Italy and Spain: World-Class European Destinations

Italy and Spain are both popular travel destinations, each offering different flavors of similar experiences. Travelers seeking the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of epic history, see world-class art, gawk at gorgeous cities and dine on legendary dishes and wine will be more than satisfied with a trip to Italy or Spain.

One of the best ways to make the most of your trip to either country is on a guided tour, like the ones available through AAA and Trafalgar.

If you’re ready for a girl’s trip, Trafalgar makes it easy with their women-only travel tours. Led by all-women team of expert travel directors, you can share the joy of travel with like-minded ladies, all while exploring the world and meeting inspiring businesswomen along the way. 

Contact a AAA travel advisor to learn more.

Can’t decide if you want to experience the passion of Italy or the siestas and sangria of Spain? Read on to learn more about each destination.


From the canals of Venice to the hills of Tuscany, there’s a range of experiences to be had up and down the boot. On a slow and simple day, you may find yourself relaxing by the ocean under an umbrella on the glamorous Isle of Capri.

On an extravagant day, you could be shopping at Prada and dining on breaded veal cutlet in the fashion mecca of Milan. In Rome, alfresco lunch is in order after many hours immersed in the history of Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum.

Italy at a Glance

  • Currency: Euro
  • Capital City: Rome
  • Average Winter Temp: 46 F
  • Average Summer Temp: 79 F
  • Time Zone: GMT+2
  • Good morning: “Buongiorno”
  • Good evening: “Buonasera”

Top 5 Things To Do

  • See Michelangelo’s frescoed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. One of the most important structures of the Catholic faith, Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel is a must-see on a tour of Italy. Though the chapel walls have witnessed centuries of worship, it’s Michelangelo’s Renaissance-era ceiling paintings that will leave you in awe.
  • Visit the glamorous Isle of Capri. Enjoy a classic Italian summer in Italy’s picture-perfect Gulf of Naples. Famed for its crystal grottos, dramatic coastlines and endless glamor, a tour of Italy would not be complete without a day of freedom spent under a striped umbrella, watching sailboats pass by.
  • Cruise your way through Venice. The charm found in the canals of Venice is nothing short of irresistible. Admire Gothic palaces and postcard bridges whilst adrift in a gondola, gaining an understanding of life in a city that floats. Exploring a city on foot will never be the same after a trip to Venice.
  • Journey to the well-preserved ruins of Pompeii. A history lesson unlike any other is found in the archaeological ruins of Pompeii. Buried and preserved by the ash of a volcano eruption in the year 79, here you will discover the progressive life of early Roman times as you walk within the parameters of an open-air time capsule.
  • Go shopping in Italy’s fashion capital Milan. Armani, Gucci, Prada and Versace. These are some of the prestigious fashion brands that call the Italian city of Milan home. In between boutiques and department stores, stop to sample the city’s delicacies like breaded veal cutlet Milanese-style and ossobuco.

The Best Food in Italy

In the Northeast, we are more than familiar with Italian American cuisine. Taking a trip to Italy means connecting with the roots of some of our favorite dishes and discovering new ones in markets, restaurants and wineries.

With Trafalgar Tours that feature Be My Guest, tour-goers will not just eat, but immerse themselves in a home-cooked, specially prepared dining experience hosted by locals. Often, you will eat with multi-generational families in exquisite locations like farms, vineyards and rural or urban homes.

  • Carbonara. The authentic carbonara experience takes place in Rome, covered in salty Pecorino Romano cheese. A simple comfort dish, this pasta will connect you with Italy’s rich culinary customs and impressive evolution from its supposed heritage as a coal miner’s meal.
  • Pollo alla Cacciatore. Literally translating to “hunter” in Italian, cacciatore offers an appreciation for Italy’s meals of days gone by. Typically a preparation of rabbit or chicken, it’s the simmering tomato stew that makes this dish so mouthwatering. Satisfy your hunger and enjoy it with hand-ripped bread.
  • Tiramisu. Italy tours are best served with an oversized slice of tiramisu. Cementing this country’s obsession with espresso, this cake of layered biscuits soaked in coffee is the perfect after-hours pick-me-up before an evening stroll through the charming streets.
Park Guell, Barcelona.


A country of ripe vineyards, endless coastlines, rugged mountain ranges and historic villages, venture into the spirit of Spain and uncover the heritage of its luscious surroundings as you move from monuments to museums to the beat of flamenco.

In Madrid, you’ll discover the meeting point of old and new via charming alleyways and taverns. Barcelona will delight with its Gaudi architecture, whilst the mountain of Montserrat proves there is magic to be found beyond Spain’s bountiful cities.

Between the map points, you’ll discover this country’s culinary delights and understand how they form part of the cultural fabric. Fierce passion, national pride and reverence for tradition seep through every inch of this intriguing land. The lure of Spain is enormously strong and will stay with you long after your visit.

Spain at a Glance

  • Currency: Euro
  • Capital City: Madrid
  • Winter Average Temperature: 50 F
  • Summer Average Temperature: 77 F
  • Time Zone: GMT+2
  • Language: Spanish, Catalan,
  • Good morning: “Buenos dias”
  • Good evening: “Buenas noches”

Top 5 Things To Do

  • Discover the Old and New Madrid. Get lost in the narrow streets and charming alleyways running off Plaza Mayor. Wooden shops and tavernas pull you in, taking you into spaces handed down through generations. With contemporary architecture and experimental restaurants, anything’s possible in the city of Madrid. The collision point of old and new.
  • Feel the rhythm and magic of an Andalusian flamenco. No trip to Spain is complete without witnessing an Andalusian flamenco. Emotion, seduction and mystery form into this traditional Spanish dance, making it so much more than just a pastime. Feel the guitar, the heavy clapping, the heart-thumping steps, and 500 years of passion in a tablao – the region’s historic enclaves where this dance comes to life.
  • View the bullring in Valencia. Aside from being the center of one of Spain’s most traditional activities, the Plaza de Toros de Valencia is a commanding example of neoclassical architecture. Look up at the Roman-inspired building and you can almost hear 150 years of crowds roaring through the brick arches.
  • Admire Gaudi architecture in Barcelona. Barcelona means little without Antoni Gaudi, the 20th-century architect whose unmistakable approach to art nouveau has made its mark on the Catalan city. Walk past Gaudi’s residence, Casa Vicens, pick out his Islamic influences in Parc Guell and watch history being built at la Sagrada Familia.
  • Travel to the mountain of Montserrat. Escape the city and venture to Montserrat, the jagged mountain range just outside Barcelona. Hike to Montserrat’s highest summit, Sant Jeroni, or take the scenic cable car to the 16th-century cliff-top Christian complex of Santa Maria de Montserrat. Sweeping Catalonia views and religious history combine on this incredible experience.

Best Food in Spain

With simple ingredients and rich flavors, the dishes shared with you on a trip to Spain will connect you with the authentic culinary heritage of the country.

A Be My Guest excursion with Trafalgar brings you even closer. On the Best of Spain tour, you’ll enjoy a traditional Andalusian dinner and the charming company of the Morillo family. It features a welcome drink of sangria in their sun-dappled courtyard before learning how they produce olive oil.

  • Paella Valenciana. Take a seat and dive into a large pan of Paella Valenciana. The rice dish packed with meat and vegetables is found all over Spain but the original hails from Albufera, on the coast next to Valencia. Eat it straight from the pan with fellow dinner guests for an authentic Spanish mealtime.
  • Gazpacho. A cold soup of raw, blended vegetables may not sound appealing, but Andalusia’s age-old dish is one that you will quickly learn to love. Typically made of tomatoes, stale bread, cucumber and bell pepper, it’s a light and refreshing option during a hot Spanish summer.
  • Escudellia. For Catalonians, nothing evokes memories of home like Escudella i carn d’olla. Devour the centuries-old meal over two courses, consisting of a soup of broth with pasta or rice (or both) followed by a large ‘pilota’ meatball livened by garlic and parsley.

Deciding between these two magnificent countries can be difficult. If you need help, reach out to a knowledgeable AAA Travel advisor, who can help you pick a great tour, provide tips and make sure you’re getting the best deal on your next trip to Europe.

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