dos Sentidos (in Praça dos Restauradores): amazing vegetarian restaurant with decent prices - even carnivores will like it!
- Restaurante Terra (in Bairro Alto): another great vegetarian place - buffet, not the cheapest but so many choices.
- Pistola y Corazon Taqueria (in Cais do Sodré): best Mexican food in Lisbon; 9€ menu for lunch and very filling
- Honorato Hamburgueres Artesenais (in Baixa Chiado): Very good hamburgers at a decent price.
- Mercado da Ribeira (in Cais do Sodré): A cool market filled with many different food vendors - not the cheapest and a bit touristy.
- Chimarrão in Praça do Chile
- A lot of local food chains like "Padaria Portuguesa" (spread all around Lisbon, you cannot miss them) offer a Breakfast menu called "Menu Pequeno Almoço" for 2.5€ and it includes 1 sandwich with ham and cheese (you have a wide selection of breads you can choose for the sandwich), 1 coffee and 1 glass of natural juice (Fresh orange juice made on the spot or a multivitamin juice or another always-different juice).
- You can find cheap meals all around Lisbon, but you need to explore a little (it will help to use one of the suggested apps or asking the locals). Excluding various cafeterias in the main campus, around the university you can find meals in small restaurants like "Açúcar e Canela" or "Rialva" at less than 6€: main dish served with side dishes at 4.50 - 4.95€, water(0.5L) 1€ or beer 1.1€, coffee 0.5 - 0.6€ (those two are just in front of the InnoEnergy Office).
- There are “Illegal” Chinese restaurants littered all around the Martim Moniz area, discreet restaurants not typically found on Google Maps. Anyone who has been there for a couple of months would know at least one, ask some locals for recommendations on which one to go to!
- Mercado 31 de Janeiro: A good market with fresh vegetables close to IST
- BioMercado: Bio and vegan supermarket close to IST
- Pingo Doce: The typical local Portuguese supermarket, some are bigger than others (the one by IST is quite big and good)
- Continente: Has more choices of certain things, has great deals on wine
- El Corte Ingles market: Although this is not a specialised food market, it contains brands that might be missing in the other markets. More expensive than the regular ones, but definitely worth looking at.
- In the Alvalade neighbourhood, Mercado de Alvalade is quite good for fresh fish.
- Fabrica dos Bolos (in Arroios): Great bakery for a late night snack!
- Pastéis de Belém (in Belém, a bit outside downtown Lisbon): These are supposedly the best pasteis de nata (really they are called pastéis de Belém since they are famous) - worth a trip to Belém just for this - recommended to sit down to eat rather than wait in the line for pickup since you will wait less.
- Choupana (in Saldanha): A great cafe that all the locals go to - great pastries and coffee at a decent price! wait can be a bit long but worth it
As a kebab addict,Milan Zlatkovikjs can give some advice on the topic.
- KebabIsh - Highly recommended! Definitely much better kebab compared to the most common around (AliBaba).
- AlCafe: This is not regular kebab place, but a shisha bar. However most of the things offered around are of high quality, and the atmosphere is great inside. Highly recommended.
- Near the IST entrance by the Saldanha metro station, there is a park called "Jardim Arco do Cego" where you can find cheap beer, wine and cider. Each cup (0.2L) costs only 0.60€. The quality is not that excellent but it is good enough to hang around with friends after lectures
- Casa Independente (in Intendente): Cool bar in an apartment building; not the cheapest but great atmosphere and live music
- Bus Paragem Cultural (in Anjos): Alternative type of bar (cooperative) with cheap beer and cool atmosphere - some nights there are live music sessions in which you can participate (like karaoke)
- Crew Hassan (in Anjos): Another cooperative type bar but a bit more expensive
- Bairro Alto: This is an area in Lisbon where most people go out for cheap drinks before heading to the clubs; there is Erasmus Corner here where all the Erasmus go to hang out if that is your thing.
Nightclubs & Parties
The general plan is gathering at a flat -> Bairro Alto –> clubs. The specific location may depend upon a person’s taste. Bairro Alto is full of different bars, so there is a wide choice for going out. In the summer months, the beach and rooftop parties are an interesting addition.
- Urban Nightclub playing mostly Radio Top Hits. It is the most well known and a must to check out!
- Lux Fragil Nightclub playing electronic music
- Parties almost every day by Erasmus Life Lisboa and ESN, and the zones of Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré are full of small bars
- Rua cor-de-ors (Pink Street) is another option (it is an actual street painted pink) for those craving dancing!
- Vodafone Mexefest Festival in November which takes place in various venues through downtown Lisbon.
- Tram 28: The number 28 Lisbon tram passes through the popular tourist districts of Graça, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela. For visitors, this is the classic Lisbon tram journey, riding in the quaint yellow tram as it screeches and rattles through the narrow streets of the city.
Places to go
- Miradouro da Graça: Lisbon is filled with miradouros (viewpoints) as you will soon see; this is one of the best in my opinion and I lived quite near to it in Anjos
- Castelo de São Jorge: An amazing castle that also has some of the best views in the city; 5€ entrance for students and I strongly recommend it
- Miradouro de Santa Catarina: Another amazing viewpoint
- Miradouro de Nossa senhora do monte : Beautiful view point next to the castle in the old district of Alfama
- Alfama: An area of Lisbon with cute restaurants and apartments, great viewpoints as well - one of my favorite parts of Lisbon
- Cortico & Netos: A cool tile store that only sells discontinued tiles (Azulejos) so they are cheap but they have thousands of designs - great place for presents or for yourself!
- Gulbenkian Park: A park behind IST in São Sebastião with ponds and ducks that is very tranquil and is a nice place to de-stress
- MAAT: Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology - a cool new museum that EDP (Energias de Portugal) created; 4.50€ to go into both parts with the student discount - recommended!
MAAT museum, Photo: Krishna Reddy
- Belém: Go to see the Torre de Belém and the Jeronimos Monastery - 6€ to get a combined ticket for both with a student discount - very recommended! (and don't forget the pastéis de Belém!)
- Sintra: A must-see town with many palaces and castles; recommended to rent a car for the visit even though the train goes to get to the different palaces more easily as they are spread out.
Sintra, Photo: www.espinheiroturismo.com
- Cabo da Roca: The westernmost point of continental Europe - quite exhilarating to see!
Cabo da Roca, Photo: Visit Portugal
- The Algarve: Highly recommended to rent a car with some friends and explore the south of Portugal - amazing beaches and food and the car is cheap to rent!
- Porto: One of my all-time favourite cities in Europe; take the bus or train to Porto from Lisbon (around 3 hours) and explore this incredible and romantic city! (Along with Lisbon, it has the best hostels in the world!)
Porto, Photo: Telegraph
- Carcavelos: one of the best beaches!
- Costa da Caparica: beach for surfing!
- Cascais: smaller beach but the town is very cute to visit as well!
Cascais, Photo: LisbonBeaches.com
- Rent a surfboard in Praia de Carcavelos or in Costa da Caparica.
- Do a trip through the southern coast of Portugal (Arrifana, Aljezur, Galé, Sines, Sagres...)
- Go to a music festival
- Do a sailing trip on the Tejo
- Go hiking on the Serra de Sintra
- Go running: there is a nice park behind Alameda - Bela Vista
Surfing on one of the beaches near Lisbon. Photo: Krishna Reddy
- Zomato: Portuguese TripAdvisor, worth it if you understand Portuguese but also if you just check the evaluation of the restaurants, pubs, etc. and want to try some new place out.
- Happy Cow: Lists all the restaurants and bars that offer vegetarian or vegan options
- Uber or Cabify: you never know when you'll need it!
Information for accepted students
For more practical and administrative questions about your first year. Please visit the InnoEnergy website for your specific programme guide:
Compiled by CommUnity Post in collaboration with the InnoEnergy Master’s School
Special thanks to our contributors: