Barcelona vs Lisbon: Which City Should You Visit?

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Before I booked my trip to Europe, I struggled between visiting Barcelona or Lisbon. In the end, I chose to visit both cities but here are some pros and cons to each city if you’re debating on picking one over the other.

BARCELONA

Pros:

  • The iconic Antoni Gaudi’s work resides here and it is the most impressive architecture you’ll see. Most of them are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

  • The locals of Barcelona are very friendly and welcoming.

  • Barcelona has an excellent transit system. The Aerobus was so convenient and efficient from the airport and the metro was very easy to understand.

  • There’s so much to explore. I was in Barcelona for about 2-3 days and I could have easily spent another few days there to see all that it had to offer.

  • Their tapas are a great way to try various local dishes. Plus, every restaurant I went to was delicious!

  • It’s very safe and great for solo travel.

  • You can visit 3 countries one day. I went to Spain, France and Andorra within 12 hours!

Gothic quarter, Barcelona

Gothic quarter, Barcelona

Fascinating architecture by Antoni Gaudi

Fascinating architecture by Antoni Gaudi

Lots of shops and restaurants around Las Ramblas and gothic Quarter

Lots of shops and restaurants around Las Ramblas and gothic Quarter

Cons:

  • It’s overcrowded with tourists. In 2016, an estimated 32 million tourists visited Barcelona and the number keeps on growing. I was pretty overwhelmed with all the visitors at La Sagrada Familia, which is the most visited tourist attraction in Barcelona with over 3 million visitors a year.

  • Professional pickpockets are everywhere in Barcelona. I personally did not get any of my belongings stolen but I have heard of countless number of stories from fellow travelers who had this happen to them. I even got warnings from locals to watch out for pickpockets. You just need to be more aware of your things and be extra cautious.

  • Barcelona can get a little expensive. With all the museums, parks and restaurants you visit, the costs can add up. Of course, there are many ways you can enjoy Barcelona on a budget but generally speaking, it’s more expensive than Lisbon.

the massive amount of tourists at La Sagrada Familia

the massive amount of tourists at La Sagrada Familia

LISBON

Pros:

  • It’s very safe and great for solo travel.

  • It’s a small city that is easily walkable. You can also take their historical little trams.

  • Their architecture and tiles are gorgeous.

  • It’s one of the world’s oldest cities. You can especially feel its antiquity in Alfama.

  • It’s not as tourist-heavy as Barcelona.

  • Their pastel de nadas are AMAZING. I still daydream about those sweet custard tarts in Belem.

  • Lisbon is a little cheaper when it comes to food and accommodations.

Sunrise in Alfama

Sunrise in Alfama

Beautiful architecture in Lisbon

Beautiful architecture in Lisbon

The historical Tram 28 in Lisbon

The historical Tram 28 in Lisbon

Cons:

  • The hills. It’s a small city with short walking distance to the major tourist destinations but the hills are killer.

  • The transit system is a little harder to understand here and the famous Tram 28 is always packed.

  • It’s generally more expensive to fly into Lisbon (especially if you’re flying in from the US).

Beautiful views in Lisbon but lots of walking uphill

Beautiful views in Lisbon but lots of walking uphill

More stairs in Lisbon

More stairs in Lisbon

SO WHICH CITY SHOULD YOU VISIT?

If you don’t have much time on your visit, I would visit Lisbon. I was able to explore a lot of the city within 24 hours. If you have a little more time, you can also make a day trip out to Sintra which is a gorgeous town filled with colorful palaces.

If you have more time on your visit, Barcelona would be a better choice as there is so much to explore.

so much to explore in Barcelona

so much to explore in Barcelona

If you don’t like being in an area with massive crowds, Barcelona is not for you. The city is a popular tourist destination and the number of visitors grow every year. It’s a struggle getting into most places unless you arrive early or have advanced tickets.

If you like more quiet cities, Lisbon is a much better choice. Lisbon is also growing with tourists every year but it’s not nearly as bad as Barcelona.

Enjoying a great view of Lisbon at Castelo de S Jorge

Enjoying a great view of Lisbon at Castelo de S Jorge

As I mentioned earlier, I ended up visiting both cities and flew round trip from Barcelona to Lisbon via TAP Air Portugal and I’m glad I made that decision. I only wish I had a little more time to visit Sintra but I really wanted to visit the Algarve region of Portugal too, so I had to take one of the cities out from my itinerary.

Hope this helps you decide on which city to visit and let me know if you have any questions if you’re still struggling with your decision!

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Barcelona or Lisbon #Barcelona #Lisbon #Europe
Barcelona or Lisbon #Barcelona #Lisbon #Europe
Barcelona or Lisbon #Barcelona #Lisbon #Europe