Python vs. C++: Which to Learn First and Where to Start

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Deciding whether to learn Python or C++ first is a matter of preference for most people. Learn more about the pros and cons of each before you make a decision.

Both Python and C++ are popular, easy programming languages for beginners, and choosing the one to learn first is often a matter of personal preference. For one thing, these languages share many similarities. They also have legions of fans, extensive support, and portability that makes them useful in multiple situations.

If you're in the process of deciding which programming language to learn first, you may find it helpful to explore the advantages and disadvantages of each language. You'll be able to make an informed decision about which program best meets your current needs.

Read more: What Programming Language Should I Learn?

Python: Beginner-friendly

Python isn't just an excellent programming language for beginners. It's one of the most popular programming languages in the world, perhaps because it's so easy for beginners to pick up. This high-level language combines built-in data structures with dynamic binding and typing to create a powerful language that can have you writing code faster than you imagined possible.


Python offers several key advantages that make it a viable option for anyone wanting to learn a programming language. These advantages include the following characteristics:

  • Easy to comprehend: Python reads like English, making it easy for new users to pick up and start writing code.

  • Easy to debug: As an interpreted language, Python executes code line by line and stops executing as soon as an error appears. You won't spend as much time tracking down and correcting errors in the code.

  • Free and open-source: You can use and distribute your own version of Python.

  • Library support: The extensive Python library reduces your dependence on external libraries. If you need to import a package from another library, you have more than 125,000 third-party Python libraries to choose from as you write code [1].

  • Portability: The code you write in Python will work anywhere.


Python is popular, but that doesn't mean it's a perfect programming language. It won't work for all applications, and it has other drawbacks listed below:

  • Execution speed: Python executes code line by line, which can slow the process. When speed matters Python may not be the best programming language.

  • Memory usage: Python requires a considerable amount of memory, which can limit its use for particular projects.

  • Usability in mobile computing: Python can take up too much memory to make it usable for mobile devices.

  • Database access: The Python database is underdeveloped compared to similar technologies and can be cumbersome to use.

Read more: How Long Does it Take to Learn Python? (+ Tips for Learning)

C++: The faster option

Created in 1985, C++ has been around longer than Python. Despite its age, it remains one of the most efficient programming languages available. More than 5.4 million developers around the world use C++ in their work [2]. But should you? Check out the advantages and disadvantages of C++.


So many developers use C++ because of its portability and speed. More advantages of this language include:

  • Portability: C++ codes you write on one platform can easily transfer to other platforms without producing an error.

  • Speed: As a compiler-based language, C++ is faster than Python. The same code running in both programs simultaneously will generate in C++ first.

  • Mid-level language characteristics: C++ is a mid-level language, which allows the developer to use it as both a low-level and high-level language.

  • Memory management: C++ does not support garbage collection, so the developer has complete control over the memory.

  • Similarity to other programming languages: If you also know C, C#, or Java, you may find it easier to learn C++.

  • Extensive community of users: C++ is such a popular program, you'll find a vast network of support to help you solve problems with your code.


You may find it helpful to be aware of the disadvantages of working in C++. The more you understand the language's limitations, the better you will be prepared to make accommodations as needed. Here are some of the programming language's drawbacks:

  • Memory management: Since the user has complete control over the memory, there's a risk of storing redundant data that increases the memory used.

  • Flexibility: C++ can feel less flexible because of its strict syntax. Small errors lead to a series of errors that take time to correct.

  • Functions: C++ lacks first-class type functions like passing and returning values without restrictions and creating functions without restrictions.

  • Complexity: As a multi-paradigm language, C++ is not useful for platform-dependent apps.

Read more: What Is C++ (And How to Learn It)

Ways to learn either language

Although you can learn programming languages on your own through trial and error, it may be easier to take a class. In a class, you should learn basic programming concepts and have opportunities to practice writing code. If you don't want to enroll in a college program, you can try shorter learning opportunities through bootcamps and certificate programs.


A bootcamp is essentially a coding school where you learn a programming language in a condensed timeframe. Many bootcamps run for eight to twelve weeks, and some can take as long as seven months to complete. By the time you complete a Python or C++ bootcamp, you should be able to write code well enough to practice on your own or apply for an entry-level coding position.

Certificate programs

Like bootcamps, certificate programs typically take eight to twelve weeks to complete. These programs may be available on a college campus or online, so you can find one that fits your schedule. Many certificate programs focus on one sub-topic, and you should get plenty of introductory knowledge about the topic along with practice opportunities. When you finish, you receive a certificate of completion.

Next steps

If you're still unsure which programming language is the best to learn first, you have options. You can take introductory courses that are available that teach you the fundamentals of how to use the languages and can be helpful in your decision-making process. Check out the Python for Everybody Specialization or Programming in C++: A Hands-on Introduction Specialization on Coursera to determine which programming language you want to learn first.



Python for Everybody

Learn to Program and Analyze Data with Python. Develop programs to gather, clean, analyze, and visualize data.


(200,549 ratings)

1,412,821 already enrolled


Average time: 8 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Json, Xml, Python Programming, Database (DBMS), Python Syntax And Semantics, Basic Programming Language, Computer Programming, Data Structure, Tuple, Web Scraping, Sqlite, SQL, Data Analysis, Data Visualization (DataViz)



Programming in C++: A Hands-on Introduction

Hands-on Introduction to C++ Programming. Code and run your first C++ program in minutes without installing anything!


(578 ratings)

13,073 already enrolled


Average time: 4 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Computer Science, Computer Programming, C++, Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), Iteration, Variables, Conditionals, vectors, Files, Strings, Functions, Recursion, Objects, Polymorphism, Inheritance

Related articles

Article sources

1. Techvidvan. “Python Advantages and Disadvantages – Step in the right direction,” Accessed June 8, 2022.

2.  ADT mag. “Developer Economics Survey: Data Science, Machine Learning Are Most-Wanted Skills,” Accessed June 8, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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