Spain Country Guide

Spain is a country of contrasts, from the lush green landscape of the northern provinces and their wild Atlantic coast, to the the desert of Almeria and the gentle coves of the Mediterranean. With a balmy year-round climate, Spain is a popular destination in summer and winter alike.

Find out everything you need to know before you visit Spain, including trip highlights, travel tips, road trip guides and city itineraries, with our Spain vistor’s guide.

Best Time to Visit Spain

Spain is warmer than the UK all year round, but inland and in the mountains in winter nights can be chilly and in the north, you may well see snow. In the summer it can be blisteringly hot, especially in the cities.

Spring and autumn are wonderful times to visit – from April until June you’ll enjoy near perfect temperatures, with only a light top needed in the evenings, but remember that Semana Santa (Easter week) will be incredibly busy with costs rising accordingly. September and October offer warm sunshine, with the earth and sea still warm from the heat of August

Winter in the Andalucian and east coast cities is generally mild (other than in mountainous Granada) and in Barcelona and Seville you’ll find fantastic Christmas markets.

Spain Travel Tips

  • Spain has a number of different languages. Castilian (or Spanish) is the main language, with Catalan being spoken in Catalonia, Valenciano being spoken in Valencia (both being more like the French language), Galician belonging to the northern region and Basque   If you want to learn a few words, Castilian is the one to pick as it is the most widely spoken. 
  • CEST
  • To enter Spain, a valid passport with at least three months remaining is required. You may also need a visa to visit Spain, and non-EU nationals will require a return ticket and proof of funds for the stay.
  • Spanish state hospitals are required to provide vital primary healthcare to any patient who is admitted to hospital with life-threatening injuries or illness, regardless of their ability to pay so you’re be looked after in the event of an accident or sudden onset of illness. However, ongoing medical costs and repatrication are not covered even if you are EU traveler with a valid EHIC card. We recommend taking out travel and medical insurance for your trip.
  • The currency in Spain is the Euro € and cents.  
  • ATM’s which accept foreign cards are widely available in all cities and towns. If you decide to travel rurally, you will find ATM’s are less common.
  • Credit cards are widely accepted, with Visa and Mastercard being the most common.
  • Plugs in Italy are type C and F. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50Hz. We recommend using a universal adapter with surge protection like this one.
  • Some city municipalities provide free wifi zones which you have to register to use. Most hotels now provide free wifi. All of Spain’s cities enjoy 4g coverage and most of Spain’s large cities have rolled out 5g. Buy a travel hotspot with built in SIM for your trip and stay connected wherever you travel in Italy.
  • Tipping is not expected in Spain, but welcomed if offered. It’s unusual to tip in informal cafes, restaurants and bars, but if you go out for a more formal dinner, then 5-10% would be the usual tip. 
  • Spain is known for being a safe destination for travelers as long as you are mindful of the risks in big tourist destinations like Madrid where the Metro is notorious for pickpockets, and Barcelona. In an emergency, the number for police, fire and ambulance is 112. There is also a tourist helpline in Spain to assist you with non-emergency issues, the number is 902 102 112.

Spain Packing Tips

  • Pack layers for shoulder season trips and loose cotton or linen for summer. 
  • Include one longer dress or linen trousers/pants or longer shorts, and something to cover your shoulders, if you want to enter religious buildings.
  • Sun protection, sunglasses and a cap or hat are a must in summer.
  • Winter visitors should bring a waterproof or showerproof jacket and a few warm layers for colder days, especially if visiting mountainous areas or northern Spain.
  • Bring at least one warm top for summer visits, and a couple for autumn and winter visits, plus thermals if you’re planning to visit the mountains.
  • Make sure to bring a waterproof jacket, or showerproof top, even in summer.
  • If you’re visiting Spain’s historic towns and cities, make sure to pack trainers or comfy walking shoes. Cobbles can be tough on the feet!
  • Technical gear that washes easily and dries quickly is a great option if you’re road tripping or moving about a lot.
  • Don’t forget an easy to manage day bag, such as a ruck sack or day sack.

Spain Highlights

Intro to Spain

Spain’s is a cosmopolitan and forward thinking country, and full of modern and ancient treasures. The Moorish architecture of Andalucia is breathtaking and some of the best preserved in the world. 

The Gaudi legacy in Barcelona is fantastical and a perfect reflection of one of Europe’s most lively and vibrant cities. And in Madrid, the Prado is a stunning testimony to Spanish art and culture. Alongside these treasures, you’ll also find world class gastronomy and wine to rival France, without the snobbery or price tag!

Much of Spain lives on the coast, with huge swathes of inland Spain un-populated. It is the second most mountains country in Europe, with the Spanish Pyrenees, Picos de Europe in ‘Green Spain’ and the Sierre Nevada offering the biggest mountains, with numerous smaller ranges around the country. The opportunities for activities like hiking, cycling and water sports are immense.

Spain has a well-deserved reputation as a country larger than life and Spain’s people live it to the max. Every town and village has its own official fiesta (party), when the wine flows and the tapas is plentiful.

Two of the most famous fiestas in Spain involve being chased by a bull (San Fermin), or throwing tomatoes at strangers (La Tomatina) – but this is Spain, in all it’s loud and colourful glory.

Things to Know About Visiting Spain

  • Many businesses close for siesta between 12.30 or 1pm until 5pm and then open again until 8pm. This can vary a little from town to town but fundamentally the afternoon is for relaxing and spending time together as a family. 
  • Spain celebrates fourteen public holidays a year, many religious in origin, and a whopping 32 regional holidays. You can check out the dates here, plan in advance to ensure the attractions you want to visit will be open.
  • Sundays are truly sacred days in Spain. Many people will go to church but it is the extended family lunch, hosted by the matriarch, which is the most important part of the day. Very few, if any, shops are open on Sundays and many museums will also be closed.
  • Spain is not a pet loving country like the US or UK and you’ll see more strays than you’re used to, and a bit of dog poo on the pavements too, although in recent years this has improved.
  • Spanish people talk LOUDLY and over each other constantly.  It is not a fight breaking out or a lover’s tiff, it’s just everyday conversation. How four people together all talking at the same time can ever take in what the other is saying is a mystery, but they seem to manage it!
  • Spain is not as ‘finished’ as you might be used to. There are lots of failed projects around and many, many half built houses and buildings. This is because of the financial crash in 2008 and the subsequent bursting of Spain’s property bubble.
  • Whether you like it or not, bullfighting is a huge part of Spanish life and culture. Bullfighting is seen as heroic, a test of wills involving courage, intelligence, and elegance; matadors are national heroes. The bullfighting season runs from March to October with fights usually taking place on Sunday afternoons.

Getting to Spain

Flying

Spain’s largest international airport serves Madrid and is a direct destination from most of the world. Although Madrid is central (in fact, it’s exactly in the middle of the country), most of Spain’s large population hubs are on the coasts and are served by their own international airports such as Barcelona, Alicante and Malaga. These cities make perfect stopping off places for a day as you head to your holiday destination or start a Spanish road trip.

Hiring a car, motorhome or campervan at Spain’s major airports is easy when you use our premier partners.

Train

Spain is accessible by train from the whole of Europe, whichever country you’re traveling from. Once in Spain, the high-speed AVE trains (Alta Velocidad Española) netwerk links major cities with speeds of up to 186mph – it takes just two and a half hours to get from Madrid to Seville and the same to Barcelona. If you book in advance online you can find some great cheap fares, making this a much more cost effective (and quicker) option than flying.

Driving

If you’re visiting from Europe, Spain is very accessible by car – you might even squeeze in a detour over some of the Pyrenees more interesting routes on the way! If you’re in a hurry, the well maintained French or Portuguese motorway networks will deliver you into the country quickly and safely, whatever your route. 

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Essential Travel Products for Your Spain Trip

iBlock Universal Adaptor

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Roxy Easy Fit Linen Pants

Foldable UPF50 Straw Hat

Ultra Lightweight Backpack

Eastpack Springer Bum Bag

Gonex Wheeled Duffel Bag

GolocalMe G4 WiFi Hotspot

Essential Oils Hand Sanitiser

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