Trying to decide if you should travel to Greece or Italy? I can help you make up your mind with this detailed comparison of the two amazing Mediterranean countries!
Italy and Greece are both popular vacation spots in Europe, but they attract different types of travelers. Greece is generally known as the cheaper vacation spot with better beaches and a wilder nightlife, whereas Italy is popular for its amazing history, culture, and Italian food.
But what about the great Greek food as well, and Italy’s beaches are not too shabby either. Read on to see all the differences (and similarities) between the two countries and see which is ultimately the better destination for you!
Both Italy and Greece both incredibly beautiful countries and it’s impossible to say that one is better than the other. It depends on why you are traveling, what you are most interested in, and how much money you are willing to spend.
Greece is the better option for younger, budget travelers. It’s the cheaper destination out of the two by far, and its countless party-islands cater to young people who just want to have a really good time. The country is also popular for more luxurious vacations, especially places like Santorini that boast some really amazing high-end resorts.
Italy is the better option for families and couples who are more into relaxation than partying. It’s also the better option if you’re into sightseeing and culture since it has a lot of famous landmarks and historic sites than Greece. Plus, Italy is known for amazing art, fabulous fashion, and one of the best cuisines on the planet. I might be a bit biased with that last one, but hey – who doesn’t like ravioli?
Are you looking to stay in one of the major cities, or would you prefer to have a more relaxed vacation at a coastal destination in Italy or Greece?
Greece is the better option if you’re looking to spend most of your vacation on the beach. It has prettier beaches than Italy, not to mention the plethora of options you have when it comes to planning your vacation. The country has everything from waterfront campsites to fabulous resorts that have pools in the bedrooms.
Also, each of the islands and cities in coastal Greece caters to a different type of tourist. Some are more attractive to younger travelers, both because of the more affordable prices and wilder nightlife, while others offer luxurious accommodation in serene settings. The options are abundant, including lots of hidden gems. So, it’s going to be easier to plan the vacation of your dreams if you’re traveling to Greece.
On the other hand, Italy is by far the better option if you want to explore the big cities and see famous historic sites. Sure, Greece has a myriad of historic sights, but it doesn’t have as many big cities.
Italy has a lot more big cities with both ancient and modern architecture, amazing museums, fantastic restaurants, and other unique sights. Walk along the alleys of Rome, strut down the street in Milan during fashion week, or have a candlelight dinner on a boat in Venice – the possibilities are endless.
That’s not to say that Italy doesn’t have pretty beaches. It absolutely does, especially the calas (coves) on the islands. Italy has stunning beaches, but they’re not quite as easily accessible as those in Greece. Italy’s coastline is half the size of Greece’s, so you won’t have nearly as many choices.
If you’re all about the beaches, then it’s Greece for sure. It has a lot more beaches than Italy, and they’re generally more beautiful and less crowded. Also, there are more things to do on the beach in Greece, whether it’s dancing to the music the DJ is playing at 11 AM, or exploring a shipwreck at Zakynthos.
The beaches in Greece are generally more easily accessible than those in Italy, especially the ones on the islands. Greek islands are smaller and it’s much easier to get around them without a car. In most cases, you can just bike from one end of the island to the other, and you won’t even get that tired.
The Italian coastline might be lacking a bit when compared to the Greek one, but it’s certainly not entirely disappointing. Italy has some exceptionally beautiful beaches, as well as lots of historic sites near those beaches. The only issue is that the best and most beautiful beach that’s closest to you will not be within (reasonable) walking distance.
Is there any competition with Italy vs Greece when it comes to islands? Really?
Greece has somewhere between 1,200 and 6,000 islands, but only some 200 of those are actually inhabited. Italy has around 450 islands, so you’ll have a lot of options no matter which of these two countries you end up traveling to.
I’d pick Greece over Italy for island tourism, simply because it has more medium-sized islands with fabulous beaches. Mykonos, Santorini, Lefkada, and Naxos are just a few of the thousands of gorgeous islands this country has, and they’re all popular vacation destinations.
Another reason why I’d pick Greece over Italy is that it’s quicker and cheaper to reach the islands. Most Greek islands that are popular vacation spots are fairly small in size, making it easy and cheap for travelers to get around. Compare that to Sicily, which is about twice the size of Montenegro – another European country with fabulous beaches and awesome nightlife.
Is it Greece or Italy when it comes to weather? Both have similar climates – hot summers and mild winters. If you travel in the summer, it’s going to be hot and sunny for the most part. However, the beach season lasts a little longer in Greece, especially on its southern islands. If you’d like to visit in the off-season and avoid the huge crowds, you’re better off traveling to Greece than Italy.
Also, Greece is known for its chilly breezes that make it possible to sit on the beach while it’s 40 degrees Celsius without spontaneously combusting. Italy doesn’t really have those, so it’s the better option if you thrive in the heat. Just keep in mind that the summer season in both Italy and Greece means there’s going to be raging wildfire somewhere.
Mainland Italy has an excellent railway network that makes it very easy to get around the country, and makes it a great place to live. All the big cities are connected with trains and busses, so traveling between cities is easy, quick, and efficient. When it comes to getting around on the larger islands, most people opt to either rent a car or just rely on buses to take them places.
The main way people get around in Greece is by bus. The railway network is rather small and it mostly serves to connect Athens to other major cities in the country.
However, Greece has an advantage when it comes to getting around on the islands because they’re generally smaller than those in Italy so it’s possible to get around without renting a car. Also, public transportation is generally cheaper in Greece, which is always a bonus even if it might not be as reliable as in Italy.
Both countries have an incredibly rich history – we are talking about modern-day Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, after all. However, Italy has a slight edge here because the historical sights are better preserved. Then again, it’s pretty much Italy’s – or rather the Roman Empire’s – fault that there are more ruins than preserved historic sights throughout Greece.
But it’s not just about historic sites – Italy has a lot more to offer when it comes to art, music, fashion, and even architecture. Greece can barely even begin to compete in that sense, so if you really want to explore a new culture, you’ll have more to do in Italy. There are more museums to explore, more operas to listen to, and many more fabulous designer stores to window-shop.
Italy is also the better option if you want to see some stunning architecture and impressive buildings. Although Greece has some of the most iconic ruins and historic sites in the world, the streets of Athens still feel like you’re walking through an old Soviet country in the late 90s. Apart from the historic sites and ruins, walking around Greek cities is generally just underwhelming.
That’s not the case with Italy. You could spend a week in Rome, Venice, or Milan and you still wouldn’t have enough time to see all the interesting spots in the cities. Italian cities just have more to offer to the tourists, which is exactly why Italy is the better option for travelers who prefer to spend their trips in one place.
Which country has more beautiful nature, Italy or Greece? It’s hard to say – Italy has an advantage because its landscape is more diverse than Greece’s. It has hills, lakes, volcanoes, rushing rivers, fabulous beaches, and tall mountains, so it has something to offer to different types of travelers. Although, that is also stereotyping Greece – because it also has fantastic landscapes on some of the islands and on the mainland, including fantastic hikes in mountainous terrain.
Also, exploring the natural wonders is a little easier in Italy. It’s enough to travel to Sicily and you have gorgeous sandy beaches, lakes, a volcano, countless hiking trails, and amazing natural parks all on one island. Greece has all of those as well, but they’re all over the country and it takes longer to travel between its best-known natural attractions.
In general, if you’re traveling just for the nature but you would like to explore some of them, you can have a great time in both countries.
But, it will depend on where exactly in the country you are, especially if you travel to Greece – while Santorini is abundant with hiking trails and diverse landscapes, there are a lot of other islands like Mykonos that are entirely flat and offer zero natural attractions apart from the Greek beaches and seaside views.
A country’s cuisine is one of the key things to consider when deciding where to travel – at least, that’s what any foodie will tell you. And if you’re a foodie, then you already know that Italian cuisine simply doesn’t have any competition.
The prevalent cooking style in both countries can be categorized as Mediterannean, but Greek cuisine has a lot more oriental influences in it. In other words, it’s more similar to the cuisine prevalent in the rest of the Balkans, with staple dishes like moussaka, gyros, baklava, and others.
Seafood, olives, and olive oil are a few of the things that both cuisines have in common, so you’re in for a treat if you like those things. Italy, of course, is known for pasta, pizza, tiramisu, panna cotta, and countless other dishes we all know and love. Plus, let’s not forget about the fact that they came up with espresso and that it tastes amazing in almost every coffee shop in the country.
If money is a key factor in your decision, then Greece is likely the better option for you. It is a lot cheaper than Italy, and this includes everything from accommodation to ferry tickets. Greece is great if you want to save money. A,nd you can have a blast in the country on a seriously tight budget – that’s one of the main reasons why it’s such a popular Spring Break destination for European students.
Also, it’s worth noting that this is true for both the islands and the mainland cities. You can get a one-bedroom AirBnB that’s overlooking the Acropolis for about $40 a night, which is insane. Sure, there are lots of luxurious and expensive resorts in Greece as well, but the number of affordable options is much bigger.
On the other hand, if you want a luxurious vacation, Greece is still the better option because even the luxe resorts are cheap compared to those in Italy. Mykonos and Santorini are particularly popular for more luxurious vacations, thanks to the abundance of high-end accommodation that features luxurious such as a pool in your bedroom.
Also, both these Greek islands are known for the terraced hills with fabulous villas that overlook the ocean. They’re the perfect choice if you want to experience magical views every day of your vacation. The more luxurious villas will allow you to admire those mesmerizing views from the pool in your apartment, which is about as luxurious as it gets in Greece.
Italy is a lot more expensive than Greece so it’s not a good option for travelers on a budget. Sure, you can find reasonably priced accommodation in pretty much every city, but the costs of public transportation, museum tickets, and going out quickly add up.
Additionally, Italy has more luxury resorts than Greece. It’s even home to one of the most expensive hotels in the world – Cala di Volpe hotel in Sardinia’s Porto Cervo boasts one of the priciest suites ever with a rate of more than $40,000 per night.
Plus, keep in mind that some of Italy’s best and most luxurious resorts aren’t even near the beach. Lake Como is one of the most popular vacation spots in the country, at least among the rich and famous. If that’s the kind of luxury travel you enjoy, Italy is certainly the better destination for you.
If you’re into partying and going out, Greece is definitely the better option for you. It has better nightlife than Italy, especially on the islands and in other coastal destinations. That’s because Greeks really cater to tourists, and places that get a lot of younger visitors tend to have a lot of clubs and bars.
The nightlife in Italy can be great as well, but the clubs and parties are just not as abundant as they are in Greece. Keep in mind that the nightlife in Greece is catered to tourists entirely, whereas the nightlife in Italy is more for the locals.
When it comes to resorts and beaches, Italy caters more to families and older travelers, whereas Greece is all about those foam parties on the beach that start at noon and go on well into the night.
Another thing to note here is that it’s generally much cheaper to party in Greece than in Italy. You’ll spend less money on greek drinks, entrance fees, and cab rides back to your hotel. Plus, you likely won’t even need a cab to take you home, since Greece usually has clubs very close to the popular resorts, at least on the islands that are most popular with tourists.
Both countries are great options for a honeymoon and the better one will ultimately depend on the type of couple you are and the type of honeymoon you want. Is it an active or a relaxing honeymoon? Do you want to be in the same place all the time, or do you want to visit a few different places and really go exploring?
Italy is the better option for more adventurous honeymooners. It’s better for sightseeing and exploring, especially if you’re into bike rides in the Tuscan hills. On the other hand, Greece is the better option for couples whose idea of a honeymoon is relaxing in their suite with a great view of the ocean, followed by a delicious candlelit dinner.
Here’s our list of the best Greek islands for couples.
It’s worth noting that both countries are abundant in hiking trails and natural attractions – if your ideal honeymoon includes a few hiking trips, then either country can be a great option. But you’ll want to choose your honeymoon destination carefully, especially if you’re traveling to Greece.
Just make sure that you’re traveling to an area that has fun and exciting attractions and not a place that’s completely flat like Mykonos.
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Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.