Spain and Portugal are two countries that occupy the Iberian peninsula – that bit of southwestern Europe that sticks out into the Atlantic and Mediterranean, just below France. Over the years, both these destinations have become immensely popular among tourists, but are they any good for families? And which is better?
Spain Versus Portugal
When it comes to travel, Spain and Portugal aren’t the only countries at each other’s throats. China and Japan, Italy and France, and Australia and New Zealand all face similar battles of their own.
Spain and Portugal, though, are closer rivals than any of those countries. Australia is a vast sprawling continent with deserts. New Zealand is the film set for Lord of the Rings. Italy is all about the Romans and gelato. At the same time, France focuses more on the notion that you can somehow marry socialism and liberty. You can’t.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at Spain and Portugal from a range of different angles to see which is best for families. Just a warning – there’s not a huge difference!
Some people like travelling to dreary places where the weather is always grey, like Scotland (sorry Scots, but you know those midgies don’t love it there for no reason!), but not everyone is so keen. Most of us want to lounge in the sunshine and feel like we’ve had a real holiday.
When it comes to climate, Spain and Portugal are slightly different. Most of inland Spain is highland. Almost the entire interior of the country is a massive mountain range, with Madrid perched squarely in the middle. Portugal is mountainous in the north but gives way to plains in the south, where you’ll find a lot of vineyards.
Portugal gets more rain than Spain, being closer to the Atlantic. But in the summer, a week of continual downpours is unlikely. That’s usually only something that happens in the winter months. As for Spain, it is semi-arid year-round, especially in the east.
When it comes to infrastructure, both Spain and Portugal are both very well set up for tourists. They have to be. It is a big part of their economy.
In Portugal, you can book cars at sites like https://www.stressfreecarrental.com/portugal/faro directly from the airport. It’s a similar story in Spain (though be careful to read reviews online before you book car hire wherever you need it!)
Portugal is perhaps the better place to go if you’re planning on travelling around by train. Being a smaller country, its rail network is more highly developed and connected. And with less mountainous terrain, companies found it easier to build it out. It’s not quite up to German standards, but it’s not bad.
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is excellent for family sightseeing tours. Here you’ll find the Belem Tower, the Jeronimos Monastery, and the Pena Palace.
In Spain, though, there are equally impressive sites to explore, like the Mezquita of Cordoba and the Moorish city of Cuenca.
From a family perspective, Spain is probably the better choice. That’s not because it is necessarily better, but for us, it’s easy to get to with direct flights, and my parents live there, so of course, I’m going to say Spain is best!