Recently updated on January 26th, 2024 at 11:00 am
When it comes to Italy vs Spain, can there really be a winner and loser? These two southern European heavyweights both deserve a place on the podium of great destinations. Yet what happens if we pit them against one another in a fierce battle for top spot?
In the red, green, and white corner of the ring we have Italy, a European gem renowned for its pizza, pasta, and its famous painters. Opposite them, draped in fiery red and yellow, stands Spain, the relentless Iberian contender fueled by vibrant festivals, architectural wonders, and stunning beaches.
We asked our team of seasoned Trafalgar travel experts to step into the arena and weigh in on these two Mediterranean titans. Who will emerge victorious in this travel battle? Let the showdown of Italy vs Spain begin, with each vying for the wanderlust championship belt.
Ding ding! Draped in red, white, and green, we have Italy – who has entered the ring while spraying the crowd with heavy snow of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. This European heavyweight knows its strengths are a winning combination of cheese-covered carbs and culture. Is that enough to win the title?
Italy is culinary powerhouse where every dish is a gastronomic knockout. Naturally pasta, pizza, and gelato take no prisoners! The Colosseum and the Vatican stand as the cornermen, adding a historical one-two punch. And Italy’s landscapes are no mere backdrop – from the sun-soaked Amalfi Coast to the vineyard-clad hills of Tuscany, these scenes add weight to Italy’s case.
TAKE A TRIP: Best of Italy & Sicily
Travel experts weigh in on Italy
Let’s see what the judges (our well-seasoned travel experts) have to say about why Italy is their pick of the two contenders.
“Although both destinations are amazing, Italy really takes la torta for me,” says Jake M, Sales Manager.
“I’ve been there 10(?) times and don’t feel like I have even come close to scratching the surface. The history, architecture, natural scenery and incredible art is only outdone by the truly unbeatable food and the warmth and charm of the Italian people.
“I am blessed to have fragments of memories of my travels in Italy; an elderly gondolier bursting into wine-soaked song in a small restaurant in Burano, dodging a rainstorm near the Rialto bridge with a hunk of parmesan and crusty bread, laughing with the bickering old couple running the bar in Naples who were excited to try out their limited English, a sun-dappled afternoon drifting around an olive farm near Trapani, sipping negronis at Fauno Bar in Sorrento, feeling like I’m in a movie with Monica Vitti, need I go on?”
“It may be a cliché, but it’s all about the food for me, says Alex, Trafalgar’s Senior Editorial Manager.
“I Love the variety, the regionality and the pride that goes into it. It’s not just about the eating experience, either. There’s always a story, a historical reason a certain dish is made a certain way. You can learn a lot about the history of Italy just by asking a couple of questions about what you’re eating. For that reason, I always try and try something new whenever I go. That said, I’m a sucker for pizza and gelato, too.”
“Out of many reasons, the one I find most compelling is the history,” says Jay B, Copywriter.
“It’s the birthplace of so many influential movements and inventions; much of modern civilization is built off of Italian foundations,”
TAKE A TRIP: Northern Italy Including Cinque Terre
“Italy is unquestionably a compelling blend of food, history, and breathtaking landscapes, regardless of the season in which you choose to visit,” says Bruno C, Senior Digital Designer.
“It’s all the contrasts in Italy for me,” says Jamie F, Head of Marketing & Campaigns.
“The buzz of Rome, the sophistication of Florence, the tranquility of Matera… plus so easy to travel around by road, by rail (or by sea),” . “You can be having breakfast by Venice’s Grand Canal and then dinner by Florence’s Duomo in the same day.”
“Italy always seems to offer new experiences in every region you visit while keeping its charm, plus the food is glorious!” says Ellie H, Senior Brand Manager.
“My first time at the Leaning Tower of Pisa we were allowed to enter and climb the winding stairs up and enjoy the views,”, says Michelle L., Senior Product Build Manager. “The stairway was narrow with people going up and coming down at the same time. A little scary at times, but well worth it,”
“Everywhere you turn in Italy there is natural beauty such as the Blue Grotto. History, art and beautiful architecture surround you. Some of my favorite locales and sights are the Catacombs, Colosseum, Vatican City, Capri and, of course, the canals of Venice.”
TAKE A TRIP: Italian Holiday
In other corner comes Spain, a fiery, passionate contender known for delivering knockout blows with its vivacious fusion of cultural fervor and architectural marvels. Can the feisty rhythm of flamenco set the tempo for relentless jabs in this showdown against Italy?
Spain’s top claims to victory are grounded in its lively festivals and zest for life that pack a potent punch. From the architectural brilliance of Gaudi’s creations in Barcelona to the historic grandeur of Madrid’s Prado Museum, Spain’s cultural uppercut leaves a hefty mark.
Like its southern European neighbour, Spain finds strength in its landscapes, from Costa del Sol’s sunny beaches to the undulating Andalusian landscapes to the surf culture of Basque Country. As you cross from one side of the Iberian arena to the other, you’ll find a great breadth of regional dishes and culture, from tapas to pintxos, paella to pulpo.
TAKE A TRIP: Best of Spain
Travel judges weigh in on Spain
Spain proves to be a formidable contender, delivering a relentless barrage of cultural highs and architectural brilliance. Let’s see what the judges have to say about why Spain is their pick.
“The pinxtos! The vino! And in particular, for places like Bilboa and Malaga, the architecture and the museums,” says Kate R, Senior Creative Lead.
“Spain, but beyond the expected!” says Daniela, Freelance Writer.
“I love the contrasts of Spain, from the south in Andalucia where tapas, Moorish history and flamenco rule, to the north in San Sebastian where it’s about pinxtos, 20th-century glamour and surf culture.”
TAKE A TRIP: Spanish Wonder
The winner of Italy vs Spain?
As our travel experts hold up their votes, and our destinations take off their gloves, we see Italy emerge as the undisputed champion in the battle vs Spain. Italy delivers a punch-perfect experience that guarantees a heavyweight bout with la dolce vita.
If you can’t tell, our special judges seem to be enamored by Italy. Many cited special memories made during many trips to the Mediterranean titan.
Of our 11 travel experts, we had nine judges cast their votes for Italy when pitted against Spain. So, Italy has a knockout victory in the hearts of globetrotter!
TAKE A TRIP TO ITALY: Colours of Sicily
OR SEE BOTH COUNTRIES: Mediterranean Highlights
The real winner of Italy vs Spain? Any lucky traveler that actually gets to explore either destination! Will you visit either in 2024? Let us know in the comments.