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Lisbon and Porto OR Lisbon and Barcelona

I've been to other parts of Spain but never Barcelona. My wife has never been. And we've never been to Portugal. We have 8 nights. I have a choice of spending all in Portugal (May 2017)--fly in to Porto and take train to Lisbon, doing day trips in both--or just flying into Lisbon and staying there for 4 nights and then flying to Barcelona for 4 nights and then home. Any advice? I just don't know if I'm that interested in Porto--but I don't really know. Thanks..

Posted by
1878 posts

I would go to Porto on this trip. I think when you tack on far-flung cities to itineraries, you end up regretting not fully seeing the country you were in in the first place. As much as Lisboa (along with Sintra) is the highlight of Portugal, Porto is also very nice. A smaller city with dramatic views over the river. Barcelona for me is a four night, three full day city. Lisbon is five nights, four full days. I think you could easily be satisfied with three nights, two full days in Porto, but that's going to seem like too little in Barcelona. That said, looks like there are very cheap nonstop flights on TAP Portugal between Lisbon and Barcelona, this would be totally do-able. On the plus side, getting to/from Barcelona airport on the bus from Placa Catalunya is a snap. Quick, easy, and cheap--so that would make things easier for you.

Posted by
14004 posts

Friends of mine went to Portugal (north) last year in March. They were in Lisbon for 2-3 days, then rented a car. They didn't like Lisbon much at all, but raved about Porto and enjoyed the small towns. Much as I like Barcelona, I think you'll use your time more wisely to explore Portugal. Barcelona is an easy flight from just about anywhere in Europe, save it for your next trip.

Posted by
16998 posts

Sixty days is a nice long vacation, but accept that you cannot see all of Europe in that amount of time. I strongly suggest that you think of this trip as the first of many, and pick just a few countries to concentrate on. If you hop around, vaulting over large distances, you will be skipping many wonderful places, and that sort of forces you to hop around on your next trip, too, as you strive to fill in the gaps. Wide-ranging trips usually require some flights, and I don't think I'm alone in finding it rather stressful to rush to airports. Trains and buses are much more relaxing, and they work extremely well if you keep your travel legs short.

For a lot of Americans it's fairly convenient, and not too expensive, to get to Ireland, England, and a few other cities like Paris or Zurich, but some other parts of Europe are more awkward and/or expensive to reach. I try not to keep returning to the same difficult spots year after year, so I'd hope to take a pretty comprehensive look at Portugal, Spain, southern Italy, Greece, etc., if I were traveling there.

Posted by
31030 posts


Given the very short time frame, I'd suggest Lisbon and Porto. While it's certainly feasible to tour Lisbon and Barcelona, a flight from Portugal to Spain will use most of a full day when all is considered (at least six hours and possibly more). Leave Barcelona for another trip, unless you can add more time to this one.

I was in both Lisbon and Porto in September and enjoyed both cities. They each have their "charms". You might find it helpful to visit your local Library or book store and have a look at the RS Portugal guidebook.

Posted by
4505 posts

Another vote for Lisbon and Porto. Portugal is very isolated geographically and chances are likely you won't return. Spend your time there. With 8 nights, you'll have plenty of time for both cities, a daytrip to Sintra and maybe a daytrip to Evora or the Douro Valley. Porto is a smaller city and can easily been toured in a day or two. Lisbon itself is a 2-3 day visit to see everything. So plan some time to explore other smaller towns or regions.

Barcelona as a city can easily consume 4-5 days and there is also so much to see in the Catalunya region.

Posted by
73 posts

We spent a month in Spain and Portugal. Could have used more

We started with 5 days in Barcelona and ended with 3 days each in Seville, Lagos, Lisbon, Porto and Madrid (interludes of Granada, Almunecar and Estepona between Barcelona and Seville.

I would plan to have 4 or 5 days in each place now, minimum.

We did a day at Sagres while we were at Lagos. Having grown up and studied history in primary schools in Brazil, Portugal was very meaningful to me. I met quite a few Brazilians there.

Posted by
80 posts

I'd support Lisbon and Porto. We went to all 3 on our last trip, I think that 8 days is the perfect amount of time to see Lisbon & Porto- Porto's an amazing city, so photogenic, so compact- we loved every minute of it. Adding Barcelona (instead of Porto) would add time and cost to your travel, and other posters are correct that Portugal may be a place you only visit once (though we want to go back after visiting).

Posted by
110 posts

Much of your decision will hinge on your interests. In my opinion, Lisbon, Porto, and Barcelona are all worth at least a week each. As a practical matter, the travel time between Porto and Lisbon is about the same a non-stop flight between Lisbon and Barcelona. So, what is the purpose of your visit - a quick taste of two different places, with the possibility of a return trip to your favorite? Or would you prefer a deeper cultural immersion?
Barcelona is much larger than Lisbon, and the historic center has a much older feel. Almost all of Lisbon was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. You will get many different opinions on the comparative charms of each city, but both are well worth visiting in depth.

Posted by
4694 posts

Have you researched the flights from Lisbon to Barcelona? I imagine it's a long flight, which would turn me off for a short trip. We didn't find Porto that interesting, except for good food, but we don't care about Port Wine, for example. Portugal has lots to see other than Porto, including towns right around Lisbon (like Sintra, but that's not all ... ) and neat historic towns like Coimbra and Guimares, Roman ruins, Knights Templar sights.

How about a Ballearic Island or two combined with Barcelona? You didn't say if you've been to Granada.

It would be helpful if your profile/signature revealed whether you live near Europe or in the USA, when you ask about an 8-night vacation. No one can hack you based on the name of your state or province.