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Portugal, Lisbon, Porto, Cascais, Sintra

Porto OR Lisbon for 7 day trip to Portugal?

Hey all,

My girlfriend and I will be in Portugal at the end of August for 7 days.

We're trying to figure out how to plan this trip, but we all the time hear about so many great places that it's hard for us to decide.

The first big question is should we try to fit both Lisbon and Porto in our trip? or should we focus on one of these cities?  We are currently leaning towards staying in Lisbon only.

Which brings me to the second question:

If we stay only in Lisbon, we heard that Cascais and Sintra is a must, should we stay there overnight, or will it be better to rent a room in Lisboa and make day trips to both of the locations?

Which brings me to the last question:

We're looking for rooms/apartments in airbnb (which all look really really great), we have lots to choose from, but we don't know what areas are better to stay in.
We would like to be close to the center, but not too close if it's very touristic and noisy. And we also want to be close to the night club / pubs / restaurants areas (which we understand are Bairro Alto - [the more classical?] and Cais do Sodré [the more hip?]), so that we can get back to our place safely at night.

Thank you Thank you Thank you!

6 Answers

top answer by
Alex from London

Hi Jonathan,

My vote goes to Lisbon. The city is incredible and very walkable and you would do well to visit Cascais and Sintra(you can do this as a day trip by taking a quick train for Rossio Railway Station).  One thing to keep in mind is that the capital is not huge and taxis are CHEAP so it is viable to stay anywhere central and travel by metro or cab to nightspots.  Other good day trips from Lisbon are Évora in the AlentejoObidos and Santarem.

Having said this, I would ask whether you are thinking of driving.  If so, I would suggest that you could have a fantastic road trip between Porto and Lisbon (or vice versa):

Day 1-3: Explore Porto. Begin drive in morning of day 3.

Day 3: Drive (+/-1hr) from Porto to Mata Nacional do Buçaco, where you might want to stop for lunch at the Bucaco Palace Hotel or at Mealhada village.  Continue on to Coimbra (>1hr).

Day 3-4: Overnight in Coimbra, explore the city in the afternoon of Day 3.

Day 4: Leave in morning from Coimbra to UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Batalha and Alcobaca (+/-1hr), continue on (>1hr) for lunch in Obidos (in castle or one of the village taverns).  Drive on to Lisbon (+/- 1hr) when you are done exploring the Medieval town.  You can also skip Batalha, ALcobaca and Obidos and drive (2 hrs) to Sintra and Cascais for lunch and an afternoon exploring the coast before arriving in Lisbon (30min).

Day 4-7: Explore Lisbon

Take note that you can both fly between Lisbon and Porto or, my preference, is to take a fast train (cheap and comfy!... though you must be ONBOARD a few minutes before departure, its a weird thing yet important to note not to leave boarding to last minute).

If you are keen to stay in one of either city, your choice could be made easier by thinking about the differences: the north of Portugal is stronger in religious art and architecture plus the stunning Douro Valley with its stepped winelands.  The centre and south of Portugal (Lisbon and Alentejo) are best for their great agricultural plains (with flat winelands), a richer cultural and governmental history and excellent long expanses of beach.

Good luck planning your trip!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lisbon (city)
  2. Cascais (city)
  3. Sintra (attraction)
  4. Rossio Railway Station (attraction)
  5. Évora (attraction)
  6. Alentejo (city)
  7. Obidos (city)
  8. Santarem (city)
  9. Porto (city)
  10. Mata Nacional do Buçaco (attraction)
  11. Mealhada (city)
  12. Coimbra (attraction)
  13. Batalha (city)
  14. Alcobaca (city)
  15. Sintra (attraction)
6 thankscomments (4)

answered first by
Serena from San Francisco

I think you can fit both!

Porto and Lisbon are both AMAZING, but honestly, Porto is so small that two nights there is still enough time to feel like you've explored the city.

Lisbon is amazing, and you could easily spend weeks there and not see it all, but I think that five days is enough to cover everything you want to see and still get a great feel for the city. I only had three days there and I of course I wished I had more time, but even three days was decent.

Regarding where to stay, my husband and I stayed here in Lisbon and it was one of our favorite accommodations of our entire six-week trip: Lisbon Short Stay  

(and check - I found their prices were slightly cheaper than booking directly). 

The location is perfect - you're right in the middle of the city, close to two central metro stops, and walking distance to Bairro Alto and most of the places you would want to go at night. 

For Porto, we stayed at Pão de Açúcar (Pao de Acucar). We didn't love the hotel, but the area was very central, so I'm sharing it so you can get a sense of location. Porto is so small that while the river area (which is the most popular/touristy for hotels and food) seems far away on a map, it's really an easy 10 minute walk. From our hotel we were easily able to walk to the nightlife of Rua da Galeria de Paris and Rua Cândido dos Reis

I'm jealous! I can't wait to go back to Portugal. You will love it! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Porto (city)
  2. Lisbon (city)
  3. Lisbon Short Stay (attraction)
  4. Pão de Açúcar (hotel)
  5. Rua da Galeria de Paris (attraction)
  6. Rua Cândido dos Reis (attraction)
6 thankscomments (3)

answered by
João from Lisbon

I agree with Serena. Maybe you can arrive by plane at Lisbon, take the train ( to Porto and depart from Porto (check the flights).

You may also prefer to visit Sintra and Cascais instead of Porto (check

It depends on what you like the most.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lisbon (city)
  2. Porto (city)
  3. Sintra (attraction)
  4. Cascais (city)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Lauris from Uithuizermeeden

You can go by train from Lisbon to Cascais. It's less than one hour. You can buy the train tickets at the station for only 4 euro's or something. Cascais is absolute amazing but very expensive (rich people) so i think it's better to stay in Lisbon.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lisbon (city)
  2. Cascais (city)
1 thanks

answered by
João Pedro from Portugal

Although, I like Porto, Lisbon will be more interesting. Daily tours by train to Sintra and Cascais will be enough. Sintra has many things to see, so go early in the morning. Do not miss the Pena National Palace in the top of the hill. You can go there by special buses from Sintra.

Houses in airbnb, check one in Rua da Prata, which the owner is Flora. Great flat not too expensive

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lisbon (city)
  2. Sintra (attraction)
  3. Cascais (city)
  4. Pena National Palace (attraction)
comments (1)

answered by
Tigger from London

Definitely agree that you should try and do both. Sounds like plenty of help here already. Whilst in Lisbon don't miss the no 28 tram - quite an experience

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