It’s fair to say that I fell in love with Portugal on both of my city breaks. This fun loving country seems to be quite the winter sun destination for 2019, and I’ve had quite a few people contact me recently asking whether they should visit Lisbon or Porto for their Portuguese city break.
Both Lisbon and Porto are unique cities, each with an individual character – and sadly it’s not always practical to visit both in the same short trip.
In each city it was the unpolished small moments that caught my heart.
The sound of nearby accordion music floated through the warm early evening air. The balcony doors of my hotel room were open, letting in the last of the late summer sunshine lazily reflected off the house tiles across the medieval street. The crunch of biscuits was the only jarring note in this simple scene of Portuguese utopia.
Well, actually, it was one of my favourite dinners of my long weekend in Lisbon. I had visited a few scrumptious restaurants, discovered local delicacies and spent one evening listening to the melodic rhythm of Fat Freddy’s Drop Ska, as delicious Banh Mi were devoured.
One of my favourite memories was sampling a taste of the Licor de Ginja (steeped with sour cherries) to a toe-tapping gypsy trio. At the end of an evening, we then visited a palatial secret restaurant known to locals and shrouded in scaffolding.
It’s the perfect city to take a day trip or two as well as exploring the winding streets – on our small tours we split our time between the Pena Palace in Sintra and an afternoon relaxing surfside on the beaches of Cascais.
Located along the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal, Porto is one of the oldest European centres, and its historical core was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. We stayed in the historic Riviera section, a winding collection of cobbled lanes and beautiful buildings.
Known as a foodie hub, we explored the steep streets during the day and enjoyed wine accompanied sunsets in the evenings.
With the time we had in Porto, and a definite manifesto of nothing much with a side of custard tarts, we sampled as much of the local cuisine as we could. Especially as we were in the namesake city of my favourite fortified wine.
In the historic area of Vila Nova de Gaia is where the infamous port caves are, and we just followed the signs and wandered in for a taste here and there. We tried Taylor’s dry white port with lunch, a tasting flight in Osprey’s, the delicious rosé port in Croft and a cheeky quick snifter in Augustino’s.
So, should you visit Lisbon or Porto for a Portuguese city break?
Well, it depends entirely on what you fancy. Both cities are compact, beautiful and intriguing. Both cites have fabulous food, gorgeous surrounds and the same friendly locals.
Porto is a location for foodies who want to pair their port tastings with a trip to to the gorgeous Duoro Valley. A little more relaxed, a little more serious in tone.
Lisbon is the more mischievous out of the two cities – there is a charming rustic quality to the city, the streets are often filled with music and dancing, and there are so much to discover and explore.
Have you been to Lisbon or Porto?
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