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Italy or Spain: Which is Better for a Summer Family Vacation?

Italy or Spain: Which is Better for a Summer Family Vacation?

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Are you debating Italy or Spain for your next family vacation? Keep scrolling for a comparison of Italy vs Spain to see which city you should visit!
This comparison of Italy or Spain was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

My family is really lucky to be able to visit Europe for summer vacations. I know a lot of families debate between visiting Italy or Spain, so I figured it might be helpful if I compared both European destinations.

We’ve visited both during the summer and there are definite pros and cons to each country.

Keep scrolling to read my personal comparison of Spain vs Italy so you can choose the perfect family vacation spot!

Overview of Italy

Italy is this super cool country right in the middle of the Mediterranean. It’s got a little bit of everything: from snowy mountains in the north to sunny beaches in the south. We’ve visited Italy a few times with our kids and love it!

Think of Italy as a giant, living museum. Big cities like Rome, Venice, Florence, and Milan are filled with history and culture.

Speaking of culture, Italians really love their traditions but are also all about new stuff. They’re super proud of their heritage, which you can see in their festivals, art, and everyday life.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her son eating gelato in Florence Italy. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung of Marcie in Mommyland
I highly recommend at least one gelato per day in Italy! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

And the food! Italian food is famous all over the world. From pizza and pasta to yummy gelato, every bite tells a story about Italy’s different regions and their rich farming.

Italy also has lots of historical places that show how old and interesting it is. You’ve got the ancient ruins in Rome, pretty mosaics in Ravenna, the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the huge St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

So, Italy’s basically a dream place to visit. With its amazing culture, history, food, and landscapes, it’s like an adventure through time you won’t forget.

Whether you’re checking out a busy city or wandering through old ruins, Italy’s got tons of cool stuff to discover.

Family-Friendly Aspects of Italy

When it comes to family-friendly destinations, Italy ranks high on the list. It’s not just the warm, welcoming nature of the Italians that makes it perfect for families, but also the variety of experiences that cater to all ages.

Things to do in Italy with Kids

Italy’s major cities are packed with historical attractions that can spark any child’s imagination.

Picture your family standing in Rome’s mighty Colosseum, floating through Venice’s canals, or gazing at the stunning artwork in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery.

For a touch of adventure, the beaches of Sardinia or the hiking trails in the Dolomites are excellent choices.

Image of two boys play fighting as they are dressed as gladiators in Rome
My kids learned SO many Roman gladiator battle techniques. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

My kids really loved doing the Rome Gladiator School where they learned the history of Roman soldiers and got to fight each other! Check out my full list of things to do with kids in Venice, Florence, and Rome!

Italian Food Scene

Italian food is a huge hit with kids. From pizza and pasta to gelato, the local cuisine is sure to keep your little ones delighted. Many Italian restaurants are family-friendly, with kid-friendly menus and welcoming atmospheres.

Safety in Italy

As for safety, Italy is generally a safe country to visit. Like any other travel destination, it’s important to follow general safety guidelines, especially in crowded tourist areas.

Where to Stay in Italy with Kids

Accommodation options are plentiful and cater to all budgets. From family suites in luxury hotels to budget-friendly apartments and agriturismo (farm-stay) experiences, you’re sure to find something that suits your family’s needs.

Here are our top picks for kid-friendly places to stay in Rome, Florence, and Venice.

Public Transportation in Italy

Traveling around Italy is pretty simple. The country has a big train system that links all the big cities together.

Train-from-Venice-to-Florence-960x720.jpeg (1)
It’s really easy to get around Italy using trains. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

If you want to explore one city or a certain area, you can use buses and ferries. They’re handy for getting around.

If you’re with your family and want to go wherever you want, whenever you want, you can also rent a car. That way, you can drive yourself around and see Italy at your own pace.

Italian Culture

Italy is a great place for a family vacation, and not just because it has amazing things to see. The country is really welcoming and friendly. The food is super tasty, and it’s a safe place to visit.

There are lots of different places to stay, like hotels and guesthouses, so you can find something that fits your family. Plus, getting around Italy is easy with trains, buses, and even rental cars.

All of this makes Italy a perfect spot for families to have a fun and unforgettable trip together.

Overview of Spain

Spain is this amazing country on the Iberian Peninsula, full of different cultures, a long history, and really cool places. You can find everything from sunny beaches to snowy mountains, and green areas to dry plains. We’ve visited Spain a couple of times.

Find out the coolest things to do in Madrid with Kids according to top family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. Image of two boys playing in Madrid
My son and his friend had a blast exploring Madrid. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

Each part of Spain has its own special traditions and festivals. Think about the famous running of the bulls, flamenco dancing, or the human towers in Catalonia. Spanish people love to celebrate life, especially with their fun festivals and the tradition of taking a siesta.

Spanish food is known all over the world. Every region has its own tasty dishes, like Valencia’s seafood paella, Andalusia’s tapas, and the pintxos in the Basque Country.

Big cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Granada are filled with historical buildings and cool stuff to see. Madrid has a huge palace and museums, Barcelona has unique buildings by Gaudí, and Seville and Granada show Spain’s past with Moorish buildings.

There are also historical places like the Alhambra, the Mezquita of Cordoba, and the old Roman aqueduct in Segovia.

So, if you visit Spain, you’ll get to see different cultures, eat great food, and check out cool historical sites. It’s a place where you can have all kinds of fun adventures.

Family-Friendly Aspects of Spain

Spain is renowned for its family-friendly vibe, with its unique blend of captivating attractions, child-friendly dining options, safe environments, comfortable accommodations, and convenient transportation.

Things to do in Spain with Kids

Spain’s popular destinations offer an array of family-friendly experiences. Barcelona fascinates with its fairytale-like Park Güell and the awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia.

Image of two toddlers at Park Guell in Barcleona, Spain
Park Guell is such a cool place to visit in Barcelona with kids. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Madrid is a haven for young art enthusiasts with its famous art museums, while also offering attractions like the Madrid Zoo Aquarium and the amusement park, Parque de Atracciones.

The beaches of Costa del Sol and the Balearic Islands like Mallorca provide a relaxing seaside retreat for families.

Spanish Food Scene

The Spanish love kids and this is evident in the country’s cuisine. Spanish food is diverse and appealing to all ages, with delights like paella, tapas, churros, and the universal favorite, tortilla Española. Restaurants are usually welcoming to children, often providing kids’ menus.

Safety in Spain

In terms of safety, Spain maintains high safety standards. However, like any tourist destination, it’s important to stay vigilant, especially in crowded areas.

Where to Stay in Spain with Kids

Accommodation in Spain caters to families of all sizes and budgets. From spacious apartments in the cities to beachfront resorts and countryside villas, there’s a wide array of choices.

Many accommodations offer amenities like pools, kids’ clubs, and game rooms to keep the little ones entertained.

Here are our top picks for kid-friendly hotels in Madrid and Barcelona.

Public Transportation in Spain

Getting around Spain with your family is pretty easy. The country has a good system of trains, buses, and metros that can take you to lots of places.

If your family wants to go wherever you want, whenever you want, renting a car is a good idea. This gives you the freedom to travel on your own schedule and explore more.

Spanish Culture

Spain provides an inviting and enjoyable environment for families. Its combination of appealing attractions, delicious food, safe surroundings, family-centered accommodations, and efficient transport makes it an ideal destination for a family vacation.

Italy vs. Spain for a Family Vacation

Trying to decide between Italy and Spain for your family trip? Let’s look at their food, safety, places to stay, fun stuff to do, and how to get around.

Food

Kids usually love Italian food like pizza, pasta, and gelato. Spanish food is also great for families, with tapas, paella, and churros. Both countries have restaurants that are kid-friendly, so eating out is fun and easy.

Safety

Both Italy and Spain are pretty safe places for families. Just like in any busy tourist area, it’s good to keep an eye on your stuff and stay alert.

Where to Stay

In Italy, you can find fancy family suites, budget apartments, or cool farm stays. Spain has city apartments, beach resorts, and countryside villas. Many places in both countries have pools and play areas for kids.

Fun Stuff to See and Do

Italy’s big cities are full of old, historical places, while Spain has a mix of old and new attractions. Think about visiting the Colosseum in Rome or the Uffizi Gallery in Florence in Italy.

In Spain, you might like Park Güell in Barcelona or the Zoo Aquarium in Madrid. Both countries also have great beaches and parks for outdoor fun.

Getting Around

Getting around in both Italy and Spain is easy with trains, buses, and metros. If your family likes to go on your own adventures, you can rent a car in both places.

Choosing Italy or Spain: A Family Vacation Comparison

Pros of Italy

Italy has a lot going for it, especially if you’re into history, art, and delicious food. This country is packed with famous attractions like old buildings, cool museums, and beautiful art.

When it comes to food, Italy’s food markets are a must-visit. They’re full of tasty treats and are a fun way to try new things.

Italy isn’t just about cities and food, though. It’s also home to some amazing national parks and places like Lake Como, which are perfect for exploring nature.

Plus, Italy is one of those popular tourist destinations that’s really easy to get around. They’ve got trains and buses that go all over the place. And when it’s time to rest, there are plenty of hotels and guesthouses for families.

So, if your family enjoys exciting places, cool history, and awesome food, Italy is a great choice for your trip!

Image of a boy holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Here’s the classic photo op of the Leaning Tower of Pisa! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

Cons of Italy

Italy might cost a bit more than Spain, especially if you’re staying in big cities or eating out a lot. In tourist spots, people speak English, but it might be harder to find English speakers in the countryside.

Pros of Spain

Spain is a fantastic place to visit, especially if you like a mix of old and new sights. This country is famous for its beautiful beaches like those in the Canary Islands and Costa Brava, and it’s known for having a laid-back, fun atmosphere.

When you visit Spain, you’ll find it’s often less expensive than other places, which is great for your wallet.

Spain’s got some famous cities that are super fun to explore. Places like San Sebastian in Northern Spain and cities in Southern Spain are full of cool buildings and history.

Spanish cuisine is another big highlight. You’ve got to try the tapas and maybe even watch some flamenco dancing!

And just like Italy, Spain has awesome national parks for when you want to be in nature. Plus, getting around is easy with their public transport system, and there are lots of different hotels and guesthouses for families.

So, if your family loves beaches, yummy food, and a relaxed vibe, Spain is an amazing choice for a vacation.

Image of a boy in a boy in El Retiro Park in Madrid Spain
Madrid is a fun place to visit with kids! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

Cons of Spain

In the summer, Spain’s popular places can get really crowded. English is spoken in tourist areas, but knowing some Spanish can help, especially outside of big cities.

Both Italy and Spain are awesome for family trips, each with its own cool stuff. Think about what your family likes, your budget, and how comfortable you are with the language to decide where to go.

Visiting Italy or Spain FAQs

Which country offers more diverse attractions?

Both Spain and Italy are great for visiting, but they’re different. Italy is full of history with places like the Colosseum and Vatican City. You’ll find lots of museums and cool buildings, especially in Northern Italy.

Spain has awesome beaches like the Costa del Sol, mountains, and lively cities. Each part of Spain, like Southern Spain and the Canary Islands, is unique.

How about the food? Which country has a more family-friendly cuisine?

Italian food, with pasta and pizza, is usually loved by kids. Spanish cuisine, with tapas (small dishes you share), is fun for trying different things.

How easy is it to travel around within each country?

Both Italy and Spain have well-developed public transportation systems, including high-speed trains connecting major cities.

If you prefer driving, renting a car in either country is straightforward but bear in mind that some historical areas have restricted access for vehicles.

How do the costs compare?

Spain is often a bit cheaper than Italy for staying and eating. But, it depends on where you go and what you do.

How safe are Italy and Spain for families?

Both Italy and Spain are safe for families, just be careful in crowded spots. I had my phone stolen on a packed train in Rome. My aunt had her purse stolen as she walked the streets in Madrid.

Which is better for beach vacations?

Both Italy and Spain have fantastic coastlines. Spain’s Costa del Sol and Costa Brava, and the Balearic and Canary Islands, are famous for their beaches.

Italy also has beautiful beaches in regions like Sardinia, Sicily, and the Amalfi Coast. Spain tends to be more popular for beach holidays due to a wider range of choices and generally warmer water temperatures.

Which country is better for history and art lovers?

Both Italy and Spain have a rich history and vibrant arts scene. Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance, hosts many world-class museums, ancient Roman sites, and historical landmarks. Spain is home to masterpieces by artists like Gaudi, Velázquez, and Picasso, and offers a rich mix of Moorish, Roman, and Gothic architecture.

Are there ski resorts in Spain or Italy?

Yes, there are ski resorts in both Spain and Italy! In Spain, you can find them in the mountains like the Pyrenees. In Italy, places like the Alps and the Dolomites have great ski resorts. So, if you love skiing, both countries have cool spots for that.

How can I save money in Italy or Spain?

To save money in Italy or Spain, you can do a few things. Try eating at local spots instead of touristy restaurants, and use public transportation instead of taxis. Also, visiting less famous places can be cheaper.

Are there any hidden gems in Spain or Italy?

In Spain, a hidden gem is the town of Albarracín. It’s in the mountains and has beautiful old buildings and narrow streets. Another one is Setenil de las Bodegas, where houses are built right into the rocks!

In Italy, there’s a small town called Alberobello in the south. It’s known for its unique, cone-shaped houses called trulli. Another hidden gem is the Cinque Terre village of Corniglia. It’s less crowded than the other villages and has stunning views of the sea.

These places aren’t as famous as big cities, but they’re super interesting and beautiful. They’re great for seeing a different side of Spain and Italy.

What are some charming small towns in Spain or Italy?

For charming small towns, both countries are full of them! In Spain, you might love places like Ronda or Cadaqués. In Italy, towns like Positano or Siena are really pretty and have a unique feel. These towns are perfect for exploring, taking pictures, and enjoying a more relaxed vibe.

So, Should You Visit Italy or Spain?

Personally, my family prefers Italy, but a lot of my friends prefer Spain. It really depends on the type of experience you’re looking for.

These two countries are great for history lovers and food lovers. Plus, they both offer a lot of activities for families and cool day trips.

You really won’t go wrong, no matter which one you pick!

Looking for more Spain and Italy content? Check out How to Plan a Trip to Italy: Step-by-Step Guide, Navigating Italy with Kids: 13 Essential Tips for a Stress-Free Vacation, How to Spend 10 Days in Italy with Kids, How to Plan a Trip to Spain: Step-by-Step Guide, Hidden Gems in Spain You Won’t Want to Miss, and 10 Marvelous Madrid Travel Tips for First-Timers!

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