Porto or Lisbon: Which City in Portugal Should You Visit?

In April, I took my first trip to Europe by visiting the amazing country of Portugal. While there I visited many cities, but based myself in Porto and Lisbon. These are the two biggest cities of Portugal and thus extremely popular with tourists. I was lucky to have over two weeks to explore. However, others may not have as much time and could be faced with a tough choice: Porto or Lisbon?

Hopefully, after this ready this post, you’ll be able to decide which city is better suited for you. Both cities were great and are worth a visit. But if you’re interested in finding out if Porto or Lisbon should be next on your travel bucket list, keep reading.

Check out my vlog of my first day exploring Lisbon, Portugal.

Weather

As I mentioned, I visited Portugal in April. Weather of course will vary depending on when you visit and by chance. But if you’re wondering: “Porto or Lisbon?” and want to know from my experience, then Lisbon wins by a landslide. I really liked Porto but I was definitely ready to leave after my days spent there because the weather SUCKED. It rained every single day, was cloudy, cold, windy and downright gloomy.

A picture taken during my walking tour in Porto. It was pouring rain, so it didn’t make for the most comfortable tour. But everyone brought their smiles and a great attitude, so it was still an awesome experience.

Lisbon was a completely different story. It felt like I was in a totally different country or was traveling at a completely different time. As you can see from the photo above, in Porto I had to wear my winter coat, boots and scarf most days. Even had to whip out my gloves many days! On the flip side, Lisbon was sunny, warm and beautiful most days. I didn’t even need a jacket many days! It felt like early summer and was absolutely gorgeous.

Weather

Porto or Lisbon?

Winner: Lisbon

Food

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not jump at the chance of trying local food when I travel. For one thing, I’m extremely picky. Secondly, I prefer to get super cheap foods and not always at sit down restaurants. Overall, I found that Portugal was pretty cheap overall. A popular treat, pasteis de nata, are super cheap all across Portugal. My experience with the food is overall selection for this picky gal.

My favorite place to get a quick lunch without a long wait while I was in the midst of exploring was Pizzeria Romana al Taglio. It’s a small little shop with friendly service and the pizza was delicious. I went here twice during my time in Lisbon and wish I could’ve fit in a third.

I’d have to give it to Lisbon again. I found that the restaurants varied more than the ones I came across in Portugal. Also, I just enjoyed my food more at the restaurants in Lisbon. Again, it wasn’t Portuguese food but it still was tasty! In Porto, I found myself struggling to find a restaurant I wanted to go to (remember I’m picky) and I didn’t have that experience in Portugal.

Food

Porto or Lisbon?

Winner: Lisbon

Accommodations

Good Morning Lisbon Hostel

One reason I decided Portugal would be a great introductory destination for my Europe travels was because its cheap. Portugal is known for having great, affordable accommodations, especially if you book in advance. So really, either city would be great. I wrote about my experience staying in a hostel for the first time at Selina in Porto.

Check out Selina Porto, the first hostel I stayed in.

While in Porto I stayed in both Airbnbs and a hostel. My first Airbnb was great, my hostel was solid and my last Airbnb was a tad disappointing – but I booked it very last minute. In Lisbon, I stayed at one hostel, Good Morning Lisbon and it was fantastic. That hostel was cheaper than my accommodations in Porto and I thought it was better quality/value. I’d stay in Good Morning Lisbon again and again, it was incredible.

Accommodations

Porto or Lisbon?

Winner: Lisbon

Culture

Street art/graffiti in Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and definitely has a bunch of history. Still, there’s definitely a newer, fresher vibe that I got from Lisbon. On the other hand, while in Porto, I felt like I was in a much older, historic city. For those who prefer less of a metropolitan city and want a city that feels more like a tiny European town, Porto is your bet. From the cobbled streets to architecture, Porto was wonderful to feel deeply entrenched in Portugal’s culture.

Also, Braga, the oldest city in Portugal and known as the religious capital of Portugal, is a short ride away.

Culture

Porto or Lisbon?

Winner: Porto

Conclusion

It’s quite clear from that Lisbon won. That’s not to say that I disliked Porto. As I mentioned, both cities are worth a visit. However, overall I really connected to Lisbon more and have more of an urge to revisit. So, Porto or Lisbon? Both! But, if you can only pick one… Lisbon.

What do you think? Have you been to Porto or Lisbon? Do you agree with my points? Let me know in the comments.

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