What you need to know before traveling to Spain

When you take a trip to the nation of Spain, you are visiting one of the most diverse countries in Europe. Situated on the Iberian Peninsula at the western edge of mainland Europe, Spain's history has been influenced by the cultures of numerous European cultures and those of North Africa as well. Spain is home to the second-highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is considered Europe's most exotic destination. With beaches, nightlight, a laid-back atmosphere, and numerous cultural festivities, there is something for everyone in your travel party when you tour Spain.

  • Key facts
    Spain consists of numerous autonomias (autonomous regions) and two independent cities. Each of Spain's autonomous areas has their own official languages and historical traditions. Central Spain is the largest region in the country and is home to the national capital of Madrid. It is also the only region in Spain that does not have any coastline along either the Mediterranean Sea or Atlantic Ocean.
    Among the other notable regions is the Northeastern Region, anchored by Catalonia and the vibrant city of Barcelona. Andalusia is located along the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula and is notable for its deep connections to Islam and the cultures of northern Africa that once ruled Spain. The Canary Islands are located off the coat of Morocco, and are geographically considered a part of Africa.
    Spain has one of the most diverse language bases in the whole of Europe. Castilian Spanish is the official language of the country and is spoken by 100% of its population. However, you'll find numerous regional dialects that are often used in casual conversation in those areas instead of Castilian Spanish. The most prominent of these regional dialects is Catalan, which is an official language in Catalonia, Comunitat Valenciana, and Balearic Islands. Roughly 17% of the population speaks in this tongue. Other languages include Galician (7%) and Basque (2%).
    As a member of the European Union, Spain operates under the one-currency program of the EU, with the Euro (€) serving as the nation's official currency. As an American citizen visiting Spain, you'll need to present an official passport upon arrival in order to be granted entry into the country.
  • Weather & when to go
    The high season for travel in Spain runs through the summer months of June, July, and August. During these months the weather is warm, dry, and sunny. You can expect average high temperatures during this period ranging from 77 F (25 C) in coastal areas to 89 F (32 C) in the inland areas. The weather is generally warm and humid in the summer months, with dry and sunny weather prevalent. You can expect higher humidity in coastal cities.
    March through May, as well as September and October, are considered shoulder months when the weather is considered mild and clear, with fewer crowds and an excellent array of local festivals. The average high temperatures range from 66 F (19 C) to 75 F (24 C). November through February represents the low season for travel in Spain.
    Winter brings cold in central Spain, and rain across the north and northwest. Mild temperatures are common in Andalucia and the Mediterranean coast. Ski resorts are particularly popular during winter, but you may find that a lot of resorts along the beach close during the winter. Generally speaking, winter brings the lowest prices for airline tickets and hotels.
  • Getting around
    Iberia is the national air carrier of Spain, and services the nation's largest airports in Madrid, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, and Malaga. Airports in Seville, Valencia, Bilbao, Alicante, and two airports in Tenerife, but some of these airports are only serviced by connection through the nation's larger airports.
    Once you've arrived in Spain, you have multiple options to help get around the country to visit different sites and cities. RENFE is the national rail carrier in Spain and offers long-distance travel that boasts an impressive on-time track record. Cercanias (the local and medium-range carrier) offers connection between cities and neighboring regions. Be aware however that these trains often run late, sometimes as much as 30 minutes on average.
    The most effective mode of transportation throughout Spain is the bus. You can go point to point between major cities, and there is a very high frequency of buses operating on major routes. Renting a car is a feasible option in many of the major cities, with services such as Avis accepting payments in US dollars when you use a credit card. Keep in mind however that driving is notoriously nerve wracking in cities such as Madrid and Barcelona.
  • Know before you go
    As you contemplate packing for your trip to Spain, there are a few things you'll need to know to help you prepare for your visit. These include:

    • English and French are commonly studied in schools throughout Spain, but due to low exposure and lack of practice, proficiency is generally poor. You will find proficient English-language speakers in resort areas though.

    • Breakfast is common for Spaniards, but most eat only light meals that consist of coffee and one of the following: galleta (graham cracker), Magdalena (sweet bread), or a pastry.

    • Lunch and dinner are served much later in Spain than other parts of the world. Lunchtime generally occurs between 1:30 PM and 3:00 PM. Dinner is served by most restaurants between 8:30 PM and 10:00 PM. Madrid is famous for late dinners, with most restaurants not even opening for dinner until 9:00 PM.

    • Be aware that most restaurants close between lunch and dinner, so if you fail to eat at lunch you may struggle to find prepared meals between those times.

    • Bike rentals are popular in major cities and offer easy, affordable transportation for site-seeing.

    • Notable, major holidays in Spain include Sevilla's Semana Santa (Easter), the August Fair in Malaga, Carnival, and La Tomatina in Bunol.

  • Travel tips & recommendations

    • Buy the cheese! Spain is famous for delicious regional cheeses, such as Queso Manchego, Cabrales, Tetila, and Mahon.

    • Service charges are included in bills for services, but you are always free to leave a little extra for service that goes above and beyond.

    • With the exception of large malls and major chain stores, most businesses in Spain close between the hours of 1:30 PM and 6:00 PM.

    • Spain has four types of police forces: Policia Municipal (metropolitan police), Policia Nacional (national police), Guardia Civil (civil guards), and regional forces in four areas.

    • Spain's major cities are loud at night, so pack earplugs if you're a light sleeper!

    • Emergency services are available on the nationwide call line, 112.

[Find hotels on the map]
Book with confidence
  • 10 Million Nights Booked
  • 375,115 places to stay
  • Best Rate Guarantee
Subscribe for the best Deals

Please provide this reference number to our customer service center representative on request, so we can help you better