Which city has the most beautiful views?
Let’s face it, they both have fantastic views over their respective riverfronts, squares and ancient quarters.
Set on seven hills, Lisbon has several miradouros – open viewing areas where locals gather at sunset to chat and admire the panoramas below – including the beautiful tile-clad Miradouro de Santa Luzia which looks down over the maze of tumble-down buildings in the Alfama quarter to the river and beyond, and the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, looking over the city’s central grid of streets to the Castelo de São Jorge opposite.
Porto has plenty of impressive viewpoints too – one of the best is from the top tier of the Ponte Dom Luís I. From here you can enjoy the fantastic vistas over the UNESCO World Heritage Ribeira district and across to the port suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia.
Ponte Dom Luís I © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
Where can I find the best local food?
Porto’s cuisine is perhaps the more hearty, as befits a northern city, with its local specialities of tripe and the francesinha, a gut-busting cooked sandwich containing steak, sausage and ham, and covered in melted cheese and a tomato and beer sauce.
In Lisbon, the capital has a rather more refined delicacy – the delicious flaky pastel de nata custard tart. It’s best eaten warm, and sprinkled with cinnamon, at the beautifully tiled Pastéis de Belem, in the suburb of Belém, where the tasty treat was invented and is still handmade today.
Pastel de nata © Altan Can/Shutterstock
And what about fine dining?
Portugal’s cuisine is much underrated, with an emphasis on fresh fish, seafood and vegetables – indeed, a recent survey showed the Portuguese consume the least processed foods in Europe. Both cities have their fair share of upmarket eating places, where you can sample innovative, exciting food for less than you would pay for the same calibre of cooking elsewhere in Europe.
In Porto, the two-Michelin-starred Yeatman restaurant boasts amazing vistas to rival its food. Meanwhile in Lisbon, José Avillez has two Michelin stars at his Belcanto restaurant, but also runs a few more affordable and informal places – the theatrical, fun Mini Bar, for example, serves playful dishes such as exploding olives, and ice-cream cones made of seaweed and filled with tuna tartare.
Octopus at a Portuguese restaurant © Benoit Daoust/Shutterstock
What about the big sights?
There’s plenty to see in both Lisbon and Porto – the classic Porto sights are the pretty Torre dos Clérigos, the wacky Lello bookshop – whose lavish Art Nouveau interior is said to have inspired JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books – and the stunning Serralves contemporary art museum set in beautiful gardens.
However, Porto can’t really compete with Lisbon in terms of sheer volume of sights. Packed into the capital highlights include the Castelo de São Jorge, the Jeronimos Monastery and Berardo Collection in Belém, and the fantastic Gulbenkian art museum – and that’s just the start.
Jeronimos Monastery © Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock