First of all, thank you to everyone who posts here, it has been so helpful as I narrow down my travel plans! Reaching out as I was hoping to get some input from the folks here on Portugal or Italy in early March. I know this comes down to personal preference but don't have that many people I know that have been to both and would love to get an understanding of how the trip vibe/experience overall would differ in these places.
My partner and I are planning a vacation March 5th - March 16th. We are in our early 30s and both have extensive experience traveling in Europe (he's Scottish). We were looking to get away in March and narrowed it down to Italy (neither of us have ever been) Or Lisbon then north (hes been to Portugal but mostly in the Algarve region where his family has a condo).
In terms of our interest: We love doing museums, historical locations (we do like art but are more interested in learning the history of how people lived). For example, I visited Scotland with him and loved Stirling Castle as it has so much history from the artifacts, to the stories of the people who lived there, information on prisoners held, etc... We also enjoy going to restaurants/bars/cafe (not looking to spend more than 20ish euros/person not including drinks on average for a meal but if we're going somewhere nice that's would be fine. We also love a good cheap sandwich sitting on a park bench while watching people). We really enjoy staying in areas of a city where it has more of a local feel and we don't mind commuting in via metro/bus to where all the heavy tourism is. For this trip, our goal is to see some historic sites/areas, but also to relax and get lost walking in the city, sit in parks/people watch, and if we can, find some cultural events (live music somewhere at night, dance, etc..). Most likely in bed each night by 10PM.
For Portugal - We were looking at starting in Lisbon, ending in Porto, and checking out a few cities in between. Lisbon (4 nights) - SIntra (1 Night) - Coimbra - (1 Night) - Porto (4 nights) with a trip to the Duoro Valley. Most excited at the idea of Portuguese food, Jerónimos Monastery, seeing the castles and history in Sintra, wine excursion/boat trip in Duoro Valley and getting a feel for local life. Also love that it will be by the sea and their cities are beautiful
For Italy - We are looking at Venice (3 nights) - Florence (2 nights) - Rome (4 nights) and then maybe spending a night in a city outside of of the main ones listed. Love the idea of seeing the canals in Venice, Murano, Doge's Palace, Duomo, Colosseum, Castel Sant'Angelo... Again, wandering around the Piazzas, cafes, wine bars, and all the food.
We will be using the train to get to our locations and will be booking open jaw flights.
Again, I know that a lot of this is up to personal preference but would love to try to get an understanding of how these would differ based on some of our preferences.