Things To Know When Traveling To Spain – Spain has been one of the world’s leading tourist destinations for many years. People come to Spain for its extraordinary culture and history, as well as its wonderful southern beaches, delicious food and welcoming atmosphere. In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know before traveling to Spain.
From the best destinations to the cost of traveling in Spain, history, culture and what to eat, travel safety and how to travel in Spain, this list of 50 travel tips will make your trip to Spain an experience to remember.
Things To Know When Traveling To Spain
#1 The Kingdom of Spain, as it was officially known, used to be separate kingdoms and was only unified since the 15th century. Today, it is divided into 17 autonomous communities (15 in the peninsula and the Balearic and Canary Islands), and the aforementioned enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa.
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#2 Despite being a developed and peaceful country, these divisions are still very strong in Spain, with demands for independence in many autonomous regions, particularly Catalonia and the Basque Country.
#3 This means culturally Spain is very diverse and rich. Basque is Andalusian and very different from Madrid… so traveling through Spain is a very interesting and varied experience. You will probably notice some of these peculiarities as you travel from one region to another.
#4 Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, with over 406 million native speakers, just ahead of English and only behind Chinese. However, in Spain, the official language is Spanish, all regional languages are Catalan, Basque and Galician, which has official status.
#5 As a tourist, if you speak Spanish you will be able to communicate with everyone in all parts of Spain. If you don’t, you should know that Spain is not the most English country in Europe, but you can easily find people who speak English, especially near the tourist areas.
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#6 Spain’s climate is one of the most diverse in Europe due to its size, coasts, and large mountain ranges. However, we can easily observe that the North is moist and cool while the South is dry and hot.
When planning a trip to Spain, remember that the south can be very hot in the summer, especially away from the coast! On the other hand, the north is very cold, windy and mostly rainy in winter. Finally, it usually snows in the mountains, which also makes Spain a good winter destination.
#7 Most Spaniards are officially Roman Catholic, but various religious beliefs are accepted. However, younger generations are much less religious, as in many other Western countries.
#8 Spain was (partially) under Muslim rule for over 700 years from 711 to 1571. To put this in perspective, the United States was independent for 242 years… Southern Spain, especially Andalusia, had a long period of Muslim rule. You can still see the influences in the buildings and architecture here.
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#9 Know that the Spanish have a different approach to daily life than other Europeans… Usually the day starts late, they only eat between 1 and 3 pm, they eat very late (around 10 pm). night) and take a famous afternoon nap called siesta! I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll take this lifestyle 🙂
#10 Spain is a very safe country to travel to. Most travelers do not face any serious threat or danger. However, you should be careful as there have been reports of pickpockets and scams in major tourist areas. In our experience, we have never felt unsafe in Spain or been approached by scammers.
However, you don’t want to run into a problem and end up uninsured! So remember to buy travel insurance before your trip!
#11 Spain is the third most visited country in the world with 68 million international arrivals in 2015. Only France and the United States have more!
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Of course, this means that there aren’t many off-the-beaten-path destinations in Spain. Although it’s a big country, if you visit outside of high season (summer), you won’t have too many problems with over-tourism.
#12 From this huge number of tourists, Barcelona is the most visited destination in Spain. Barcelona is a tourist hotspot that combines beautiful architecture, a major art scene and limitless culture.
When you travel to Spain, Barcelona should be on your list, probably at the top if you remember Gaudi and especially the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. However, there are many more fun things to do in Barcelona.
#13 Spain has 46 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 40 Cultural Sites, 4 Natural Sites and 2 Mixed Sites. Only Italy with 53 sites and China with 52 sites have more. From prehistoric rock art, historic cities and buildings to bridges, national parks and landscapes, Spain has many historical sights.
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#14 Andalucia is probably our favorite region in Spain. It has a lot to offer, from the original palaces of the Alhambra in Granada and the cathedral/mosque in Cordoba to the Plaza de España in Seville…
#15 However, the most amazing thing about traveling in Spain is the number of very beautiful old towns/buildings you can find. Small cities like Leon, Burgos, Segovia, Córdoba, Salamanca, Caceres, Avila are some of the best places to visit in Spain… and the list is endless…
#16 In all fairness, in many countries the cathedrals in Leon or Burgos are the biggest tourist attraction… in Spain, they are just… one, and that says a lot!
#17 One of our favorite hikes in Spain is near Malaga, El Caminito del Rey. This was a once infamously dangerous trail, but is now a wonderful hike through a spectacular gorge that has been made as safe as possible. This is a great and easy family walk if you are not afraid of heights 🙂
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Side note: If you want a lesser-known hike in Andalusia, try Los Cahoros. Find all the information you need here.
#18 In Spain you can also find amazing mountain destinations! In the north, you have Asturias and
, and of course, the Pyrenees that separate Spain from France. All of these are great winter destinations, but also great fun in the summer.
#19 Culturally, the Basque Country is probably the most exotic region of Spain, with a distinctly different language, customs and even food. It’s also one of our favorites, San Sebastian is probably our favorite small (medium) town in Europe. It gathers everything we need in one place.
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#20 The Basque Coast is also an amazing place to take a road trip! It is full of amazing beaches, amazing view points, beautiful towns, impressive peaks, great hikes, amazing islands! Here we must mention the beautiful San Juan de Gaztelugatxe!
#21 With all of this, you might think we’re forgetting the main reason most people come to Spain… looking for sun and sand! We didn’t; That is almost impossible. Spain has amazing beaches everywhere! From the famous Mediterranean coast with the famous Costa del Sol, Costa Brava, Costa de Valencia, etc., to the wildest beaches in the north of Galicia, Cantabria and the Basque Country!
#22 And then, there are the islands! The Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca and Ibiza are at the forefront! Here you have the complete party and beach package! If you want to hit the beach by day and party by night, Ibiza is the place to go!
#23 The Canary Islands, on the other hand, offer volcanoes and a different landscape from the rest of Spain. Tenerife is the largest island and you can hike up Teide Volcano/Mountain, climb into volcanic craters and enjoy some of the best beaches in Tenerife.
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It began as a Christian pilgrimage, where pilgrims from different parts of Europe would travel to Santiago over the course of weeks or months. Lately, more and more people are doing the Camino for many reasons, some as different as religious! However, for everyone, it was an unforgettable (spiritual) experience.
Dedicated to the Spanish, the main attraction here is Picasso’s Guernica. Madrid also has a good nightlife, so be sure to enjoy it when you visit!
#26 Spanish cuisine is heavily influenced by its regional cuisines and the historical processes that shaped its culture and society. As diverse as its culture, Spanish food is often simple, unpretentious and uses fresh, seasonal ingredients. In other words, the Spanish make the best of local products.
#27 However, Spain is home to some of the best gourmet restaurants in the world, with many (in fact many) Michelin-starred restaurants. San Sebastián, in particular, is a foodie’s paradise and is known as one of the cities with the highest number of Michelin stars.
Things To Know Before Visiting Spain
And their cousins are the Pintxos. Here we explore the difference between them and why they are better! In hindsight, if you love food… San Sebastian is the place to go! 🙂
#29 In a country as large and diverse as Spain, you will surely have an incredible number of traditional dishes. Paella (especially in
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