Skyscanner puts two heavyweight summer holiday contenders in the ring to fight it out pound for pound over five hard-hitting rounds. It’s old brawler Spain v. young pretender Croatia. Will it go the distance? Who will land the knockout blow? Ding! Ding!
Round 1: Cheapest food
There is often a huge misconception between the perceived and actual cost of holiday destinations. Last year Skyscanner revealed that Spain was actually cheaper than people thought, while Croatia, despite being outside the Eurozone, was more expensive than perceived. Anyway, according to MyTravelCost.com, Spain is 6% more expensive than Croatia for groceries. In Spain, while you can gorge on its famous tapas and paella, a loaf of bread will set you back £2.25. In Croatia, with its tradition of dough-based street snacks like borek, a loaf is 83p, while a loaf of ‘toast bread’ a mere 41p.
Winner: Croatia. There are no two words that sum up summer holidays more than ‘toast bread’? Feather-fisted Croatia lands the first blow.
Round 2: Cheapest beer
To the less fair sex at least, cheap beer is vital to the enjoyment of a holiday. According to PintPrice.com, Croatia edges it on the price of a pint (£1.65) over Spain (£1.69). Of course it depends where you go: a beer will set you back four quid in Barcelona, and a ridiculous £8.67 in Ibiza, but only 66p in Santanyi. In touristy Dubrovnik, it’s £2.65 a pint, while in Gradac it’s a refreshing 48p. In Brist, according to one comment on PintPrice, one can ‘get pissed for a quid’. Get in!
Winner: Croatia. A close round of sparring with no knockout blows. Throwing Ibiza in the mix is below the belt, but pulling punches is not our game.
Round 3: Cheapest flights
One of the Brits’ most popular holiday destinations, Spain is well served by cheap flights from the UK with budget airlines heading to both summer sun resorts on the Costas like Malaga and all-round weekend break choices such as Barcelona. Despite its rise in popularity with UK holidaymakers over the last decade, Croatia is still mostly a summer-only destination and so route choices are limited. Flights to Croatia cost slightly more as there is further to travel, but you can still get cheap flights from as little as £28.
Winner: Spain. A few jabs, but no Sunday punch. The old-timer on the ropes does enough to get back in the bout.
Round 4: Chance of a holiday romance
To judge the quality of local talent (not that you’ve got a chance) is of course subjective. For every Maksim Mrvica, there’s an Ivica OliÄ‡, every Penelope Cruz, there’s a Miguel Ángel Jiménez. But for your average Brit, whose talent pool consists of other drunken holidaymakers, the chances of pulling rest on how much your prospective partner has drunk, and the density of discos in the destination. Basically, forget getting jiggy with hotties on Hvar, but hit up Tropicana in Magaluf, and you’re in there.
Winner: Spain. The old dog bites back with dynamite in both hands. This is a real rumble in the jungle and it’s going the distance.
Round 5: Best beaches
Croatia’s photogenic Zlatini Rat, on the Dalmatian island of Brac, is regularly voted one of the best beaches in the world. However, Croatia’s beaches lack one vital element: sand. Yes, its coast and islands are stunning, but can the kids build a sandcastle? No. On the other hand, Spain has buckets (and spades) of sandy beaches, from Cadiz to the Costa Brava. Pick from Genoveses in Almeria, El Cotillo on Fuerteventura, Playa de Illetes on Formentura… The Fat Lady is bursting into ‘Eye of the Tiger’.
Winner: Spain. No contest. It’s an absolute haymaker from the old pro and Croatia is kissing the canvas. It’s seconds out.
And the overall winner is… Spain
It’s a majority decision. The young pretender Croatia is beaten but not unbowed, down but not out. Cool Croatia is a great alternative for a summer holiday, with a beautiful coastline and exciting cities. But that knockdown in the last sealed it for Spain, which is as popular as ever with UK holidaymakers, and for good reason.