Fun, lively flamenco clubs, intimate little tapas bars, undiscovered beaches, and stunning wine regions — whatever your passion, the Iberian Peninsula has the perfect destination to satisfy your romantic inclinations. But where to go, Spain or Portugal? You can’t go wrong with either, but if you must choose, let us help make your decision a little easier. Keep reading as we match up our favorite spots in the ultimate destination showdown: Spain versus Portugal.
Adventurous Foodies: Lisbon vs Barcelona
Lisbon: Bursting with youthful energy, Lisbon is in the midst of an exhilarating revival. Drawing visitors from around the world, the city’s chic rooftop bars, trendy cafés, and award-winning restaurants make this the perfect destination for food lovers. Smaller and more laid-back than Barcelona, Lisbon is an excellent option for couples looking for world-class culinary experiences without the hustle and bustle of a big city. The recently renovated InterContinental Lisbon is within easy walking distance of many of the city’s best restaurants, making it the ideal choice for a foodie getaway.
Barcelona: Barcelona may be home to La Sagrada Familia, but make no mistake, food is the city’s main attraction. Renowned for its beautiful food markets, tiny tapas bars, and giant platters of paella, Barcelona is a foodie paradise. Here, lunches run long and dinners late as friends and families gather around large wooden tables to indulge in the city’s acclaimed cuisine. Lists of Barcelona’s must-try dishes can verge on overwhelming, but the tasting menu at SOFIA Be So, the innovative restaurant at the Hotel SOFIA Barcelona, is the perfect place to start. Afterward, find your way upstairs to one of the hotel’s beautifully designed rooms, many of which feature panoramic city views.
Wine Afficionados: Douro Valley vs. La Rioja
Douro Valley: An enchanting region of steeply terraced vineyards, the Douro Valley in northern Portugal is well known for its tawny Ports and exceptional table wines. Less commercialized than some other wine regions, tours and tastings tend to be relaxed and are often led by the vintners themselves. Once considered a hidden gem, the valley only began to gain international attention in the last decade, thanks in part to the opening of the excellent Six Senses Douro Valley. Housed in a beautifully renovated manor house, the hotel is home to one of the country’s best spas and prides itself on its excellent cuisine that emphasizes organic produce and local wines. For a quiet getaway, a few nights here would be hard to beat.
La Rioja: The Spanish region of La Rioja might not be as well known as Bordeaux and Tuscany, but it certainly deserves to be. About an hour south of Bilbao, this sleepy province of rolling hills, olive groves, and vineyards is one of Spain’s most important wine-producing regions. It’s also particularly well suited for road trips. If driving through the picturesque Spanish countryside exploring quaint villages, and visiting world-class wineries sounds romantic, this is your place. Many of the most popular wineries are in and around the charming town of Haro, but family-owned vineyards can be found scattered throughout the region that also boasts several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the twin monasteries of San Millán de Yuso and Suso.
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