These two nouns seem synonymous for "the outskirts" or "the surrounding areas", but I have no idea when I would choose one over the other. Are there any nuanced differences?

  • They are not synonymous. Please post a definition from a good dictionary.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 16:38

1 Answer 1


In Spain "alrededores" is more used than "contornos" (in fact I have never heard it to refer the surrounding areas, it is more used as a geometrical concept).

Other words that are commonly used for that meaning are the following ones:

  • El "extrarradio" de Barcelona incluye poblaciones como Badalona, L`Hospitalet, . . .
  • En las cercanías" del pueblo se encuentran las huertas de los propietarios.
  • En los suburbios de Madrid se puede ver el efecto de la crisis (surrounding areas related with poverty, also it is used arrabal).
  • He estado en los "aledaños" del estadio (more used for the close area of a certain place).
  • contornos and alrededores are different and the first does not mean neighborhood or surroundings of a place.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 16:37
  • Hi @Lambie! The first acceptation of "contorno" says "Territorio o conjunto de parajes de que está rodeado un lugar o una población" [rae.es/drae2001/contorno]
    – R18
    Commented Oct 31, 2023 at 8:44

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