Spain is one of the most popular countries in Europe for visitors from around the world. If you are planning a visit in the upcoming months, keep reading as we share some of the key things to keep in mind while traveling around Spain.
While Spanish is the main language that’s spoken in Spain, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not the only language spoken here. Some of the autonomous regions have a second official language. Catalan is spoken in Catalonia, Galician is used in Galicia, and Basque is the other language spoken in the Basque Country. You might find that street signs are in this language, but almost everyone in the local area will speak Spanish as well.
While Spain enjoys better weather than elsewhere in the continent throughout the year, the best weather and peak season is between June and August. In areas such as Barcelona and Ibiza, you’ll find the crowds massively increase during this time. Temperatures reach up to 90°F (30°C) during this time throughout the country, with sun throughout the day.
However, the north of the country is known for its lush, green landscapes and receives more rain than elsewhere. In Galicia, you’ll find there is heavy precipitation regularly, as this is the country’s rainy region.
The temperature never drops too low in Spain, and in winter, it will be around 40-50°F (4-10°C) throughout the country. Northern Spain sometimes experiences snow, but this is primarily in the mountain areas. Spring and autumn are great times to visit Spain, and this is when you’ll find the number of tourists drops and prices are lower.
Beach destinations are much quieter in the shoulder seasons, but the weather might not be hot enough for sunbathing all day long. Spain has an average altitude and sits at about 600 meters above sea level, making it the second-highest country in Europe.
When booking a trip to Spain, you’ll find that accommodation is more affordable than in other Western European countries. There are hotels on offer for all price points, with prices being a little higher in cities such as Barcelona and Madrid. Outside of the main tourist areas, you’ll find good deals on hotels, especially during the off-season.
The minimum age to drink in Spain is 18. This includes drinking in bars and clubs. When it comes to meal times in Spain, you’ll find these to be much later than elsewhere in Europe. Lunch is generally served between 2 and 4 pm each day, and dinner doesn’t start until after 9 pm. Keep these times in mind if you are looking for a restaurant for lunch or dinner, as some restaurants don’t open until 2 pm for lunch or 8:30 pm for dinner. While tourist restaurants will open at typical meal times, these are likely to be much pricier due to the audience they are catering to.
Public transportation in Spain is excellent. While the train system is quite fast, it’s more pricey than buses, so if you have the time and are looking to save some money, take the bus instead. Ride-share services are becoming more popular in Spain, and you’ll find BlaBlaCar to be the most popular option in this part of the world.
The drivers are vetted, so you can feel secure using this service. Metro services are extensive in both Madrid and Barcelona, but other cities have more limited metro or light rail services. Look out for passes that can save you money if you are taking multiple buses or train journeys during your stay.
If you are planning to rent a car on your upcoming trip to Spain, you’ll need to buy an International Driving Permit for car rental. These cost roughly 18 Euros and are valid for one year once they are issued. Car rental can be quite affordable in Spain, but you won’t necessarily want to drive in the main tourist cities. Expect heavy traffic in Barcelona and Madrid in particular, which you likely won’t want to contend with if it’s your first time here.
Spain is generally a very safe destination for solo travelers and young visitors. It doesn’t experience too many violent attacks but keeps an eye out for petty criminals. Especially in areas such as Barcelona, you’ll want to be very aware of pickpockets, particularly when traveling on subways or walking down busy streets.
Keep an eye on current scams during your visit to know what to look out for in Spain. As with anywhere in the world, trust yourself and your instincts when traveling in Spain, especially in regards to taxi drivers and hotels.
Valencia is known for having a little more petty crime than elsewhere in the country but is by no means particularly dangerous and still has low levels of violent crime. Keep in mind that drug possession and drug use are both illegal in Spain unless they are authorized for therapeutic reasons. Spain has been voted one of the top ten safest countries in the world, and you’ll find that there is little trouble even when staying out late at night.
Throughout Spain, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear sun dresses, tank tops, crop tops, and sorts. If you plan to visit churches or museums on your trip, make sure you pack something that will cover your shoulders and stomach so as not to offend anyone. In the evening, you’ll find the temperature drops a little, but in the summer months, you still won’t need pants or sweaters. The culture in Spain is based on Western Europe, and you’ll find that the country is very forward-thinking when it comes to many traditions and ways of dressing.
One tradition that’s often spoken about by visitors to Spain is siesta time. However, you might be surprised to learn that locals don’t usually sleep during this time. When it comes to food and drink in Spain, don’t expect paella and other typical dishes to be served everywhere, as each region has its own local cuisine. Finally, things rarely run to time in Spain, so don’t expect events and other gatherings to start at the time that’s advertised.
By keeping all of these top tips in mind, you can plan a safe and enjoyable trip to Spain. As with anywhere in the world, always use common sense and keep safety in mind to ensure you have a great time exploring this popular European destination.