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Lisbon or Porto: Which Portuguese City to Visit?

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Whether you’re looking for a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with an array of cultural attractions or a coastal paradise full of sun and sand, Portugal offers something to suit everyone. With two major cities vying for your attention, you might be wondering if Lisbon or Porto is worth a visit. 

And in this post, we will cover just that! 

Lisbon or Porto: Which Portuguese City to Visit?

Should you visit Lisbon or Porto pin
Should you visit Lisbon or Porto?

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Lisbon is the country’s capital and the largest city in Portugal. With its maze of narrow alleyways, colorful murals, cobblestone streets, and stunning views of the Tagus River, it is a magical city that’s sure to please. 

Lisbon Portugal

If you’re looking for culture and history, Lisbon is the place to be – it is filled with museums, ancient monuments, and galleries.

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal. With its winding cobbled streets, stunning views of the Douro River, and world-famous port wine cellars, Porto is a charming destination that promises a relaxed atmosphere as well as plenty of activities to keep you busy. 

Porto Portugal

From castles and churches to beaches and food spots, Porto will melt your heart! 

Top Resources: One day in Lisbon itinerary | One day in Porto itinerary

Things to consider when choosing between Lisbon or Porto

When choosing between Lisbon or Porto, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost is your budget – both cities are relatively affordable for tourists but some attractions may be more expensive in one city than the other.

You must also consider transport links and possible day trip ideas. Both cities are well-connected by rail and buses making it easy to explore, but each city offers a varied list of places that you can add to your Portugal itinerary (based on your interests). 

Cafe and terrace near Santa Justa Lift and Carmo Convent
Terraeiro da Se views

Also, keep in mind the type of holiday experience you’re after. If you’re looking for a vibrant, cosmopolitan city filled with culture and history, then Lisbon is the ideal destination. 

On the other hand, if your preference is for a charming town then Porto will suit you better.

We will go over this and more in detail below

Lisbon vs Porto: Transportation and Connectivity 

When it comes to transportation and connectivity, Lisbon has an edge over Porto. 

Being the capital city Lisbon is served by the largest airport in the country – Humberto Delgado Airport. 

Humberto Delgado Lisbon Airport
Humberto Delgado Lisbon Airport

Lisbon is your BEST bet to enter the country by plane from North America. You can easily find direct flights from New York City in the USA, or Toronto Canada via TAP Portugal.  

When flying from North America to Porto, you will find connections via Lisbon (by flight). Or take a high-speed train to Porto (2.50 to 3-hour ride).

If you are planning a Spain and Portugal itinerary, you can also take an overnight bus from Seville to Lisbon – and save money and time. 

Lisbon trams

In Lisbon, the city’s public transport network is well-developed, providing easy access to anywhere in the city. The metro system connects different parts of the city with each other, while buses are available for areas not serviced by the metro. 

Additionally, Lisbon also has a tram system allowing for efficient and affordable transport for locals and visitors alike.

Porto is well-connected with Portugal and nearby European countries. Porto metro system is available, servicing many of the major tourist spots in the city. Porto also has a network of trams and a funicular railway system for those who want to explore the city’s hills. 

Taxis are readily available, making it easy to get around the city as well (and it is affordable)!

Porto trams

Porto is less hilly and compact, so it is easy to explore the city on foot – as compared to Lisbon. Lisbon has multiple areas and neighborhoods that are steep, which requires a lot of walking (hiking in the urban areas actually), and is sprawling. 

Each Lisbon itinerary will include a visit to Belem, and you will need some means of transportation to get there. 

In Porto, you can walk across the Ponte Luis I and get to a different jurisdiction of Villa de Nova Gaia and sip delicious Port wine. 

Verdict: Lisbon is great for entering the country due to its international airport, and it requires some mode of transportation to get to various attractions within the city. Porto is compact and can be explored without relying on public transit or car rental. 

Lisbon vs Porto: Accommodation 

Both Lisbon and Porto offer excellent options for accommodation. 

In Lisbon, there are plenty of hotels to choose from – ranging from luxury resorts to more affordable hostels. If you are planning to stay at the city centre (mid-budget) hotel rates are around $80 to $150 USD per night.

And these really go up during the peak season, which is from June to September. 

Bairro Alto apartment
Airbnb/apartment rental

Lisbon also has a great selection of apartments and holiday homes for rent, allowing for a more relaxed stay in the city. There are Airbnb-style properties and you can live like a local in a traditional neighborhood. 

Additionally, Lisbon also has some unique accommodation options such as boutique hotels, which provide a more intimate and personal experience.

Read: Where to stay in Lisbon

Porto is generally slightly cheaper than Lisbon with hotel prices ranging from $50 to $100 per night. You can opt for accommodation near Ribeira, or slightly away from the centre and save money. You will still be within close access to various sightseeing attractions. 

There are also plenty of budget-friendly options available such as hostels and apartments that offer good value for money in Porto. 

Verdict: Overall finding accommodation to suit your budget and personal taste is easier in Lisbon vs Porto. 

Is it cheaper to stay in Lisbon vs Porto?

Booking a hotel in Porto city centre will be slightly cheaper than Lisbon’s historic district. Each city charges a tourist fee that is levied per person per day. 

You can, however, save money on accommodation in Lisbon by staying further away from the centre, and visiting in the off-season. 

Lisbon vs Porto: Food and Restaurants

If you are a foodie, you will LOVE both Portuguese cities as Lisbon and Porto offer excellent destinations for culinary exploration. 

In Lisbon, traditional Portuguese cuisine is a must-try. Opt for delicious dishes such as salt cod, cozido (stewed beef and pork), and bacalhau com natas (salt cod with cream). Pastel de natas are a must-try. 

Pastel di Nata in Lisbon
Pastel de natas in Lisbon

You will find the ever-popular – TimeOut Market with lots of food options under one roof. 

The city centre also abounds with tons of casual restaurants and cafes with a variety of dishes to fit all pockets. And there are markets too where you can buy groceries and try local produce. 

There are centuries-old cafes where you can enjoy a delicious and luxurious coffee break. Top picks – A Brasileira and Martinho da Arcada.


Lisbon has an extra plus in this category. The city is home to a vibrant international culinary scene, with restaurants serving delicacies from all over the world.

Porto is renowned for its seafood dishes, with local favorites such as francesinha (a sandwich filled with sausage and cheese) and fresh fish is a must-try. 

The city’s cafés are also known for their delicious pastries and cakes, while the port wine cellars offer an unforgettable experience.

Graham's Port Lodge
Port Wine

You can book day tours to the Douro Valley for Port wine tasting as well. 

Porto is home to the stunning Majestic Cafe, and the wine lodges in Gaia offer fine dining experiences near the city!

Verdict: Tie (depends on personal choice. If you prefer an international culinary scene, opt for Lisbon. For more local seafood and wine options, choose Porto)

Porto or Lisbon: What is each city known for 

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and one of the oldest cities in Europe. It’s known for its unique culture, vibrant nightlife, stunning architecture, and historical monuments. 

The city also boasts an extensive riverfront, winding streets, and bustling plazas lined with cafés and restaurants. 

Belem Tower

Lisbon is home to some of the most iconic sites in Portugal, such as the Belém Tower and the Jeronimos Monastery.

Porto is Portugal’s second largest city, situated near the country’s northern border with Spain. It’s known for its stunning architecture, cobbled streets lined with cafés and restaurants, and the colorful Ribeira. 

The city is also home to some of Portugal’s most iconic sites, such as the Clérigos Tower and Sao Bento Railway Station.

Certain similarities:

➸ Both cities offer free things to do and visit (squares, viewpoints or miradouros, churches, beaches, etc are free)

➸ Both cities have a river and they offer sightseeing cruises on both (River Tagus in Lisbon, Douro River in Porto)

6 Bridges Cruise in Porto

➸ Porto’s heart and main areas are filled with centuries-old buildings and architecture. Lisbon’s historic center is also similar, but the further you venture to newer parts of the city you will find modern structures (like Vasco da Gama Tower and the Oceanarium)

➸ In terms of shopping, both cities are known for their wide range of boutiques and stores. In Lisbon, you can find everything from designer labels to vintage shops, while in Porto there is a mix of traditional markets and modern shopping malls. Here are the Portuguese souvenirs you must pick up!

Major sightseeing differences: 

➸ Porto is known for its Port wine, and there are cellars and tours that just cater to that! 

➸ Lisbon offers fado performances, which is a lovely experience in itself

➸ Porto is walkable, and compact to explore sightseeing attractions. In Lisbon, you will have to climb some hills and need some type of transportation

➸ Visit Lisbon for maritime history, fado, and literature. The uber-pretty Pink Street, Carmo Convent, and São Jorge Castle are all located in the heart of Lisbon

Pink Street in Lisbon
Girl in Porto with the view of azulejos tiles
Blue tiles in Porto

➸ Visit Porto to see the lovely (but crowded) Livraria Lello bookshop and other nuances of Harry Potter, and the Porto Cathedral, Bolsa Palace, and the Clerigos Tower. And not to forget the gorgeous Azulejos tiles (blue and white tiles)

➸ Lisbon has an urban, modern, and traditional/cultural mix. Porto has a picturesque old-world charm

➸ Lisbon has a fun and adorable vibe. Porto is uber romantic and relaxed

Lisbon vs Porto: Which city is touristy, with lots of things to do

Continuing on with sightseeing. Both Lisbon and Porto are popular tourist destinations in Portugal. 

Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is larger than its northern counterpart – Porto, and is home to many attractions such as the Jeronimos Monastery, Se, Carmo Convent, and the famed Belem Tower. 

Beautiful Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, Belem
Beautiful Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, Belem

Lisbon is spread out with multiple unique neighborhoods and vibes –  from the colorful Bairro Alto, and Gracas’ street art to the historic streets of the Alfama district, there are so many attractions, sites, museums, galleries, and viewpoints to explore.

Bairro Alto in Lisbon

Porto is known for being a charming and interesting city containing numerous historic monuments including the Dom Luis I Bridge, Porto Cathedral, and Clerigos Tower. 

Although compact, and slightly limited in the number of things to do in the city, Porto is full of colorful houses, a vibrant riverfront with sightseeing cruises, cafes, and small shops make it a great place for strolling. 

6 Bridges Tour in Porto

Porto is also the birthplace of port wine, so you can experience the famous Douro Valley wine-tasting tours on day trips. 

First-time visitors to Portugal often struggle to decide between the cities of Lisbon and Porto. While both are renowned tourist destinations in Portugal, Lisbon is the larger and livelier capital city with plenty of sightseeing and cultural activities for visitors. And it is a must-visit for new first-time travelers. 

Porto (Cathedral view at the back)

On the other hand, Porto is a more laid-back city with stunning architecture, excellent seafood restaurants, and a long history of port wine production. 

Lisbon vs Porto: Which is better for solo travelers

I have traveled to both cities as a solo female traveler and felt safe – day or night (actually I loved it so much that I have returned time and again). 

If you are traveling alone to Portugal and you are new to solo ventures, then Porto’s compact quarters will be easier for you to navigate. You can walk to various sites, stay at the centre, and if you have to call an Uber or taxi you won’t be breaking the bank!

Tip: Lisbon is quite popular with solo digital nomads 

Lisbon vs Porto: Which is Better for Couples

For couples looking for a romantic getaway, both Lisbon and Porto offer plenty of attractions to explore. Each city has a different vibe when it comes to taking it slow, soaking in the views, and more. 

Our personal favorite is Porto – it is compact and not overly crowded! Plus we love a little rainy and gloomy weather to cozy up and get comfy in a nice cafe or Airbnb!


In Porto, the picturesque riverside area of Ribeira is perfect for couples looking to explore the city together. Take a stroll along the cobbled streets or enjoy dinner with views over the Douro River – it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience! 

The city’s many parks and gardens also provide great spots for an afternoon picnic or a romantic sunset stroll.

In Lisbon, the city’s hills provide stunning views over the city and its iconic Tagus River. Lisbon is FUN, and vibrant – lots of bars, restaurants to hang out in, shop, join sunset cruises, and more. 

Bairro Alto in Lisbon. Should you visit Lisbon or Porto
Lisbon’s Barrio Alto district, great for food and nightlife

There are also numerous parks and gardens that make wonderful spots for an afternoon stroll or picnic (but it can get very hot in the summer months)!

The winding alleyways of Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest district, also offer a romantic and atmospheric atmosphere.

Lisbon vs Porto: Which is Better for Families

For families looking for an enjoyable holiday, Lisbon makes for an excellent choice. Lisbon is home to many family-friendly attractions including the Oceanario de Lisboa (Lisbon Aquarium), the Parque das Nacoes (Park of Nations), and several amusement parks. 

The fantastic sea underwater world is showcased in the main tank of the Lisbon Oceanarium
The fantastic sea underwater world is showcased in the main tank of the Lisbon Oceanarium

The city also has a wealth of parks, gardens, and other outdoor areas, ideal for family picnics or afternoon strolls. 

Lots of museums too to keep curious children engaged!

Porto has its share of attractions to keep the whole family entertained. Families can take a boat trip along the Douro River, explore the old cobbled streets of Ribeira, and take a ride on one of Porto’s TukTuks to see different corners of the city. 

TukTuk in Porto

The city is also home to a variety of family-friendly attractions such as the interactive Water Pavilion (Science Museum), zoo, and SEA LIFE centre.

Overall, both Lisbon and Porto offer great options for families looking for an enjoyable holiday. 

Lisbon vs Porto: Which is affordable to visit in Portugal

Both Lisbon and Porto are affordable in comparison to many other European cities. This is considering food, transport, affordable options, and sightseeing. 

Between Lisbon and Porto, Porto is slightly cheaper than Lisbon. When holidaying in Porto, you can walk to a lot of attractions, but in Lisbon, some modes of transportation will be needed.

Lisbon tram

Having said that, public transport is relatively inexpensive and can be used to get around the key for sightseeing in Lisbon. Transportation in Lisbon such as the use of trams, trains, and buses won’t break the bank though. 

Sightseeing-wise, you can enjoy a river cruise for $15+ USD in Porto vs $30+ USD in Lisbon. We also did wine tastings for as low as $10 USD in Porto, and of course, there are free attractions in each city (parks, buildings and churches, monuments, viewpoints, etc.)

Burmester wine tasting
Burmester wine tasting for as low as $10 USD per person

Accommodation in each city can also be found at affordable prices – with hostels and budget hotels providing great value for money. In this category too, Porto is cheaper than Lisbon. 

Lisbon vs Porto: Which is better for exploring more of Portugal

For visitors looking to explore more of Portugal, both Lisbon and Porto offer to be the perfect base to venture out. But to arrive in the country from the United States and Canada, Lisbon International Airport is your best bet!

From Lisbon, you can easily take a day trip to Sintra, home to some of the country’s most beautiful palaces and gardens. Located just an hour away by train, it is a great way to

Sintra day trip from Lisbon

experience Portugal’s culture and history. Sintra Natural Park is also an easy escape from Lisbon. 

The city of Evora is another great option for those wanting to explore more of Portugal. Located just 1.50 hours from Lisbon by train, it has plenty of historical attractions and a charming old town. The cute town of Obidos is also accessible by tour, car, or public transportation. 

The cities of Cascais and Estoril are also perfect for day trips from Lisbon, with stunning beaches and a variety of activities on offer. 

Cascais near Lisbon

Lisbon is the best place to arrive in the country, and from there you can travel to the Algarve, Porto, or central Portugal such as Coimbra. 

Porto is the perfect base to explore northern Portugal. Plus right across the river is Vila Nova Gaia where you can enjoy wine tasting and more!

The nearby city of Viana do Castelo is home to some beautiful churches and historic monuments, while Braga and Guimaraes offer plenty of attractions including its historic centre and castle. 

Douro Valley, located just an hour and a half from Porto, is perfect for exploring Portugal’s wine landscape. 

Douro Valley

Places like Coimbra, Aveiro, and Peneda-Geres National Park are also accessible from Porto. Here are more day trips from Porto

Other than exploring more of Portugal, you can also take trips to other countries such as Spain from either city. 

Lisbon vs Porto: Choose Lisbon or Porto based on your travel style and interests

When it comes to deciding between Porto and Lisbon, you should consider their own travel style and interests. Each of these two cities offers its own distinct charm.

Choose Lisbon: History buffs | Bucket list chaser | Active traveler | Shopping | Sprawling city | Many neighborhoods to explore

For those looking for a vibrant city atmosphere with history and culture, Lisbon is the ideal choice. You can explore iconic landmarks such as Belem Tower, take in views over the Tagus River, or wander through the charming alleyways of Alfama.

Lots of museums and historical landmarks to spark every history buff’s curiosity. I LOVED Lisbon for its maritime history. 

For foodies, Lisbon offers a variety of culinary delights. From traditional Portuguese dishes to international cuisine, the city has something for every taste. TimeOut Market, affordable cooking classes, and food tours – lots of ways to indulge in the culinary scene of Lisbon. 

For outdoor enthusiasts, Lisbon is home to several popular parks, gardens, and outdoor areas, ideal for family picnics or afternoon strolls.

Choose Porto: Small town vibes | Relaxed getaway | Compact | Easy to navigate | Romantic | Wine lovers | Harry Potter vibes

Those looking for a more relaxed atmosphere should opt for Porto. Here, the winding streets of Ribeira are lined with historic buildings and charming cafes, providing an ideal spot to take in the city’s laid-back atmosphere. 

The nearby beaches offer great spots for an afternoon stroll or a romantic sunset, while the Douro River is home to delicious seafood restaurants and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

In Porto, you can get a taste of the local delicacy – Francesinha sandwiches, which are a must-try for any foodie. 

How to add Lisbon and Porto to your Portugal Itinerary

If you are interested in exploring both Lisbon and Porto on a single trip, then here is a 7 and 10-day itinerary. 

You can read the full guide and travel tips here – 10 days in Portugal itinerary

  • Day 1 – 3: Lisbon and Sintra
  • Day 4 – 6: Porto and Coimbra
  • Day 7: Douro Valley wine tour
  • Day 8: Braga day trip
  • Day 9: Guimaraes day trip
  • Day 10: Aveiro and Costa Nova

Day 1 – 3: Lisbon and Sintra 

Arrive in Lisbon on day 1, the capital city of Portugal. Plan to explore the city’s attractions in 2 days. Check off iconic landmarks such as Lisbon Cathedral, Sao Jorge Castle, Jeronimos Monastery, and Belem Tower, and wander through the charming alleyways of Alfama. 

Views of Alfama

Don’t forget to try pastel de nata, watch a fado performance and soak in the sun from one of the free miradouros!

After taking in some of the city’s sights and attractions, take a day trip to nearby Sintra on day 3. Explore Sintra’s palaces such as the Quinta da Regaleira Palace and the famed Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle.

Day 4 – 6: Porto, with a stop in Coimbra

From Lisbon, make your way to Porto with a stop in Coimbra. This is great if you are on a road trip, or when using trains (just ensure you are traveling light). 

View of Porto from Dom Luis I bridge

In Porto, spend 2 days and take in stunning views of the Douro River, wander through Ribeira’s winding streets, or visit port wine cellars on Gaia’s riverside. 

Also visit the Clerigos Tower, Porto Cathedral, and Livraria Lello bookshop on your trip. Read our guide on 3 days in Porto itinerary

Day 7: Douro Vally wine tour

For those looking for a more intimate wine experience, a day trip to the Douro Valley is highly recommended. Set aside day 7 for that! 

Douro Valley is one of Portugal’s most beautiful wine regions, and this is where you can explore many vineyards and enjoy some delicious port wines. 

(For a 7-day trip, you can conclude the itinerary here) 

Day 8: Braga day trip

Take a day trip from Porto to the city of Braga. Explore its cobblestone streets, visit attractions such as the Sé de Braga Cathedral, and admire the stunning views from Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary.


Day 9: Guimaraes day trip

After exploring Braga, make your way to Guimaraes the following day. Known as the birthplace of Portugal, Guimaraes is a charming old town that is home to the Castelo de Guimarães and Paço dos Duques de Bragança. 

Day 10: Aveiro and Costa Nova beach day trip

On the final day of the itinerary, head to Aveiro and Costa Nova. Here, they can explore the city’s canals and colorful buildings, as well as sample some of Portugal’s famous seafood. 

In the morning visit Museu de Aveiro and Igreja de Sao Domingos, and in the afternoon relax on the beaches of Costa Nova before returning to Lisbon in the evening! 

How far apart are Lisbon and Porto?

The distance from Lisbon to Porto is 313 kilometers (195 miles). When traveling by car, it will take you 3 hours to arrive in Porto from Lisbon. 

Using public transportation such as trains, it is super easy to reach Porto from the capital city. The fastest trains will get you there in less than 3 hours. 

On average, trains take 3.50 to 4 hours to travel from Lisbon to Porto.  

Where to Stay in Lisbon

Staying at centrally located accommodation in Lisbon will provide you with quick access to sightseeing spots, cool restaurants, and bars. 

Most of the finest and most popular hotels are in Chiado or Avenida da Liberdade districts. These areas are great for sightseeing, shopping, and transport. 

Bairro Alto Lisbon

The next option is Baixa and Bairro Alto. This is where you will find all the colorful lanes and buildings. Baixa is the historic downtown, and you will find most of the sightseeing spots within a fair amount of walking distance. 

Rossio is also a popular area to stay in. The train station here is perfect to connect to Sintra, or Belem from the historic centre. 

You can expect to pay a premium at the hotels in central locations, but they are worth it for a wide variety of options and accessibility. 

To save money, you can surely stay away from the historic centre. 

Pombal Square - 3 days in Lisbon Itinerary
Marquis de Pombal (you can find accommodation near the square as well)

Regardless, all hotels in Lisbon and other cities in Portugal charge a tourist tax or fee, that is usually collected in cash once you check out. It is levied per person per day.

Here are some of our top picks in Lisbon, 

  • Hotel do Chiado: Stay at this luxurious 5 star property with Tagus river views. By staying here you are at the heart of everything. Book your stay here
  • Lisbon Core Apartments: Located in the nightlife district of Bairro Alto, Lisbon Core Apartments are great for long-term visits to the city. You will have an entire apartment to yourself – all equipped with a spacious bedroom, living space, kitchen, and a small balcony. Check rooms and availability here
  • LX Boutique Hotel: With affordable rooms and accessibility to great eateries, the LX Boutique Hotel is an excellent choice for those who like to stay in the hustle and bustle of all the things Lisbon is known for! You will also find a restaurant on-site and can grab loaner bikes from here for sightseeing. Book your stay here

Where to Stay in Porto

Compared to Lisbon, Porto is a compact city, and hence getting to different areas and attractions is fairly easy. You can pretty much walk to get to their desired locations for sightseeing. 

Miragaia Riverside Suites

Here are our top picks for hotels in Porto,

Lisbon or Porto: The Verdict 

Lisbon is definitely the BEST for those who are looking to explore a historical city with plenty of attractions and activities, amazing nightlife, and a plethora of accommodations and solo and family-friendly activities. 

Porto, on the other hand, is not super crowded and has comparatively limited attractions to visit. It is quaint, relaxed, and romantic!

Both cities have plenty of affordable activities and attractions available, so it really comes down to what you’re looking for during your trip. 

We fell in LOVE with Portugal when we visited Lisbon for the first time in 2019. What drew us to the city is its history, charming neighborhoods, and affordable getaways. Since then we have been to Portugal every year (except 2020 you know why). 

If you are a first-time visitor to Portugal, hands down – Lisbon is the place to be in! Have extra 2 days? Add Porto to your itinerary. Second, third time to the country – base yourself in Porto and explore the off-the-beaten-path to Northern Portuguese cities and towns.

Pin: Porto or Lisbon: Which City Should You Visit?

Which is better Lisbon or Porto pin
Which is better Lisbon or Porto: Lisbon Porto guide

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