Portugal may not be the most popular destination for high school abroad, but what it lacks in popularity it makes up for in charm, authentic discoveries, and beauty.
As far as high school programs in Portugal go, most of them are study abroad programs. Volunteer programs for high schoolers aren't that common. Further, it's a safe and affordable destination in Europe filled with welcoming people, rich history, and delicious food. This makes Portugal a safe and easy destination for high schoolers to travel to, while remaining fairly off the beaten path.
Watch history come to life while exploring the quaint cobblestone streets of Lisbon or Porto. Listen to Fado. Practice your Portuguese. No matter which way you look Portugal is crawling with opportunities and ready to be explored.
Portugal is great for students who want to learn about European history or Portuguese and who want a more off-the-beaten path destination within Europe.
As mentioned, the majority of high school abroad programs in Portugal are study abroad programs. Within the high school study abroad programs in Portugal, Teens can choose from:
- A teen travel tour
- Student exchange
Teen travel tours
Embark on an educational tour of Portugal or Portugal and its neighboring countries (like Spain or Morocco) and learn more about the region's culture and history. Depending on the provider, a language component is sometimes included, giving students the chance to learn some Portuguese as well.
Student exchange programs
Alternatively, students can attend high school in Portugal as an exchange student. For those without a strong command of Portuguese, you'll kick off your time overseas with an intensive language course. Most students will be placed in an urban or rural area and, in accordance with the Portuguese educational system, will follow one of the educational tracts local students do.
On these types of programs, students are most likely to live with a local host family throughout their time in Portugal.
Planning Your Trip
The two most popular (and populated) cities within Portugal are Lisbon and Porto. Students will likely fly in to one of these two destinations at the least.
For North Americans studying abroad in Portugal, you're only required to have a student visa for stays longer than 90 days. EU students do not need a visa. Although most programs assist in the visa application and process, the application can be found online and mailed into your local Portugal Embassy 3-6 months prior to your departure.
Teen travel tours will use a combination of homestays, hostels, and / or hotels for their accommodation. Student exchanges will place students with a homestay family.
Portugal is one of the most affordable locations in Europe. Even though a recommended daily budget is around $25 to $30 however, this is to cover personal expenses since most programs cover three meals a day. Portugal is a very exciting place filled with opportunities to travel, plan for a high daily budget to fit in a morning coffee or a trip to another city.
It's best to bring an unlocked phone with you on your trip (most new phones are sold unlocked for international usage, but you should check with your cell phone carrier) and get a local sim card and pay-as-you-go plan once you arrive in Portugal.
Portugal has a typical Mediterranean climate: mild winters and hot summers. Along the coast, it can also get super windy -- which makes Portugal a prime surfing spot.
While in Portugal, be sure to pack:
- Breathable clothing during the summer
- A hat and coat during the winter
- A converter
- Reusable water bottle
It's also best to pack in a duffel bag or backpack, as suitcases can be cumbersome to travel with in cobblestoned cities or when staying at hotels that don't often have elevators. If you're on a shorter trip, pack one piece of luggage and one personal item. Just because you can bring two suitcases doesn't mean it's a good idea...
Health & Safety
Portugal is overall a very safe country with a low crime rate. Even so, it's best to be aware of pickpockets in crowded, urban areas and keep an eye on your bag at all times.
There are no vaccinations necessary to enter Portugal or other health concerns to be aware of.