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Porto vs. Lisbon: Which is Better?

Guest contributor Kirsten Raccuia is a well-traveled American expat living in Malaysia. A travel lover, she writes for BBC and other publications. Here, she compares Lisbon with Porto.

With its mild Mediterranean climate, Portugal is a great destination year-round.

If you’re planning a Portugal trip, and you have to choose between Porto vs. Lisbon, I don’t envy your position.

It’s not an easy decision.

Is Lisbon worth visiting? The capital of Portugal, it’s colorful, cultural and has bagged piles of ink for its holiday appeal. Visiting Lisbon is a no-brainer.

Situated further north, Porto is also one of the country’s main cities, though it plays second fiddle to Lisbon.

So you might even be wondering, is Porto worth visiting at all?

The answer is also a very loud yes!

Lisbon vs Porto: Which is the better city?
The Douro River winds its way through the city of Porto

Porto vs. Lisbon: Comparing the two Portuguese cities

Porto and Lisbon are the two largest cities of Portugal.

Located beside the Tagus River in western Portugal, Lisbon is the biggest, with a population of over 500,000. It’s about 39 square miles in size, and you need to take a tram to get around between some of the tourist areas.

Where is Porto?

Also on the Atlantic Coast, it’s located in the northern part of the country.

It’s the smaller city, with a population hovering around 250,000.

And at 16 square miles, Porto is more compact. You can see much of it by walking up and down its hilly streets.

Now that we have our geography behind us, let’s look at some of the unique features of each city – so you can decide which to visit if time is short.

1) Getting there and around

Let’s start with flying to Portugal and transportation within these two major cities.

Lisbon transportation

A colorful narrow street in Lisbon
Cable car tracks run down this narrow colorful street in Lisbon

If you’re coming from the United States or Canada, flying into Lisbon is easy. Lisbon’s airport is the largest in the country, with the most international connections.

You’ll have no problem finding direct flights to Lisbon.

Porto, not so much.

Once in Lisbon, it’s quite easy getting around using public transport.

One of the cool facts about Lisbon is that the vintage yellow trams that screech through its narrow streets are the most popular way to navigate the city – and the most photographed! (Tram 28 offers one of the best rides.)

The vintage yellow trams that screech through the narrow streets of Lisbon are the most popular way to navigate the city.
One of Lisbon’s famous yellow trams

Porto transportation

If you’re coming from Europe, flying into Lisbon or Porto is a breeze.

Both have international airports that are well connected with European routes.

From North America, however, you’ll likely have to fly to Lisbon first. From there, you can fly to Porto in the northern part of the country.

Porto's iconic double-decker Dom Luis I Bridge
Porto’s iconic double-decker Dom Luis I Bridge

But the easiest way of getting from Lisbon to Porto is by train. The Porto to Lisbon train (operated by Comboios de Portugal, or CP) only takes about three hours and runs along the coast.

How far is Porto from Lisbon? It’s 195 miles, making both cities doable in a visit to Portugal.

You can add Spain to the same trip too and visit both Spain and Portugal by train.

Within the city of Porto, the best way to get around is by foot. Trams, buses, Uber and even a funicular (Funicular dos Guindais) are also available.

Winner: Getting there

So, for transportation, which is better: Porto or Lisbon?

Lisbon takes the prize on this one, since it’s more accessible internationally.

2) Historical center

Both Lisbon and Porto are blessed with lively historic centers made for walking and poking about. But there are differences…

Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods

The Alfama district is Lisbon’s oldest and most historic area.

It’s one of the only areas that wasn’t completely destroyed in the 1755 earthquake that devastated Lisbon. 

The Alfama district is Lisbon's oldest and most historic area.
Lisbon’s Alfama district

The best thing to do here is to wander.

The neighborhood’s crumbling ochre walls and soft white limestone buildings are woven into the labyrinth of alleyways. The cobbled streets are packed with cafés and wine bars.

It’s easy to never leave the area.

Sights in the Alfama

Se Cathedral

The Cathedral of Saint Mary Major (Lisbon Cathedral or Se Cathedral) is Lisbon’s oldest. Construction began in the 12th century on the site of a Moorish mosque.

The facade is medieval, but there’s an eclectic mix of Baroque, Gothic and Romanesque features. The jewel-toned stained glass windows are the highlight.

The Lisbon Cathedral (Se Cathedral) is the one church you must see in Lisbon
The Lisbon Cathedral is the one church you must see in Lisbon

Fado Museum

Fado music is such an integral part of Lisbon. It oozes out of the pores of the city.

The Fado Museum pays tribute to the history and meaning of these centuries-old soulful sounds.

St. George’s Castle

After a steep and winding climb, you’ll reach St. Georges Castle (Sao Jorge Castle).

It’s the perfect spot for 360 degree views of the city’s whitewashed buildings and red roofs that seem to stretch on for miles.

Wander the castle’s walls and imagine what life was like there in the 11th century.

Belem District

Lisbon has several other historic neighborhoods too.

In particular, the Belem district in the western part of the city is where you’ll find many of the most famous monuments and attractions in Lisbon.

One is the Jeronimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos). Its cloisters are magnificent.

The other is the Belem Tower (Torre de Belem), officially the Tower of Saint Vincent.

Belem Tower, Lisbon
Lisbon’s Belem Tower

This 16th century historical building served as a fortress to protect the city.

It’s also the place where Portuguese explorers like Vasco de Gama and Ferdinand Magellan set sail from Lisbon.

This Lisbon bicycle tour, from downtown to Belem, is a great way to explore many of the city’s interesting sights. It’s easy as the route along the Tagus River is flat (or slightly downhill).

Porto’s historic center

The Ribeira district is Porto’s historical center, and it’s perfect for strolling.

Wander the Cais da Ribeira which runs along the Douro River, and check out the 18th century homes dressed in colors of gold, claret and emerald.

Take in the laid-back vibe of the café-packed streets.

And hop on a rabelo boat for a tour on the river. (A rabelo is a traditional Portuguese wooden boat used to transport port wine.)

A Rabelo boat is a traditional Portuguese wooden boat used to transport port wine.
Traditional rabelo boats on the Douro River

One of the best (and free!) things to do in Porto is to get lost, take that little side street, follow the criss-crossed web of alleyways into the nooks and crannies of the area. See what you find.

Sights in the Ribeira

Clerigos Church and tower

Visit the Baroque-style Clerigos Church and its tower looming overhead.

The Baroque-style Clerigos Church in Porto
The Clerigos Tower is the tallest building in Porto’s historic center

Climb to the top of the tower (Torre dos Clerigos), all 225 steps of it, for a bird’s eye view of the city.

Sao Bento Train Station

This is no ordinary train station. It’s one of Portugal’s most famous landmarks.

The Sao Bento train station is covered in over 20,000 azulejo tiles (Portugal's celebrated blue and white tiles).
Azulejo tiles adorn Porto’s beautiful Sao Bento Train Station

The inside is covered in over 20,000 azulejo tiles (Portugal’s celebrated blue and white tiles).

What’s unique about this train station’s display is its depiction of Portugal’s history. From weddings and pilgrimages to conquests and wars, it’s all there in blue and white.

Port wine tour

No trip to Porto would be complete without tasting its namesake.

No trip to Porto would be complete without tasting its namesake Port.
Port wine and egg tarts – the perfect taste treat!

Head across the river to the Vila Nova de Gaia neighborhood. Since the 17th century, wine barrels from the Douro Valley have been transported to port lodges in Gaia, where the wine is made into port.

There are loads of port and wine cellars to choose from, and they all offer wine tastings.

If you’d like to learn all about the history, harvest and production of wines of the Douro Valley, here’s a half-day wine tasting tour. You’ll visit several of the best port lodges and taste various reserve white, tawny and ruby ports.

Winner: Historical center

The winner of the “Lisbon or Porto” historical center showdown is Lisbon.

But here’s the scoop. You won’t be bored in either city.

They’re two of the most beautiful cities in Portugal (making them two of the best Portuguese cities to visit).

Still, Lisbon is the capital city. With more tourist attractions, there’s more to do and see overall. So by default, the winner is Lisbon.

3) Food and restaurants

The Portuguese love good food. You certainly won’t go hungry!

Portugal has its own culinary traditions, different from what you find in neighboring European countries. And within the country there are regional differences.

Food in Lisbon

Portugal’s namesake egg tart (pasteis de nata) originated in the Belem district of Lisbon. It’s a must-eat while there.

Portugal's namesake egg tart (pasteis de nata) originated in the Belem district of Lisbon.
Try resisting these egg custard tarts while in Portugal!

Start your day with this flaky pastry filled with a sweet creamy-eggy center and blistered on top from high heat.

Another must-try food in Lisbon is the bifana sandwich.

Portuguese bifana sandwich
Mmmm! A Portuguese bifana sandwich

Bifana is simple but popular with locals and can be found all over the city.

It is garlic and herb-marinated pork, sliced and stuffed inside a freshly baked roll. It becomes tasty, juicy, porky goodness when cooking juices are poured all over the top. 

Where to eat in Lisbon?

You can also experience the most historic neighborhoods through this small-group Lisbon food tour. It includes tastings of everything from pastries to meat, seafood and local liqueurs.

Food in Porto

The traditional Portuguese food in Porto is a bit richer and more decadent than Lisbon’s.

The renowned francesinha is a heart-stopper – it’s a very meaty sandwich filled with ham, two types of sausage, steak and bologna.

But wait, there’s more…

It’s then covered with melted cheese, topped with a gooey fried egg and smothered in a beer-and-tomato sauce.

Like I said, it’s a heart attack on a plate.

What to eat in Porto? A Francesinha sandwich!
Francesinha is the popular signature sandwich of Porto

Where to eat in Porto?

If you’re looking for a Porto food tour, this three-hour food-and-wine experience dishes up plenty of local treats.

The winner of the “Porto or Lisbon” food battle royale is…

There is no real loser in the food war between Lisbon vs. Porto. You can’t go wrong in either city.

However, Lisbon’s food scene is exploding with new generations of unique and international restaurants.

So the winner, just by an egg tart, is Lisbon. The sheer variety and options edge out Porto, but barely.

4) Local drink

Some of the best Portuguese wines are produced in the Douro Valley.
Savoring a glass of wine at sunset

What to drink in Lisbon

Ginjinha is Lisbon’s most well-known drink, and outside of Portugal, no one’s heard of it. So that tells you something.

The syrupy liqueur is made from brandy-infused sour cherries, sugar and cinnamon. And the result is a super sweet concoction you drink by the shot. It is said to cure all your ailments.

For the most authentic shot full, try it at A Ginjinha Bar.

This tiny bar next to Rossio Square opened in 1840 and has been in the same family for generations. There’s room for only three people at a time to squeeze in, standing up.

What to drink in Porto

What to drink in Porto? Port wine, of course!
Because it’s sweet, port is usually sipped as a dessert wine

Since port wine is named after Porto and is one of the country’s most famous exports, you know the wine is good here.

Plus, some of the best Portuguese wines are produced right in the adjacent Douro Valley.

So, in the drinks department, which is better to visit: Lisbon or Porto?

No question. The winner of the local drink contest between Porto and Lisbon is definitely Porto.

5) Most beautiful views

Both cities offer gasp-worthy views. Read on for the best viewpoints in each…

Lisbon views

Lisbon is a city of hills. It’s not easy on the calves, but it is great to work off all the delicious egg tarts you’re eating daily.

More to the point, a hilly city makes for amazing views. And Lisbon has a myriad of miradouros, or viewpoints, which are a perfect way to end the day.

Don’t miss the Miradouro de Sao Pedro da Alcantara, a garden terrace offering panoramic views of the city.

You’ll find it in Bairro Alto, a bohemian quarter with narrow streets, centuries’ old houses, street art and lively fado bars.

The Miradouro de Sao Pedro da Alcantara is a garden terrace offering panoramic views of Lisbon.
The Miradouro de Sao Pedro is a large landscaped terrace with a fountain and great views over the city of Lisbon

Also try Portas do Sol, Miradouro de Santa Luzia or Miradouro de Graca.

Most miradouros have wine bars and cafés to refresh yourself and recover. You can sit and take in the sweeping landscape while watching the setting sun turn the sky a coppery glow.

Porto views

Even though Porto is by no means flat, it’s not nearly as hilly as Lisbon.

However, there are some fantastic viewpoints to take in the river and cityscape below.

The best is the viewpoint at Serra do Pilar (where the Monastery of Serra do Pilar is found). It’s an incredible view over the river and the vibrant homes of the Ribeira below.

The best viewpoint in Porto is at the Serra do Pilar.
People enjoy the views of Porto at dusk from the Serra do Pilar

Another option is the view from the Clerigos Church Tower.

If you don’t care about getting up high and just want a great view, head to the Ribeira riverside and plant yourself at one of the many cafés.

Winner of the Porto vs. Lisbon viewpoint challenge?

Is Lisbon better than Porto when it comes to views?

Tough one, but “yes” is my answer.

Your legs may hurt from climbing up all those steep Lisbon hills, but once you’re at a miradouro, chilling with a cocktail, you’ll forget all about the pain.

6) Beaches

Beach near Lisbon, with green boat on the sand
Yes, Porto and Lisbon have beaches!

If you want beaches, you’re in luck.

Both Porto and Lisbon are on the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by enough beaches to keep you beach-hopping for days.

Beaches in Lisbon

There are dozens of beautiful beaches surrounding the city of Lisbon, and you really can’t go wrong. For a day at the beach, just hop on a train or in a car and pick one that suits you.

Some get incredibly crowded because of their close proximity to the city.

If you’d prefer something more off-the-beaten-path, head south to Costa da Caparica.

Costa da Caparica is an off-the-beaten-track beach near Lisbon.
Beach at Costa da Caparica

Beaches in Porto

Even though most people don’t think of Porto as a beach destination, it really is.

The city is right along the coast. It’s hugged by a dramatic landscape of golden sand beaches and rocky headlands.

Porto’s nearby beaches are much closer than Lisbon’s.

Praia do Carneiro is a 10-minute drive out of town, while 20 minutes from the city center is Matosinhos, a beginner’s surf beach.

Matisonhos, Portugal

Matosinhos is also known for its fresh fish market and seafood restaurants, where the sea bass, sole, monkfish and lobster were swimming in the ocean just a few hours earlier.

Plant yourself down at an outdoor resto, and your fish will be grilled on an outdoor BBQ. Follow that with velvety crème brulee, uniquely prepared also on the grill.

So, is Porto better than Lisbon when it comes to beaches?

The answer is “yes.” Porto wins the beach face-off.

It’s not an easy decision, though, as both cities are bordered by the gorgeous shoreline.

However, Porto takes the best beaches award because of the ease and proximity of its best beaches. (Now, if we’re talking about day trips, then Cascais is the beach winner – see next.)

7) Day trips

Both cities offer a wealth of amazing day trips.

Lisbon day trips

The Lisbon area has some incredible beaches and towns nearby that are must-sees.


Visiting Sintra is one of the best day trips from Lisbon. It feels like you’re walking through a fairy tale in this magical castle town.

Visiting the magical castle town of Sintra is a great day trip from Lisbon.
The yellow Pena Palace stands high on top of a hill above the town of Sintra

A 45-minute train ride from Lisbon, Sintra is home to oodles of historical sites, including the UNESCO-listed Pena Palace, the 19th century Monserrate Palace and the Castle of the Moors.

You can even sleep overnight in a palace in Sintra – at the 5-star Palacio de Seteais.

Sintra, in fact, is one of the big reasons to visit Lisbon!


Lovely Cascais, once the vacation retreat for Portuguese royals, has world-class beaches.

Cascais offers a wonderful mix of historic villas, museums and beautiful beaches.
Cascais offers a delightful mix of historic villas, museums and beautiful beaches

If visiting independently, take a stroll along a seaside promenade, perhaps rent a bike to pedal to Guincho Beach and linger over a fresh sea-to-table lunch.

Or if you prefer an all-in-one experience, check out this top-rated, all-day guided tour from Lisbon (with skip-the-line-tickets).

It combines a visit to Cascais with a visit to Sintra to see its gorgeous architecture (and explore Pena Palace).


The medieval walled village of Obidos is about an hour away from Lisbon by bus.

One of the best day trips from Lisbon is an excursion to the medieval walled village of Obidos.
Another one of the best day trips from Lisbon is an excursion to Obidos

It’s an enchanting mix of narrow cobblestone streets, houses awash in blue and yellow colors, souvenir shops, cafés and gardens bursting with calla lilies.

The main city gate is beautifully adorned with azulejos.

Walk atop the wall encircling the hilltop town, poke about the streets and peek into the Obidos Castle (now a hotel).


A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Evora is known for its Chapel of Bones (Franciscan monks used the skeletons of 5,000 dead people to build the chapel) and ancient Roman temple.

Chapel of Bones, Evora, Portugal
The Chapel of Bones in Evora

Porto day trips

Porto has beaches, historic towns and the wine country nearby. The following are the best day trips from Porto:

Douro Valley

Take a Douro Valley wine tour via boat or train.

Boat tours in the Douro Valley are popular day trips from Porto.
Boat tours in the Douro Valley are popular day trips from Porto

This highly-rated all-day Douro Valley tour (for a small group by mini-van) includes visits to two different vineyards, local Portuguese lunch and a one-hour Douro River cruise.


The third largest city in Portugal, Braga has a pedestrian-only Old Town with beautiful Baroque churches, buzzing cafés (and excellent restaurants) and the oldest cathedral in Portugal.


A medieval town and UNESCO site, Guimares is known for its 10th century Guimares Castle (offering panoramic hilltop views) and the restored Dukes of Braganca Palace.


Visit Aveiro for a glimpse of a Portuguese Venice.

Colorful Aveiro is one of the best day trips from Porto.
A boat makes its way along one of Aveiro’s canals

The city is criss-crossed by canals traversed by colorful boats. Once used for seaweed harvesting, these boats now carry tourists on canal cruises.


Take the train from Porto to Penafiel (45-minute trip) for one of the best hikes in Portugal. Talk to farmers, walk among ruins of Roman houses and pass through small local villages on the Penafiel hiking trail.

Winner of the Lisbon vs. Porto day trip duel?

This is another hard one. I’d like to call it a tie, but wine tours and beaches are pretty much my happy places, so I’m going with Porto.

However, the better choice for you really depends on what you’re looking for on vacation. Are you a city lover? A culture craver? A beach bum? A wine devotee?

You can have it all in Portugal. It just depends on your travel style.

8) Porto or Lisbon: Which is better for accommodations

Accommodation in Portugal is relatively good value, compared with France, Spain and Italy. You won’t have any difficulty finding great places to bed down.

Just be aware that in high season (i.e., the summer months), the best places to stay in Lisbon and Porto get booked up early, so you’ll want to make advance reservations.

Where to stay in Lisbon

Olissippo Lapa Palace

The best place for a palatial stay in Lisbon is, you guessed it, in a restored palace.

The Olissippo Lapa Palace is a luxury 5-star hotel in Lisbon.
The Olissippo Lapa Palace is a luxury 5-star hotel in Lisbon

Hidden away in Lisbon’s exclusive embassy district, the Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel oozes luxury with elegant rooms, furnished with antiques.

It also boasts a large outdoor pool, nestled in a lush garden.

You can read more about the hotel in our review of the Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel.

Olissippo Lapa Palace: Check rates and availability

Hotel da Baixa

For an excellent 4-star hotel in Lisbon’s downtown historic Baixa area, the boutique Hotel da Baixa is a real gem. Contemporary rooms come with Nespresso coffee makers, bathrobes and powered blinds.

Hotel da Baixa is a gem of a 4-star hotel in Lisbon.
Hotel da Baixa is a great 4-star hotel in Lisbon

Breakfasts are excellent, with a good selection of gluten-free and vegan options.

Hotel da Baixa: Check rates and availability

Where to stay in Porto

The Yeatman

A member of the Relais & Chateaux collection, the Yeatman is considered by many to be the best hotel in Porto.

The Yeatman is the best hotel in Porto.
The Yeatman is a luxury wine hotel and spa in Porto

Set atop a hill among the port wine lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia, the luxury hotel has sweeping views of Porto and a decanter-shaped outdoor pool.

Wine lovers, especially, will appreciate its wine cellar with over 20,000 bottles.

The Yeatman: Check rates and availability

The Rebello Hotel & Spa

Giving The Yeatman a good run for its money is this stylish new 5-star boutique hotel (which opened in 2023). It’s also located on the Gaia side of the river.

The Rebello Hotel & Spa
Accommodations at this stylish new hotel are housed in a collection of historic riverside warehouses

Studios and one- and two-bedroom suites all offer full kitchens and gorgeous river views.

The Rebello Hotel & Spa: Check rates and availability

PortoBay Flores

Right in the heart of Porto, this 5-star hotel is the reincarnation of a 500-year-old palace.

The new PortoBay Flores is a 5-star hotel in the heart of Porto.
You can’t go wrong staying at the PortoBay Flores

The design blends wrought iron balconies and grandiose stone archways with contemporary, tastefully decorated guest rooms.

PortoBay Flores: Check rates and availability

Winner for good hotels?

What’s excellent about Lisbon and Porto is the ease of finding accommodations in your preferred neighborhood and price point.

However, Lisbon is a larger city and has more options.

So is Lisbon or Porto better?

If I had to pick a winner in the hotels category, I’d say it’s Lisbon.

Porto and Lisbon FAQs

Can you do a day trip from Lisbon to Porto?

If you don’t have much time, a Porto day trip from Lisbon is definitely possible in a single day.

Less than 200 miles away, it’ll take you three hours on the train to get there.

While you can certainly plan your own trip, a tour may be a more convenient option. Let someone else take care of the travel arrangements, so you can focus on enjoying the journey!

On this day trip from Lisbon to Porto, you visit three delightful cities.

You’ll start with a tour of the ancient walls and cobblestone streets of the medieval town of Obidos. Next, you visit the charming fishing town of Nazare, world-famous for the giant wave that hits its coast every winter. 

Then you continue on to Porto, where you have lunch followed by a guided walking tour.

If you prefer a more personalized experience, a private Porto tour could be more to your taste.

With your own guide, you’ll tour Porto’s most famous landmarks. 

And to finish off, you’ll enjoy a leisurely cruise down the Douro River on a traditional rabelo boat, soaking up the stunning city views and the six iconic bridges of Porto.

Colorful boats on Douro River in Porto
If you can only stay in one city, make it Lisbon and do a day trip to Porto

Is Lisbon expensive?

Lisbon is generally cheaper than many other major cities in Western Europe. But you’ll still find it a bit pricey if you’re used to the more budget prices of, say, Southeast Asia.

Prices vary depending on location and time of year.

If you visit outside the peak tourist season, while choosing hotels and restaurants away from the touristy areas, you’ll get the most for your money.

Is Porto cheaper than Lisbon?

In general, Porto is considered to be slightly cheaper than Lisbon. 

That being said, both cities are generally considered to be affordable destinations for travelers, especially when compared to other major European cities.

How many days in Lisbon is enough?

I recommend spending at least three to four days in Lisbon to get a good taste of what the city has to offer.

If you want to really unpeel all its layers and explore its surrounding areas, you could certainly spend a week or longer.

How many days in Porto is enough?

Two to three days in Porto should be enough to get a good sense of the city.

If time is on your side, then stay an extra day or two to explore beyond the reaches of the city.

Lisbon vs. Porto: Best city? Last words…

Having to choose between these two fascinating and different cities is like having to choose between wine and chocolate. I want both.

But you came here for a decision.

Arch of August in Lisbon's Baixa district
Because it’s a bigger city, there are more historic sites and tourist attractions in Lisbon than in Porto (like the Arch of Augusta in the Baixa district)

So, Porto or Lisbon: Which is better?

Lisbon, the bigger city, takes the award – but not without a good fight from Porto.

If it’s your first time in Portugal, you simply can’t skip Lisbon. Like Berlin, it’s one of the “it” European capitals. (Save Porto for your next trip to Portugal.)

However, the distance from Lisbon to Porto is relatively close.

If you have enough time, don’t choose, visit both Portuguese cities and compare for yourself. You won’t be sorry.

Experience more of Europe!

Italy: If you need help with trip planning, here’s our ultimate guide on how to plan an Italy trip.

Croatia: An ancient palace built for the Roman emperor Diocletian, Diocletian’s Palace forms about half the Old Town of Split. You can get some sweet Insta shots here!

Germany: From ogling the treasures in the Green Vault to bicycling past pretty palaces on the Elbe River, there are lots of amazing things to do in Dresden.

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

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Porto vs Lisbon: Which is better?

About the author

A Chicago girl at heart, Kirsten Raccuia lives with her husband in Penang, Malaysia, where she writes about the realities of expat life. (“It’s insane, absurd and laughable, and the best thing I’ve ever done!”)

See her blog Sand In My Curls for her unique and funny perspective on living abroad, along with other travel guides.