Student life in Porto

Student life in Porto
Updated 2023-11-12 07:24

First of all, you should know that it was actually the local university (Universidade do Porto) that inspired J. K. Rowling's worldwide success — Harry Potter! In fact, the famous Hogwarts garments are based on the real-life Traje Académico (Academic Attire), the black-caped clothes which are worn by Porto students to this day! Still curious about Porto's academic traditions? We are here to clue you in!

Accommodation and cost of living in Porto for students

Unfortunately, recent times have seen rent and property prices skyrocket in Porto, as well as the cost of living. Although it certainly can't be compared to the likes of Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam, and the situation isn't as dire as the one you'll find in Lisbon, Portugal's second city is currently also going through a major housing crisis. As such, accommodation for students is scarce and expensive, with good deals getting increasingly harder to come by. This comes as no surprise since recent studies point out that private listings only make up about 7% of the number of students currently enrolled in Porto's universities.

For a humble bedroom in an apartment where all remaining areas are shared with other people, expect to pay upwards of 430€, although it is not at all rare to find landlords asking for 600€ /month. Average prices are also higher for furnished/equipped apartments and for listings that already include other living expenses, such as water, electricity or internet services.

While there have been efforts to build new student residencies as quickly as possible, public efforts are not able to tackle the high level of demand, while private enterprises are targeting higher-end local students and international applicants. Student Support Services (Serviço de Acção Social) usually run programs for accommodation within the compound of university residences. These rooms are much cheaper than what you'll find in the private market (between 160€/month for a private bedroom and 394€ for a double suite), but not all international students are eligible for this SASUP program.

Regarding prices for other items in the city, it costs a single person almost 650€/month to live in Porto (without rent – data from Numbeo). A monthly metro pass starts at 30€, while a meal at a mid-range restaurant can quickly set you back 20€. In cheaper joints, you can get by with 9€-10€. Naturally, it all depends on how lavish your student life is!

Academic tradition in Porto

During the school year, you will find many students strolling through the city's streets dressed in a very particular attire. University attendants choose to wear these academic vests as a symbol of their student years. Even though the story behind the outfit itself is not fully known, some people say it represents every social class (the cloak represents nobility, the cassock represents clergy, and, finally, the vest represents the people). It is a metaphor meaning that both the poorest and the richest of students stand on equal ground, depending solely on their intelligence, and are not to be recognized by their possessions: everyone wears the same, regardless of their background. If you are a student in Porto, you can wear these clothes too.

Unfortunately, the academic attire is often associated with a common practice in Porto's colleges: hazing (praxe). Recent tragic events related to this practice have sparked controversy over the last few years, and the rituals are frowned upon today by a lot of people. Be that as it may, many students across the country (and in Porto) choose to continue the tradition. It is not everyone's cup of tea, but it is definitely part of Porto's student life.

Queima das Fitas

Queima das Fitas started as a small farewell celebration for graduating students but has now progressed to a full-blown festival. Annual festivities usually include a serenade, a huge student parade that actually puts the city on hold, a big music festival that attracts well-known Portuguese and international artists, and a tremendous party atmosphere all around the city (usually with outrageous amounts of alcohol added to the mix). It occurs every May, and it is one of the highlights of Porto's student life.

Where do students spend time in Porto?

The Piolho Bar is a place of academic tradition and part of every student's vocabulary while in Porto. It started off as an ordinary bakery but quickly turned into a small must-visit for drinks and snacks. It is so popular that the name of the old bakery is now used to actually describe the entire area around it.

It's located in the quarter of Cordoaria, where hundreds of students gather every single weekend to drink on the streets, not far away from the Rua das Galerias de Paris, one of Porto's main nightlife hubs.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.