Portugal is becoming the home of huge city break destinations and after finally finding photos from my Lisbon trip I thought it was time to do a post and what better than to compare Lisbon vs Porto! Both cities are big hitters in the city break holiday market at the moment but which one is best and my favourite?
Both cities are very different in what they offer and cost!
In Porto I found a great array of different tourist attractions including a river cruise, snooping inside a palace, shopping for antique tiles, sipping port and just admiring the beautiful city in the sunshine which was of course free. Price wise I didn’t find entrance fees to be that expensive and thankfully my hotel in Porto provided free entry for a Port tasting at Graham’s.
In Lisbon I was bored; travel is what you make it however I had visited Porto first and maybe that spoiled Lisbon for me as I loved Porto so much. I did visit a number tourist sites in the city and I thought they were rather overpriced for what was on offer…case in point was Lisbon Castle Castelo de Sao Jorge at 8.50 euros pp entrance…the view is gorgeous (great at sunset with a glass of wine) but if you don’t fancy a view or a glass of wine (additional cost of course!) then don’t waste your euros on the castle as it’s pretty pitiful. If you want to visit a number of tourist sites then I would suggest buying The Lisboa Card to save a few of your hard earned buckeroos as it offers free access and discounts!
Lisbon vs Porto: Winner Porto
Portugal and Tiles…they go hand in hand with each other but which city offers the best tile viewing?
Porto has the iconic blue and white tiles that you see on instagram and tourist websites…
…blue and white tiles in train stations…
…blue and white tiled churches.
In Lisbon, a number of the buildings have tiles however while photogenic, they weren’t as photogenic as the beautiful tiles in Porto.
Lisbon vs Porto: Winner Porto
Safe for Women / Solo Travel
I travelled to both cities by myself and wandered round visiting tourist sites.
In Porto I felt safe from the moment I arrived until the moment I left the city. I ate at a restaurant on the outskirts of town late at night and the restaurant staff made sure they took my taxi number in case that I had any issues when I was dropped off at my hotel. I was warned not stray to far away from the main city centre as it could get a little seedy. Overall I felt safe walking around as a solo female traveller.
In Lisbon…well I was ripped off by a rouge taxi driver on arrival into the city and he made sure I was blocked in the taxi so I was forced to pay the additional cost. It was the first time I have ever being in this kind of position and it was disappointing to learn that almost everyone at my work who had visited the city was either ripped off by a taxi driver or pickpocketed while visiting the city. If you do visit Lisbon, be aware of your surroundings and organise a taxi with your hotel so that you don’t find yourself hating the city on arrival. As a solo female traveller, nothing much fazes me especially after travelling through the Middle East however I disliked the men hissing and the lewd comments that I encountered while in Lisbon.
Lisbon vs Porto: Winner is Porto…Lisbon needs to clean up it’s act!
On both my city break weekends I stayed at the IHG branded Intercontinental Hotels and I can say that both were wonderful and I would happily return to both properties in the future…and just so you know, I pay for all my hotels!
In Porto, I stayed at the Intercontinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas which was a former palace but has since converted into a luxury hotel. The rooms are very modern and I was lucky to have a lovely upgrade to a duplex suite on my visit. The location was really good as I was right next to the famous train station and could easily navigate myself around the city. Speak to the concierge and he may be able to offer you a free Port tasting tour at Graham’s.
In Lisbon, The InterContinental is located a 20 minute walk away from the main tourist area of Lisbon or you could use public transport. The hotel is very modern inside and out and I will be honest and say that it’s a tad boring in comparison to the Intercontinental in Porto however the staff are fabulous and friendly in Lisbon and went out of their way due to my IHG status. The views over the city are amazing. Next door to the InterContinental is the Four Seasons Hotel so this area of the city is teaming with luxury hotels. The folks at the hotel organised my return taxi so I didn’t get overcharged again which was a blessing and took the stress out of the journey…request the hotel to organise your taxis in both directions.
^^My room view from the Hotel Intercontinental Lisbon.
While I love IHG properties I know they don’t float everyones boat so why not check out booking.com for more hotel options in both cities.
Lisbon vs Porto: Winner – Lisbon and Porto…both are wonderful but are very different properties!
I like to shop while on holiday…sue me! This includes visiting foreign supermarkets which I just find interesting especially when looking for gluten free options…you would be surprise the gluten free cake mixes I have picked up on my travels compared to the lack of choice in England.
In Porto, I was really taken with the shopping in city; I loved the independent colourful shops, sipping ports trying to find the perfect one to suit my taste buds and moving what felt like heaven and earth to find the perfect antique tile from Porto…I just loved it and it was all a bit fun!
In Lisbon, it felt like I could have being shopping in any big European city and while I found a great shop selling a gorgeous Portuguese made wool cape (which I then lost about two weeks later in Seville…I think it’s safe to say Lisbon and I aren’t really friends!), I wasn’t really fussed with Lisbon for shopping. The shop fronts in Lisbon were stunning and very photogenic though.
Lisbon vs Porto: Porto is the winner…I think my bank balance would agree!
I love just waddling around exploring a city and my time in both cities I did amble…a lot! You haven’t explored Lisbon or Porto if your body doesn’t ache…expect stairs, hills and what feels like mountains at times in both cities. Wear sensible shoes and you’ll be okay but don’t expect flat cities as both aren’t flat. If you do catch the trams in Lisbon make sure you watch out for pickpockets; hold onto your bags tightly!
Lisbon vs Porto: Winner…both!!
Gluten Free Food
In Porto I had a numerous gluten free hits and misses in restaurants and ended up rather bloated on my trip…the simple but extremely tasty meal at O Gaveto is still one of my favourite resturants in Europe…simple dishes cooked well taste the best.
And let’s not forget that Port is gluten free…
…okay a drink may be cheating but it’s still gluten free and very very yummy.
In Lisbon, the city is famous for it’s custard tarts and guess what, they’re not gluten free!
I ended up eating at the hotel as it was just easier to explain my gluten free requirement than struggle and having to catch a taxi…which I wasn’t keen to after my first ride in the city. But and this is a big BUT…Gluten free options at McDonalds…I went in for a cold drink and found this…a happy Gluten free Surprise!
Lisbon vs Porto: Both…let’s call this one a tie!
Flights to Portugal
Thankfully there are now regular flights to Porto and Lisbon from all over the UK however there are more flights daily to Lisbon. I flew to Lisbon with Easyjet and to Porto with British Airways however both airlines fly to Lisbon and Porto now.
Overall, everyone falls in love with different travel destinations for different reasons. While I fell head over heels in love with Porto as it felt so authentic, rustic and had a lot of soul; that was missing for me in Lisbon and I thought Lisbon was rather overrated as a city break destination in my personal opinion…I’m sure people will disagree with that statement and that’s fine…opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one.
I’ve heard it being said that folks who didn’t enjoy Barcelona, weren’t fans of Lisbon and I’m not a fan of Barcelona either!
If you do head to Porto then why not check out my Porto Travel Guide here.
Either way…enjoy your city break and let me know which city you prefer – Lisbon or Porto?