Italy and Spain: Two World-Class European Destinations

For years, Italy has been one of the most popular destinations among AAA members. Recently, Spain has seen a resurgence and has become a top destination for travelers.

Both countries offer 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 that Trafalgar has been offering for over 75 years. With Trafalgar’s 2022 Travel Sale, there’s never been a better time to unlock the best of Italy and Spain as they are offering couples the chance to save up to $490 on their next vacation.

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

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

Italy

Featured Tour: Best of Italy

From the canals of Venice to the hills of Tuscany, you simply must explore the pockets of Italy that make this country a classic. Though they may have been etched into travel brochures many times, there’s much more to love than pizza, pasta, and picturesque sites once you peel back the layers.

On a slow and simple day in Italy, you’ll relax by the ocean flopped 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 the capital, alfresco lunch is in order after many hours of strolling the Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, and the Colosseum.

Italy at a Glance

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

Top 5 Things to Do in Italy

Sitting in the calm halls of the Vatican. Floating on the canals of Venice. Standing beside the ruins of Pompeii. According to Trafalgar, connecting with locals and seeing Italy through the lens of the locals lets travelers truly understand moments like these.

  • See Michelangelo’s frescoed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel – One of the most important structures of the Catholic faith, the 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 the renaissance ceiling paintings of Michelangelo that will leave you in awe.
The sun rising over St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.
  • Visit the glamorous Isle of Capri – Enjoy the classic Italian summer in Italy’s picture-perfect Gulf of Naples. Famed for its crystal grottos, dramatic coastlines and endless glamor, our trips to Italy are complete with 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.
Venitian sunsets can only truly be experienced via boat.
  • Journey to the well-preserved ruins of Pompeii – An unfathomable history lesson is found in the archaeological ruins of Pompeii. Buried and preserved by the ash of a volcano eruption in the year 79, in this Italian town you will discover the progressive life of early Roman times as you walk within the parameters of an open-air time capsule of life on Earth.
  • 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 yearning through boutiques and department stores, stop to sample the city’s delicacies like breaded veal cutlet and ossobuco.

Best food in Italy

We in the northeast are more than familiar with Italy’s classic dishes and their legacy. Taking a trip to Italy means connecting with the roots of classic Italian flavors, discovering vibrant new ones, and surrounding yourself in the markets, restaurants, wineries, and culture they were all born from.

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.

Exquisite meals are yours for the tasting in Rome.
  • Carbonara – The authentic carbonara experience will take place in Rome, covered in salty Pecorino Romano cheese. A simple dish inspiring heart-warming meal times, this pasta will connect you with Italy’s rich culinary customs – an 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.

Spain

Featured Tour: Best of Spain

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. This culture means more than siestas and sangria, proved as we move from monument to museum to the beat of flamenco.

Seville’s Plaza de España

In Madrid, you’ll discover the meeting point of old and new via charming alleyways and taverns.  Barcelona will delight with 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: 50F
  • Summer Average Temperature: 77F
  • Time Zone: GMT+2
  • Language: Spanish, Catalan,
  • Good morning: Buenos dias
  • Good evening: Buenas noches

Top 5 Things in Spain

Discover Spain and get to know the intricacies of its heritage through music, dance, religion, and architecture.

Cathedral de Seville highlights Spanish architecture.
  • 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 this 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 Gaudí architecture in Barcelona – Barcelona means little without Antoni Gaudí, the 20th-century architect whose unmistakable approach to Art Nouveau has made its mark on the Catalan city. Walk past Gaudí’s residence, Casa Vicens, pick out his Islamic influences in Parc Güell 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. Here, 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 Museums in Spain

Surrealism, cubism, modern history, and expressive architecture, you will experience it all with the museums we visit in Spain.

  • Prado Museum – Walk through the Prado Museum and surround yourself with the world’s richest collection of Spanish paintings. This national museum is a gem that will bring you closer to Spanish history, culture, and their effects on centuries of artists.
  • Guggenheim Museum – Come for the architecture, stay for the art. Frank Gehry’s most-referenced work of modern architecture has revolutionized Bilbao and is a masterpiece in itself. Dismiss all ideas of what a building should look like and revel in the Deconstructivist design while getting up close to large-scale installations by contemporary artists.

Best food in Spain

Enjoy traditional Spanish food in the very place the meals originated. 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 bring you even closer. On the Best of Spain tour, 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 immerse in 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. Try history-drenched gazpacho – typically made of tomatoes, stale bread, cucumber, and bell pepper – for 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.

We know deciding between these two magnificent countries can be a difficult task. If you need help, reach out to your knowledgeable AAA Travel advisor to pick a great tour, give you all the know-how, know-where, and make sure you’re getting the best deal on your next trip to Europe!

Find the latest deals on Trafalgar Tours here.