Last updated on March 15th, 2019 at 10:34 pm
Located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe, Spain is a place of vibrant and diverse culture that every tourist would fall in love to. From amazing architectural castles to the colorful fiestas, no wonder Spain has been one of the most visited places by tourists every year, and the number of tourists is getting bigger yearly.
This post will be all about the things to know before visiting Spain. From first timers to seasoned travelers, this post will be your go-to guide to get to know more of Spain and what awaits you to the place where old and traditional meets with new and modern.
Did you know that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world? It has over 406 Million native speakers all over the world; Spanish is second to Chinese and just ahead of English as the most spoken language in the world.
Read here about how much budget travel in Spain you need per day!
Read here the most Instagrammable places in Spain!
Things to Know before visiting Spain
Quick Facts about Spain
1. Currency in Spain
The currency used in Spain is Euro and is actually one of the least expensive places in Western Europe. For €1 = approximately $1.16. Click here to know the exchange rate between the Euro and your currency!
The official language in Spanish is Castilian Spanish, but 5 out of 17 autonomous regions have their own language and also have their own dialects. Spain might not be the most English friendly place in Europe but there can be people who can talk to you in English on places where tourists frequently visit. Other languages include Catalan, Galician and Basque are spoken in different regions of the country.
3. Visa in Spain
US Citizens may enter Spain for up to 90-days only for tourist and business purposes without visa. Staying more than 90-days needs visa. Passports should also be valid for at least 3-months beyond the period of stay.
If you are from a country of citizenship that is not covered under the Schengen Agreement, you’ll need a visa even if it’s just a short stay. Read here our article for the Schengen Visa Philippines where Rachel explained step-by-step how to get Schengen Visa Philippines.
4. Weather/Best time to visit Spain
Because of Spain’s location, size and mountains, depending on your preference to visit, winter from December to February can be really cold on the North; summer from June to September can be extremely hot especially on the South. There are a few towns where it can reach 50 degrees like Seville, Cordoba especially in Andalucia. It would be the best time to visit Spain around April, May and September where it’s spring and autumn.
5. Cash and ATM in Spain
Just like any usual country, you can pay using your card everywhere; from hotels to restaurants and all other establishments. Although small shops only admit cash for small purchase and transactions, ATM machines are also everywhere. Just be mindful of still having some cash on you for emergency purposes or just to be sure.
Things to know about culture before visiting Spain
6. Choose from 17 Autonomos Region
There are actually 17 Autonomous regions and 2 autonomous cities in Spain; Ceuta and Melilla. There are many places to visit in Spain from big cities, small towns, amazing islands.
7. Spanish Siesta
You might have heard of Siesta; it’s a time in the afternoon where shops and other establishments close so people can technically rest and take a nap. Shops and other regular establishments are closed around 2-4pm while restaurants and bars are usually close from 4pm up to 8pm to 9pm. Siesta is popular in other countries that were colonized by Spain like the Philippines.
8. Dancing Flamenco
Flamenco is a traditional dance. It is mostly danced by people from Andalusia. It includes singing, playing the guitar, dancing and hand clapping. It would be nice if you have the opportunity of watching a show.
9. Ways of Transportation around Spain
For traveling around the cities, there are metro and public buses in big cities where you can ride for certain destinations. To move around the country the cheapest way is by bus. You can also use sites as BlaBlaCar where you can rent a seat for similar prices than the bus.
Trains are quite expensive since it is high speed, but it is very efficient and it will be a short time to travel from Madrid to Barcelona and different points of the country. Flights in Spain are quite cheap with airlines like Ryanair, Volotea, and Vueling. You can also check Skyscanner to find the best prices.
10. Daily Budget in Spain
If you read our previous post about Madrid, you’ll see that the daily budget we indicated there is already relatively cheap. And the good thing is that in Spain, it is cheaper! You can stay in a dorm or a room from €12-25. Of course there are also available Airbnb for €17-36 a night. Click here and you can get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB when you sign up with us!
You can spend from €4-8 per meal in Spain if you are going for beer and tapas. In transportation you can spend around €5 per day, depending on where you are going or how frequent you’d ride. Overall, it’s safe to say that you can manage with €26-38 per day and you will have amazing time exploring the city.
11. Nightlife in Spain
Most bars starts to be full very late at around 9pm, streets will start to be crowded. You can have dinner but it will be difficult by that time so I suggest grabbing dinner sooner than this time. If you go out for a party, you might want to start around midnight as this will be the time where most people are already in the bars and clubs. People in Spain love to grab a beer for socializing at night. It is said that the Siesta culture is actually what makes the Spanish party later than usual.
In Spain, the sun comes out much later than other European countries, thus, the night is longer so the partying is also longer. Partying is an all-night affair in Spain. You can also experience partying all night on the beach on islands in The Balearic Islands, the popular Ibiza is one of the most popular places to visit in Spain.
More things to know before visiting Spain about food
There’s a number of famous foods that you must try to be able to experience the real taste of Spain. Food is affordable in Spain and delicious!
12. Jamón Serrano everywhere
Almost every home in Spain would have this as they eat it regularly. It is a type of cured ham that’s a part of their custom and traditions. They have a big knife to cut it themselves. It may vary depending on where it was made or the manufacturer. It’s also available on bars and restaurants. Prices can be €5-7 for a tapa in the bar.
13. Tapas and Pintxos culture
You can order a beer or a soda and you will have a free tapa especially in Andalucia and a few cities in Spain. In the North (Basque region) they called Pintxos, you just have to pay €1-2 for a meal. There are also a few bars where tapas are great and are actually cheap.
Read here to know more about Spanish Tapas!
14. Cafe with churros for breakfast
In winter, coffee and churos is so popular for breakfast. Since the weather is cold, it helps eating warm food to feel warmer. For the other seasons, a typical breakfast would be toast with tomato and ham, with orange juice and coffee. Prices for this breakfast are going from €2-3.
15. Spanish Omelette anytime
It’s a popular meal in Spain and it´s eaten anytime of the day. It can be for breakfast, lunch with tapa and a beer with a small piece of bread on the side. You can get a small tapa or pintxo de tortilla for only €2 or even a whole sandwich for €3-4.
16. Eat delicious Paella
Paella is a rice dish with chicken, duck and rabbit. It has a lot of variations. It’s the most famous dish in Spain and it has a few different ways to be prepared: vegetarian, chicken, seafood. The most traditional paellas are from Valencia. You can get a dish of paella for €8-10 in a local restaurant.
Places to visit in Spain
Andalusia harbors cultural and beautiful places and cities as Granada and Cordoba. These cities with morish heritage are so beautiful and you can´t miss them. The great Mosque of Cordoba and Alhambra are one of the most popular landmarks in Spain. There are beautiful beaches like Malaga, Cadiz and Huelva too.
18. Toledo & Segovia
Toledo and Segovia might be opposites when it comes to the place’s structure but they are places that one might visit once they are in Spain. The roads in Toledo have its twists and turns, the town can make you feel like you’re back in older times and it can make you feel like you will easily get lost if you wander more.
In Segovia, you’ll find the 11th Century castle called Alcazar; which has been restored over the centuries. Seeing the 360 view of the castle can be a reward for the hike. They are destinations close to Madrid.
19. Caminito del Rey
Once an infamous and dangerous trail, Caminito del Rey is slowly becoming one of the most popular places to visit in Spain. It has been one of the most anticipated events in the recent years across the world.
20. North of Spain from Galicia to Basque Country
A road trip from Galicia to The Basque Country can be interesting. There are beautiful beaches, different gastronomy and green landscapes that tourists will surely enjoy to see and experience along the way.
21. Camino de Santiago
It’s a very popular tourist destination from France to Galicia. From wherever point you were from to Spain, you can walk to Galicia. I did travel from Madrid to Galicia using a bicycle! Read here my guide to bicycle Camino de Santiago.
22. Canary and Balearic Islands
Dont forget the islands in Spain! Canary Islands is where the weather is good for the whole year. It is a volcanic archipelago in Atlantic Ocean. Balearic Islands is where places like Ibiza and Mallorca are so popular to visit.
23. Ceuta and Melilla
They are the 2 autonomous cities located in North of Morocco, Spain. They can be reached by either a plane or a ferry. The culture is different than in the Iberian Peninsula and if you have to chance of visiting you will have your off beath experience.
24. Unesco Sites in Spain
Spain is the third country in the world that has the most number of UNESCO SITES World Heritage. There are a total of 46 official UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain. To name a few, the Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada that were listed in the list for their heritage value in Spain. Most of them are in Andalusia in the province of Spain.
Festivals in Spain
Festivals and parties in Spain can get crazy, there are a few that you can´t miss in Spain such as Tomatina, San Fermin and Semana Santa. Here are some of the most notable festivals and parties in Spain.
25. Tomatina in Buñol
It is a festival where people, including tourists around the world get to be soaked in overripe tomatoes. It has been a tradition that has been done yearly as early as 1940. You just need to wear googles and your swimming suit for the tomato war. Tomatina festival is celebrated last Wednesday of August.
26. San Fermin in Navarra
It is a long standing and probably the most famous tradition in Spain. It celebrates the honor of beheading St. Fermin. People risk their lives to run around the city together with 7 bulls with the goal to touch as many bulls as possible along the way. There are popular bull fights in the street at 8 am everyday. It can be crowded this festival since its one of the most popular festivals in Spain. It´s celebrated on 7th of July for a week!
27. Semana Santa
This tradition dates back up to the 16th Century. It is where scenes from the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ were told through a series of processions through the streets each year. It’s particularly famous in Andalusia where everyone celebrates it. The celebration can be similar as we had in Angeles City in the Philippines.
28. Las Fallas in Valencia
Las Fallas in Valencia is a festival that’s been celebrated for days where drinking, dancing and burning of structures made of woods are involved. There are also fireworks, of course. It´s crazy and noisy and celebrated on 19th of March in Valencia!
This is a parade that happens 47 days before the Easter Sunday. The best place to catch this parade is on Cádiz, Canary Islands and Sitges. Just choose the one is closer to your itinerary and experience on your own.
30. Orgullo Gay in Madrid
Madrid’s take on Gay Pride parades is held the weekend after June 28, the International Day of LGBT Pride. Equal marriage was approved in Spain in 2005 and has made the Orgullo Gay de Madrid even bigger than when it started in the late ‘70s with 2 million in attendance. In fact, the city is now the European capital of Pride. Members of the LGBT and those in support of their causes will definitely enjoy attending this progressive festival of love and freedom.
Read here if you are planning to visit France all the things to know before visiting France. Read here if you are planning to travel on a budget in Malta. For more things to know before visiting in Malta and Greece.
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