Porto versus Lisbon? Both Portugal's main cities have a lot in common. And they both make great city breaks. But which city should you visit first? Here’s the lowdown. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Portugal, your essential guide for visiting Portugal.
Of course both cities have fantastic views.
Lisbon is set on seven hills. And it's known for miradouros where people gather to watch sunsets. Don't miss tile-clad Miradouro de Santa Luzia. It looks over Alfama towards the river. And Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara gazes across the city centre to Castelo de São Jorge.
Northern Porto serves hearty food. Tripe's a speciality. And locals love francesinha. A mighty sandwich of steak, sausage, ham and melted cheese with a tomato and beer sauce.
Lisbon's more refined. Here, the local delicacy is pastel de nata custard tarts. Try them warm with a sprinkle of cinnamon at Pastéis de Belem. This Belém bakery made the original tarts.
Portugal's cooking emphasises fresh local produce. And surveys show the country eats the least processed food in Europe. So both Porto and Lisbon are good for fine dining. You can try innovative food in either. And you'll find it's very affordable too.
Porto's Michelin-starred Yeatman rivals its food with amazing views. And in Lisbon, Michelin chef José Avillez rules fine dining. Try his Portuguese classics at Belcanto. Or find him more playful at Mini Bar in Lisbon's Chiado district.
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Lisbon and Porto score well on big sights. But the capital wins on numbers alone.
In Lisbon, don't miss:
Classic Porto must sees include:
Porto's cable cars glide to Vila Nova de Gaia port wine lodges.
But Lisbon has the legendary Elevador de Santa Justa. This 19th century elevator links Baixa to Largo do Carmo. It was designed by a pupil of Gustav Eiffel. And it's now one of the city's most famous attractions.
Like someone else to organise transport? Take a full day tour of Lisbon with local guides.
There are plenty places to drink in Lisbon and Porto.
Bars in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto are busy until dawn. But Porto has an entire suburb dedicated to one drink.
Discover Port at Vila Nova de Gaia in Porto. Stroll along the waterfront to see the port lodges. Most of them offer tours. And you can explore their cellars. Or you can go straight to tasting rooms.
Want to compare craft beer and wine? Book a craft beer secrets and wine tour of Porto.
Neither Porto or Lisbon are coastal. But both cities are close to beaches.
In Porto head for:
Want to hang on at the beach? Book Vila Foz Hotel & Spa in Foz do Douro.
In Lisbon make for:
Depends on how much time you have.
Porto is more compact. So it's a good choice for long weekends.
Larger Lisbon needs longer to explore.
Alternatively, do both. They're less than three hours apart by train.
Ready for a trip to Portugal? Check out the snapshot Rough Guide to Portugal. Read more about the best time to go to Portugal, the best places to visit and best things to do in Portugal. For inspiration use the Portugal Itineraries from The Rough Guide to Portugal and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.
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