Abstract Class vs Interface in Java

1. Introduction

In Java, abstract classes and interfaces are used to achieve abstraction, which is one of the four pillars of object-oriented programming. An abstract class can define both complete (concrete) and incomplete (abstract) methods and can have state (member variables). An interface, traditionally, is a pure abstraction that cannot have any method implementations until Java 8; after which default methods in interfaces were introduced.

2. Key Points

1. abstract classes can have both abstract methods (without a body) and methods with implementation.

2. interfaces can only have abstract methods, with the exception of default methods and static methods in Java 8 and beyond.

3. A class can implement multiple interfaces but can only extend one abstract class.

4. abstract classes can maintain state through member variables, but interfaces cannot, although they can have static final variables.

3. Differences

Abstract Class Interface
Can have both abstract and concrete methods. Traditionally only abstract methods, but can have default and static methods since Java 8.
Can have member variables and maintain state. Cannot have member variables; can only have static final constants.
Supports single inheritance; a class can only extend one abstract class. Supports multiple inheritance; a class can implement multiple interfaces.

4. Example

// Define an abstract class
abstract class Vehicle {
    protected String brand; // Abstract class can have member variables

    // Abstract class can have a constructor
    public Vehicle(String brand) {
        this.brand = brand;

    // Abstract class can have concrete methods
    public void start() {
        System.out.println("This " + brand + " is starting.");

    // Abstract class can have abstract methods
    public abstract void honk();

// Define an interface
interface Flyable {
    // Interfaces can have abstract methods
    void fly();

    // Interfaces can have default methods (Java 8+)
    default void land() {
        System.out.println("I am landing.");

// A class that extends the abstract class and implements the interface
class FlyingCar extends Vehicle implements Flyable {

    public FlyingCar(String brand) {

    // Implement the abstract method from Vehicle
    public void honk() {
        System.out.println("This " + brand + " is honking.");

    // Implement all abstract methods from Flyable
    public void fly() {
        System.out.println("This " + brand + " is flying.");

public class Main {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        FlyingCar car = new FlyingCar("Terrafugia");

        // Using the method from abstract class

        // Using the method from interface

        // Using the default method from interface

        // Using the method implemented in the subclass


This Terrafugia is starting.
This Terrafugia is flying.
I am landing.
This Terrafugia is honking.


1. Vehicle is an abstract class that has a member variable, a constructor, a concrete method start(), and an abstract method honk().

2. Flyable is an interface with an abstract method fly() and a default method land().

3. FlyingCar extends Vehicle and implements Flyable, providing implementations for the abstract methods.

4. The main method creates an instance of FlyingCar and calls its methods to demonstrate the functionalities inherited