Spain or Portugal: Which Country is Right for You?

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Spain or Portugal: Which Country is Right for You?

The Iberian Peninsula exists in its own realm of decadent beauty. Surrounded with an ocean, a sea and a range of spectacularly colossal mountain ranges, its power and affluence throughout the ages led to the development of idiosyncratic culture and mentality. This is why Spain and Portugal share a lot of similarities, even though the latter country covers just 15% of the Iberian territory. They share the climate, the way of life the architectural influences and the overall demeanor of the populace.  If you have just enough free time on your hands to visit Spain or Portugal, here’s how you will know which country is right for you…

A history to remember

Spain and Portugal share a lot in terms of history. The chronological strands that stretch across centuries intertwine to create one of the most colorful tapestries you can imagine. It’s quite a breathtaking journey through time if you are an avid history buff, and this is an aspect where both countries get the equal number of points.

The long history begins with Roman occupation before it flows into the invasion of the Moors in the eight century – two periods that have left a noteworthy assembly of landmarks and ruins which captivate the newcomers to this very day. Of course, the final act of the Middle Ages coupled with the resounding echoes of the Renaissance have brought the magnificent ages of exploration and colony buildings. The 15th and 16th centuries were a time of great affluence and staggering development for both countries, both in terms of economy and culture. After the World War I, the two historical strands begin to unwind and this is where most differences come into play.

Two different “genres”

As a former colonial power, Spain remained much more open to the world. The liberal and vibrant spirit of this country gave birth to the great minds such as Picasso, Cervantes, Gaudi and Dali. The enormous landscapes, the walls of Alhambra and the magic of Santiago de Compostela are undeniable. If Spain is a backdrop of a grand adventure, then Portugal is a place of epic mysteries. Its compact and slightly subdued nature is what makes it so charming.

Spain has a more diverse hinterland

Portugal is a country adorned with ornate buildings and garish facades in the best possible way. The urban landscapes of cities such as Lisbon and Porto showcase the peak of architectural proficiency that can hardly be paralleled by anything else. As a mostly coastal country with developed urban infrastructure along the Atlantic coastline, Portugal doesn’t have a hinterland that is as diverse or impressive as Spain’s.

Since the country is such an expansive playground of possibilities, the diverse range of packages for Spain holidays can always surprise you. Try to search beyond your typical tours of the main cities and arrange a holiday that will introduce you to a specific, interesting side of Spain. For example, you can look into wine tours, holidays that concentrate on the Mediterranean coast or the “pilgrimage” through Medieval Spain.

Portugal is a complete experience

Spain is a colossal marvel, but its size is a double-edged sword. While it is an exciting prospect to embark on a long escapade through this country, it is also an undeniable fact that you cannot see all of it unless you are on a sabbatical with inexhaustible financial backing. Compact as this country is, interesting  Portugal holidays offer a  more complete experience with all the themes and motifs you might find in Spain. There is something baroque – in the purest sense of that word – about wandering through the twisting and twirling lantern-illuminated passageways of Lisbon and Porto.

In addition, Portugal is somewhat cheaper than Spain. This is why a lot of expats prefer to move to Lisbon, Porto or Coimbra. Apart from that, numerous world-trotting retirees are quite eager to retire to Portugal because of the captivating natural landscapes, beautiful cities and convenient climate. Urban areas of Portugal are much calmer and laid-back than pulsating metropolises of Spain.

Different kinds of nightlife

If you are an adrenaline-seeking urban explorer who enjoys the neon-glazed nightlife, you’ll get a kick out of Spanish cities – especially the capital, Madrid; Barcelona and Valencia. Madrid boasts some of the most impressive night clubs on the entire Peninsula and it is known as a “city that never sleeps” for a reason.

On the other side of that spectrum, we have Lisbon’s exquisite café culture that will remind you of French side-alleys and charming restaurants. The romantic nightlife of Portugal is more suitable for visitors who want to just kick back and savor all the discreet nuances and scents of the evening.

As two coastal countries, Spain and Portugal have somewhat similar cuisines with a focus on sea food, fresh vegetables (especially tomatoes and olives), and a top-notch wine culture.

Even though Spain and Portugal share a world of similarities, it would be unwise to dismiss the beautiful and intriguing idiosyncrasies that make each of the countries utterly charming in their own way. Discovering what makes Spain and Portugal unique rather than alike is what will finally decide which of the two Iberian adventures is perfectly suited for you.


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