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First Time Visit

A friend and I are planning to visit Portugal in mid- to late April/early May, the first time for both of us. We’ll be flying from the East Coast US and are planning about 10 days (that includes the travel days, so, really, just 7-8 usable days).
1. From mid-April to mid-May, is earlier better than later or vice versa or pretty much the same?
2. We don’t want to do a lot of unpacking/moving but do want a varied experience. If we spent 4 nights in Lisbon and 4 nights in Porto, would we be able to go on enough day trips from those cities to give us a reasonably good overview, or should we shorten the Lisbon and/or Porto stays and add a night or two somewhere else?
3. Does it make sense to fly into Lisbon and home from Porto (or vice versa)?

Thanks for your suggestions!

Posted by
30020 posts


A few thoughts on your questions.....

  1. My preference would be around the beginning of May, but mid-April would probably work too.
  2. Four days each in Lisbon and Porto sounds perfect! Between sightseeing in each city, you'll be able to take a day trip or two from each.
  3. Flying into one city and home from the other is what I would do. I'd prefer starting in Lisbon and savouring Porto at the end.

I would highly recommend buying a copy of the Rick Steves Portugal guidebook and perhaps packing it along, as that has a lot of information on accommodations, transportation, restaurants, day trips, etc.

Posted by
12268 posts

If weather is you consideration for when to go, you can look at daily conditions for several years back at this site. Also consider that Easter is April 21, so you'll probably want to be there after spring holiday trippers have gone. It's about 3 hours by train from Porto to Lisbon, so it may not make much difference if you fly open-jaw or round-trip. Of course open-jaw saves a bit of travel time, but that could offset by the convenience of flight times and prices.

Posted by
2996 posts

The weather mid May is usually quite a bit better than mid April, plus you may want to avoid the busy mid April Easter crowds.

You would be very rushed with 3 bases in your timeframe, so I would limit your stops to Lisbon and Porto. There is more to see around Lisbon, so consider 4 nights in each place or another night in Lisbon. Alternatively, you could easily spend the whole time in Lisbon and have day trips to Cascais, Sintra and Evora.

Posted by
724 posts

Like the others, I would choose early May to avoid the Easter rush. The weather is usually quite nice and it’s before the tourist crush of the summer.
Flying into one city and out of the other is definitely the way to go. I would start with Lisbon and end with Porto simply because that will give Porto a few more days to warm up.
I would do a bit of research to see what you want to see outside of both cities. You may want to do one more night in Lisbon for the day trips.

Be sure to buy your train tickets 2-3 weeks ahead so you will get a discount. I think I paid 24€ round trip last year so one way will be very inexpensive.

Posted by
103 posts

You could easily spend a full week in either Lisbon or Porto and not run out of things to do. Porto is a smaller city, but there are a number of interesting day trips when using Porto as a base. I did an open jaw trip in October, into Lisbon and out of Porto, and it worked as expected. The train connections between Lisbon and Porto are good, but the trip is not very interesting. I like Rick's book for both cities.

Posted by
334 posts

I agree with many of the posts. Yes 4 nights in both., fly into Lisbon then out of Porto, just one way train costs. May is better, April can be rainy.

Posted by
32 posts

Thank you all for the responses. It looks like 4 nights each in Lisbon and Porto is the way to go (unless we do 3 nights, Lisbon, 4 Porto, and 1 more in Lisbon at the end so we can get a nonstop flight back to the DC area (doesn’t look like there are any from Porto). Undecided on whether to stay in hotels or do a VRBO or AIRBNB, and which neighborhood would be the best...any suggestions? (Someone mentioned a few hotels, but his message seems to have gone missing...I think he said Brown’s in Lisbon, but there appear to be 3 of them?) Thank you again!

Posted by
4071 posts

I did nine nights last May: four nights in Lisbon, two nights in Coimbra, three nights in Porto.

You can fly one way to Lisbon and maybe one way Porto-Madrid-DC or vice versa. (Which is almost what I did; I wound up going into/out of Madrid both ways, then flew to Lisbon, from Porto back to Madrid, with a few hours layover in Madrid each way). Or, round trip to Lisbon and take the train immediately to Porto upon arrival, which may be roughly the same travel time as a connection by plane somewhere like Madrid. I'd start in Porto that way and do Lisbon at the end so you don't have to split nights.

Porto is smaller than Lisbon - less to see. More a working town, less cultural stuff. You could day trip to the Douro Valley; last May, I planned to do that but it rained my last two days in Porto, so I didn't bother. Otherwise, consider fewer days in Porto. Honestly, two nights would have been enough for me. An extra night in Lisbon would not be a mistake, if you plan to do day trips e.g. to Sintra.

Posted by
45 posts

My wife and I are returning to Lisbon in April after a wonderful visit in 2016. We will also visit Porto for the first time. Like you, we are on the East Coast and will fly in and out of Newark. We are spending 8 nights in Lisbon and 4 in Porto. TAP is the only option to fly nonstop to Lisbon and back from Porto. We will take the train to Porto.
Lisbon is definitely worth more time than Porto as evident by our itinerary.


Posted by
1 posts

Hi! Hubby and I going to Portugal and Spain this September. I found that United flies nonstop from EWR to Porto so we are starting there, then Lisbon, then Lagos before heading to southern Spain. If you live in the DC area and the nonstop from IAD to Lisbon is not too expensive I would probably do that. It isn't worthwhile to take a connecting flight just to get to or leave from Porto when the train is just as fast. Then to avoid having to come back to Lisbon for one night just to make your flight home, consider going straight up to Porto when you arrive. Since the flight from IAD arrives in the late morning into Lisbon, you can fly to Porto (much more expensive but faster) or take the train directly up to Porto. The IAD flight arrives at 1030 and there is a 1400 train to Porto which arrives at 1700. That should be plenty of time to transition from airport to train station as they are very close to each other. Spend your 4 nights in Porto and then take the train back to Lisbon for the final 4 nights. Just and idea! Have a great trip!

Posted by
32 posts

Does anyone have a recommendation for a driver/guide for any day trips from either Lisbon or Porto? And has anyone done one of the day cruises on the Douro or the scenic train ride through the valley?
Thank you!

Posted by
45 posts


I am unable to find any nonstop flights by United from Newark (EWR) to Porto. Only TAP. Please correct me if i am wrong