Choose Between Portugal Or Turkey – Turkey Vs. Portugal Guide

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Should you visit Portugal or Turkey? Our guide shares detailed information about weighing up Turkey vs. Portugal.

In a rush and just want to know how to choose between Turkey or Portugal? Here is what we think you should know:

Turkey Portugal
Overall, cheaper destination Excellent for a beach holiday
Loads of history to discover Inexpensive flights to get there
Incredible day trip options Smaller, less to see & do

Choosing your summer holiday destination isn’t easy. After all, you’re about to splash the cash and spend time somewhere, so you want to know that it’s going to live up to all your expectations.

If you look online and ask for suggestions on where to go, you’ll be flooded with options, which certainly won’t help you much when short-listing. So, we’ve come up with two options you might like to consider – Portugal and Turkey, seriously.

Let’s pit them against each other, and by the end, you might know where you’re going this summer.

The Argument For Visiting Turkey

Most Beautiful Mosques In Turkey - Blue mosque in Istanbul at sunset

Turkey has long been a summer favorite, and if you check out the stunning beaches and the weather, you won’t be surprised why. However, people tend to forget how big this country is and always focus on the same areas – there is a lot of scope for exploration here!

A plus point for Turkey is that you’ll get much for your money. Currently, the lira is relatively weak against the Euro, Dollar, and Pound, which means tourists are getting more local currency for their own money. However, it does mean that prices go up in resort towns, which you can’t really complain about. Yet, you’re still getting a good deal, and if you shop around, you’ll find some fantastic hotels and flight combinations for a lower cost than most of mainland Europe.

The Weather

Beautiful sunset view of valley near Cavusin village in Cappadocia
Cavusin Village

It goes without saying, right? During the summer months, between May and early October, you can expect super-summer weather. During July and August, temperatures hit around 40 degrees, and sometimes more. There is zero chance of rain, and it’s just the most dream-like summer scenario.

However, if scorching temperatures aren’t for you, visiting Turkey during May/June and the end of September into October is a great idea. You still get warm weather and cooler nights, plus less in the way of crowds and lower prices.

Turkey is even visitable during winter, and heading for a city break to Istanbul is a fantastic idea. It might snow! It’ll be cold, but walking around the fantastic sights is much easier when the mercury isn’t soaring.

The Beaches

Things to do in Oludeniz - Blue lagoon in Oludeniz, Turkey
Blue Lagoon, Oludeniz

There are more beaches in Turkey than we can count. The Antalya region has the best beaches in the country, without a doubt; however, no matter where you go, you’ll find a stunning spot to spend the day.

The Dalaman Region has Turtle Beach, Incekum Beach, Cleopatra Island (like something out of the Caribbean), Olu Deniz and the famous Blue Lagoon, and Akyaka. Cesme, close to Izmir, is a stunning spot for beach time, and if you head over to the Antalya region, be sure to check out Kaputas, Konyaalti, Lara Beach, and Alanya.

There are too many to list, and they’re all stunning. Most have facilities on site so you can enjoy your day more easily, and you can even take boat trips to more remote beaches, where you can feel like Robinson Crusoe for the day!

The Food

Breakfast in Istanbul - Delicious traditional turkish breakfast

There is nothing like Turkish food in the world, and there is so much to try. The signature meal is certainly breakfast, or Kahvali as it’s known. This huge banquet will fill you until dinner and beyond and is packed with small plates of everything you can think of. If you want to try different things, especially local produce, a Turkish breakfast should definitely be on your list.

But other than that, you have pide, lahmacun, a million and one different types of kebabs, stews, Anatolian casseroles, soups, delicious salad, and fantastic sweets.

You’ll definitely leave Turkey a foodie.

The History

Visiting Ephesus Turkey. Library of Celsus
Library of Celsus Ephesus, Turkey

Istanbul has more history than most countries do. It’s enormous, it’s packed with evidence of days gone by, and the culture is so easy to soak up. But it doesn’t end there. Close to Izmir, you’ll find Ephesus, a vast open-air museum of ruins, once the largest city in the Mediterranean, dating back to 138 AD.

Every single part of the country has ruins and history to explore. So, even if you’re spending the day on the beach, perhaps sleeping off the previous night’s excesses, you’re never too far away from a historical site you can go and explore. 

Turkey has over 4,000 years of history and is one of the oldest and longest-surviving civilizations. Although it’s been passed down through different emperors and empires, you’ll see marks of all of them throughout various sites. It’s truly a splendid place for history buffs, and even if you’re not so into history, you will be by the time you leave!

The Ease Of Travel

Turkey Bus Travel - Inside the bus in Turkey

Turkey is huge, meaning there is a lot of scope for traveling around and exploring. The good news is that getting around is really easy. A high-quality bus network connects all major towns and cities, trains in certain areas, and domestic flights. If you want to hire a car, the roads are good quality and easy to follow.

However, the other side of ‘ease of travel’ means connecting to other parts of the world. You can get direct flights to Istanbul all year round from most major cities worldwide. In the summer, direct flights to the major tourist resorts are plentiful, including Antalya, Bodrum, and Dalaman. Thanks to the operation of low-cost airlines in the region, you’ll also be able to find some good deals.

The Fantastic Day Trips

How To Get From Pamukkale To Cappadocia - Pools
Pamukkale, Turkey

No matter where you stay in Turkey, you’ll find many day trip options to keep you occupied. If you ever get bored of where you are, which is unlikely, you can head out and see something different.

For instance, you can hop on a ferry to Rhodes if you’re in Marmaris or Fethiye. If you’re in Bodrum, you can head over to Kos. You can jump between resorts quite quickly and take many excursions, including boat trips, jeep safaris, and longer trips to places like Sakklikent Gorge in Fethiye or Butterfly Valley. There are village tours you can head on and countless other options to keep you busy during your visit.

The Lower Cost

Turkish Souvenirs - Best Gifts From Turkey - Turkish Ceramics

We touched up on the cost of visiting Turkey a little earlier, and it’s true. You’ll get a better and lower cost deal than other European countries by choosing Turkey. You’ll also get more for your money, and you can haggle on your souvenirs to bring back some real bargains.

If you’re traveling with children or want to be more in control of what you’re spending, there are countless all-inclusive options.


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The Cons Of Visiting Turkey 

Driving in Istanbul

To keep the argument balanced, we should point out some cons. Every single place in the world has some, after all.

The major cons of visiting Turkey include:

  • Quite a few scams exist if you’re not savvy about them, including inflated taxi costs.
  • The traffic in Istanbul is insane!
  • If you’re visiting during the winter and you don’t want to stay in Istanbul, you’ll need to take indirect flights.
  • Tourist resorts don’t really offer the authentic Turkish way of life.
  • Tourist resorts in the peak summer months can be bustling and very loud.
  • Nightlife in Turkey does tend to be quite loud during the summer; however, you can usually escape it and find a chill-out bar.

The Argument For Visiting Portugal

Turkey or Portugal - Yellow tram of Lisbon at Jeronimos monastery, Portugal
Historic classic yellow tram of Lisbon

So, why should you consider visiting Portugal for your summer break? Well, there are plenty of reasons!

Portugal is lapped by the Atlantic Ocean’s wild waters, making it an excellent spot for surfers or just watching them! The nature is beautiful, and in some ways, it’s an all-around place to visit, as long as you’re not expecting beach time.

Most people head to The Algarve during summer to enjoy the beaches, chilled out way of life, spas, and the golf courses. As such, it’s a pretty upmarket region, but that means you get to enjoy the finer things in life!

So, why else should you visit Portugal this summer?

The Choices

The great thing about Portugal is that each town or resort tends to have a specific vibe. If you want vibrant and loud nightlife, you can head to Albufeira or perhaps Porto. If you prefer to enjoy chilled-out evenings, head to Lagos or Faro.

If you want a more cosmopolitan city break, head to Lisbon.

It means you know exactly what you’re getting and don’t have to dodge loud nightclubs when trying to have a chilled-out break.

The East Of Getting There

Portugal is a small country, so that you can get around quite quickly, but it’s also effortless. Low-cost airlines head to Portugal during the summer months, and you can usually find an out-of-season flight for a low price if you prefer a chilled-out break.

Many people check out Portugal’s last-minute holidays and find great deals, so if you’re looking to save some cash, this could be a good option for you.

The Beaches

Portugal vs Turkey - Algarve rock - coast in Portugal
Algarve rock – coast in Portugal

Of course, the southern part of Portugal is home to The Algarve, with some seriously amazing beaches. But if you want a more rugged type of beach, head to the west, where you’ll see huge waves and surfers trying to ride them.

Portugal’s beaches are all very picturesque, with golden sands and high cliffs surrounding them. Be sure to check out Praia de Manta Rota, which is backed by huge sand dunes, or head to Camilo Beach near Lagos.

Portugal’s main beaches all have facilities on site; however, some of the more remote beaches will require you to take your own refreshments. But it’s not exactly a hardship.

The History

Tower of Belem, Lisbon in Portugal

Portugal is one of the oldest countries on the continent, so it has plenty of history, particularly the sea-faring type. Lisbon is your go-to place for history, and be sure to check out St George’s Castle and Belem Tower, built in the 16th century to protect the city. Sintra is also a go-to spot, which is UNESCO-protected.

Just walking around where you’re staying will show you old buildings and winding streets dating back hundreds of years. Perhaps that’s what’s so charming about Portugal: you can find history wherever you look, and while it might not be the hugely famous type, it’s more subtle and picturesque.

The Food

Being so close to the Atlantic means that the sea heavily inspires Portugal’s food, and that’s great for seafood lovers! Ensure you try the whole octopus, which comes dripping in locally produced olive oil. You should also check out bacalhau, which is salted cod.

If you’re not a seafood lover, you’ll find many meat-based dishes on most menus and delicious salads created with local produce. If you’re a sweet fan, you have to try pasteis de nata – the famous custard pie!

The Cons Of Visiting Portugal

Porto, Portugal old town ribeira aerial promenade view with colorful houses, Douro river and boats
Porto, Portugal old town Ribeira.

Just like Turkey has a few downsides, so does Portugal. On the whole, it’s a very positive picture, but if you’re trying to be balanced, here are a few of the cons associated with Portugal.

  • Once you’re in Portugal, the prices are a little higher, so you’ll need to budget more for your break.
  • Portugal is smaller than Turkey, so there is a little less to see.
  • Getting around Portugal isn’t as easy as it might seem!
  • Turkey wins in terms of history.
  • Portugal is more about beach time and relaxation; if that’s what you want, great! But if you prefer to be more active, you might struggle.

So, Who Is Your Winner? Turkey Or Portugal

Turkey Travel Blog_Turkey Vs. Portugal Which To Visit

Where do you prefer, Portugal or Turkey? There isn’t a definite answer to which is better, as it really comes down to what you want to see and do. However, regarding the range of activities and getting around, Turkey probably shades it.

Regardless of whether you choose Turkey or Portugal, you’re sure to have a wonderful time, and you won’t miss out by opting for either!

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