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BlogTravel tipsItaly vs. Spain: will you be saying “ciao” or “hola” on your next trip?
Travel tips

Italy vs. Spain: will you be saying “ciao” or “hola” on your next trip?

Feb 21, 2024 by Steph Herron

We know that deciding on your dream European adventure is no easy feat. A classic hang-up for travelers looking for a Mediterranean escape is whether to opt for an Italy tour or a trip to Spain. Will it be pasta or paella? A tour of St. Paul’s Basilica or La Sagrada Familia? Will your midday refresh be an Aperol spritz or a glass of sangria? When it comes to the Italy vs. Spain dilemma, we have tours to satisfy every craving. So, we’re doing a deep dive on everything you need to know to make the choice between Italy and Spain an easy one.

Would you rather: taste tapas in Spain or pasta in Italy?


Spain

No Spanish adventure would be complete without sampling plenty of tapas. Sharing tapas, or small plates, with loved ones is a tradition beloved by locals and travelers in Spain. There are seemingly endless options to order, so we recommend trying as many as possible throughout your travels to discover your personal frontrunner on our list of the best dishes to try in Spain.

Patatas bravas (fried potatoes smothered in spicy tomato sauce and rich aioli), jamón Serrano (salted, cured ham), and tortilla Española (a flavorful egg and potato omelette) are just a few suggestions to add to your must-try list. If the thought of these small plates has your stomach growling, then a trip to Spain is the right choice for you.

Tour to consider: Do small plates with big flavor pique your interest? You’ll fall in love with our Food & Wine: A Taste of Spain tour. This small-group, culinary journey goes beyond tasting; it immerses you in local markets, includes hands-on cooking classes, and invites you to eat like a local. You’ll discover the art of tapas and savor the best of Spanish cuisine. Once you’ve tasted your first chocolate-dipped churro, you’ll already be planning your next Spanish escape.

Taste tapas in Spain

Italy

Stroll down practically any street in Italy, and you’ll find yourself drawn in by the heavenly aromas of authentic Italian cuisine. There’s a rich culinary history in Italy with its famed pasta, pizza, and gelato, but these are only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many spectacular dishes to sample in Italy, and a trip here is an excellent choice for travelers looking to indulge in them all.

We suggest savoring margherita pizza in Naples, arancini (deep-fried risotto balls) in Sicily, and cacio e pepe in Rome—just to name a few. If the thought of these dishes has your mouth watering, then a trip to Italy is for you.

Tours to consider: Any tour of Italy will present the opportunity to tuck into decadent bowls of freshly made pasta, but our Food and Wine Tours of Italy put the culinary experience at the forefront. Whether you taste your way from Florence to Rome on our Food & Wine: Flavors of Tuscany & Umbria tour or truffle hunt in Alba on our Food & Wine: Northern Italy & the Italian Riviera tour, your tastebuds will be in for a treat.

Eat pasta in Italy

Would you rather: discover Gaudí’s Barcelona or Rome’s ancient marvels?


Spain

Spain is home to the awe-inspiring architectural wonders crafted by architect and designer, Antoni Gaudí. When you first see one of his buildings during a visit to Barcelona, you may just find yourself speechless. Gaudí designed 12 buildings, which are scattered across the city of Barcelona. The most famous, arguably, is the almost otherworldly La Sagrada Familia cathedral. If taking in this modern architecture calls to you, then Spain is the country for your next trip. A walk through Barcelona’s historic neighborhoods, experiencing the vibrant blend of modernist and Gothic architecture will offer just what you’re looking for. Feeling inspired to plan a trip? Be sure to check out our expert La Sagrada Familia travel tips.

Tour to consider: Seeing Gaudí’s architecture is a can’t-miss itinerary item on any visit to Barcelona, so we make sure Gaudí is on the agenda for all of our Barcelona tours. If you want plenty of time to marvel at it all (at your own pace), then our Barcelona: The City Experience tour is your perfect fit. This tour will give you plenty of guided and free time to explore Gaudi’s dreamy, ethereal sites around the city.

Discover Barcelona

Italy

Thanks to its rich history, Italy offers a different kind of architectural splendor. Each of the country’s most famous cities features ancient structures, but perhaps none quite like Rome. The Eternal City is filled to the brim with reminders of the magnificence of ancient Rome. A day spent discovering Rome’s ancient past can leave you feeling like you’ve stepped right into history. Tour the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, and more—all in a day of sightseeing. Even after all this, you’ll still be left with plenty more iconic sites to explore. Sound like a dream? This means a trip to Italy is the right choice for you. And if you’re wondering the best time to visit the city, check out our season by season guide of when to go to Rome.

Tour to consider: Our Rome: The City Experience tour is the perfect choice for travelers looking to do a deep dive into the history of ancient Rome. Your Tour Director on this Roman holiday will guide you through the sites and offer unique insight into the history before you explore Rome’s wonders at your own pace. By the time you make it to the Trevi Fountain, your wish will be to return to the Eternal City to experience the magic all over again!

Discover Rome

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Would you rather: sunbathe on Spanish beaches or traverse the Italian countryside?


Spain

Spain boasts a diverse landscape and no shortage of breathtaking beaches. From the sun-soaked shores of the Costa del Sol to the stunning coves of Mallorca, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to dip your toes in the water. If beachside bliss is at the top of your bucket list, choose a Spain tour.

Tour to consider: For the perfect mix of relaxing island living and coastal adventure, opt for our Spain’s Balearic Islands: Menorca & Mallorca tour. This well-rounded itinerary will have you strolling through charming seaside villages, snorkeling in turquoise water, exploring underground caves, and memorizing golden sunsets out on the water.

Sunbathe in Spain

Italy

Italy, with its rolling hills, vineyards, and serene countryside, provides a tranquil escape. A day spent under the Tuscan sun can be pure heaven. If scenic countryside strolls, Chianti wine tastings, farmhouse lunches, and leisurely bike rides through charming Tuscan villages call to you, then you should opt for a tour of Italy.

Tour to consider: Our Tuscany Adventure: Lucca, Siena & Maremma tour is a small-group, adventure tour that will show you the true heart of Tuscany and the Italian countryside. This action-packed itinerary will whisk you to off-the-beaten-path villages where time seems to have stood still. With hikes, farm-to-table-lunches, vineyard visits, and strolls through peaceful towns, this itinerary will leave you head over heels in love with Tuscany.

Adventure through Italy

Would you rather: meander Madrid’s museums or explore Florence’s Renaissance wonders?


Spain

Art lovers should undoubtedly bump Madrid up on their travel wish lists. Spain’s capital showcases a diverse and dynamic art scene, with iconic masterpieces like Goya’s works at the world-renowned Prado Museum and Picasso’s Guernica at the Reina Sofía Museum. The city’s avant-garde galleries and cultural events create a vibrant, ever-evolving cultural landscape, so if you’re drawn to a more modern artistic environment, opt for a Spain tour.

Tour to consider: Come for the capital’s museums and stay to discover the charm of the whole country on our Grand Tour of Spain. From Madrid to Barcelona, this multi-week tour is a highlight reel of the best Spain has to offer. Discover Madrid’s art scene, Seville’s sensational tapas, the breathtaking beaches of the Costa del Sol, and so much more. This is the ideal tour for travelers who firmly choose Spain when pondering “Spain or Italy.”

Check out Madrid’s art scene

Italy

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, holds an enduring and undeniable appeal for art enthusiasts everywhere. The city is home to masterpieces you’ve grown up seeing, such as Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation at the Uffizi Gallery, as well as Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery. Even outside the museums you’ll feel art everywhere in Florence. The city’s historic streets offer an unofficial architectural walking tour into the brilliance of the 15th and 16th centuries artists. If the Renaissance era fascinates you, choose an Italy tour.

Tour to consider: Discover Florence and so much more on our Grand Tour of Italy. Renaissance lovers who opt for this tour will get the chance to explore Florence, as well as the rest of the country—all on one tour. Choosing this grand Italian adventure is a phenomenal way to maximize a trip to Italy. You’ll see it all starting in Milan and ending in Rome. If you’ve landed on Italy in this Italy vs. Spain discussion, consider this trip the ultimate Italian experience.

Discover Florence’s masterpieces

Would you rather: not have to choose between Italy or Spain?


If making the Italy vs. Spain choice is too overwhelming, then decide not to decide. Pick our Barcelona, Southern France & the Italian Riviera tour, which will show you both countries! This border-crossing itinerary takes you from Barcelona all the way to Florence, and even includes the option to extend your trip with a few days in Rome. It’s a wonderful choice for travelers who want to see it all and don’t want to weigh in on the Spain vs. Italy travel debate. After all, why not just visit both and decide for yourself?

Whether you’re drawn to the lively energy of Spain or the timeless charm of Italy, we have an adventure for you. Settle the Spain or Italy debate when you shop our Italy trips and Spain tours today.


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About the author | Steph Herron
Since moving abroad for college at the age of 18, Steph’s never doubted that travel is her passion in life. When she isn’t seeking opportunities to satisfy her wanderlust—and inspiring others to do the same—you’ll find her exploring Boston’s vegan food scene, shopping for eclectic pieces to add to her closet, or rewatching 90s romantic comedies.

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