With it’s world-renowned architecture, fascinating history and stunning natural landscapes Spain sits at the top of most European’s annual holiday wishlist year after year. Famous for it’s fiestas, siestas, tasty tapas and flamenco, Spain is also blessed with lush landscapes and loved for it’s relaxed and slow-paced lifestyle.
Spain has a booming tourist industry and is unsurprisingly one of the most visited countries in Europe. The country is so diverse that it has something to offer everyone, from budget travelers backpacking in Ronda to luxury vacationers looking to splash the cash in Puerto Banus, Marbella.
Spain Travel Info
Language: The official language of Spain is Spanish. English is a widely spoken language in most major cities of Spain, and most people in the tourist areas speak very good English. In smaller towns and villages, few people speak English although some might know a few basics phrases. Try to speak in Spanish to the locals, if only to make them laugh at your mis-pronunciation. They’ll appreciate the effort nonetheless. Local dialects like Catalan and Andaluz are more prevalent than English.
Visa: Spain is a member of the Schengen Agreement which provides a free visa to travel to any EU country including the ones, not a part of Schengen as well as those approved by Schengen like America, New Zealand, and Australia for 90 days. Citizens of South Africa, Asia, and Russia, need to apply for Schengen Visa before going to Spain.
Electricity: In Spain the power sockets are type F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Spain Festivals & Celebrations
Semana Santa: Also known as The Holy week falls during Easter. Semana Santa is full of processions and various religious festivals. Churches prepare well in advance for this event making this celebration unforgettable. Hundreds of men and women take to the streets with the effigy of the Church’s Saint, don’t miss this great Spanish religious celebration.
La Tomatina: Travelers from all around the world flock to Spain to be a part of this fun and crazy Spanish festival. La Tomatina began seventy years ago and is now celebrated annually on the last Wednesday in August, in the Spanish town of Bunol. Basically, people throw tomatoes at each other.
Running Of The Bulls: This festival, also known as the Pamplona Bull Run, first began in northeastern Spain in the 14th century and today it’s considered the best and most famous festival in Spain. About 6 bulls, sometimes more, are let loose and run down the streets of Pamplona closely behind a bunch of adrenaline junkies who have to dive out of the way or risk getting gored.
Safety In Spain
Just like all European countries, Spain is a relatively safe place to visit. Bag snatching and scams are prevalent in all big cities so always be guarded. Major cities like Madrid and Barcelona are under the constant threat of a terror attack, as with all major cities in Europe, but security measures are in place. Based on my own travel experiences in Spain I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit Spain.
Top Things To Do In Spain
Lose yourself in bustling Barcelona
The city of Barcelona is genuinely enchanting with its perfect blend of contemporary delights and ancient architecture. Iconic sights like Gaudi Sagrada Familia adorn the city, and its culture makes tourists fall in love with it. The dining and drinking scene of the city is also superlative, and if you spend a few days here, you will also be among the ones having late night dinners and dancing till the small hours of the morning. Barcelona must top your bucket list in Spain.
The city of Madrid is full of energy seven days a week, even more so when midnight approaches. Popular due to its grand museums, finger licking cuisine, and the ever-buzzing nightlife, Madrid is one such city that will sweep you off your feet with it’s culture and vibrancy.
Want to explore a Moorish city? Well, Granada is one such stop for you! Experience the rich history by roaming the streets of Alhambra, an old palace in Granada and get ready to be mesmerized by the unbelievable past this city has witnessed. The large chambers, big halls, and pomegranate gardens add to the beauty of this palace. Do not forget to take a guided tour which will unveil the secrets hidden in the history of this place.
Relax on the beaches
As the weather in Spain is just amazing most of the time, hitting a beach is always a priority for every tourist. One of the best beaches is the Costa Del Sol which is an ideal, carefree spot where life sits back and basks in the sun. The nightlife and seafood of the place are to die for. If you are an adventure sports enthusiast, visit the nearby town of Nerja for some hiking accompanied by sightseeing.
Ramble around Ronda
Sitting in the center of Andalusia, Ronda is one of the prettiest towns in Spain and draws travelers from all corners of the globe with it’s charm alone. Another attraction here is La Ciudad. Spend some time here and let the beauty of the surreal sights sink in. A river gorge separates the old quarter from the remaining town and the structure linked to it is among the most picturesque in the country.
Visit The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Established in 1882, this Church is magnificent and is a masterpiece of architecture. Another interesting fact about the Church is that the construction is going on till date. The legend goes that once the Church is complete finally, the world will end. And perhaps precisely because of this the engineers keep on struggling and will end up being in the same state for years. Going by the bizarre faith, this Church should be on priority in your itinerary.
Explore the Balearic Islands
Just around the east coast of mainland Spain, in the Mediterranean lie the Balearic Islands. They represent four small islands that are very different from each other. Where Ibiza is about partying hard, Menorca is, on the other hand, a haven for peace lovers and full of lush landscapes. Mallorca is a rocky island and will provide you with everything expected from a tourist destination, and Formentera is known for its beaches.
The Canary Islands
Tenerife is the largest and most highly populated island out of the seven Canary Islands. It has a mild climate year round and is another perfect spot to enjoy the scenic beauty of La Rambleta, high in the mountains. Soothe yourself at La Laguna, rich in historic architecture. Be a part of the festivals at Santa Cruz for the experience. You can also enjoy the lazy sun-drenched beach at La Palma. The rocky cliffs, upon which foamy waves hit, are host to avocado orchards and vine plantations. Make sure to visit the astronomical observatory touted as the biggest in it’s class.
Mosque and Cathedral of Córdoba
Mezquita de Cordoba is a cathedral and mosque built in the 10th century and represents Cordoba that had reached its zenith under the new emir Abd ar-Rahman III. The mosque has marble flooring, gilded prayer areas, giant arches, Byzantine mosaics, jasper columns and is truly awe-inspiring. With its lavish décor, the mosque is the best sample of Muslim architecture in Spain and is a wonder of the medieval world.
Resting on Carme in the Gracia district of Barcelona is Parc Guell, which exudes a dream-like charm. In addition to Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, and Sagrada Familia, which are gems in the crown of the city, this marvelous piece of art also demonstrates the unrivaled ability of Antoni Gaudi. Take your time gaping at the magnificent artistry displayed at this place, crafted by Spain’s most renowned and innovative architect.
Other than these top things to do in Spain, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in Spain that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In Spain
Spain creates some incredibly delicious dishes from their locally grown simple produce. The seafood is fresh and traditional Spanish dishes like tapas and paella are packed with flavor.
Gazpacho: Bread, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, cucumber and peppers are blended to form a silky smooth paste. It is chilled and then poured into bowls. This is incredibly refreshing and delicious, and in summers Spaniards have it nearly every day. It’s just like soup… but served cold, which is perfect for the hot Spanish summers.
Paella: Paella is a rice dish made of chicken or rabbit, butter beans, runner beans and saffron which gives it it’s yellow color. The kind of rice Spaniards use gives the dish it’s signature flavor. In Valencia, they use the Calasparra variety grown in the east coast of Spain because it’s good at absorbing all the flavors.
Tortilla Espanola: This Spanish omelet is made of eggs, potatoes, and onions, although some purists choose to skip the onion. Onions and potatoes are slowly fried in olive oil and then mixed with the already beaten eggs. Tortilla Espanola can be eaten with ham, chorizo or just bread to make a complete meal.
Crema Catalana: For all the people with a sweet tooth, this is a perfect dessert. This cold custard dessert has the rind of lemon and cinnamon infused in it. It is a must try when in Barcelona.
Tapas: Last but not least, Tapas isn’t just one dish, it’s a collection of lots of little dishes, each one better than the former and a must have when in Spain. Some popular tapas plates are garlic prawns, spicy potatoes, grilled calamari, and blood sausages.
Where To Stay In Spain
Spain can be quite an expensive place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Spain is easy but finding affordable accommodation, if you’re on a tight budget, is the hard part. Luckily Spain hostels and dormitories make travel here really affordable for backpackers and anyone visiting Spain on a tight budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. Spain is a very popular year-round destination with business travelers and sight-seeing tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Spain.
If you’re backpacking in Spain or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Europe much more affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Spain Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Spain
The best time to visit Spain is between April and October, this is if you want mild, reasonably warm or if you’re lucky hot weather. If you want to see Spain with hot weather and blue skies then aim to visit between June and September.
Spain Travel Budget
Spain can be an expensive city but it’s still generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to Spain really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 35 to 50 euros a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Barcelona, Madrid or Seville then budget about 250 euros plus a day.
- Budget: €35 – €50
- Mid-range: €50 – €100
- Splurge: €150 +
Meal For One
- Budget: €8 – €25
- Mid-range: €25 – €60
- Splurge: €60 +
Spain Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Spain, like most other places in Europe is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for Summer trips and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during Spring, Autumn and Winter.
Be prepared for the weather to get extremely cold during the winter. You will need high quality thermal wear and scarves, woolly hats, gloves and a thick winter coat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Spain. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Spain include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to Spain check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Europe Packing List For Female Travelers.