Spain or Italy for first-timers?

Jan 27th, 2018, 10:18 AM
  #1  
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Spain or Italy for first-timers?

Hello,

I was told to start a new thread about a dilemma I am having. Our family spent three weeks last summer driving through France (it was our first time in Europe) and we had initially started planning for three weeks in Italy for this summer. However, my mom, who lives in Lyon, said we should go to Spain instead (it will be our first time in both countries).

According to her, with three weeks, we would have enough time to see Madrid, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Valencia and Barcelona, with time at the beach, or even include some parts of the north and eliminate one or two of the places just mentioned.

I have no problem planning an alternate trip as I do love doing this.

So, a driving/train three week vacation in Spain or Italy for first timers?

Thanks
sarasjourneys is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 10:39 AM
  #2  
kja
 
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Either could be wonderful, depending on when and where you would go, as temperatures in Andalusia and southern Italy can be uncomfortably high in parts of summer. From your other post, I take it you are looking at May? if so, either country should be a great choice.

Personally, I wouldn't try to visit ALL of the places you list in Spain in 3 weeks, but that would depend on what, exactly, you want to see and experience.

You would do well to go to your local library or bookstore and spend some time with the guide books that include high quality pictures of these countries. And remember -- only YOU can decide which country to visit on this trip!

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 10:45 AM
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Avoid renting a car while in the larger cities, it is more of a burden. The train and bus system in Spain is excellent and reliable.

We have spent considerable time Spain and have visited Italy three times. Each has their own wonderful charms. Spain is more like five or six different countries. While everyone speaks Castilian, there are many regional and unrelated languages and different histories and architecture. Italy I think is more beautiful and I like the various regional cuisines more. Both countries have very friendly and congenial people.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 10:54 AM
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Thanks kja,

But if you had to choose one itnerary as your first trip, would you choose:

Italy - Rome, Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Lecce, Bologna and Venice

or

Spain - Madrid & Toledo, Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Valencia, San Sebastian and Oviedo
sarasjourneys is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 11:01 AM
  #5  
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Also, thanks IMDonehere as well.

Shall I add Croatia to the mix?
sarasjourneys is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 11:02 AM
  #6  
kja
 
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Neither -- both are too rushed for my tastes. YMMV.
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Jan 27th, 2018, 11:36 AM
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Both are too rushed for my tastes, too. I've been to Spain about 6 times and Italy at least 20, but never rushed around, even on my first trips, just concentrated on small areas.

Croatia is a whole different animal.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 11:38 AM
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If I made each trip less rushed, which country would you visit first?
sarasjourneys is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 11:52 AM
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I agree with your mother - go to Spain but skip Oviedo. Asuume your trip is in summer when Spain is crowded but Italy is unbearable.
Bedar is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 12:31 PM
  #10  
kja
 
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I went to Italy first because I wanted to visit the Uffizi, Bargello, and Duomo, all in Florence. How does that help you? Really, it depends on what YOU want to see and experience.
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Jan 27th, 2018, 12:49 PM
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We visited Spain and Italy in 2016, and we enjoyed our time in Spain more than Italy. It does depend on what you like to see and do. However our impression of Spain was that it was a little more laid back and fun, and you definitely got more for your money than in Italy. We had 2 weeks in Spain and spent it in Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid with a day trip to Toledo. We didn’t drive though, we took the trains. We enjoyed Spain so much we are returning this year to visit Andalusia.

With 3 weeks in Spain, I am not sure you will get to see all the destinations you have listed without having to move on quickly from one destination to another. I suggest you choose the places that you are interested in seeing the most, as hopefully you will have an opportunity to return another time.
Andee01 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 12:58 PM
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I gravitate to Italy because I speak Italian, and I like the terrain there better than I do the terrain in Spain, where my language skills aren't all that good. I also prefer Italian food (though Spain isn't exactly culinarily inept).

How does that help you? It doesn't. Make up your own mind.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 01:30 PM
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We have been on 2 trips to Italy and one trip to Spain. All trips were three weeks. For Spain we went to Madrid, Toledo Cordoba
Seville Granada and Barcelona. Italy we did Venice,Florence,Bologna Rome Pisa and second trip was Naples, Amalfi coast Calabria and Puglia.
We would pick Italy over Spain. We liked Spain but LOVED Italy. The food, culture sites. Everything about Italy to us was better. But, that's us.
You might find the opposite to be true. Either way, which ever you pick you won't regret it.
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Jan 27th, 2018, 01:52 PM
  #14  
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Everyone here is so helpful. So many varied opinions and I do thank all of you so much.

​​​​​​Because we are travelling in May/June we think we will travel to Spain as the temperatures are much more moderate than in July, a month we will most probably have to travel in next year and beyond.
sarasjourneys is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 04:14 PM
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And you think July in Italy is going to be cooler ??
Gwendolynn is online now  
Jan 27th, 2018, 04:19 PM
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Actually, Seville and the whole of Andalucia can reach 40 C or higher in July but most of Italy is never that high on a consistent basis.

So yes, Italy is not as hot in July and makes travelling much easier.
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Jan 27th, 2018, 06:38 PM
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July 2017 in Italy broke heat records with most of the month in the mid-90s and quite a few days at 100 plus. All over (except high up in the mountains) Not sure where one is getting the idea Italy is not as hot - it is brutally hot and with the humidity, hard to breathe in that heat.

While last July did break temperature records for the high heat, July is usually pure misery weather-wise unless hanging around the seaside
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Jan 27th, 2018, 10:47 PM
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Italy can be extremely hot but southern Spain can make Italy seem cool. I'm not saying Italy is cool but southern Spain is extra hot. I personally have no problem with the heat and wouldn't let it stop me. I spent weeks in southern Spain July/August 2016 and didn't melt.

To the OP if you want a useful opinion you would need to fill us in on a few things.

Why? Why are you traveling? What? What interests you? Budget? Requirements? Things you must have? Hard limits? Things you must avoid.

We can throw out a three week schedule but it will be what we're interested in
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 11:33 PM
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Just wondering why your mom suggested Spain. Perhaps she knows your preferences and feels it’s a better fit for you.
natylou is offline  
Jan 29th, 2018, 07:52 AM
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My mom, who has been to both many times, said that we would get more out of Spain than Italy for first-timers to both countries. While Italy is gorgeous, Spain offers. to her, a more raw European experience as nothing really compares to Cordoba, Granada, Cadiz and Toledo in the south, as well as San Sebastian and the natural beauty of the north. As well, Madrid is a fantastic city and deserves time for its museums, parks and overall great vibe.

It is hard to define what we want out of this vacation, but we do enjoy architecture, art, a Mediterranean feel, good food and local restaurants, old towns with narrow, cobblestone alleys, and time at the beach. I am sure most people who go to Italy or Spain love these factors as well.
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