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Italy vs France: Which is Better to Visit?

Touring Europe opens you to a new world each time you cross country borders. While many European countries fall under the European Union (EU), each has a different culture and way of life. This is part of the reason why it’s enjoyable, and beneficial, to move from one country to another, and from city to city, if possible. If you’re trying to decide where you should travel, take a peek at our comparison of Italy vs France.

These are two countries in the EU that share several similarities. But there are many differences between them that are worth noting as well. While the Romans had a great influence on Southern France, the differences in culture, people, infrastructure, and way of life between the two countries is immense. So, which is better: Italy or France?

Well, understanding the differences between these two countries is an important first step. This way, if you don’t have time to tour both Italy and France (which would be an excellent idea), you can pick the one that best suits your trip preference!

France Overview

Eiffel Tower and Sunset

Folks who have Europe in their travel plans always dream of visiting France. In fact, this amazing country was visited by 89 million foreign tourists in 2019. That’s a huge number of tourists flocking to the country – it must have something special.

As of 2021, France had a population of close to 65 million, with about 11 million people living in Paris. France is a semi-presidential republic, with both a president and a prime minister, and a member of the EU.

The country has a diverse culture and numerous industries that power its booming economy. Such industries include agriculture, tourism, energy, transport, science, and technology. Many people who think of France want to embrace the local culture and visit the numerous tourist attractions. As such, tourism plays a crucial role in the French economy.

For instance, in 2019, the industry pumped a whopping 211 billion euros into the country’s economy. The most popular places to visit are the numerous châteaus, Paris, the French Riviera, Loire Valley, the French Alps, French wine regions, and the fantastic beaches.

Paris (the world’s most romantic city) is where you want to be when you wish to experience romance and culture. Cafes and museums offer a glimpse into the amazing hold this city has on the world. And you won’t want to miss a chance to view the whole of Paris when up in the Eiffel Tower.

See Related: Most Beautiful Small Towns in France

Italy Overview

Saint Pierre Statue, Italy

A visit to Italy takes you back to when the Roman Empire ruled most of Europe and the world. Italy is full of Roman architecture that includes the most magnificent cathedrals in the world. This parliamentary republic is a member of the EU and part of Western Europe.

Italy is the best place to experience the magnificence and brilliance of the Mediterranean Sea. Visitors can enjoy tours on land in places like Rome and Milan, both representing the breathtaking Italian culture. But you can also venture out to sea and enjoy Capri, Elba, Pianosa, Ischia, Ponza, and Lipari.

However, as you plan your trip to Italy, you should note a few things. For instance: Southern Italy enjoys a longer tourist peak season due to its warmer climate. While the winter season can get quite cold in the northern part of the country, travelers can often find great off-season deals.

This magnificent country is home to 59 million people. It hosts over 25 million tourists annually, with a huge percentage visiting during summer. Apart from tourism, Italy’s economy is driven by other industries, including agriculture, infrastructure, energy, science, and technology.

Rome hosts the most visitors who tour Italy, and many want to sample the delicious Italian food. However, you can plan to visit different places like Naples, Milan, Venice, Verona, Turin, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, or Bologna. For folks who enjoy visual arts, the influence of the Italian Renaissance is all over the country.

Whichever part of the country you choose to visit, the list of attractions is infinite. Use our detailed guide to the best things and places to visit in Italy to make an informed choice.

See related: Best Travel Books for Italy

Italy vs. France: Which is Better to Visit?

Tourist Attractions

Louvre Pyramid

France is one of the top places people want to visit when they think of a European trip. This is especially so for fashion and history enthusiasts. No matter where you wander, you’ll find numerous amazing tourist attractions, with plenty to do in its capital city, Paris.

Perhaps France’s biggest and most famous tourist attraction is the magnificent Eiffel Tower. This landmark has been a part of Paris since 1889. Nicknamed the ‘Iron Lady,’ the Paris skyline isn’t complete without the lights of the Eiffel Tower shining on all her inhabitants.

Check out the famous Chateau de Versailles before moving away from the busy French capital. Once, this was the prominent home of many French royals. Today, visitors can enjoy its magnificence and marvel at the famous Hall of Mirrors.

Other top tourist attractions in France include the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Carcassonne, and the French Riviera. Any of the many tours will take you all across the country to the most magnificent places. For instance, you can book a big bus Paris hop-on hop-off tour for the best way to see all the sights of the French capital.

Colosseum Architecture

In Italy, the rich Italian culture comes alive when you arrive in different parts of the country. Italy was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and cities are dotted with great architecture. Rome hosts millions of tourists each year.

At the top of the list of the best sites to see is the Colosseum. This huge arena has survived since 72 CE and was once the best place to enjoy shows and different spectacles. Now, its visitors can enjoy a glimpse into the amazing Roman Empire.

Next, check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This is located in the beautiful city of Pisa and is one of Italy’s most elegant buildings. Visitors can climb up the tower and enjoy the surrounding unforgettable views.

Other tourist attractions in Italy include the Uffizi Gallery (Florence), Roman Arena and Historical Center (Verona), and the Amalfi Coast. Plan a tour of Italy, and you won’t fail to have a memorable time. And don’t forget to set some time to visit the beautiful coasts of Cinque Terre or Amalfi – you will undoubtedly love it.

Many visitors to Italy love the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill Tour. This tour allows guests to see some of the best attractions the country has to offer.

See Related: South of France Itinerary: French Riviera & Provence

Culture

French Culture

There is a clear distinction between the French and Italian cultures. While both countries are in Europe, the French people differ from the Italians in many cultural ways.

France’s customs and traditions are largely influenced by historical events and the country’s location. There’s a lot of Gallo-Roman and Celtic influence evident in the French culture that dates back centuries.

However, it was only during the time of Napoleon that French culture had a presence across the continent. People in France speak French, although a small part of the population does speak German. Folks who live near Italy may also speak both French and Italian.

The country continues to be a place where love and romance thrive. It’s also why millions of people flock to the country each year to catch a glimpse of this passion.

Venice Carnival Mask

Italy’s culture dominates since it is where the Renaissance was born. The Romans and Catholicism largely influence culture in Italy. Rome was the capital city of the Roman Empire for a long time and continues to attract millions of visitors each year.

There’s so much richness in terms of history and heritage when you explore the cities of Italy. The country’s economy thrives on the romantic notion that many people have about Italy. The country is a great honeymoon or romantic destination worth visiting.

The Italian way of life is attractive to many who want to meet people, eat delectable food, drink wine, and have a jolly time. Also, people in Italy are super friendly and hospitable, especially outside major cities.

Public spaces in Italy are always full of locals, especially after work, who love to socialize. Many people take an evening stroll to catch up and stretch their legs.

Food

Appetizers and rose wine.

One reason to visit France is to experience its delicious food. Yes, this is a great place to enjoy all manner of cuisine. Food is a big deal in France, and there are so many things you want to try when visiting the country.

For instance, France is home to many favorites like croissants, French bread, onion soup, and macarons. The amazing food scene is always vibrant, and you can also enjoy eating at small cafes dotting cities like Paris.

The French eat three main meals daily, starting with breakfast and ending with dinner. While many other places take a 1-hour lunch break, French employees enjoy 2 hours starting from noon. This gives them time to eat and enjoy their food.

Even better, there’s a variety of food in the market for all to enjoy when visiting France. Michelin-star chefs dominate the food scene in Paris, cooking amazing food. However, you can still enjoy local delicacies in smaller establishments across the country.

Italian meal

Italian food is a huge part of meals in many homes worldwide. Pizzas and pasta are common foods that most families enjoy, especially for dinner. Being in the Mediterranean, it’s unsurprising that it’s easy to find Italian dishes that are fresh and healthy.

Many folks love including vegetables, cheeses, and fresh bread in numerous recipes. Some traditional amazing foods you can enjoy in Italy include ravioli, lasagna, and pizzas. Anyone with a sweet tooth will also love visiting gelato shops that have amazing flavors.

Italy has a unique cuisine that thrives thanks to the fresh ingredients available in the region. Plus, this is the best place to enjoy fresh seafood and authentic Italian cooking. Unlike other places that offer a heavy breakfast and small dinner, it’s quite the opposite in Italy.

See Related: Most Beautiful Villages in France to Visit

People

People walking in the streets

The French are from Western Europe and live in France, one of the most visited countries in the world. Many are Roman and Gaul descendants who have lived in this area for centuries. They are also a mix of Celtics, Greeks, and Ligurians.

Folks in France enjoy lots of harmony and cohesion. Generally speaking, cities like Paris might not have the community feel. But a short drive to villages, away from the city, brings light to friends and neighbors who are always interacting.

Amalfi coast

Italy’s citizens and nationals are known as Italians and speak Italian as their national language. They are expressive people who love to speak with bravado and many hand gestures. While there’s a hint of French influence in Italy because of Napoleon’s conquest, Italians have largely maintained their culture.

People love celebrating all aspects of life, big or small. Family time is a big deal for many Italians. They love to gather, enjoy food, and interact for hours. Italians are also big on work-life balance.

Cost of Living

Nice, France at sunset

France is one of the most expensive places to live in Europe. In fact, Paris ranks among the world’s top cities with the highest cost of living. So, be ready to dig deep into your pockets when visiting the country.

But, like many other cities in the world, you can get by in France even with a small budget. All you need to do is identify affordable accommodation, transportation, and places to eat and shop.

Visiting France requires prior research and planning to know how much you’ll spend in this part of Europe.

The cost of living in Italy is a bit lower than in many other European countries. In fact, the country is considered one of the best in Western Europe for budget travelers.

Italy can be quite affordable if you stay away from the luxurious travel packages and places to stay. There is plenty of affordable and comfortable accommodation in cities like Rome and Florence. Outside the major cities, life becomes even cheaper for travelers.

But it’s important to remember that tourist hot spots are always expensive. And there’s so much to see in Italy that it might cost you more to tour the country. Locals, however, have it easier since food is readily available, and the country enjoys a stable economy.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Milan, Italy

Transportation

Eurostar Paris

There are different ways to get around France and visit its many historical sites. The country has air transport, trains, buses, and private vehicles. One of the easiest ways to get around is by using the French public transportation system.

France’s public transportation system comprises mostly the metro, bus, and train. Many road and rail links exist, especially in major cities and towns. There are apps that folks can download and use to move around easily.

Perhaps one of the best ways to get around in France is by bus. A public bus network crisscrosses the country, transporting people from towns to cities and back.

Always ensure you have a valid ticket before boarding a bus anywhere in France. It’s also a good option to take the train if traveling long distances.

Venice canal transport

In Italy, there are many ways you can travel between the different cities and have a blast. The country’s transportation system comprises planes, trains, boats, and buses. You can also hire a private car and drive to different places.

One of the cheapest ways to travel in Italy is by train, as train tickets cost 9 to 19 euros, depending on the distance. But you might end up paying more if you choose to travel using high-speed trains, or to travel at peak hours.

Another way to travel in Italy is by using public buses and enjoying views of the country’s rolling hills. Bus transportation is affordable, and there are different companies to choose from. On the way, you’ll enjoy amazing views of rolling hills and mountainous regions.

See Related: Italy the Way You Want It – On the Island of Procida

Nightlife

Night life in France
Image by monticello / Shutterstock.com

Did you know that France has one of the best nightlife scenes in Europe? After a tour of many famous sites during the day, there’s plenty to do at night. Major cities like Paris, Lyon, and Bordeaux are always thumping with party scenes.

It all starts with different restaurants serving amazing food. Afterward, you can head to bars and nightclubs serving drinks and playing music. Many concerts and live music events are happening across France, especially during spring and summer.

Apart from bars and clubs, there are many other things to do at night in France. Theater lovers can enjoy performances in various spots across the country. There are also river and sea cruises, wine retreats, and many other great experiences.

evening scene at Navigli Milan

Nightlife in Italy is abundant in major cities like Rome, Milan, and Florence. After viewing the major highlights in these amazing parts of the country, it’s time to party. These cities are full of bars and nightclubs playing the latest music and serving drinks.

Italians love to party, and there are many places to have a good time. The wine regions influence the nightlife, with wine parties hitting many areas. Check out the cafes, clubs, and other nightlife spots when you visit Italy.

There are many other things to do at night in Italy. This is a great place to enjoy theater performances in the most beautiful settings. If you opt to head out on the water, you can enjoy time on boats with dinners and other activities.

France vs. Italy: Which is the Best?

Italy has a better appeal for travelers who want to experience many things in one country. You can enjoy top historical sites in numerous beautiful cities. Italy is also full of culture and amazing food enjoyed across the world.

In addition, it’s fairly cheap for people visiting Italy to do so on a budget. There are many budget-friendly and comfortable accommodations in different parts of the country.

France does have a romantic charm and an amazing food scene as well. Also, tourist attractions are in abundance in the country, a reason for the many tourists visiting annually. However, there are more major highlights in Italy.

The truth is both France and Italy have lots to offer visitors who want the best time. All you need is to plan well and identify what you are looking for during your trip.

Also, you should identify the best time for your travel to each country if you want to avoid the tourist crowds, which exist especially in the summertime. Overcrowding in tourist sites might spoil your time. Plan ahead.

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