Lisbon or Rome? How to Decide Where to Visit

If you don’t have time to visit Lisbon and Rome during your trip to Europe (although it would be incredible if you could explore them both!), you might want to weigh up the differences between the two cities and see what each has to offer so that you can decide whether to visit Lisbon or Rome. You never know, after reading this article you might just have to make time to squeeze them both in, or you may even start planning a second trip so that you don’t miss out!

Should I visit Lisbon or Rome?
Both Lisbon and Rome are beautiful capital cities that are packed full of culture, amazing architecture, delicious cuisine, and popular attractions. While Rome is perhaps more famous in terms of its monuments, Lisbon is bursting with a charm that will tempt even the most discerning traveller.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about Lisbon and Rome to help you decide between the two…

Which city has the most attractions: Lisbon or Rome?

Rome has the more famous attractions of the two cities, with ancient sites like the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. That’s not to mention Vatican City with the St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel!

So, if you’re a culture buff and want to spend your time visiting world-renowned galleries, museums, and famous sights, Rome may be the one for you.

However, that’s not to say that Lisbon doesn’t have a wealth of sights that are well worth visiting! Lisbon’s famous historical sites include the Tower of Belém, the Jerónimos Monastery, the Castelo de S. Jorge and the Carmo Convent.

While these may not be as well-known as Rome’s attractions, they are arguably just as impressive. Even just walking along the Praça do Comércio or around the area of Bairro Alto is beautiful thanks to the city’s stunning architecture.

Plus, Lisbon has the famous painted tiles, azulejos, which make the whole city even more beautiful! The epic site of Sintra is also within day-tripping distance of Lisbon, which might make you lean towards choosing this city.
For more ideas on what you can do take a look at our posts on the 15 Best Places To Visit In Portugal and 14 Best Places to Visit in Italy

rome skyline
View of Rome from Castel Sant'Angelo, Italy.

Which city is the most expensive: Lisbon or Rome?

Rome can be two or three times as expensive as Lisbon, particularly in terms of accommodation, which can be pretty steep if you want to stay in the heart of the city. Even hostels can be fairly pricey, so if you decide you are going to visit Rome, you’ll want to seek out a good accommodation deal and get it booked right away.

Of course, as with anywhere, you can find decent local food and drinks at lower prices if you’re prepared to get off the tourist trail and hunt down somewhere full of Italians! The same can be said for Lisbon, the more local the style, the cheaper the prices. Plus, it’s easy to find a decent coffee on the cheap in Rome, so if you’re a café aficionado, then this may sway you towards the Italian capital!

Airfare to both Lisbon and Rome is usually fairly similar no matter where in the world you are coming from so this shouldn’t really affect your decision. Unless you find a fantastic deal to one of the cities, you might want to use other factors to help you choose between the two.

A Comparison of Food Costs Between the Two Cities

Lisbon Rome Difference
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant 8.50 € 15.00 € +76.47 %
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course 35.00 € 55.00 € +57.14 %
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) 6.00 € 8.00 € +33.33 %
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) 2.00 € 5.00 € +150.00%
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) 2.25 € 4.00 € +77.78 %
Cappuccino (regular) 1.57 € 1.26 € -19.87 %
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) 1.37 € 1.88 € +37.55 %
Water (0.33 liter bottle) 0.99 € 1.01 € +1.82 %

Which city has the best food: Lisbon or Rome?

This one entirely depends on your tastes and style as both Lisbon and Rome have a delectable array of cuisine on offer. Both cities would vehemently argue that their cuisine is the best, but it will be up to you to decide!

Rome, of course, features famous Italian cuisine such as pizza, pasta, salads, and meat dishes that will have your mouth watering in an instant. Plus, the gelato here is to die for! They also have plenty of fresh food markets which are a great place to stock up on fruit, veg, meat, and cheese if you are staying in self-catered accommodation or taking back gifts for friends and family.

Similarly, Lisbon boasts daily markets bursting with produce, and their restaurants love using local ingredients to create hearty, traditional dishes. Seafood is also superb in Lisbon with the locals having a love for cod cakes, grilled fish, octopus salad and choco frito (fried cuttlefish). If you’ve ever tried tapas in Spain, you’ll love Petiscos here in Portugal, similarly small bite-size snacks that pack a punch, often served when you purchase a drink.

Which city is easiest to get around: Lisbon or Rome?

Both Lisbon and Rome have fantastic public transport systems that are reliable and affordable. The metro and bus systems in both Lisbon and Rome cover the majority of the city centre as well as leading out towards the suburbs and airports. Each city offers the chance to buy single tickets around the city for just €1.50 as well as daily or weekly passes. One of the benefits of Lisbon’s 24-hour pass is that is starts from the time you purchase it for 24 hours, rather than being for one calendar day. This is great if you’re coming for a flying visit.

Lisbon is much smaller than Rome, so it is easier to pick up a sense of direction more quickly, but as the city lies on a steep hillside much of the walking around can be quite strenuous.

One other thing that sets Lisbon and Rome apart is that Lisbon has a tram system that is a tourist attraction in itself. These old, colourful trams have been transporting people around the city for over a century, and taking a ride on the yellow number 28 service is a must!

Which city has the best shopping: Lisbon or Rome?

If you fancy doing a spot of shopping while exploring Europe, you might be wondering which city has the best shopping: Lisbon or Rome? Well, it’s safe to say that both Lisbon and Rome have some excellent shops, with everything from European high-street brands to designer boutiques that rival those in Paris and Milan. While Lisbon, on the whole, is cheaper than Rome, you can still find high-end stores within the city.

In Lisbon, fashion lovers should head to Chiado, Bairro Alto, and Avenida da Liberdade. Checking out Embaixada, a concept store situated in a former 1800s palatial residence, is also a must! If you’re wondering what to buy in Portugal, you might be interested in Ginjinha (cherry liqueur), cork products, hand-made gloves from Luvaria Ulisses (one of the smallest shops in the world) or canned fish sold in exquisite vintage tins in the 1930s shop Conserveiera de Lisboa.

In Rome, shopping is best undertaken around the areas of Via del Corso (for high-street purchases), Via Condotti (for designer goods), and Via Urbana and Via del Boschetto (for smaller, quirky boutiques). Rome also has some great products that will make lovely souvenirs such as hand-painted ceramics, local wine, cured meat, leather shoes, and religious art.

Which city is safest: Lisbon or Rome?

Rome and Lisbon each have their fair share of crime, and while most tourists will have no problems at all, it is worth being aware that pick-pocketing is rife on public transport in both cities. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use the public transport in these cities, but that you should be cautious about keeping an eye on your belongings at all times and avoid carrying cash or valuables in your pockets.

According to SafeAround, Lisbon is one of the top 20 safest cities in the world (no. 18) while Rome comes in at 58. However, even at 58, Rome is considered safer than San Francisco, Washington D.C., Auckland, and Kyoto!

Lisbon skyline at night
Aerial view of Lisbon at night, Portugal. Sao Jorge Castle

Which city has the best weather: Lisbon or Rome?

Finally, if the weather is a big deal for you, you might be wondering which city has the best climate. Both Lisbon and Rome generally have good weather year-round, with average temperatures rarely dropping below 10°C at any point. Rome tends to have a significant variance in terms of temperature, with slightly colder winter months and warmer temperatures in summer.

Plus, as Rome is not directly on the coast, it doesn’t receive any sea breeze during the summer, which can make it feel even hotter!

The downside of Lisbon’s climate is that it receives much more winter rain than Rome, with average rainfall days in the teens from November to March, whereas Rome’s average rainfall days per month rarely break 10.

So, there you have it, the similarities and differences between Lisbon and Rome. Has this article helped you decide which European city to visit or has it simply made you want to visit both?! Let us know in the comments below.

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