spain vs italy travel

Spain vs Italy Travel: Which to Visit in 2024?

Picture this: You’re planning your next great adventure and torn between two captivating European countries — travelling to Spain vs Italy. Each country boasts a rich history, stunning architecture, world-renowned cuisine, and a unique way of life. 

How do you choose between these two fascinating destinations? I’ve been to both countries and in this post, I’ll compare and contrast travelling to Spain vs Italy, providing you with valuable insights to help you decide where to embark on your next holiday.

Spain vs Italy: Travel Highlights

These two Mediterranean countries have a lot to offer travellers. Here’s a quick overview of the must-see attractions in each country. 

Must-See Attractions in Spain

Some of Spain’s top attractions include the Alhambra in Granada, Park Güell in Barcelona, the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the stunning beaches along the Costa del Sol. Spain also offers natural beauty, such as the Picos de Europa National Park and the volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands.

Click here to discover the best places to visit in Spain.

Must-See Attractions in Italy

The must-visit sites in Italy include the Colosseum and Vatican City in Rome. In addition, you shouldn’t miss a visit to the canals of Venice, the leaning tower of Pisa, and the Amalfi Coast. Italy is also home to stunning natural attractions like the Dolomite Mountains, the Cinque Terre, and Lake Como.

Best Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit Spain or Italy depends on your preferences and the region you’re planning to explore. Typically, spring (April to June) is considered the best time to visit. 

During these months, both Spain and Italy experience milder temperatures and thinner crowds. On the other hand,  summers can be hot and crowded, while winters can be chilly but offer the chance to experience local festivities and attractions without the masses.

spain vs italy travel: art & architecture

Art and Architecture – Italy vs. Spain 

Spain and Italy both boast a rich cultural heritage, being home to some of the most beautiful buildings in the world, impressive art museums, and the birth places of many renowned artists. 

Any art lover would have tons to dive into during a visit to Spain or Italy!

Famous Spanish Artists

Spain has produced an avalanche of renowned artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Diego Velázquez. Each artist contributed significantly to the world of art, from Cubism to Surrealism and the Spanish Golden Age.

Spanish Architectural Styles

Spain’s architecture is a diverse mix of Roman, Gothic, and Moorish influences. Iconic structures like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Alhambra in Granada showcase the country’s artistic and architectural prowess.

Famous Italian Artists

Italy is often considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and as such, it has produced some of the most influential artists in history, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. These artists have left an indelible mark on the world with masterpieces like the Mona Lisa, the Sistine Chapel, and the School of Athens.

Architectural Styles

Italy’s architectural landscape is characterized by an array of styles, from Romanesque and Gothic to Renaissance and Baroque. Landmarks like the Colosseum in Rome, the Duomo in Florence, and St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice are prime examples of Italy’s architectural heritage.


When travelling to a foreign country, language is often a big barrier that we have to face. It never hurts to learn and memorize a few handy phrases to use in daily life! 

Spanish vs. Italian

Both Spanish and Italian belong to the Romance language family, which means they share similarities in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. While Spanish is spoken by around 460 million people worldwide, Italian is spoken by about 85 million. 

When it comes to learning the basics, you may find that you can pick up one language more quickly if you’re already familiar with the other. After learning Spanish, I find that I can more easily understand basic Italian, even if I’m unable to speak it! 

English Proficiency

English is widely spoken in both Spain and Italy, especially in the bigger cities and with the younger generation. However, a little effort to learn some basic phrases in the local language can go a long way and help you connect with locals.

On my first visit to Spain and Italy, I didn’t speak either Spanish or Italian and I got by just fine! I did learn how to say “hello”, “please” and “thank you” to be polite and I feel like that helped me feel less awkward about not speaking the local language.

Tips for Learning the Basics

Before your trip, consider using language-learning apps like Duolingo, Babbel, or Rosetta Stone to learn some essential phrases in Spanish or Italian. Locals appreciate it when visitors make an effort to speak their language, even if it’s just a simple “hello” or “thank you.”

spain vs italy travel: food

Spain vs Italy: Food and Cuisine

I love trying local dishes when I travel so let’s take a look at what you can expect when travelling to Spain vs Italy. 

Popular Spanish Dishes

Spain’s cuisine varies by region, but some classic dishes you’ll find throughout the country include paella, tapas, and churros. Paella is a Valencian dish, and it contains rice, saffron, vegetables, and different seafood and meats. Tapas are served little dishes meant to be shared, and churros refer to deep-fried dough pastries. 

Popular Italian Dishes

I don’t think anyone needs an introduction to Italian food! It’s so well-loved throughout the world… and for good reason. Each region in Italy has its own specialties, but some iconic dishes include spaghetti carbonara, Margherita pizza, and tiramisu. Fresh ingredients, simple preparation, and a focus on quality over quantity define Italian dishes at their best!

Dining Etiquette and Customs

In both Spain and Italy, mealtime is an essential part of daily life.  It’s time to connect with friends and family. In Spain, expect late dinner times (around 9.00 to 10.00pm), and don’t be surprised if restaurants close in the afternoon for a siesta.

In Italy, meals often consist of several courses, and you’ll find that Italians take their time to savor each dish. In both countries, tipping is appreciated but not as expected as in the US. If you do want to tip, a 5-10% tip is usually sufficient.

Lifestyle and Culture in Spain vs Italy

Spanish Customs and Traditions


Spain is known for its lively festivals, such as La Tomatina, where participants engage in a massive tomato fight, and the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, where brave (or foolhardy) individuals run alongside bulls through the streets. Spanish culture also includes flamenco dancing, bullfighting, and an emphasis on enjoying life to the fullest.

Daily Routines

Spaniards are known for their laid-back attitude and afternoon siestas. Shops and businesses often close in the afternoon, allowing people to rest or spend time with their families. Late-night socializing and dining are common, with locals frequently gathering in bars and cafes.

Italian Customs and Traditions


Italy is home to various festivals, such as Carnevale, a pre-Lent celebration with parades, masquerade balls, and elaborate costumes. Another example is the Palio di Siena, a thrilling horse race held in the heart of Siena. Italian culture is also characterized by strong family ties, a love for fashion, and a passion for sports, especially soccer.

Daily Routines

Italians typically have a slower-paced lifestyle. They take time to enjoy a leisurely espresso or aperitivo with friends. The afternoon passeggiata, a leisurely stroll through town, is another quintessential Italian tradition. Italians prefer to live a family-centric life, with multi-generational gatherings often occurring on weekends and holidays.

Spain vs Italy: Cost of Living and Travel Expenses

Let’s be real, for many of us, budget is a real concern when it comes to travel. So which country is cheaper to visit, Spain or Italy?

Comparing Living Costs

Italy tends to have a higher cost of living than Spain, particularly in cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice. However, both countries offer a range of accommodation, dining, and transportation options to suit different budgets.

Based on my personal experience, I’ve found that I generally get more value for money in Spain vs Italy. That said, there are definitely some places in Spain that are more expensive (for example, the Balearic islands). 

Accommodation and Transportation

Both Spain and Italy offer a variety of accommodation alternatives. From budget travelers to affluent visitors, they have something for everyone. 

For transportation, consider using trains and buses, which are generally affordable and efficient in both countries. Personally, I’ve found Spain’s public transportation to be much more reliable than Italy’s. 

If you plan to visit multiple cities, look into rail passes like the Eurail Pass or regional train passes, which can save you money and offer flexibility.

Tips for Budget Travelers to Spain or Italy

If you are on a budget, you can consider the following tips to enjoy a fantastic time in Spain or Italy. 

  1. Visit the destinations in shoulder seasons to enjoy lower prices and fewer crowds.
  1. Stay in smaller towns or cities, where accommodation and dining options are often more affordable.
  2. Utilize public transportation or consider walking to explore cities and towns, as it’s not only cost-effective but also a great way to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere.
  3. There are usually free things to do in Spanish and Italian cities so prioritize these activities over paid ones. Some attractions offer free or discounted entrance at a certain time or day so it can be worth it to do some research beforehand. 

where to go: spain or italy?

My Verdict on Spain vs Italy Travel

Having been to both Spain and Italy, I actually do love both countries as a travel destination. Both countries are rich in cultural heritage, have great food, and exude a warm hospitality. What’s more, both countries have numerous must-visit places attractions to explore. You can’t go wrong with whichever choice you make! 

It all comes down to your personal preference and what you enjoy more. 

But it’ll probably come as no surprise that I prefer Spain (after all, you’re here on my Spain travel blog!). I just simply fell in love with the vibe of the country on my first visit… and on each subsequent trip, I’ve discovered more and more about what Spain has to offer. 

Spain vs Italy Travel: Frequently Asked Questions

Still have more questions on travelling Spain vs Italy? Here are some FAQs. 

Is it easier to travel to Spain or Italy?

Both Spain and Italy are relatively easy to travel in, with well-developed transportation networks, a wide range of accommodations, and locals who are generally friendly and helpful. However, English proficiency may be slightly higher in Italy, making communication a bit easier for English-speaking travelers.

Which country has better food?

Food is subjective, and both Spain and Italy offer world-class cuisine. Your preference may depend on your taste, but both countries offer an array of delicious dishes to satisfy any palate.

How do the local people compare in terms of friendliness and hospitality?

Both Spaniards and Italians are known for their warmth, friendliness, and hospitality. Making an effort to speak the local language and showing respect for customs and traditions will help you form connections with locals.

Which country offers a better overall travel experience?

Both countries feature some unique qualities. Consider which aspects of each country’s culture, history, and attractions resonate with you the most, and let that guide your decision.

Can I get by in both countries with just English?

Yes, it is possible to get by in both Spain and Italy with just English, especially in tourist areas. However, learning some basic phrases in Spanish or Italian will enhance your travel experience and help you connect with locals.

Recommended Spain Travel Resources

Travelling to/around Spain and need help planning your dream trip?
Here are my favorite travel resources.

  • I usually use to look for hotels or apartment rentals. It’s easy to use, with lots of choices… and you can unlock more discounts with their Genius loyalty programme!
  • To research transportation options around Spain, I use Omio which lets me compare different modes of transportation and prices in one place.
  • For the ultimate freedom, rent a car in Spain. Check prices on DiscoverCars to find the best deals (you’ll be surprised at how affordable it is!).
  • For activities and tours, Get Your Guide is my trusted platform. Viator also has a big catalog of activities!
  • I love free walking tours and usually use Guruwalk to find and book tours I like.
  • An easy way to stay connected while travelling is to use an eSim. Airalo offers various eSim choices so that you’re already connected the moment you arrive in Spain!
  • Say goodbye to carrying loads of cash or paying huge transaction fees when using a card in a foreign country! Wise is my borderless banking service of choice and I’ve used their debit card everywhere in Spain without any issues.
  • I never travel without SafetyWing travel insurance in case of emergencies or unexpected incidents. Get an obligation-free quote here.

For Spain travel inspiration

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