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From cosmopolitan Lisbon to the stunning beaches of the Azores, Portugal has something for everyone. The Portuguese are proud of their history and their language, which has spread far beyond this small country’s shores. Be sure to visit a local coffeehouse to experience Fado, a passionate musical style first sung by Portuguese sailors longing for home.

During the year, Portugal hosts numerous celebrations, fairs, religious pilgrimages and festivals. The year starts with New Year’s parties, followed by Carnival, Easter, summer musical festivals and Christmas. Each region, even the smallest village, keeps its particular traditions alive through colourful decorations, food and drinks, dances and songs. The Portuguese are open, friendly and hospitable to people of other nations. The local cuisine relies heavily on the sea, and you’ll find that the Portuguese prepare fish in hundreds of different ways.

Sun and sea, radical sports, natural parks, festivals and concerts – there’s a bit of everything in Portugal for a great exchange. The white sandy beaches are full of possibilities for fun-filled days, with calm or rough seas and countless activities to indulge in; or for sunbathing, being with friends and dancing the night away.

Inland, there are mountains and valleys to explore, observing nature or taking part in radical sports. There are also villages here that will take you back in time, where you can breathe clean air and discover ancient customs. Big cities such as Lisbon, Amadora, Porto and Braga also have many monuments and museums to visit, as well as a busy, exciting nightlife. If you’re looking for a truly different cultural experience, Portugal is the place to be!

Eligibility Requirements

You must be 16, 17 or 18
Enrolled in a NZ school
Getting ‘achieved’ or more in your school work

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Host Family Placement
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • School Placement
  • Medical Insurance
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Field Trips
  • Cultural Tours
  • Assistance with Application Process
  • Visa Application Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Orientations during your time abroad
  • Access to Alumni Network
  • Continuous Support
  • Worldwide Presence
  • 70 Years Experience

What you are responsible for

  • Vaccinations
  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • School Uniform
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Host family and culture

You can live either in an urban or suburban area in Portugal. Expect to have a fair share of independence and responsibilities, like cleaning up after yourself and helping with the household chores. Portuguese families enjoy traveling together to visit their country house on weekends or spend time on the beach. Food is a big part of Portuguese life and a time for animated and long family conversations.

Seafood is very popular in Portugal and other plates include meat, bread, cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables. Pork, lamb, beef, chicken, and rabbit are all common sources of meat. You’ll also find lots of pastry shops with a world of sweets to discover and learn by name.

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Language and school

The main language spoken in Portugal is Portuguese. To help you learn the language, AFS will give you a booklet and audio files. Hosting schools usually provide students with Portuguese-for-foreigners language classes, either individually or in groups.

You’ll attend a public high school with other students your age, and you can choose to focus on science and technology, social-economic sciences, social and human sciences, languages and literature, or visual arts. Portuguese schools are challenging and have long hours, but they’re also a great place to meet people, make friends and learn the Portuguese language, history and culture.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Kick-start your future with AFS and discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

This programme begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations, other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations which will help you maximize your experience, cope with the challenges of navigating a new culture and community as well as gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding throughout your time abroad, and as you return to your home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family the whole way through.

Find out more