Portugal vs. Spain: Which Country is Right for Your Western Europe Trip?

Outdoor Design

Travelling takes you to a new world to experience their culture, meet different people and be diverse with an environment and tradition you have never experienced. But it is always challenging to choose the right destination.

Are you also planning for a Western Europe trip? But, are you confused between Spain and Portugal? Here is the ultimate rundown for the best decision.

Spain vs. Portugal: Food

Both Portugal and Spain offer great culinary treats. The cuisines are mainly seafood like octopus, crabs, sardines and fragrant ingredients that include garlic and olive oil. Both countries have rice as the primary grain and love eating spicy pork, sausage and chorizo.

Portugal offers one of the best seafood in the Mediterranean cooked in olive oil with flavors and spices like black pepper, Piri Piri, saffron, garlic and cinnamon. The most common Portugal dish is Bacalhau, a salted and dried cod, cooked in various styles. Pasteis de Nata is a famous dessert you can try in Lisbon. It is an egg custard tart with tiny bits of sugar sprinkled over it, tastes heavenly in every bite. Most restaurants open late and stretch up to early morning.

Spain is famous for the fine dining scene, Avante-Garde made by Ferran Adria. In Spain, you will find heartier dishes in the North and seafood in the South. Their simplest yet delicious foods are cheese, cured meats, tortillas, cold broth and olives. The most famous dish of Spain is tapas, small savory dishes paired with alcoholic beverages. You can try small plates at tiny bars and start your dinner by 4.00 p.m.

Both the countries have lots of similarities and are influencing world cuisines. Portugal is easier for pescetarians and vegetarian food, but Spain foods are more accessible and are of better-quality.

Spain vs. Portugal: Language

The official language of Spain is Spanish which is relatively similar to the Portuguese, the official language of Portugal.

However, Spanish is a bit complicated and predominant language that can be heard and seen everywhere. But the best part is English is widely spoken and understood over the major cities of both countries.

Due to the simplicity of Portuguese, it is easy to learn, but if you understand and speak Spanish, it is easier to communicate.

Spain vs. Portugal: Climate and Landscape

Both Portugal and Spain are in the same peninsula, and this factor makes their climate and landscape similar. Geographically, Portugal produces a long coastline about the beaches. The Southern part of the country near Algarve is drier and has several beaches with rolling plains while the northern part of the country is mountainous. Portugal lacks natural lakes and has mountains in Alentejo.

In contrast, Spain is mainly a Highland plateau with high mountains running through it. Also, the country has river valleys and coastal plains crisscrossing the peripheries. Both countries have warm summers and mild weathers, i.e., Mediterranean climate. The average temperatures of the major destinations such as Lisbon and Barcelona are 24-26°c in July and 10°c January. These similarities attract tourists more during the cold winters. One of the most notable geographic differences between Portugal and Spain is their size; Portugal is about five times smaller than Spain.

However, you should select the destination depending upon the time you want to spend. If you have a month holiday, Spain is the best choice. But if you have a week or two, Portugal can equally be appealing as Spain.

Spain vs. Portugal: Expenses of travel

The expenses vary between low and high season and the part of the country you are in. For example, Madrid is much more expensive than Spain and Portugal is much cheaper than Lisbon. However, in general, Portugal is less expensive than Spain, but the flight to Portugal is a costly part. A regular flight for a round trip to Barcelona will cost you about $1200 in May whereas; to Lisbon will cost around $1300. Also, you can easily connect to any North Indian cities from Spain rather than Portugal; you can get more flight options at lower prices.

However, while travelling one will find that Portugal significantly affordable. In Lisbon, you can find a 3-Star hotel during mid-May at $166 a night on average in comparison in Barcelona it will cost you about $250. The price may vary depending upon the surroundings too.

While accommodation is costlier in Spain, you can find cheaper alcohol and beverages there.

Overall, Portugal is Europe’s most budget-friendly destination, so if you are on a budget, Portugal is the right choice.

Spain vs. Portugal: Major destinations

Starting with Portugal, you can begin your journey from the capital city Lisbon, full of palm trees and tiles, that don’t feel like a metropolitan city. You can listen to fado, climb up the historic places, explore monasteries and ride the iconic yellow trams. Portugal offers charming cafes and bright-coloured palaces and castles. While travelling, you will come across pretty small towns, especially Amarante, Sortelha and Cascais. This country’s coastline boasts gorgeous views of deep cliffs too.

In Spain, you can pick between two significant cities Barcelona and Madrid. Barcelona offers delicious foods, wide-open roads and Gaudi architecture; Madrid has imperial palaces, magnificent museums and busy cosmopolitan life.

One should slow down at Andalusia to experience Granda’s famous architecture or Moorish architecture. In the North you can try Rock climbing in the Pyrenees, watch running bulls and flamenco dancers in Seville and cheer for your favourite soccer team at Barcelona.

Unlike Portugal, Spain suffers overcrowd during the high season, and you need to adjust your expectations. But it is always wise to choose depending upon what you like. For architecture and outdoor fun Spain leads and for medieval charms, calm beaches and big cities Portugal wins the round.

The bottom line

By now you have noted the similarities between both the countries. Both Spain and Portugal serve varieties of foods and exciting destinations.

If you are travelling for a long time and looking for fine dining, rock climbing or classic museums, Spain is the right choice.

Head to Portugal if you are on a short trip budget, it will surprise you.

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