Greece Or Portugal For Travel? Portugal Vs. Greece 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.

Portugal or Greece, which one to choose for your next vacation in Europe? Both countries are sun-splashed, culture-brimming, and nature-rich, ideal to visit during the summer months thanks to the high temperatures but also offering plenty of things to do during the winter.

From pristine beaches to archaeological wonders to mouthwatering food, choosing between the European Union nations of Portugal or Greece might require some thinking.

With this blog post, you will have your 101 run-through of all there is to know about Greece and Portugal. Check out our in-depth comparison between the two countries, and get ready to pick your next holiday destination.

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

Portugal Greece
Better for city breaks Fantastic destination for a relaxing getaway
Awesome country for food & wine A paradise for island-hopping enthusiasts
Slightly cheaper destination Unique archaeological sites
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Keep reading to find out how to choose between Greece or Portugal for your next vacation.

Pros And Cons Of Greece Over Portugal

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

Greece is an incredible country known to be the cradle of Western civilization. With a history of 3.400 years long, this country offers a cornucopia of archeological and historical treasures to discover.

Besides its rich cultural heritage, Greece has picture-perfect villages and islands, making it even more worth a trip there. Packed with visitors in the summer, here are the pros and cons to consider when considering visiting Greece.

Greece Pros

  • A unique heritage made of incredible ancient sites like the Acropolis of Athens
  • Summer-like weather all year round
  • Breathtaking landscapes, thanks to the countless pristine islands and beaches and some mountains
  • A delicious cuisine based on fresh local produce used to make healthy dishes
  • Greece is generally a safe country to visit
  • Hospitable people

Greece Cons

  • The islands and the capital are jam-packed with visitors in the summer months
  • Greece might be expensive, especially in areas like the island of Santorini
  • Scorching summers that can make sightsee somewhat unpleasant

Pros And Cons Of Portugal Over Greece

Honeymoon in Corfu - holding hands at Canal D'Amour Corfu Island_Greece

Portugal is a country with a rich maritime history and a charming blend of old and new. Bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities in the cities and a wide array of sporty and nature-centered things to do when stepping outside the urban centers.

Before traveling to Portugal, let’s look at some pros and cons.

Portugal Pros

  • Beautiful cities and towns where you can spend time doing lots of different things
  • A mecca for surfers
  • A varied landscape that you won’t grow tired of exploring
  • A cuisine with an interesting flavor profile and fantastic wine production
  • Among Europe’s cheapest destinations
  • Awesome average temperatures

Portugal Cons

  • The country is windy, especially on its northern side
  • If you want to do a beach vacation with lots of swimming, the south of the country is your only option
  • English isn’t widely spread, and you will have difficulties communicating in less touristy areas

Tourist Attractions In Greece And Portugal

Tower of Belem, Lisbon in Portugal

Greece

Greece offers a treasure trove of attractions you won’t even know where to start! Here are some of Greece’s unmissable tourist attractions:

  • Acropolis of Athens: The main image that everyone has in mind when thinking about Greece, the Acropolis is a hilltop site filled with ancient temples. Stroll around the Parthenon and the other buildings to discover Ancient Greek history and marvel at stunning views of Athens.
  • Palace of Knossos: Among the most outstanding archeological sites in Greece, the Palace of Knossos is a complex of buildings on the island of Crete. Housing the mythological Labyrinth where the Minotaur lived, the Palace of Knossos is what to visit for a trip back in time.
  • Greek Islands: With more than 6,000 islands to choose from, Greece has something for everyone! Whether you prefer a laid-back beach holiday, one packed with activities like scuba diving or kayaking, or one where you can party until sunrise, there is the perfect Greek island for you.
  • Monasteries of Meteora: Six monasteries, like no others in the world, the Monasteries of Meteora stand on top of imposing rock pinnacles as if they are hanging in the void. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Monasteries of Meteora are even more fascinating thanks to the lunar-like landscape all around.
  • Temple of Apollo: An archeological gem, the Temple of Apollo is located in the town of Delfi, considered the center of the world by ancient Greeks. Awesomely preserved and immersed in a wonderful mountainous landscape, the Temple of Apollo used to be frequented by those wanting to query the god’s oracles predicting the future.

Portugal

Portugal offers a different flavor of attractions: fewer archeological sites but historical ones nonetheless. With plenty of things to do, here are Portugal’s top tourist attractions:

  • Belém Tower in Lisbon: The city’s iconic monument, the Belém Tower was built on the bank of the Tagus River to protect the city. Today, it’s a reminder of Portugal’s glorious maritime past. The best part of this UNESCO site is the open terrace at its top, which you can visit for fantastic vistas.
  • Porto Wine Tasting: If there is one thing to do in the stunning city of Porto, it is to visit one of its many wine cellars and do a proper tasting! The city is famous worldwide for producing Port wine, which dates back to the 17th century.
  • Sintra palaces: In the town of Sintra, not far from Lisbon, there are several fairy tale castles that are all UNESCO-listed. Built with different architectural styles, each boasts a unique look and atmosphere. The most interesting are the colorful Pena Palace, the Gothic Quinta Da Regaleira, and the National Palace, the summer estate of the former Portuguese Royal Family.
  • Cabo da Roca: The westernmost point of mainland Europe, Cabo da Roca is a stunning cliff 140 meters high looming over the Atlantic Ocean. Located within the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, in Cabo da Roca you can also visit an 18th-century Lighthouse and a stone monument homaging Portuguese poet Luís de Camões.
  • Benagil Sea Cave: One of the most photographed places in the country, the small fishing village of Benagil has a wonderful sea cave. With different shades of golden and amber rocks and a circular opening through which you can peek at the sky, the Benagil Sea Cave can be reached by swimming, kayaking, or boat.

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Beaches Comparison Between Greece And Portugal

Kolymbia beach with the rocky coast in Greece.

Blessed with beautiful coastlines, Greece and Portugal are great destinations for a summer holiday.

Greece is famous for its paradisiacal islands with charming villages and beaches with crystal-clear waters. There are over 6,000 islands scattered on the Ionian and the Aegean seas that you can visit by island hopping or decide to stay on a single island to soak its unique charm.

From Zante’s Shipwreck Bay to Crete’s pink-sand Elafonisi Beach to Rhodes’s stunning waters and many archeological sites, each Greek island has something special to offer. If you can’t make it on an island, don’t worry: mainland Greece also has stunning beaches, like in the Halkidiki region.

Portugal’s coastline and islands look very different from Greece’s. Rugged and wild, the country’s sandy beaches line towering cliffs and rock formations. The north of Portugal is windy, which creates a perfect location for surfers due to the big waves, and the beach of Nazaré is particularly famous for it. If you prefer calmer and swim-friendly waters, head south.

The Algarve region boasts several charming beaches, like Praia da Marinha and Praia de Tavira. Speaking of islands, the Madeira archipelago boasts mild weather and mild ocean temperatures all year round.

Here, you can spend days trekking, swimming in natural pools, and visiting black sand caves. The volcanic archipelago of the Azores boasts lagoons and hot springs in the middle of lush forests, which you can get to by spectacular hiking trails.

Greece

  • An impressive number of islands to visit
  • Islands with historical and archeological sites to discover
  • It can be quite expensive during the summer, and if you select specific islands (like Santorini)

Portugal

  • A coastline perfect for surfing and windsurfing
  • Less crowded beaches
  • Overall more affordable

So, Greece or Portugal for your next (summer) holiday? It depends: Greece if you love to relax on a fabulous island and go snorkeling and diving; Portugal if you prefer rugged and wild landscapes and are excited about trying your hands at surfing.

Portugal Vs. Greece For A City Break

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

When traveling to another country, visiting its main cities is a great way to discover that country’s past and present. Which have the better places for a city break, Greece or Portugal?

Greece

  • Athens: The biggest city in Greece and its capital city, Athens is among the world’s most popular destinations. Boasting an exciting blend of old and new, the city offers ancient sites like the Acropolis, where you will find the stunning Parthenon and trendy venues like cafès and nightclubs.
  • Thessaloniki: The second-largest city in the country, Thessaloniki has the perfect mix of history and culture, a delicious food scene, and gorgeous beaches washed by the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea.
  • Heraklion: Greece’s third-largest city, Heraklion, is the main city of the island of Crete. Visit it for a leisurely stroll on its seaside promenade packed with cute cafès and traditional tavernas for swimming and sunbathing and getting to the must-see archeological site of Knossos.

Portugal

  • Lisbon: Portugal’s largest city and capital, Lisbon is a popular destination for its many fascinating attractions, including the Tower of Belém, the Castle of São Jorge, and the Jerónimos Monastery. Lisbon also has charming old districts, vibrant nightlife, and a great food scene.
  • Porto: The second-largest city in Portugal, Porto is where to be to sip on the delicious Port wine. The city’s special gastronomy pairs with eye-catching districts, like the riverside Ribeira, and the many tourist attractions of its historic center, including the Palácio da Bolsa and the Torre dos Clérigos.
  • Braga: the country’s third biggest city, Braga is a charming university city in northern Portugal. With an elegant center laced with ancient narrow lanes and plazas, Braga boasts an impressive array of churches to visit, like the Sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte and the Sanctuary of Sameiro.

So, will you choose Greece or Portugal for your next city break?

Greece vs. Portugal For A Nature-Centered Holiday

Greece or Portugal - Sj in Nafplio Fortress

Both Greece and Portugal are ideal destinations if you love spending time immersed in pristine natural landscapes.

Greece might be famous for its islands and beaches, but it also has a fabulous interland with mountains dotted with caves, deep gorges, and alpine lakes.

A great spot for hiking is Mount Olympus, the country’s highest mountain, which offers various trails. More splendid natural places are located on Greece’s coastal areas, where you will find natural pools and beautiful sea caves, like the Melissani Cave.

Regarding Portugal, the inner part of the country offers plenty of incredible sites. From the rugged mountains with crystal-clear lakes where you can swim in the Peneda-Gerês National Park to the breathtaking hiking trails and river valleys of the Serra da Estrela mountains, Portugal is also home to a portion of the famed Camino de Santiago.

If you are a nature lover, you will greatly enjoy both Portugal and Greece.

Who Has Better Food & Drinks – Greece Or Portugal

3 Days In Athens - Greek salad and beer

When it comes to gastronomy, Greece and Portugal delight visitors’ palates with vibrant flavors. Both countries have a cuisine based on the farm-to-table concept. Greek food is lighter and healthier, while Portuguese cuisine is bold and luxurious.

Greek cuisine is based on fresh seafood, succulent grilled meats, fresh veggies, and filling beans. All the dishes are made extra delicious with simple yet flavorful ingredients, like olive oil, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and sauces like the tzatziki, made with creamy Greek yogurt and aromatics.

As for drinks, Greece is primarily known for white wines, with the Assyrtiko being one of the best to taste, and for the ouzo, an anise-flavored liqueur.

Portugal foos is more rustic, characterized by heavier cooking methods – and your taste buds will be in for a treat. Hearty meals based on Atlantic seafood, with the bacalhau (salted cod) being the main ingredient of many national dishes or grilled and BBQ red meats are a true delight.

End your meal with a good-quality Port wine or a shot of ginjinha, a cherry liqueur usually served inside a small chocolate cup.

If you like tasting traditional foods and drinks when visiting a foreign country, you’ll surely love to travel to both Greece and Portugal.

Nightlife In Greece vs. Portugal

Best sandy beach in Greece - Super paradise beach on the greek island Mykonos, Greece.

When night falls, Greece and Portugal offer very different scenes.

Greece nightlife is laid-back or vibrant depending on where you go. In general, you will mostly find small bars in the many charming Greek villages and towns.

For some proper nightlife, head to Athens and Thessaloniki to find edgy bars, great nightclubs, and theaters proposing interesting shows. There are also several islands known for their nightlife offers, in particular Mykonos, Ios, and Corfù, which are top-notch destinations for partygoers.

The nightlife scene in Portugal is similar to Greece’s. Neighborhood bars are everywhere in smaller towns, and for more vibrant venues, you will need to visit bigger cities. Lisbon is an excellent destination for night owls, with the best party spot in the city being the Bairro Alto district.

In Lisbon and Porto, you will also find bars and restaurants offering traditional fado music shows.

Another hot spot for partying in Portugal is the Algarve region, with the resort town of Albufeira boasting the liveliest nightlife in the entire country.

In conclusion, whether you prefer spending a chill evening drinking and chatting or dancing on the dancefloor until sunrise, Greece and Portugal have plenty to offer.

Greece Or Portugal With Kids

Greece Travel Blog_DIY Greece Mythological Road Trip With Kids_Kalamata

If you are traveling to Greece with the whole family, you might wonder which country has more kids-friendly activities, Portugal or Greece.

Greece’s laid-back atmosphere is ideal to unwind during your family vacation, and the country’s slow pace is particularly on point if you are traveling with smaller kids. Everyone in the family will surely enjoy spending hours and hours swimming and having fun at fantastic beaches and exploring Greek islands.

Speaking about ancient sites, they might not be a pleasant attraction for small children, but more grown-ups will find it amusing strolling around centuries-old buildings with huge columns and statues.

On the contrary, Portugal is more fast-paced, especially in the big cities and the resort towns. This is great for those families looking to do many activities during their trip, like visiting the colorful Pena Palace in Sintra.

Portugal also offers several theme parks, like the Zoomarine Algarve and Europe’s largest indoor aquarium, the Oceanário de Lisboa. If you travel with particularly active children or those who like outdoor activities, Portugal’s stunning natural landscape and national parks will be the perfect playground for your family holiday.


Cost Of Vacation In Greece vs. Portugal

Euro - Money In Greece
Rolled up Euro bills on white background

Before picking whether to visit Greece or Portugal, you need to assess the cost of your vacation. Depending on your budget, you might prefer to travel to one or the other. So, which country is the cheaper, Greece or Portugal?

Overall, both prove to be great budget-friendly destinations, with Greece having higher prices during the summer, especially if you travel to the islands.

Accommodation on Greek islands is pricier than on the mainland, and there are specific places like Santorini, which are famous for being luxury destinations. If budgeting is your goal, consider some cheaper islands, like Kythnos or Lefkada, and in general, stay away from major cities.

Regarding Portugal, accommodation is definitely pricy in Lisbon, which is the country’s most expensive place, and Porto. You will also need to spend a little more if traveling to the popular resort towns in the Algarve region in the summer.

When it comes to food and transportation costs, the prices are pretty much the same in both countries, with Greece offering more street food options while Portugal has cheaper drinks.

One area where Greece is significantly more expensive than Portugal is for sports activities like diving and sightseeing as you will need to buy entrance tickets to all the historical sites. In Portugal, you will instead find many historical sites, like churches, you can visit for free.

In conclusion, you can have a splendid holiday without breaking the bank in both Portugal and Greece. But if you fancy a luxury holiday, Greece takes this one home, as it offers more 5-star accommodations and fine dining options.

Is Greece Worth Visiting

Things to do in Ios Island - Traditional Greek taverns on the streets. Ios island

As you probably know by now, Greece is a fantastic place to visit, with plenty of things to see and do. Here is a summary of what Greece has to offer and that makes it worth visiting:

Is Portugal Worth Visiting?

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

Portugal is one of the most beautiful countries to visit in Europe, and about right. Here is an overview of the whys you should travel to Portugal:

  • Many different architectural styles within the same city/town
  • Wild-looking natural landscapes both on the mainland and on the islands
  • Award-winning Port wine and mouthwatering gastronomy
  • It’s an incredibly cheap destination

Conclusion: Is Portugal Or Greece Better

Greece Travel Blog_Greece Vs. Portugal_Which Should You Choose

After reading all the pros and cons of Portugal and Greece, one thing is clear: both countries will leave you in awe.

Greece and Portugal have old historical roots evident in the sites and buildings you will find pretty much everywhere. Greece, with its ancient ruins and mythology, and Portugal, with its naval past and captivating festivals, offer visitors lots to discover.

Besides, jow-dropping natural landscapes and unique gastronomical traditions make both countries pretty special to visit.

So, how do you choose between Greece and Portugal? In the end, the choice comes down to what you value most in your travel experience and what you would like your next holiday to look like.

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