Universities in Lisbon - QS Best Student Cities Ranking | Top Universities


By Sabrina Collier

Updated April 6, 2021 Updated April 6, 2021

Lisbon for students

QS Best Student Cities ranking: 52nd

Located on Portugal’s west coast, Lisbon is pretty much everything you could want from a European capital city: rich in culture, character and history, full of great food, wine, music and nightlife.

Two public universities in Lisbon are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2021 – the University of Lisbon (joint 356th) and the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (joint 428th) – as well as one private institution – the Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Lisboa (801-1000).

Lisbon has been well received by its students, with a lot of praise in our student survey. When asked to name the best things about studying in Lisbon, one respondent mentioned: “the quality of life of the city, diversity of backgrounds of students and teachers, extreme tolerance/embracing of that diversity by the city's population and the quality of the education.”

Would Lisbon get your vote? Tell us why.

Best universities in Lisbon - QS Best Student Cities ranking: 52nd

University of Lisbon (=356th); Universidade Nova de Lisboa (=428th); Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Lisboa (801-1000)

More about Lisbon

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution

University of Lisbon (joint 356th)



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student View rank


To find out how each of the above categories is calculated, 
view the methodology.      

Why study in Lisbon?

Low cost of living

The city ranks 52nd in the affordability indicator this year and the city’s students enjoy its low overall living costs and cheap rent in the city center. 

Excellent weather

With the sun shining approximately 239 days of the year, there’s lots of time to enjoy one of Portugal’s many beaches, which are only a 30-minute drive away from Lisbon. 

Good quality of education

The city contains four of the world’s top universities. These include the University of Lisbon, which ranks in joint 356th place worldwide this year. 

A cosmopolitan city

15 percent of the city’s 78,600 students are from outside Portugal and the city constantly welcomes new people and cultures.

Cost of studying in Lisbon

Lisbon is one of Europe’s most affordable cities for students. The city places 52nd in the affordability indicator this year and charges an average of US$5,000 annually for tuition. 

The cost of living in Lisbon, and Portugal in general, is very low. A one bedroom apartment in the city center costs approximately US$1,038 - 53 percent less than London

On top of this, Numbeo estimates a single person living in Lisbon will need around US$650 extra to live on each month.

Life and culture in Lisbon

Against an attractive backdrop of historic buildings, winding streets and vintage trams, Lisbon offers an eclectic selection of activities and experiences. After lectures, students can enjoy the city’s traditional public baths, lively cafés and even livelier nightclubs.

The great scenery in Lisbon is made all the better due to the city’s hilly terrain. Although this makes walking and cycling more of an effort (although great for fitness), the views are most definitely worth it.

Career in Lisbon

Lisbon is a city with many start-up firms, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities on offer for graduates looking for work. The city has strong competition for jobs so students should start looking for work early on if they hope to stay in Lisbon after graduation. 

The services sector is the dominant industry in the city, with tourism accounting for a large part of Lisbon’s economy. Aside from this, biotechnology, IT and telecommunications are also flourishing industries in Lisbon, as well as agriculture, financial services and retail.

EEA, EU and Swiss nationals can work in Lisbon for up to six months before applying for a residence permit, but non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals will have to obtain an offer of employment from a Portuguese company.

This article was originally published in November 2015 . It was last updated in April 2021

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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