Weighing in on Ireland vs Spain? You’ve come to the right place!
I’ve lived in both Ireland and Spain at major points in my life.
Spain was the first place I went to when my heart was shattered into a million pieces, and boy did it fix me up! I was also livin’ la vida broka back then but that just added to the whole adventure.
And then there’s Ireland, which I just can’t get enough of!
This place has stolen my heart, so much so that I settled down here. Ger would like to think it’s because of him, but I’d say it’s the soda bread 😉
BUT, which one is better? Join me as I walk you through comparisons for both countries and I’ll let you be the judge!
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Photo: Christo Anestev
Ireland Vs Spain: Accessibility
Spain boasts a vibrant urban scene, with an extensive transportation network that makes traveling between cities a breeze.
If you want to marvel at historic landmarks like the Alhambra and then enjoy the beach vibes of Barcelona and continue to indulge in Madrid, you can easily do that.
And with larger airports like Madrid-Barajas Airport and Barcelona-El Prat Airport, getting in and out of the country has never been easier.
Spain has a well-connected public transportation system. Spain’s public transport has any kind of transport you can think of. There are modern high-speed trains, convenient, comfortable busses, and unique, century-old suburban trams.
Spain’s national railway company, Renfe, offers high-speed AVE trains connecting more than 10 major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. The Metro busses also connect these major cities and are super easy to book, you can even book them online!
Aside from that, there are trams, light rail, and suburban trains in various cities, offering you even more transportation options. Getting around Spain is thus easy, affordable, and convenient. You don’t need to worry about driving in an unfamiliar place.
On the other hand, direct flights from major cities like Dublin, Shannon, and Belfast make it easy to access this enchanting destination across Europe and North America, including the United States.
The rolling green hills and picturesque landscapes offer the perfect backdrop for exploring the countryside by car or public transport.
Having said that, the public transport is expensive and at times unreliable in Ireland- so you NEED a car.
To save all the headaches of searching for a reliable and affordable car rental, I use Discover Cars. It’s like having a trusty old friend do all the negotiating on your behalf, and you get a car rental at the best price without any hidden fees.
VERDICT: Spain wins here, given its accessibility, convenient public transportation network, and ease of travel between major cities.
Photo: Antoni Shkraba
Ireland vs Spain: Affordability
Economically, the GDP per capita in Spain is $36,20, while Ireland’s is $89,700, which suggests that Ireland may be a more expensive country to live and travel in.
The unemployment rate is also higher in Spain at 14.1% compared to Ireland’s 5.0%. Spain’s higher unemployment rate indicates that living costs are more affordable.
Both Spain and Ireland use the Euro as their currency.
However, the exchange rate between the Euro and other currencies can vary depending on the country.
Additionally, both Spain and Ireland are member states of the European Union, which means that they have certain economic policies and regulations in common.
But even with these similarities, there can still be differences in the cost of living and travel between the two countries.
Spain is generally more affordable than Ireland and is a great destination if you are more budget-conscious. Prices for accommodation, food, and attractions are often lower in Spain. (I say this from personal experience. I ate VERY well, when I lived in Spain even on a low budget)
However, Ireland does offer both luxurious and budget accommodations – you just have to know where to look or find someone who writes about them *ahem*
VERDICT: Spain is better in terms of affordability because of the overall lower costs, more reasonably priced accommodation, and cheap, great food. You can have a great lifestyle in Spain with a low budget.
Photo: Thu Trang
Ireland Vs Spain: Climate
Spain has a diverse climate with generally warmer temperatures than Ireland. If you’re all about sunshine, warm weather, and tanned skin, Spain is perfect for you.
Southern Spain experiences a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, while the north has a more Atlantic climate with cooler temperatures and more rainfall.
The average temperature in Spain during the summer months ranges between 22°C to 29°C (72°F to 84°F), while in the winter, it ranges between 10°C to 18°C (50°F to 64°F).
Now if you don’t mind the rain and enjoy lush green landscapes, Ireland is the place for you.
The average temperature during the summer months ranges between 16°C to 20°C (61°F to 68°F), while in the winter, it ranges between 4°C to 8°C (39°F to 46°F).
It rains A LOT in Ireland, though, which is something you need to bear in mind. To give you an idea, it rains about 150 days a year along the east and south-east coasts, and if you’re in the west, that number goes up to about 225 days a year!
VERDICT: Spain is better because we all generally function better with more sunshine! The warmer temperatures and sunshine give a more pleasant overall atmosphere.
Ireland Vs Spain: Culture
If you’re a culture enthusiast, you will appreciate the culture in both countries.
Spain has a more varied culture, with influences from the Moors in the south, the Catalan region, and the Roman Empire.
The people of Spain are known for their warmth and friendliness, and you can expect a lively and social atmosphere when visiting the country. I know for sure they welcomed me with open arms when I first got there!
Ireland has a Celtic history and a strong literary tradition. Many world-famous writers come from Ireland like James Joyce and Oscar Wilde.
The people of Ireland are known for their hospitality and friendliness. You will always feel welcomed in Ireland, and very often, over a pint of Guinness or cup of Irish coffee 🙂
The locals in both countries are passionate about their cultural traditions and love sharing them with visitors (unlike the sometimes standoffish people in Paris or Italy *cries*).
With their unique music, dance, and culinary experiences, you’ll be in for a real treat!
VERDICT: I’d have to call this a tie, as both countries have rich, diverse cultural experiences. Whether you’re in Spain or Ireland, you’ll have friendly locals welcoming you with open arms to share their culture with you!
Ireland Vs Spain: Geography
If you want a place that has diverse landscapes and a ton of varying activities you can do, you’d want to hit up Spain.
If you didn’t already know, Spain is located in the southwestern part of Europe, on a piece of land called the Iberian Peninsula.
Spain is huge, in fact, it’s the 4th largest country in Europe!
In Spain there are tall mountain ranges like the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada where you can go hiking and breathtaking islands like the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.
Not forgetting, long coastlines along the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Bay of Biscay you will be in awe with.
But if you prefer quieter nature that’s just as majestic, Ireland will be perfect for you.
Ireland is an island nation on the westernmost edge of Europe. After Great Britain, it’s Europe’s second largest island!
On the west of Ireland, there are many big mountains you can explore like the Wicklow Mountains and Macgillycuddy’s Reeks.
The coasts in Ireland are amazing too, with tall cliffs like the Cliff of Moher, sea stacks, and nice sandy beaches where you can see the Atlantic Ocean.
VERDICT: Ireland takes the cake because of its stunning coastal cliffs, gorgeous landscapes, and awe-striking sceneries. No matter how long you’ve been in Ireland, you will always feel like you’re in a fairytale or movie, will all the beauty surrounding you.
Photo: Jill Wellington
Ireland Vs Spain: History
Ah, this is a tough one! If you’re a history buff, you will be spoiled for choice in both Spain and Ireland. Spain and Ireland both have rich histories that are full of fascinating stories and cultural traditions.
Spain is a member state of the European Union, a political and economic union of 27 countries in Europe.
Spain was once ruled by the Moors and was also home to the Roman Empire, leaving its mark on the country’s infrastructure and culture.
Ireland is also a member state of the EU and is a republic with a president as its head of state.
Ireland’s history is closely tied to its relationship with the United Kingdom and its struggle for independence.
Whether you’re interested in Spain’s Moorish architecture or Ireland’s fight for independence, both countries have plenty of history and culture to explore.
Both countries also have UNESCO heritage sites that bring in tourists from all around the world.
There’s the Alhambra in Granada and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Rock of Cashel and the Brú na Bóinne complex in Ireland, which includes the famous passage tomb, Newgrange.
VERDICT: Another tie here as both Spain and Ireland has wonderful history and traditions that go back centuries. You will get to enjoy pieces of history in both countries!
Photo: Miguel ángel villar
Ireland Vs Spain: Nightlife
In Spain, nightlife is a big part of the culture, with the locals known for staying up late into the night.
If you’re someone who loves a high-energy party scene and dancing until the early hours of the morning, Spain’s nightlife will definitely appeal to you.
Clubs in cities like Barcelona and Madrid stay open until the wee hours, offering a lively atmosphere and music to dance to.
The beach parties in cities like Valencia and the island Ibiza are also popular, with people gathering on the sand to drink and dance until the sun comes up.
I remember the many, many nights dancing away in Spain!
In Ireland, the nightlife scene is not as glittering and loud as Spain’s, but oh, you can still party alright!
Ireland is known for their pub culture, especially in places like Dublin and Galway.
Traditional Irish music and dance often take center stage in pubs. It’s a great way to experience the local flavor, along with their hearty pub fare and locally brewed beer.
In some places, like Westport, you can experience traditional Irish music through hidden doors in the pubs! You will find local musicians playing classic Irish instruments like the fiddle or accordion here, allowing you to further embrace the unique Irish culture!
Pubs in Ireland are often seen as more than just a place to grab a drink – so even if you don’t drink (like me), you will enjoy socializing there.
In the pubs, people gather to catch up with friends and neighbors, share stories and jokes, and even participate in pub quizzes or traditional games like darts or billiards.
So if you’re looking for a more laid-back nightlife experience, Ireland’s traditional pub culture may be just what you’re looking for.
VERDICT: Spain wins in terms of more diverse nightlife. From sipping wines in quiet bars to living it up in an all-night party on one of the islands, you’ll never tire of Spain’s nightlife.
Photo: Henrique Craveiro
Ireland Vs Spain: Scenery
If you want a one-size-fits-all option, Spain is for you. Spain is great for you to experience a variety of natural environments with its beautiful national parks, diverse landscapes, and breathtaking beaches.
I couldn’t name them all if I tried but national parks like the Teide National Park in Tenerife have some incredible views of the island and surrounding ocean.
If you want to visit Spain’s highest mountain, Mount Teide is here.
Another gorge park is the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park in the Pyrenees.
The crystal-clear lakes, snow-capped mountains, and dense forests make for a backdrop like no other!
Oh and beaches?
You could spend years in Spain and still not be able to visit all the beaches!
According to the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, there are over 5,000 kilometers of coastline in Spain and over 3,000 beaches!
You don’t want to miss Costa del Sol in Andalusia, which is famous for its sandy beaches and lively nightlife. And you can discover hidden coves and rugged cliffs at Costa Brava in Catalonia.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s natural beauty is more understated but no less impressive. I mean, this place totally drew me in since I first visited it!
You can take in incredible views of the countryside and hike (if you want) at places like the Wicklow Way and the Dingle Way.
Some special scenery would be at The Burren in County Clare with its unique landscape of limestone karst formations and also at the Connemara National Park in County Galway where the lakes are pristine and you have a backdrop of rugged mountains.
Ireland’s coastline is also a must-see, with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
You can take some amazing scenic drives along The Ring of Kerry with some of Ireland’s most beautiful coastal vistas and the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500 km driving route that winds along the western coast.
Whether you choose Spain, Ireland, or both, the incredible natural scenery is sure to leave you in awe. You’ll want to make sure you have a tripod ready to take a tonne of photos with your phone camera!
VERDICT: Ireland wins in terms of scenery cos while both have stunning scenery, you can find similar scenery to Spain in other places around the Mediterranean, but Ireland is unique in its landscape and sceneries you can see.
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio
Ireland Vs Spain: Shopping
When you compare countries like Ireland and Spain, you’ll see some differences in the shopping scenes.
Spain generally has a wider range of shopping options.
You can get anything from fancy designer wear to more basic shopping all the way to small, handcrafted items and thrift shopping even.
In Ireland, it’s more standard shops, still with designer items and more popular for their food and drinks items like chocolate, bee products, and whiskey.
For true shopaholics, Spain is the perfect destination for you with its wide range of shopping options in big cities like Barcelona and Madrid.
You can explore popular shopping streets like Calle Serrano in Madrid, known for its luxury boutiques, or visit El Corte Inglés, a department store with multiple locations across Spain offering a wide range of products from fashion to home goods.
In Ireland, Dublin and Galway are known for their shopping districts, with popular spots like Grafton Street, a pedestrianized shopping street in Dublin’s city center lined with popular stores and boutiques.
You can also visit Brown Thomas, a luxury department store in Dublin offering high-end fashion and beauty products.
VERDICT: Spain is better because you get a wider range of items you can buy to suit any budget and taste. From thrift shops to luxury stores, Spain has it all!
FAQs On Ireland Vs Spain
Is Spain Richer Than Ireland?
Is Spain richer than Ireland, you wonder? Well, Spain has a GDP per capita of $36,200 as of 2020, while in Ireland, the GDP per capita is $89,700 as of 2020. So, Ireland is richer than Spain based on GDP per capita.
Is Ireland Cheaper Than Spain?
Wondering “Is Ireland cheaper than Spain”? Honestly, the cost of living is much more affordable in Spain although many things in Spain are more expensive, such as clothing. But the cost altogether evens out to be cheaper.
How Does Spain Compare To Ireland?
So, how does Spain compare to Ireland? Spain is about 7 times bigger than Ireland. Ireland spans around 70,273 sq km, whereas Spain is roughly 505,370 sq km, 619% bigger. Also, while Ireland is home to approximately 5.3 million individuals, Spain’s population is around 41.9 million people.
Ireland Vs Spain: Drumroll…
We only have so much time to travel and explore the world. So whether you’re looking to spend a year in Spain or Ireland, or just a shorter term, both countries offer unique experiences that are worth checking out at least once in your life.
If you’re seeking warm weather, bustling nightlife, and a lively atmosphere that is also easily affordable, then hop on a plane to Spain!
You will love the constant dancing, shopping, amazing food, and endless beaches to explore!
But, if you’re a more laid-back kind of person and you appreciate breathtaking landscapes and a natural environment, even if the weather may be erratic, then Ireland is your destination.
The warmth of the Irish will make up for the cold weather, and you will feel right at home with the traditional music and hearty food!
Now that we’ve gone through each of the comparisons, I’m curious, which country do you prefer?
I’ve to say comparing Ireland and Spain is no easy task. Both have their own qualities that make them worth visiting (and living in).
Ultimately, I love both places and if you get to visit them both, please do! But for now, let’s start rounding up the gang, or head on solo to your chosen destination!