SPAIN

Hate to Rambla on…

WATCH FULL VIDEO! 7 Of The Best Cocktail Bars You Can’t Miss in Madrid

Avoid peak summer season. The best time to visit Spain is either in late spring or early autumn - especially if you're going to Andalucia or the Mediterranean coastal areas.

Spain is in the Central European Time Zone (CET), which is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time ( GMT+1 ). This means if you’re in New York City on the East Coast and it’s 3:00 pm, it’s 9:00 pm in Spain.

What you should have: 

  • A passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the departure date from Spain (preferably 6 months validity at all times). 
  • Make sure your passport has blank visa pages, you should have at least two blank visa pages. 
  • You should have your passport and national ID card with you at all times. Spanish Authorities don’t recognize a driving license or student ID. 

No Tourist Visa Necessary For: Agreement valid for visits no longer than 90 days.

  • Citizens of the USA, European Union, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. 

Tourist Visa Necessary For: Apply for visa 4 to 8 weeks before departure. 

  • List of countries that require visas.

Spain is in the top 3 European destinations, which can mean busy airports and long lines. Choose carefully which airport has been proven for efficiency before you travel. The top airports in Spain include Valencia Airport (VLC), San Pablo Airport (SVQ), Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD), Malaga Airport (AGP), and Barcelona International Airport (BCN). They are scattered all throughout the country, so look to see which airport is closest to your final destination and which is cheapest/least time consuming to fly into.

Madrid Barajas Airport is one of the largest airports in the world, connecting you to big cities but also smaller areas in the region. Seville or Bilbao are easy to visit from here. The Barcelona International Airport is in one of the most visited cities in the world, and it connects to Irish Ryanair and Norwegian air. Palma de Mallorca Airport is home to Vueling, Ryanair, and Easyjet, which are helpful in cutting costs when you travel. Malaga Airport hosts over 60 connections worldwide and handles approximately 14 million passengers each year; you can reach the city in 20 minutes by taking a public bus Line A Express or by train.

Click here for more information on specific airports in Spain.

How to travel around Spain:

 

  • Metro: There are metro services in major cities in Spain such as Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia. Fares typically are around €1.50 and passes can be purchased at metro stations. 
  • Bus: There is a comprehensive bus system in Spain that can even get you to/from different major cities. It is the cheapest form of transport in Spain. You must buy a ticket at the bus terminal or kiosk before boarding or you can buy one from the driver at a higher cost.
  • Walking/Cycling: A common mode of transportation in cities is simply walking or riding bikes. Multiple cycling rental shops are available around Spain at differing prices.

Spain is a safe place to visit. But of course there are few things you can do to have an especially safe but fun experience! 

Numbers to know: 

  • 112- Emergency number
  • 091- Police
  • 061- Health emergency
  • 080- Fire 

Safety tips:

  • Be wary of pickpockets and keep an eye on your belongings, especially purses, money, and phones.
  • Lock hotel rooms before sleeping at night.
  • Always let someone know where you are when venturing into more mountainous or rural areas.
  • Be careful when going out alone at night, especially as a female traveler.

The best time to travel to Spain is during spring/fall. Summer is quite hot, especially in inland cities. July and August have very crowded resorts, so early reservations for these times are a must. If you’d like to visit cities in northern Spain along the Atlantic, July and August are actually considered to be the best. Not all of Spain is sunny during the year, so make sure to check which months are snowy for the city you’re visiting.

Spring: 70-80 degrees F

Fall: 60-70 degrees F

Winter: 40-50 degrees F

Summer: 90+ degrees F (Great for beach days though!)

Spanish is the most common language spoken in Spain, but Galician- Portuguese, Basque, Catalan, Occitan (aranès), and English are spoken as well.

Here are some common phrases:

¡Buenos días, Estela! – Good morning, Estela!

Buenos días, Esteban. ¿Cómo estás? – Good morning, Esteban. How are you?

Bien, ¿y tú? – Well, how about you?

Como siempre – As always

Buenos días – good morning

Buenas tardes – good afternoon

Buenas noches – good evening

Hola – hello

  • In Spain, modesty is valued over assertiveness. Personal image, appearance, and relationships are important as well.
    • To greet each other, Spaniards kiss each other on the cheek. Once on each side.
    • Women may kiss other people on the cheek, men hug each other.
    • Spaniards stand very close when talking, but never touch someone you don’t know.
    • Be mindful that bullfighting is a controversial subject.
    • Between 2-4pm, there’s siesta so restaurants tend to be closed. Most establishments are closed on Sundays.
    • Menus may be in Catalan, but many places offer English versions.
    • Tapas are meant to be for lunch, not for dinner.

Spain uses the Euro. It’s quite easy to convert some of your money before you leave, but sometimes you may receive a better exchange rate in Spain. Look out for “Money Exchange Shop,” or tienda de cambio de moneda, where travelers can exchange money. They’re spotted throughout the city. If you don’t have enough cash, most places will accept credit cards and contactless payment.

Tipping! It’s optional in Spain, but it’s always appreciated to leave 1-2 euros as a general tip at the end of your meal.

In Spain the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. If you’re visiting from the UK, Europe, Australia, and most of Asia and Africa, your plugs should work just fine (you can use your electric appliances in Spain if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 – 240 V). If not, you should think about buying a converter/adapter before you leave. Your adaptor should look like this:

99.5% of all tap water in Spain is safe to drink, according to international water quality standards. Any issues have to do with taste, chlorine by-products, microplastics, and local pipe contaminants. Overall, Spain today has some of the most advanced public water filtration systems in the world.

There are also water fountains throughout the city, they look like this:

Barcelona public water fountain
Flickr Liz Castro

Public Wi-Fi in Spain is easy to find in cafés, restaurants, and hotels.

Prepaid SIM cards are common for travelers visiting Spain and easy to get. Data roaming is probably the worst for travelers, economically speaking. Most recommend choosing a SIM card that is budget-friendly in order to avoid roaming fees while you’re there.

Taxis’ starting fare for most taxis in Spain is between €3.00 and €4.00 .

These are the ride-sharing apps available in Barcelona: Uber, Cabify, Bolt, and FREENOW.

In 2005, Spain became the third country in the world to accept same-sex marriage. In all of southern Europe, it is considered one of the friendliest for LGBTQ+ travelers. The age of consent is 16, as it is for heterosexuals. Although the move for LGBTQ+ rights has been widely popular, the Catholic Church has opposed many of these steps forward. While people identifying themselves as LGBTQ+ generally keep low profiles in rural areas, people in the city are more open.

If you like this playlist, FOLLOW our Spotify account for more!

JST GUIDES:

A TIMELINE OF SPAIN'S HISTORY

Spanish Inquisition begins.

1478

Kingdom of Spain is formed with Isabella I and Ferdinand II as King and Queen.

1479

Thirty Years’ War begins.

1618

The majority of Spanish territories in America have gained independence.

1833

Pablo Picasso is born in Malaga, Spain.

1881

Architect Antoni Gaudi begins work on the Sagrada Familia Roman Catholic church in Barcelona.

1883

Spanish-American War—Spain gives Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam to the United States.

1898

Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali is born.

1904

Spain becomes a republic.

1931

Nationalists win the Spanish Civil War with Francisco Franco as dictator of Spain for 36 years.

Franco with U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Madrid, December 1959

1939

Spain joins the European Union.

1986

Train bombings kill 191 people, injuring over 2,000.

2004

Parliament legalizes gay marriage.

2005