Spain is a country of colorful people, over-the-top festivals, mouthwatering food, ornate architecture, and a gorgeous coastline. Below you’ll find all you need to know before planning your trip, from ways to save money and when to visit to which cities are best depending on your interests. Ole!
Getting to Spain
Spain has a number of international airports, but by far the largest and busiest is Barcelona (BCN). From the East Coast of the USA, flights to Barcelona can be super-cheap and frequent. Coming from within Europe, trains are available, and routes from Paris or London are quite popular. Alternatively, you can reach Spain by ferry or cruise as well!
When to go
I personally think the best time to visit Spain is late spring or early fall, when the prices are a bit lower and the crowds a bit fewer. That being said, if you’re going to a major city such as Barcelona or Madrid, the prices and crowds are always a bit high.
Spain is really hot during the summer months, and due to its beautiful coastline, prices spike during this time as well.
If you’d like to escape the cold during winter, Spain offers mild temperatures relative to many other places in the USA and northern Europe.
what to see
|Gaudi, Gothic Architecture, Catalan Culture
|Royal Palace, Prado Museum
|Alhambra, Moorish Quarter, Cathedral
|Flamenco, Medieval Quarter, Alcazar Castle
|Coastal City, Medieval Towers, Beaches
|Balearic Island, Nightlife, EDM, Beaches
|Moorish Citadels, Picasso’s Birthplace, Coastal City
|Island off Coast of Africa, Carnaval, Beach Resorts
|Basque Culture, Pintxos & Foodie Town, Beaches
|Cathedral, Medieval Mosque, El Greco Museum
|Guggenheim Museum, Old Town, Basque Cuisine
|Cadiz Cathedral, Watchtowers
|Baroque Architecture, Sandstone Buildings
|Sherry Wine, Equestrian School, Flamenco
|Hilltop Castle, Roman Aqueduct, Gothic Cathedral
Traveling within Spain
Madrid is very well-connected with other cities throughout the country by rail. Barcelona, which is a more popular first-stop, is somewhat less so.
Flixbus is a great bus company within Europe, but it’s worth noting that they are not pet-friendly.
On the other hand, if you want to road trip (or if you’re traveling with a furry friend or lots of luggage), renting a car is also an option. This will allow you more independence and freedom of schedule. Be sure to get an International Driving Permit in your home country, they are required to rent a car!
Detailed Spain Articles
Money-saving tip: Don’t input any dates to scan the best available times to go OR simply input ‘Spain’ instead of a specific airport – you may get a much cheaper flight!
When I travel, I prefer to use VRBO. I book an entire apartment, giving me my privacy and the comfort of home amenities, such as a kitchen and washing machine. Since my dog(s) travel with me, it also allows me to filter based on pet-friendliness without the stress of disturbing hotel guests.
If you’re traveling long-term, VRBO usually offers discounts for stays of a month or more – the discounts are significant, sometimes 50-60%! It winds up being cheaper than what I would have paid for my apartment rent back in the USA.
If you’re a budget-conscious traveler and not traveling long-term, hostels are a great option and are abundant in Italy.
For standard hotel stays, Hotels.com usually offers the best deals.
While Spain is a relatively safe country, petty crimes like theft and pickpocketing are all-too-common, particularly in cities such as Barcelona and Madrid. Barcelona was by far the worst by-far I’ve seen in all my years of travel in terms of scams and pick-pocketers. Definitely acquaint yourself with the most common scams in Spain before you travel.
Do your best to blend in and not appear to be a tourist. Don’t accept unsolicited help, and try to appear confident.
Mark your cash bills with a pencil or some other identifying mark so that you don’t fall for the counterfeit money scam, where a cashier or vendor will return with the cash you’ve paid and tell you it’s counterfeit, making you pay again (aka paying double!).
Trust your judgement and always remove yourself from any situations that feel less than safe.
Money saving tips
One of the best ways to save money while traveling in Spain is to keep your eyes peeled for the menu del dia – menu of the day. This is usually a three-course prix-fixe lunch menu for around 10 EUR. Eat big for lunch and enjoy a tapas bar for dinner.
Purchase city passes if you plan on hitting a lot of tourist sites.
Search on Pinterest: ‘Free Things To Do In….’ There are a ton of great resources out there from travel bloggers, and Pinterest is where you want to search.
Take a free walking tour or self-guided walking tour.
If you plan on visiting many tourist sites, particularly in Barcelona or Madrid, be sure to pick up a city pass. These generally give hefty discounts, free admission to certain places, free public transportation among others. They’re usually available in one- or three-day increments.
FAQs About Traveling to Spain
Do I need a visa to visit Spain?
- Most travelers from the United States and many other countries do not require a visa for short stays (up to 90 days) for tourism or business purposes in Spain. Visa requirements can vary based on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Check with the nearest Spanish embassy or consulate for the latest visa information.
What’s the best time to visit Spain?
- Spain is a diverse country with different climates. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) offer mild weather and are great for exploring cities and cultural sites. Summer (June to August) is perfect for beach destinations, while winter (December to February) is ideal for visiting museums and enjoying festive markets.
What’s the currency in Spain, and can I use credit cards?
- The official currency is the Euro (EUR), and credit cards are widely accepted in most establishments. It’s advisable to have some cash on hand for small purchases and in rural areas.
What languages are spoken in Spain?
- The official language is Spanish, but you’ll also find regional languages such as Catalan, Galician, and Basque. English is spoken in tourist areas, especially in major cities.
Is tap water safe to drink in Spain?
- Tap water is generally safe to drink in Spain. In rare cases, such as in rural areas, bottled water may be preferred.
How do I get around Spain?
- Spain has an extensive public transportation system, including trains, buses, trams, and metros in major cities like Barcelona and Madrid. Rental cars are available for exploring less accessible areas. Walking and cycling are also great ways to explore cities.
What are some must-visit places in Spain?
- Spain offers attractions such as Barcelona, Madrid (the capital), the Alhambra in Granada, the beaches of Costa del Sol, and the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Explore historic cities, beautiful beaches, and architectural wonders.
What is Spanish cuisine like, and are there vegetarian/vegan options?
- Spanish cuisine includes dishes like paella, tapas, and churros. Vegetarian and vegan options are available in most restaurants, especially in larger cities.
Is it customary to tip in Spain?
- Tipping is customary in Spain. A 10-15% tip for good service in restaurants is common. In cafes and bars, rounding up the bill is appreciated.
Is it safe to travel in Spain?
- Spain is generally considered a safe destination for travelers. Use common-sense precautions, such as safeguarding your belongings and staying aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded tourist areas.
What should I pack for my trip to Spain?
- Pack clothing appropriate for the season and activities you have planned. Comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and a hat for sun protection are recommended, especially in the summer.
What is the legal drinking age in Spain?
- The legal drinking age for purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages in Spain is 18 years old. Please adhere to these age restrictions when ordering alcoholic drinks in bars and restaurants.