Spain and Portugal are among the most popular tourist destinations. In fact, Spain is the second most visited country in Europe. The two nations are charming, whether you’re a first-time or just a regular visitor, there is much to explore and relish. Both nations are in the Schengen area, meaning you can travel easily between them.
The Iberian nations have a rich cultural heritage evident in their food, stunning cathedrals, and cuisines. The diverse culture lets you experience a treasure trove of sites, such as the Moorish palaces of Andalusia, the Gothic cathedrals of Barcelona, and the Belem Tower in Lisbon.
Some dishes you can take on your journey are tapas, paella, sangria, and seafood in both nations. Football is popular with some of the football clubs in Catalonia, Porto, and Madrid, attracting a fan base across the globe. Here are the top attractions you should visit in each country.
Despite being smaller than Spain, the country has a unique history of being among the first global maritime powers to expand trade to Africa through India. As a result of the trade, they have several UNESCO World Heritage sites. Fortunately, it is less crowded than in Spain, and over 60% of the population can speak English at a conversational level. It is more affordable and has some of the most beautiful scenery. Some of the places you should visit next are:
This is the southernmost region of Portugal, whose capital is Faro. Algarve is known for its stunning beaches, regarded as some of the most beautiful in Europe, such as Praia da Marinha, Praia da Rocha, and Benagil Cave. The coastline is dotted with dramatic cliffs that offer stunning ocean views.
While visiting Faro, you can enjoy a wide range of watersports, such as surfing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. There are also boat tours to secluded beaches. Get a full taste of the region’s history and culture by visiting historical villages such as Lagos, Silves, and Tavira to relish their food, such as cataplana (a seafood stew), frango assado (roast chicken), and vinho verde (green wine).
Sintra is a magical place that has sparked legends due to its beauty. First, the city is set in a beautiful mountain setting with lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. Then, the beautiful setting is littered with fairy tale castles such as Pena Palace, the Quinta da Regaleira, and the Moorish Castle that will capture your imagination.
Forget Disney World; these are the real castles without the princess. You can easily walk through the city that served as the summer residence for the Portuguese royalty.
Going a bit offshore from the Atlantic coast of Portugal are the nine volcanic islands that will take you to heaven. The insular paradise is filled with many geological features such as Calderais, hot springs, sea caves, and black sandy beaches caused by the volcanic activity in the area.
The Azores are great due to the natural features and the wildlife. They are particularly good for watching different species of whales, such as sperm whales, humpback whales, and blue whales. Finally, you can enjoy a unique blend of Azorean food, music, and dance.
Spain has more tourist attractions than Portugal, and it also has better food. You can enjoy the best of Spain at:
Costa del Sol
Spain is famed for its beaches, and Costa Del Sol is the crème de la crème of Spanish beaches in the Mediterranean climate. The beaches feature golden sand and clear blue waters. It has a Mediterranean climate with warm, sunny summers and mild winters. That makes it suitable to visit all year round.
There is a lot to do in Costa Del Sol. You can visit Moorish castles in Alcazaba of Málaga while enjoying the vibrant nightlife scene, with bars and clubs to suit all tastes. You can also visit the Picasso Museum in Málaga to view the works of Picasso.
To date, Córdoba was one of the first multicultural cities with Muslims, Jews, and Christians living harmoniously. Due to this, one of its most iconic sites is a Mosque-Cathedral (Mezquita), a unique hybrid of mosque and cathedral with stunning architecture. You can also visit Juderia, the former Jewish quarter of Córdoba, with narrow streets and whitewashed buildings.
Another important attraction in the city is the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a Moorish fortress converted into a royal palace by the Christian kings of Spain. The city is famous for its patios; yearly, they are open to the public during festivals.
Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
As said earlier, Spain is massive and has territories in the Atlantic, such as the Canary Islands. Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and has warm weather all year round. It features diverse physical features such as forests, deserts, ravines, beaches, and valleys.
Tenerife is popular with cyclists in Europe and has some of the most beautiful beaches with golden sand, blue waters, and cliffs. It also has the highest point in Spain, Mount Teide. You can visit Mount Teide for hiking and camping. Check out wildlife at the Canary Islands National Park and play golf at over 10 golf courses.
Enjoy the Mediterranean climate and food as you explore beautiful castles and monuments in Spain and Portugal. On your visit, there are many activities to do, including sightseeing, wildlife tours, and sports. It is easy to travel across both nations to see more than one of the destinations at once. But one thing I can promise you is everything will be breathtaking.