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Spain or Portugal: Which Makes for the Ultimate Vacation Spot? (2024)

should you visit spain or portugal?
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Many who are planning to visit the Southwestern part of Europe consider both Spain and Portugal for their holiday. This is an understandable debate, as they are close neighbors and share fundamental similarities. The two countries share the same temperate weather, much of the cuisine is similar, the language shares some key phrases, and their histories are often interwoven. Both countries boast long coastlines, many beachside towns, and laid-back vibes.

However, Spain and Portugal are very different in some crucial ways. Let’s discuss the significant differences and help you determine if you should go to Spain or Portugal for your next holiday.

Which Makes for the Ultimate Vacation Spot?

  • 1. Price: Which is Cheaper, Spain or Portugal?

    Cost is one of the biggest factors to consider when deciding on a travel destination. Nothing ruins a vacation like draining your savings account just to have a good time. So which is more expensive, Spain or Portugal? According to the cost of living calculation and comparison site Numbeo, Spain is generally more costly.

    Consumer prices are 9.1% higher in Spain than in Portugal, and restaurant prices are 23.9% higher in Spain than in Portugal. Groceries will also run you an extra 11.9% in Spain versus Portugal.

    Pretty much the only significant exception for the average tourist is housing. Housing in Portugal is, on average, 5% more expensive than in Spain. According to Airbnb, the average price per night in Portugal is $180, and the average price per night in Spain is $168 for the same travel date. However, the average tourist will spend more in Spain than in Portugal overall.

    Spain or Portugal according to price: Portugal is cheaper than Spain, and tourists will likely save a good bit of money on food, activities, transportation, and more during their Portuguese vacation.

    Price: Which is Cheaper, Spain or Portugal?
  • 2. Activities: Does Spain or Portugal Have More To Do?

    This one seems obvious, but it has to be mentioned that Spain is considerably larger than Portugal. In fact, Spain is over five times bigger than Portugal by size. Spain has 47 million residents, and Portugal is hovering at around 10 million.

    Spain also has a much larger tourism industry. Spain has one of the world’s highest numbers of international tourists annually, with about 83 million people visiting the country every year.

    While the size of a country does not necessarily determine how rich and exciting the activities are, it has to be stated that Spain has a much more developed tourism industry than its tiny neighbor.

    Generally, Spain is ideal for those looking for nightlife, variety of food, historical activities, and beach resorts. Portugal is suitable for those who want to explore the outdoors, try their hand at surfing, and enjoy some fresh seafood.

    Spain or Portugal based on the diversity of activities: Obviously, neither country is better nor worse; it just comes down to personal preference and style of travel. But as far as tourist attractions, big cities, and a wealth of opportunities, we have to give this one to Spain.

    Activities: Does Spain or Portugal Have More To Do?
  • 3. Food: Who Has Better Grub, Portugal or Spain?

    Spain is a foodie dream with tons of variety and unique regional dishes for tourists to enjoy. Tapas are popular, and seafood is heavily featured in the cuisine thanks to the abundant coastline. Some popular favorites are the world-famous paella, gazpacho, pisto stew, Spanish omelets, and delicious fried churros.

    Portugal is also the home of some incredible and iconic dishes and flavor palates. Seafood is a prevalent staple in Portuguese food, similar to Spain. There are also some iconic Portuguese wines. And you simply cannot leave Portugal without trying the national treasure: the custard tart pastel de nata.

    Our Global Foodie Index rankings include the following:

    • #19th – Barcelona, Spain
    • #27th – Madrid, Spain
    • #41st – Valencia, Spain
    • #58th – Porto, Portugal
    • #66th – Granada, Spain
    • #84th – Seville, Spain
    • #89th – Santiago de Compostela, Spain
    • #117th – Cordoba, Spain
    • #122 – Bilbao, Spain
    • #130 – San Sebastian, Spain
    • #138 – Santander, Spain

    Portugal or Spain for food: It’s hard to compare; whether the cuisine is better is another incredibly subjective metric. But if you look at the sheer volume of foodie hotspots and the variety around the country, Spain takes the prize for the best food.

    Food: Who Has Better Grub, Portugal or Spain?
  • 4. Is Spain or Portugal Safer for Tourists?

    The best food and the most exciting activities don’t really mean much if you can’t enjoy your vacation because you aren’t feeling particularly safe. So, which country is safer?

    In the annual Global Peace Index released by Visions of Humanity, Inc., in 2022, Portugal ranked #6th in the world for the most peaceful country, whereas Spain ranked far below at #29th. There are some theories as to why Portugal is considered safer than Spain, but much of that comes down to sheer size. As previously mentioned, Spain is five times bigger than Portugal and has far more large cities, and large cities tend to host the lion’s share of criminal activity. However, there are other factors to consider, like economic inequality and police presence.

    If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, Portugal is going to be slightly safer, according to our annual LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index. Portugal ranked sixth globally for safety, while Spain ranked seventh. Both countries have significant protections and are widely recognized as good places for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer travelers and locals alike.

    Is Spain or Portugal Safer for Tourists?


Both Spain and Portugal are amazing vacation destinations with tons of delicious food, fantastic cultural and historical activities, gorgeous beaches, and some of the nicest people. If you’re looking for a laid-back, decently inexpensive, and relaxing holiday, you could go to either destination and have a wonderful experience. Whether you prefer Spain or Portugal is a personal preference, and each country has much to offer.

Portugal is slightly better regarding safety and price, whereas Spain offers more big city amenities and foodie-friendly destinations. Portugal is ideal for the nature lover and those who enjoy a less touristy vibe, but Spain is good for the beach resort aficionado or the museum buff. Whichever country you choose, we hope you have an amazing time!

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