Lisbon and Porto are the two main cities in Portugal, both worth staying in for at least two nights, since there is plenty to see and do. From getting involved in the vibrant city life, exploring the different neighborhoods, visiting the historic sites or even tasting the local gastronomy, these are the kings of short-stay visits to the country and also mandatory points of visit when visiting Portugal. So, if possible, why not combine both? These are the best ways to travel from Lisbon to Porto.
The fastest way to travel from Lisbon to Porto
The most efficient way of travelling from Lisbon to Porto is indeed the airplane. The Portuguese airline TAP offers daily connections for you to fly into Porto or Lisbon, depending on the starting point, and make the most of your day in the city for a convenient price. The flight lasts less than one hour – just about time for you to fasten your seatbelt and read the first pages of your magazine. Both airports have a metro service, so in 20 minutes you can get to the city centre and start exploring!
The most efficient way to travel from Lisbon to Porto
One of the most popular transportation methods to get from Lisbon to Porto is indeed the train. While slower than the airplane, the train ride lasts about 3 hours, it offers very competitive rates and even more if booked in advance without any check in and airport procedures. Time than can be easily well spent if you carry a good book with you. Plus, you can always upgrade your seat for an extra level of comfort. CP train company offers several connections daily from Lisbon to Porto.
The cheapest way to travel from Lisbon to Porto
If you are aiming at saving expenses, then you can always take a bus. Here the time of travel adds up to 3:30 /4 hours, so again, keep that good book with you, but it is a direct connection without any stops, when compared to the train. RNE offers several daily connections linking Lisbon to Porto.
The most scenic way to travel from Lisbon to Porto
Take the wheel and hit the road. The A1 highway connects Lisbon to Porto in approximately 3h, however, the real fun is to choose 2 to 3 stops on the way from Lisbon to Porto and turn this straight route into a roadtrip. Tune into some pleasant music and make the most of your day heading north (or south) and getting to know more of the country while going from Lisbon to Porto.
The most luxurious way to travel from Lisbon to Porto
If you wish to pamper yourself, do some stops along the way and avoid the hassles of driving out and into big cities, parking or even some rush hour traffic, hire the services of a private driver to get from Lisbon to Porto. A local English-speaking driver will be 8 hours at your service, taking you to all the right places and can even offer some advice from a local’s perspective.
For any of the last two transportation options, here is the top 10 stops on the way from Lisbon to Porto.
Embark on a time-travel while visiting this medieval village on the way from Lisbon to Porto. Considered one of the most well-preserved medieval villages in Europe, Óbidos has many charms that can entertain you for a couple of hours. From walking in the stone walls and admiring the views both within and outside them, to tasting the sweet liquorish traditional drink – the Ginjinha. If you have a sweet tooth be sure to try it on a chocolate cup. Óbidos hosts many events throughout the year from a Medieval fair (of course!), to a chocolate festival and also a literary festival. No wonder, such landscapes are sure to inspire all manner of tales and fiction. While you roam within the walls be sure to find the medieval church that was marvelously turned into a bookshop.
Once the capital city of Portugal in the medieval ages, if you choose to stop in Coimbra, make this your only stop for the day, as there is much to see and soak within this city on the banks of the Mondego River on the way from Lisbon to Porto. Coimbra is known for its UNESCO Site University, that holds within its halls one of the prettiest baroque libraries from the 18th century. The student life in Coimbra is one of many traditions and it is frequent to see black cloaked students downtown performing serenades. You can also take a break at the University Botanical gardens, a haven of unique species that make up for a very pleasant space for a stroll. Coimbra was also witness to one of the most dramatic love tales in Portuguese history, of Prince Pedro and the maid Inês de Castro, who fell madly in love. Pedro’s father had Inês murdered in the gardens of Quinta das Lágrimas to protect his son from his foolishness and please the court. Pedro, determined to make Inês his queen, had her crowned after her death. The brutality of the crime is said to be marked forever in the fountain of the garden, which, despite these events, is a place of extreme natural beauty.
A quiet town on the way from Lisbon to Porto, Batalha, meaning battle, was the stage of the Batalha de Aljubarrota which ensured the Portuguese independence from Castille in the 14th century. A battle so important that the king ordered the construction of a monastery to celebrate this victory. Today this building is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and combines the Gothic and Manueline styles. Even the unfinished chapels are absolutely beautiful!
On another town on the way from Lisbon to Porto, the Alcobaça monastery dates back to 1153 and since the earlier days, the monks have introduced unique agricultural techniques and up until today this region has a huge production and the apples here are just delicious (grab one for a snack on the road if you can). The monastery, which is also an UNESCO Site, is known as the first entirely gothic monument in the country and it houses the tombs of King Pedro and Queen Inês de Castro. It is also worth it to stroll around the cloister and visit the medieval rooms of the convent.
Surrounded by lush vegetation, this extravagant palace on the way from Lisbon to Porto, built in the 19th century for the royal family, seems straight out of a movie picture. In a stunning neomanueline manner, you can either visit the Palace – now a boutique hotel – and have a lunch worthy of kings at the former palace dining room, with exquisite wine locally produced at the Palace’s cellar, or walk around the woods and discover the unique flora such as Cedro do Buçaco and visit some iconic places like the Cruz Alta, a stunning viewpoint over the surrounding area, the Fonte Fria – with water descending down a staircase – or even the Fern Valley.
Earning its reputation as a surfer’s destination, as many venture to ride its astonishingly huge waves, before hosting competitions, this fishing village on the way from Lisbon to Porto, is deeply linked to the sea in its tales and traditions. Go up to Sítio by funicular for an unforgettable view and be sure to stay for lunch time and try the freshest catch of the day for lunch.
Often called the Portuguese Venice, due to the little colourful moliceiro boats that go up and down the canals, Aveiro is a city that can be visited on the way from Lisbon to Porto, with plenty to discover. You can actually go on a moliceiro boat trip for a quick view of the city, which is also known for its art nouveau architecture, visit the Vista Alegre porcelain factory to bring some souvenirs home, grab some delicious local pastries such as the ovos moles (with egg custard cream) or the moliceiros (boat shaped and with egg custard as well) or even head to Costa Nova and take a postcard picture of the vibrant colourful striped houses while relaxing by the beach.
Known as the city of Templar Knights, Tomar is indeed a great stop on the way from Lisbon to Porto. You can walk alongside the river Nabão and visit the city centre and the synagogue or head up to visit the Christ Convent, an unique construction with marvelous details such as the janela do capítulo, an ornamented window in Manueline style. If you have the time for it, you can even make a small detour to Almourol Castle, a scenic castle built in the middle of the river.
Presentations can be spared for Fátima, as its importance for the Catholic Faith is well known worldwide. On the way from Lisbon to Porto and close to the mountain landscapes of the Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros, Fátima can be more that a religious tourism destination, as it is said to have a special and peaceful aura. Plus, it is inevitably part of the Portuguese culture. There is the history of the place to be known, by visiting the sanctuary and the museums, but also historic and interesting geological caves that can be visited as well. If you happen to be there around the 13th, there are usually candle-lit processions happening during the night mass.
Another popular site for surfers, Ericeira is a picturesque fishing town on the way from Lisbon to Porto that has marvelous landscapes of sculpted rocky cliffs and beaches where beautiful waves are formed. It is widely known for its delicious seafood and especially the sea urchin. There is even a gastronomic festival hosted yearly dedicated to this delicacy. You can either explore the beaches or even take a walk downtown, between the white-washed houses and their blue stripes.