I can’t stop thinking about the incredible lifestyle I experienced when I traveled to Spain and Greece, the Southern European gems. Both places have a special place in my heart, their gastronomy, the people, the culture, the joy you can feel in every corner, the deep blue sky, and the beautiful golden sun.

But when it comes to countries that are in many ways similar, it can be hard to choose between the two for your holidays. So discover with me the differences between these two popular Mediterranean hotspots and enjoy the cultural aspects of a Latin and a Hellenic country.

Hi, I’m Timon!

I’ve experienced the heartbeat of Spain firsthand. Over the last five years, I’ve immersed myself in the dynamic cities of Spain, truly living the Spanish way. My insights into this beautiful country are rooted in genuine experience.

Greece vs Spain: First Impressions

Greece vs Spain Travel Comparison

Greece felt like another world. I would compare it to Eastern European countries such as Romania or Albania: busy streets, a free-spirited approach to traffic rules, horns sounding every second, and people crossing the streets as if they were walking on a sidewalk.

It also felt as if the buildings were allowed to age as if you don’t use aging creams because you want to feel all the years you’ve lived untouched by time. Most of the walls showed marks of the years. Those walls were speaking history. Who knows how many things they’ve seen during the centuries? But that will never overshadow the beauty of this country, where you find the friendliest of people, the brightest sunshine, and the healthiest and freshest Mediterranean food.

In Spain, I had different yet similar feelings. The feeling of being sun-kissed and meeting very friendly and lively people who smiled at you, just like in Greece. Strolling around, feeling the joy of the folk, enjoying the company of family members and friends. It felt right away the best place to move with my family. A tapa, a cerveza, dinner, breakfast, life on the streets. Art and incredible architecture in every corner. Well-dressed, beautiful people who looked like they were coming out of a catwalk. 

Greece: Islands & History

The village of Oia at dusk, on the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece

Stepping foot in Greece was like a time travel experience. The stunning architecture and the colossus with the beautiful white and blue colors made the view special, allowing you to daydream. It was a great experience, thinking about how many pieces of our culture actually started here and developed over time until our days. I felt a deep connection with this land that helped shape many aspects of our society, from philosophy to politics. The curiosity to know how it really was in those old times makes you eager to discover more about Greece’s history, which is a part of ours too.

Spain: Cultures & Colors

Bird view on Tibidabo church on mountain in Barcelona

Arriving in Spain was a vibrant experience. While Spain is often associated with sunshine, good food, and lifestyle, it also has an incredible number of well-preserved cultural heritage influenced by the Romans, Phoenicians, Arabs, and others. All this history has played a role in shaping modern Spanish culture and gastronomy.

I was truly impressed by the art I encountered when I set foot in Spain. Art in people’s outfits, the architecture of buildings, the presentation of dishes – it seemed to be everywhere. Simply sitting outdoors, having a drink while people passed by, felt like poetry in motion.

Greece vs Spain: Natural Wonders

Greece is a country with many tourist attractions: places rich in history, enchanting islands, and paradisiacal beaches. I would divide the country into two parts: the mainland and the islands. The mainland is perfect for history lovers and ideal for cultural trips, while the islands are perfect for summer vacations or parties in Mykonos. It’s like living the typical European summer dream you see in movies.

Spain is equally incredible. From the Basque Country to the Arabian traditions of Andalusia, it’s a country full of diversity. Just like Greece, I would divide Spain into different parts, each one for a different type of trip.

  • Mainland: This encompasses the entire Iberian Peninsula.
  • Islands: The Canary Islands in the Atlantic and the Balearic Islands are known for their ideal Mediterranean climate, featuring mild winters and warm summers.
  • Atlantic: Characterized by long beaches, surf spots, and cold waters in provinces like Huelva, Cádiz, and northern Spain.
  • Mountains: The majestic Pyrenees for snowy experiences in Spain, and there’s also the province of Granada.

Greece: Blue & White Landscapes

Blue church dome in Santorini, Greece

The ancient ruins were the most magnificent things I’ve ever seen. You feel so small, and it humbles you to be in front of such imposing buildings with so much history to tell that you can’t even imagine.

The blue skies, without a cloud, provide such peace of mind, paired with the white color of the houses. It’s a peaceful combination. Maybe that’s why I felt so relaxed.

I found it incredible to see so many different sceneries in one single country. The stunning cliffs of some of the islands brought me back to places such as Ireland and Portugal.

Spain: Coast & Mountains

Sagunto beach in Valencia in sunny day in Spain

On my first day in Spain, everything was incredible. I thought I should take the Spanish routine in order to be part of this culture.

Late lunches and dinners, a lot of outdoor life, and the beautiful sweet sound of the Spanish language. Spain became my home right after visiting it, so it’s a totally different experience in terms of feelings and sensations.

The various landscapes make this country perfect for every type of trip. The stunning coastline, the fresh air of the mountains, the beaches of the island, and the vibrant culture of the southern lands are just some of Spain’s wonders.

Greece vs Spain: Culinary Journeys

When you think of Spain and Greece, aside from sunshine and hospitality, you may think of fiestas and siestas – but especially delicious, healthy Mediterranean food. From tapas to churros, from moussaka to keftades, the excellent Spanish and Greek cuisines offer an incredibly high quality and diversity of real ingredients to choose from.

Both countries, rich in history, allow you to taste the traces of past cultures that have been in the territory and left something here and there.

I remember the first time I tried the Greek ground beef sauce for pasta and realized it had cinnamon. It’s a great combination I would never have thought would work in such a harmonious way. Or the lamb dishes that resemble the Arab world.

I discovered that the culinary experience in Spain goes beyond paella and tortilla de patatas. In particular, I loved Mallorcan cuisine. Recipes that speak Mallorcan beaches, conquests, customs, and its people during the time. The incredible local ingredients.

Tomatoes, peppers – especially white peppers, artichokes, aubergines, garlic, and onions are elements that can never be missing. Sobrasada, coca de trampó, and my favorite Tumbet, the Spanish ratatouille, a dish of vegetables fried in olive oil, layered and topped with tomato sauce.

Greece: Divine Cuisine

Souvlaki or kebab, meat skewer with toasted bread and fresh vegetable

Each bite was an explosion of flavors in my mouth. I discovered combinations and spices I didn’t know existed in Mediterranean cuisine. But the best part isn’t the taste of the food, but the people you eat it with and the amazing atmosphere you feel.

Sitting outdoors, eating grilled octopus with a side of creamy tzatziki while hearing the sound of Greek languages made it even more romantic, emphasizing the flavors of Greek dishes. Traveling to Greece is a 360-degree experience where you can explore historical places, swim in clear waters, and taste the influences of different cultures over the years.

Spain: Spices & Flavors

Delicious spanish dinner covered on the table for dinner

As you might know, Spanish cuisine isn’t all about paella and tortilla de patatas. Spain is famous for being the first to introduce certain ingredients from the Americas in the early 16th century, such as tomatoes, potatoes, maize, or cocoa, which are now commonly used throughout Europe. And thank goodness they did; it completely changed European gastronomy, shaping the modern Mediterranean diet.

What I like the most are the tapas. Not the dishes, which can be very simple yet tasty, but the concept and culture of sharing, tasting, daring, teasing, binging, and, above all, having fun together. And, of course, all accompanied by a refreshing sangria that, when made just right, tastes like a sip of summer with its fresh fruits.

Every region of Spain, every family, and every chef has developed its own recipes. This is why the best way to dive into Spanish gastronomy is to try everything everywhere.

Greece vs Spain: Nightlife

Greek nightlife has many facets: relaxation in the bars of luxury hotels and vintage clubs on the islands, engaging conversations with inexpensive wine in taverns under the moonlight that illuminates the sea, and picturesque marinas. Dancing and playing in the coastal clubs on the sandy shores provide venues that never run out, with cocktails mixed and served from sunset to dawn.

In contrast, Spanish nightlife is absolutely unparalleled. If you seek nightlife without limits, especially when you spend your nights in clubs, then the Spanish coasts and islands are your ideal destination. Whether it’s summer or winter, warm or cool, Spanish nightlife never rests.

Typically, the evening begins with a leisurely stroll after an afternoon drink. This is followed by dinner at a restaurant and culminates in traditional Spanish-style dancing until your feet can’t bear any more. Even when everything closes, the festivities continue on the beach until sunrise or with an early breakfast at someone’s home.

Greece: Stars & Festivities

Agios Nikolaos. Agios Nikolaos is a picturesque town in the eastern part of the island Crete built on northwest side of the peaceful bay of Mirabello. Lake Vouliagmeni, Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece

The nightlife routine in Greece usually starts with relaxed conversations in restaurants by the beach, with the sound of waves in the background. I still can picture those moments, having dinner in the moonlight, fresh ingredients, fresh seafood, local wines, and that Greek atmosphere in the air. The island life, with long walks on the beach or dancing in open-air discos and the sea breeze at dawn when returning home.

A paradise where rest and nightlife combine to perfection. It’s a magnificent place where you can find the calm needed to disconnect from the routine without neglecting the party and the fun.

Spain: Flamenco & Fiestas

Rays of traffic lights on Gran via street, main shopping street in Madrid at night. Spain, Europe.

In Spain, nightlife is my favorite, it’s pure energy. Long dinners, tapas, and flamenco are synonymous with Spain and always will be. Flamenco shows are everywhere in Spain, but the most traditional and authentic ones can be found in Andalucia.

The Spanish “movida” culture means “tardeos” (the Spanish concept of going out and celebrating on a Saturday afternoon, after lunch, before dinner) and very late parties that usually end at dawn, with tortillas and other snacks. Spain is dancing in clubs in Ibiza and, at the same time, participating in traditional cultural festivities like the Feria de Abril in Seville.

Greece Vs Spain: History & Architecture

Greece is a must-visit destination for art, history, and archaeology lovers. From Athens to the sanctuary of Delos in the Cyclades, from Crete to Thessaloniki, the ancient and less ancient sites are amazing sights for the eyes and the soul.

It’s a beautiful experience to walk among the temples of Delphi, imagining what it was like over two thousand years ago. While many tourists visit the Acropolis, Delphi, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Corinth, and Olympia, there is much more to explore in Greece, like Corfu or Messene and Bassae in the Peloponnese.

Spain’s cultural side offers a different experience. It’s about learning its art and architecture, experiencing its traditions, discovering its customs, savoring its cuisine, and tasting its wines. It involves reading the pages of the books created by its writers while walking through the places that inspired them. Witnessing how Andalusia resembles Arab countries and how the north echoes Gothic France makes Spain truly unique.

Greece: Ancient Ruins & Legends

Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Every journey to Greece is a journey to the cradle of Western civilization. It’s synonymous with a walk through classical history and culture. Its archaeological monuments are full of myths and legends, which are still part of our history today. It’s something that cannot be explained. It’s a real journey back in time. I couldn’t stop thinking that people like Socrates or Aristotle have walked the same streets where I was walking. And that in these streets, decisions were taken that affect us all today. That trip made me realize how ancient Greece’s stories still matter today in our modern world. 

Spain: Structures & Culture

Park Güell in Barcelona Spain

Spain is not only “movida,” beaches, discos, and fun at all hours of the day and night: this beautiful country is also home to many museums, nature, pieces of art, and centuries-old traditions that still live on in the hearts and souls of Spaniards.

Nature is also fascinating, and one of my favorite experiences was definitely snorkeling in Mallorca. Being able to see marine life while in Europe has a very ‘tropical’ feeling that nobody can resist.

But the best thing about Spain is its diversity. The many cultures that left a piece here and there. So different from North to South,  Spain can simultaneously have a gothic style like Burgos Cathedral and the Arab-Muslim style of La Mezquita in Córdoba. But also medieval architecture found in Ibiza Town and the colorful Park Güell with mosaics and eccentric structures. Many cultures have left their mark, making Spain a unique place to visit.

Greece vs Spain: Unique Experiences

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Instead of making comparisons, I’d like you to know the incredible things that both countries have to offer. Obviously, I can’t be biased because Spain has become my home, and I have a different kind of affection for it.

Greece’s beauty lies in its ancient history. To find yourself in a place like the Acropolis of Athens is a dream come true. Seeing live places named after mythological stories is electrifying. The islands are for relaxation, the day-to-day life of the locals, and the food made with fresh and healthy ingredients. This is what I think of when I think about Greece, a small table in a restaurant on an old street with a sea view. A moussaka and a local red wine.

In Spain, life isn’t dictated by the clock or solely working to enjoy oneself. It’s about witnessing the blend of numerous cultures, creating something unparalleled. Every month, there seems to be a festival to attend, whether it’s a Spanish wine festival, a neighborhood celebration, or a flamenco event. The country pulses with life, offering varied microclimates from one region to the next. And there’s a certain charm in the sensual accent when Spaniards speak English, even if not entirely fluently.

Greece vs Spain: Final Thoughts

Colomares castle in Benalmadena, Spain

After remembering the good times in Spain and Greece, I can only say that I would go there again to experience it all over again. We all have a favorite place, and whether we like a trip or not is subjective. That’s why I encourage everyone to leave their comfort zone, travel, experience new cultures, and find their place in the world. You learn to appreciate things more and open your mind.

Spain has stolen my heart and became my home. I discovered that its culture is now a part of mine, and it all happened because I allowed myself to live in the moment.

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