- Italy boasts a rich history, cultural landmarks like the Colosseum and the Florence Cathedral, while Greece is known for its ancient ruins and islands.
- Greek beaches are abundant, with 581 Blue Flag beaches and vibrant nightlife, while Italy offers crystal-clear waters and limestone cliffs.
- Greece's ancient history is evident in landmarks like the Acropolis, while Italy's architecture shines through in its 55 UNESCO sites.
- Nightlife is vibrant in Italy, but Greece's islands offer a younger crowd and cheaper party scene.
Planning to go on vacation takes a lot of thought, consideration, and, well, planning. Value for money, active or relaxing, and romantic or family-friendly are just some things to consider, especially when considering the destination.
So, what happens when there are two fantastic destinations with so much to offer? Like, let's say, Italy and Greece? Two fairy-tale Mediterranean locations, both offering unique and wonderful experiences.
Both Greece and Italy are grand, mythological, and awe-inspiring; while similar, they are each unique. Knowing how to plan a trip to Greece and Italy will be paramount when planning to visit either.
Deciding is bound to be a tough choice. We might already have a favorite out of the two, but let's dive into the age-old debate of Italy vs Greece and see which is best for you!
Breakdown of Italy
Italy is a country in southern Europe famous for its rich history, culture, and cuisine.
The country has numerous world-renowned landmarks and attractions, from ancient Roman ruins to Renaissance art and architecture.
Its scenic landscapes, Mediterranean climate, and diverse regional cultures make it a popular destination for travelers.
Top Tip: Pack less than you think you will need for Italy because you will probably do some shopping.
Italian culture is renowned for its artistic and culinary heritage, not to mention the warm and expressive people.
Italy has produced some of the world's greatest artists, musicians, writers, and designers, including Dante, Verdi, and Armani.
Italians are also known for their love of family, religion, and community, strongly emphasizing hospitality and socializing, making Italy with kids a smooth sail.
Italian cuisine is one of the most popular and diverse in the world. Its fresh, high-quality ingredients, simple yet flavorful cooking techniques and regional specialties characterize it.
It’s more than just your typical pizza, pasta, risotto, and antipasti that you will find in Italy. Plus, each region has culinary traditions and specialities.
The Italian approach to food is centered around quality, simplicity, and seasonality, emphasizing fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
Italian cuisine is enjoyed worldwide and testament to the country's culinary creativity and passion for good food.
Breakdown of Greece
Greece is also a country in southeastern Europe, known for its ancient history, culture, and stunning Mediterranean landscapes.
The birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and the Olympic Games, Greece has a rich cultural heritage and is home to numerous ancient ruins and landmarks, as well as picturesque islands and beaches.
Top Tip: Learn some useful Greek words and phrases for your trip to Greece.
Greek culture is deeply rooted in its ancient past, with a legacy of art, literature, philosophy, and mythology. The country’s cultural achievements have had a profound impact on the world.
The Greeks are renowned for their hospitality and warm, friendly nature and place a high value on family and community. Music, dance, and festivals are also integral to Greek culture.
Greek cuisine is a vibrant and flavorful Mediterranean diet featuring fresh ingredients and simple preparations. The foundation of Greek cuisine is olive oil, which is used for cooking and seasoning many dishes.
Popular Greek dishes include moussaka, souvlaki, and spanakopita. Seafood is also a staple of Greek cuisine, with grilled octopus and sardines being popular options.
And the best part, Greek desserts, such as baklava and loukoumades, are sweet, sticky, and delicious, making the perfect end to a Greek meal. Food in Greece does not disappoint.
Italy or Greece? Things to Do
Choosing whether to go to Italy or Greece depends on what type of vacation you are looking for. Both these countries are brimming with history, have jaw-dropping scenery (see Italian Alps), and have food for the soul.
Let's compare some top reasons for visiting either country, and see which one fares the best.
Both Italy and Greece have gorgeous beaches. Finding sun, sand, and sea is a shore thing when visiting this part of Europe.
Italy has crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches, and limestone cliffs. Indeed, some of the best beaches in the world can be found in Italy, specifically in the Italian cities of Sicily, Calabria, and Sardinia. Here are three of the best Italian beaches:
- Cala Mariolu, Sardinia
- Positano, Amalfi Coast
- Spiaggia dei Conigli, Lampedusa in southern Italy.
Greece has thousands of beaches too, thanks to its many islands and long coastline. From silky white sand to black sand beaches and even red sand beaches, you can visit Greece for the ultimate island-hopping adventure.
Generally, the Mediterranean sea is pleasant to swim in and has warmer water and small waves.
But, according to popular democratic opinion, there is no better place to lounge like a Greek god than on a Greek beach in the Ionian or Aegean Sea.
Greece has 581 Blue Flag beaches and is second only to Spain. So if it's a beach holiday you want, Greece and its natural attractions is your destination.
Top Tip: Check out the thirty best beaches in Greece.
Italy and Greece are historical, cultural, and even architectural contenders for sightseeing. It's no wonder, given their histories.
The country is packed to its borders with historical monuments that date back to the Roman Empire, amazing architecture, and cultural attractions.
In fact, Italy has 55 UNESCO sites, which are not even all of the country's great marvels. Here are five of Italy's UNESCO sites:
- The Colosseum, Rome
- Historic Centre of Florence
- Cinque Terre.
- The Trulli of Alberobello
Greece, too, is a sightseeing marvel. But, compared to Italy, it only has 18 UNESCO sites. This does not mean, however, that the country lacks history, not by any means, and there are many famous Greek landmarks dating back to ancient Greece:
- The Ancient Agora of Athens
- Panathenaic Stadium
- Tower of Winds
- Mount Lycabettus
- The New Acropolis Museum
So who wins this round, Greece or Italy? The truth is that Italy has the most to offer when it comes to architecture, historical sites, and landmarks. Italy also has luxury shops to shop in, and even more operas to listen to, if that’s your thing.
This all being said, Greece would be the best option if the planned itinerary prioritizes more outdoor adventures and activities.
Top Tip: Take a Private Mythology Tour of the Acropolis and Acropolis museum to soak up Greece’s ancient history.
While Italy may have the most to offer regarding social and cultural entertainment, parties are more abundant in Greece. Italy’s party scene is great and vibrant, but the nightlife is more suited for locals.
In Greece, the islands, especially, have a younger crowd, and clubs tend to cater to tourists. Greece is also a better party destination as it is cheaper than Italy, meaning you won't pay as much for entrance fees and drinks.
Why Not Both?
Still trying to decide between Greece or Italy? No one can blame you. A great idea would be to visit both. That will undoubtedly be a Mediterranean vacation to remember.
Remember, though, that visiting both depends on the luxury of time. One should spend at least ten days in Greece to get the whole experience. The same applies to Italy.
Pro tip: follow our guide to how many days you need in Italy to ensure a fulfilling stay.
A one-week trip to Greece and then Italy would be ideal. This would take a lot of careful planning, though. It is also wise to note how to go from Italy to Greece and vice versa.
- Take the Ferry: There are several different ferries that you can take from Italy to Greece. These, however, can take up to 21 hours.
- Take the Train: There are train routes from Italy through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and then Greece. This will also take a long time and can be costly, but it is a great way to see more other countries on your travels.
- Take a Plane: The quickest and easiest way to get from Italy to Greece is to fly. This is also sometimes even the cheapest way.
This ultimate solution means you can have pizzas and gyros, shop til you drop, swim in the sea, explore incredible historical sites, and then party on.
3 Top Attractions in Italy and Greece
Italy has many popular tourist attractions. Here are the three most iconic and popular Italy attractions:
- The Colosseum in Rome: This ancient amphitheater is one of the most famous landmarks in the world and a must-see for visitors to Italy.
- The canals of Venice: A picturesque city built on water, Venice is famous for its canals and gondola rides, making it a romantic and charming destination.
- The Florence Cathedral: The Duomo in Florence is one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy, with its distinctive red-tiled dome dominating the city's skyline.
Greece has many wonderful tourist attractions that showcase its ancient history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture. Here are three top attractions in Greece both in its major cities and outside:
- Acropolis of Athens: The ancient citadel of Athens, with its iconic Parthenon temple and other historical monuments, is one of the most important landmarks in Greece and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Meteora Monasteries: Located in central Greece, this UNESCO World Heritage Site features six historic monasteries perched atop towering rock formations, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
- Mykonos: This cosmopolitan island in the Cyclades is renowned for its vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches, and charming villages, making it a popular destination for party-goers and travelers seeking relaxation. Greek islands is where it's at!
Highlights of Italy and Greece:
Italy is a beautiful country with a rich history, stunning landscapes, and delicious cuisine. Here are three highlights of Italy that make it such a popular destination for travelers:
- Art and Architecture: Italy is home to some of the world's most famous art and architecture.
- Food and Wine: Italy is renowned for its delicious cuisine, which varies by region but is always fresh and flavorful.
- Natural Beauty: Whether you're looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an active adventure in the mountains, Italy has something for everyone.
Here are three highlights of Greece that make it such a popular destination for travelers:
- Ancient History: Greece is known for its rich history, with landmarks like the Acropolis in Athens and the ancient city of Delphi.
- Islands and Beaches: Greece is famous for its beautiful islands and beaches, which attract tourists from all over the world.
- Mediterranean Cuisine: Visitors to Greece can enjoy Greek food and local specialties at tavernas and restaurants, as well as fresh produce from local markets. In short: Greek food is to-die-for.
Final Thoughts | Italy or Greece?
Italy and Greece are wonderful and culturally rich countries with unique charm and character. No matter which European country you visit, Italy and Greece offer something extraordinary.
With their picturesque landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality, these are destinations that will leave a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the best time to visit Italy and Greece?
The best time to visit Greece (whether it's mainland Greece or the Greek islands) and Italy depends on what you're looking for.
The high season in both countries is during the summer months (June to August) when the weather is warm and sunny, and many tourists flock to the beaches and cultural sites. This can also mean crowded streets, long lines, and higher prices.
If you are budget travelers or prefer milder temperatures and fewer crowds, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) or autumn (September to November).
Do I need a visa to travel to Italy and Greece?
For most tourists, a visa is optional to travel to Italy or Greece if they are staying for less than 90 days.
It is also essential to check the entry requirements for your specific country, as some nationalities may require a visa or other travel documentation.
Travelers will need a valid passport and should ensure it has at least six months of validity beyond their entry date.
What are some must-try foods in Italy and Greece?
Italy and Greece are known for their delicious cuisine, with many dishes to try. In Italy, pasta dishes like spaghetti carbonara, lasagna, and fettuccine alfredo are popular, as are pizzas, gelato, and tiramisu.
In Greece, some must-try dishes include moussaka, souvlaki, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and spanakopita (spinach pie), as well as the famous Greek salad and fresh seafood. Remember to try the local wines, olive oils, and cheeses!