Which is more budget-friendly, Portugal or Spain?
Landscape and Climate
Because Spain and Portugal share the same peninsula, their climates and landscapes are very similar. Portugal’s long coastline is its most distinctive feature. It is also home to many beaches. The country’s north is mountainous and rainy, while the south is dry and flat.
It has many beaches close to the Algarve and rolling plains. The government has no significant natural lakes and a desert near Alentejo. Spain is mostly a plateau of highlands with mountain ranges running through. Some coastal plains and valleys run through the peripheries. The most significant geographic difference between Portugal & Spain is their size. Spain is approximately five times bigger than Portugal.
Both countries have Mediterranean climates. This means that they are both generally mild with warm summers. Portugal’s average temperature is 24°C in July, 11°C in January, and Spain is approximately the same, with Barcelona averaging 24°C in August and Barcelona at ten °C in January. These similarities are understandable as both countries are well-known for their beaches and ability to attract tourists during the colder months.
The amount of time you spend in Europe will determine your choice. Portugal is a smaller country, so you will be able to see more of it if you only have a few weeks. Spain is just as attractive as Portugal if you have around a month.
Infrastructure and Expenses
Portugal is generally cheaper than Spain. However, the flight to Portugal will be the most expensive. A standard flight from North America for a round trip will cost between $1,200 and 1,300 Pounds. A round-trip ticket to Barcelona costs around 1,200 Pounds.
It is also much easier to connect to Spain from North American cities than in Portugal. As a result, you’ll have more options and lower prices with some airlines.
Portugal is surprisingly affordable once you are there. In Lisbon, a 3-star hotel will cost you around 166 Pounds in high season. Accommodations outside of the leading centers will be cheaper. Spain is more expensive than Portugal. A 3-star hotel in Barcelona will cost you around 183 Pounds in May.
Although accommodations in Spain are more costly than in Portugal, some food and alcohol will be cheaper in Spain than in Portugal, particularly if you travel outside of high season. Portugal is still a popular budget destination in Europe, but Spain is not as expensive as other Western European countries.
Both countries have a well-developed infrastructure, though not as advanced as France or Germany. Portugal’s train network is extensive and accessible, making it easy to use. Spain has an extensive network of high-speed trains, the AVE Alta Velocidad. It runs in all major cities. Smaller public transit systems that run on buses or trains cover the gaps between major cities.
Although Portugal’s roads have seen improvements in recent years and have a good reputation for safety, they still have poor conditions. Spain’s highways are better than Portugal’s, but transit is recommended if you don’t plan to drive on your Europe trip. Remember that Sundays and public holidays are not covered by transit.
Portugal will be cheaper overall, but Spain will have a better infrastructure. It’s not a significant tradeoff either way.
Spain and Portugal are rich in historical and cultural icons, as with many other Western European countries. Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, is home to many iconic landmarks that would make it a great city. The most famous landmark is Belem Tower (a 16th-century fortified tower) on the water.
But you will also find Sao Jorge Castle, Jeronimos Monastery, and Sao Jorge Castle. Pena Palace, a Romanticist building, is located in Sintra. It also includes the medieval Castle of the Moors.
The Dom Luis Bridge spans the Douro River, connecting Porto and Vilanova de Gaia. It is a historical landmark. You can also see natural wonders at the Benagil Sea Cave in Portugal, which boasts a unique natural skylight in its ceiling and a private beach that is isolated from the rest.
With its stunning beaches and rugged coastlines, the Algarve is a symbol as well as these historical monuments.
Spain is home to many historical sites. It is home to the Aqueduct of Segovia, one of the world’s most well-preserved Roman aqueducts. The medieval era is represented by the Moorish town of Cuenca, and the Mezquita de Cordoba.
This was once the Great Mosque on the Iberian Peninsula. The Alhambra is a magnificent palace that was built in 889AD. It once belonged to the Emirate de Granada. The Spanish Empire brought the Royal Palace in Madrid and El Escorial in San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
Like the Sagrada Familia, you can find more icons and landmarks in Antoni Gaudi’s Barcelona works. You’ll also find Ibiza and Majorca, both party islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The beach of La Concha in San Sebastian is a natural icon. It’s essentially the Platonic ideal of a beach. Pamplona is home to the annual Running of the Bulls festival, which lasts nine days.
You can visit Spain if you are looking for the most iconic sites on the Iberian Peninsula. However, icons will be available in every country.
Food and Drink
No matter if you’re traveling to Spain or Portugal, you are sure to enjoy a delicious culinary experience. Both Spanish and Portuguese cuisines rely on fresh seafood and fragrant ingredients such as olive oil and garlic. They also pair well with solid wines.
Both countries use rice as a typical crop and insist on the use of chorizo, a spicy pork sausage. You’ll find innovative cuisine in major cities, but the beauty of the Portuguese and Spanish dishes lies in their simplicity and universality.
Portuguese cuisine is characterized by seafood with many spices, including Piri-Piri, black pepper, and cinnamon. Many dishes are prepared in olive oil and contain lots of garlic. Light words tend to be lighter, but they get heavier farther north.
Bacalhau is the most popular ingredient in Portuguese cuisine. This is a dried, and salted cod found all over Portugal. Bacalhau can be prepared in 365 different ways for each day of the year. Francesinha and Cozido Portuguesa are also popular Portuguese dishes. Portugal is well-known for its port, dry white wines, and some full-bodied reds from Douro Valley.
Similar to Portugal, Spain has more seafood in the South and heartier food in the North. Tapas is the most famous Spanish cuisine. It consists of small, savory dishes such as patatas bravas that friends share at dinner. Paella is the most famous Spanish dish. It is rice that has been cooked in a broth with seafood, chicken, saffron, and green or white beans.
It is more prevalent in Valencia than in Spain overall. Other popular dishes include cold soup, gazpacho, tortilla Espanola, and frittatas. Spain is home to the second-largest producer of wine in the world, after France and Italy. Garnacha, Monastrell and Cava are two of the most popular vintages. Sangria is becoming increasingly popular in North America. However, Spaniards are more likely to be consuming Tinto De Verano (red and lemonade wine) when they visit.
The similarities between Spanish and Portuguese cooking are striking. They have greatly influenced the development of world cuisines, particularly in South America. Spanish cuisine is more popular than the average person. It is generally easier to access.
History and Culture
Because of their geographical proximity, Portugal and Spain share much of their history. Both were conquered by Rome, the Goths, and the Umayyad Caliphate over the past two thousand years. They both became a world power during the Age of Discovery when European colonial powers expanded their empires to the edge of the known world.
Both nations are proud of their history, which is understandable given their rich pasts. People are proud of their heritage, and cities and towns are filled with history. There are, however, critical differences between these cultures.
Portugal can seem more laid back than other European countries. Portugal’s coast is popular with surfers. There are many quiet spots in the country’s backwaters where people don’t seem to be in a rush.
Portugal is known for its food and football, with many people praising Cristiano Ronaldo’s greatness and noting that Portugal has the chance to win the World Cup. You’ll also hear the country’s mournful folk music of Fado in country homes across the country.
What to expect on a Portugal vacation? Don’t assume that everyone speaks English. Waiters and service personnel shouldn’t be expected to rush, and you shouldn’t expect to do much on Sundays. People who travel in a hurry are not welcome in Portugal’s culture.
There will be different cultural specialties depending on where you go in Spain. As we see in the current Catalonian struggle for independence, most Spaniards are firmly regionalists. Spanish people are proud of their food, football, and the arts.
Stereotypical cultural elements such as bullfighting have been lost. Spain is home to many of the greatest artists in the world, including Pablo Picasso, Antoni Gaudi, and Miguel de Cervantes. The culture also celebrates this rich artistic heritage. For general cultural tips about Spain holidays, expect people not to speak English wherever you go.
Don’t expect the same level of service at restaurants or stores in Spain as in North America. Tips aren’t common in the country, so they won’t be as attentive and chipper as you might expect. Remember, Spaniards do not eat according to a North American eating schedule.
Breakfast starts at 8 am. A big lunch is at 3 pm. A light dinner is served at 10 pm. If you are trying to stray from the schedule, don’t expect restaurants to cater to you.
Portugal and Spain have rich, colorful histories and strong cultures that charm you. Spain is the larger country and has more notable artworks. It also has a more influential culture. Portugal is not the second fiddle, however.
Which one is best for you?
We have reviewed each country’s similar landscapes, and climates, discussed the cost of visiting them, listed all the landmarks that can be found, and highlighted some of the best food, history, and culture. You now have to choose which country you want to visit on your Europe trip.
You would prefer to see both countries, but giving each one a chance is possible. In general terms:
- Portugal is a great place to go if you’re looking for a warm climate, affordable accommodation, delicious food, and a unique culture that has been influential globally.
- Spain is a great place to visit if you are looking for a country with a lot of artistic talent, good infrastructure, and delicious food and drink.
Although they share many similarities, Spain and Portugal have a lot more to offer than just that. They are also very different countries that have had an enormous impact on the world. You’re sure to have a memorable trip to Western Europe, no matter what country you visit.