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Seville or Lisbon; a city comparison and tourism travel guide

Lisbon is a progressive and liberal city, which still retains its rich seafaring history and distinctive Portuguese heritage. The city effortless blends history, vibrant culture and exciting nightlife into one charismatic tourist destination.

Lisbon is a city of compact variety; there is a maze of narrow streets in Alfama, the grandeur of Baixa’s plazas or the refinement of Principal Real. The region has one of the best climates of Europe and there are even glorious beaches close by. Lisbon is an amazing city, but having been fully discovered by mass tourism, it is starting to display the early signs of over-tourism…

About this guide: We understand that selecting a destination is challenging and sometimes overwhelming, especially when every web guide or travel book makes each city seems so incredible and memorable.

Choosing a destination is not just about the famed sights of the city, it is also the ambience of the city, the suitability of the weather and if it aligns with your passions and interests.

High-level summary

Summary
Which city would I go to? Lisbon
Which one would I recommend to my parents? Seville
Which location for my 19-year-old cousin? Lisbon
Which for my food obsessed friend? Lisbon
Note: The above comparison does not consider the weather, and assumes travel at the best time of year (which is detailed later in this article)

The following sections compare the two cities and considers; how long to spend in them, when to visit, and provides suggested 48hours in each city (along with an interactive map). The final section is tourism practicalities and includes which airport to fly into, what district to be based in and how best to explore the city. We hope that you find all of this information useful, in planning your next exciting trip.

Destination details

How long to spend in the city?

Lisbon is a varied city with many fascinating districts and tourist attractions. The city takes three days to fully explore, but could be condensed into two days to provide a day trip to beautiful Sintra.
Equally a trip could be extended to five days, by including Sintra, the pretty coastal town of Cascais and a visit to the glorious beaches (May- September). Within the Lisbon region, there are sufficient day trips, beaches and activities to easily fill a one-week holiday.

Seville is a city not to rush, but to embrace the relaxed pace of life and tapas culture. For sightseeing, two days are sufficient to explore the entire city.
It is possible to see Seville in a single day, but this involves a lot of sightseeing, walking and this rushed approach misses the allure of the city.
If you visit during the summer, be aware of the extreme weather, sightseeing will be at a much slower pace, and should start early in the day.

Popular day trips from Seville include historic Cordoba and the coastal city of Cadiz. The Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) are dramatic, but a rental car (or guided tour) are needed as public transport is limited. Granada is a wonderful tourist destination, but we feel it is too far for a day trip from Seville. Combining Seville, Granada and Málaga is a great itinerary for a week holiday.

When to visit?

The best time of year to visit Seville is during the two festivals periods of Semana Santa (held in the week before Easter) and the Feria de Abril (starting two weeks after Easter).
For a regular trip, late autumn and early spring are the best seasons, as during the long summer (June-September) the city is oppressively hot. Winter provides good value and fewer tourists but there is always the potential for rain.

The season to visit Lisbon is in the Spring and Autumn. Lisbon is now very popular in the summer months, especially the day trips to Sintra and Belem district. Lisbon is starting to become a year-round destination, but be warned that the winter months can be overcast and wet. Our favourite time of year to visit Lisbon is the first two weeks of June, when there are street festivities called the Santos Populares.

Is it for me?

Lisbon has a wide appeal; there are numerous cultural sights, great nightlife and a blossoming artisan scene. The city will appeal to young or old, either for a cultural trip or as a fun weekend away. In the summer (May-Sep) the beaches can be visited and there are many enjoyable day trips to an extended trip. There is little to fault Lisbon and most visitors leave with fond memories of the city.

Seville is a pleasure to visit, so long as you can either handle (or avoid) the extreme heat. This is a city for a slower pace trip, to enjoy time in the open-air cafes and to embrace the culture of Andalusia. This makes the city ideal for a break from a stressful lifestyle or work.

This ambience typically appeals to a slightly older visitor, but assuming Seville is a mature destination is completely wrong. There are exciting tourist attractions, colourful nightlife and a social atmosphere. One of the appeals of Seville, is that it is not a common city break and few of your friends would have been here.

The perfect 48hours

There’s a lot to squeeze in for 48 hours in Lisbon.
Below is an interactive map of this tour - day 1 is highlighted in green and day 2 in yellow, with optional sights and section in grey.

Most tours begin in the Baixa district with its grand avenues and magnificent plazas, such as the Praça do Comércio. In the later part of the day start to climb hills into the Alfama district, which is a maze of narrow streets leading to the castle. Take in one of the viewpoints close to the castle for a romantic sunset and then ride the quaint number 28 tram as it rattles through the city.

For dinner head into the Baixa district and then for nightlife its Barrio Alto, with its funky bars and socialising which fills the streets.

Torre de Belem lisbon

The Torre de Belem once guarded the Tejo Estuary and Lisbon

For the second day head to the Belem district, which contains the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, and Torre de Belem, along with views across the Tejo Estuary. For the second part of the day discover the stylish Príncipe Real and Avenida da Liberdade districts or visit the ultra-modern side of Lisbon, the Parque das Nações.

Seville 48 hours Begin the day in the atmospheric Santa Cruz district, with it’s colourful houses and narrow cobblestone streets, which follow the old medieval layout of the city. Afterwards visit the impressive Catedral de Sevilla, and climb to the top of the La Giralda bell tower for a wonderful viewpoint.
For the afternoon visit the grand Plaza de España and Parque de Maria Luisa. For dinner cross the Guadalquivir River to the Triana district for an authentic meal of Tapas. This district is also the where Flamenco dancing originated, and one of the bars may have an impromptu flamenco dance.

Real Alcázar palace seville

The gardens of the Real Alcázar palace

For the second day start by visiting the Real Alcázar palace, the finest example Mudéjar architecture, a fusion of Arabic designs and Christian ideals. For the middle of the day wander the popular shopping streets around Calle Sierpes, and see the Ayuntamiento de Sevilla and Plaza Nueva before visiting the Setas De Sevilla, a vast wooden structure and viewpoint.
At the end of the day either join a cruise along the Guadalquivir River or head into the Triana district to explore it by day.

Tourism Practicalities
The wow you’re going to…… factor

Lisbon is cool and fashionable, and has suddenly exploded on to the travel industry/market. If your friends have recently been, they will be raving about, but if you’re the first to visit, you’ll soon be passionately encouraging them to go in the future.


Lisbon score 4/5 -

Nightlife?

The nightlife of Lisbon is exciting, vibrant and with a pleasant mix of locals and foreigners. Lisbon specialises in stylish, intimate bars, which are found throughout the Alfama and Bairro Alto districts. At the weekend the revellers of Bairro Alto spill out on the streets, where at 2am everyone heads downhill to the nightclubs of Cais de Sodre and Pink Street, a recently transformed red light district. Lisbon nightlife has much more of a focus on socialising than drinking excessively, as the Portuguese tend not to be big drinkers but love to chat!


Lisbon score 4/5 - Seville score 3/5

Museums and galleries?

The standout museum of Lisbon is the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, with its vast, private collection of art and antiquaries. The Portuguese national gallery and museum is the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, and has an equally varied collection. Both museums are outstanding and are rarely busy, with peaceful ambience for enjoying the art and exhibits Lisbon also has some fascinating niche museums, such as the National Tile Museum (specialising is painted Azulejo tiles) and the Museu Nacional dos Coches, with the world’s largest collection of horse-drawn carriages.


Lisbon score 4/5 - Seville score 5/5

Foodie trip, regional cuisines and eating out

The culinary experience of Lisbon is rapidly evolving and improving, gone are the days when a meal had to include bread, white rice and chips. Bacalhau (salted cold fish) is always a favourite of Lisbon, with its many different ways to serve; from Bacalhau Assado (lightly roasted) to the delicious Bacalhau à bras (potato crisps, scrambled eggs and Bacalhau). Lisbon is also famed for its café culture savouries, cakes and sweet pastries. Dinning in Lisbon is a mixed affair, there can be unexplained long waits or elusive serving staff, while other locations have attentive and enthusiastic staff. The evening meal is never rushed.
Seville score 3/5 - Lisbon score 4/5

Solo travel

Lisbon always attracts a lot of solo travellers, as it is a comparatively safe destination with a lot of sights and activities. There is a large freelance and digital nomad working community, who will be seen frequently working in the cafes and bars. As there are so many transient workers and solo travellers, it is common and the norm to see people eating alone. The nightlife is very social, and the city is generally safe.


Lisbon score 5/5 - Seville score 3/5

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