82 million tourists visited Spain in 2017. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. In fact, Spain is so popular that tourism accounts for more than 10% of its total GDP.
The fact of the matter is that Spain is a fantastic travel destination. But things can still go awry if you’re unprepared. To have the best trip possible, you should get some good advice before traveling to Spain.
Thankfully, you don’t have to go far. Want to know how to travel in Spain? Cover the basics with these 7 Spain traveling tips.
1. Traveling to Spain in the Summer?
You might want to think again. Spain is a large country with a variety of climates and elevations. In northern regions of Spain, as well as its Mediterranean coastline, summers tend to be milder.
But inland, Spain’s elevation rises, which results in massive temperature swings. You can expect both scorching summers and cold winters. Summers are just as hot in Spain’s southern coast.
Take a look at the average temperatures before visiting Spain. If an intended location seems to run quite hot, you may want to push the trip back to a cooler season.
In addition to more tolerable heat, you’ll enjoy fewer crowds and cheaper transit when you choose to visit during the Spring or Fall.
2. Don’t Expect Free Tapas
Food is one of the best reasons to travel. Spain has a kicking food scene, but if you’re excited about tapas you should tone down your enthusiasm.
Tapas are small appetizers, such as olives or tiny sandwiches, served alongside a drink. Bar owners traditionally gave them away for free. But those days are nearly gone.
Now very few bars offer tapas without charging for them. Those that do tend to be tourist traps. Andalusia is the only region of Spain that still offers tapas for free.
Otherwise, you should expect to pay for your finger food.
3. Research Before Booking
Although Spain is the same size as Texas, it’s arguably more varied. It features 17 regions, each with its own laws and traditions. The entire country speaks Spanish, but some regions have a different primary language.
Before booking your trip, do some research to see what customs and activities are in the area. From skiing to flamenco dances, there are many choices to make.
Likewise, not every region is big on traditional bullfighting. Catalonia banned the practice, though eventually that decision was overturned.
You might need some help planning a Spain travel adventure since there are so many activities and cultures to experience. If you’re interested in a Spain travel planning service, click here to find out more.
4. Understand the Spanish Schedule
Everyone is familiar with the siesta, the Spanish afternoon nap. But just like free tapas, the siesta has gone away. Modern life is too busy to support midday snoozes.
However, businesses still close up shop during the afternoon hours. While this may seem like an inconvenience, they make up for it by staying open late into the night.
You shouldn’t plan on grabbing a bite to eat between 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. This midday break also means you should expect to have your meals later in the day.
Spanish lunch falls at around 3 p.m rather than noon. And dinner starts as late as 8 p.m. It can seem confusing at first, but your biological clock will get used to this change in a matter of days.
5. Beware of Pickpockets
Barcelona is the pickpocket capital of the world. And Madrid isn’t much better. In general, Spain has a deluge of crafty scammers and pickpockets. Educate yourself on common pickpocket tactics to keep your possessions safe before you arrive.
But this only goes so far. You should keep your money and documents within the safety of your hotel. And when you bring money with you, keep it in a secure, strapped container across your chest.
No matter where you are, always have your possessions strapped down and in reach. If you’re in a restaurant, sling a strap under a chair leg so a pickpocket can’t snatch your bag away.
6. You Have to Ask for the Check
A waiter will never bring you a check in Spain until you ask. It’s not only considered rude, but many people will stay within a restaurant for hours, so a waiter has no good way of knowing when a group is ready to leave.
Ready to go? Get your waiter’s attention and ask for the check.
La cuenta, por favor.
7. Public Transportation is a Breeze
Spain has great public transit options. The buses are clean and inexpensive, and the metro system gets the job done.
However, try to avoid the Renfe rail network, which can be expensive. Do your best to purchase the tickets ahead of time if you must use the train. Otherwise, you might be paying an arm and a leg
Public transportation not your thing? Then use BlaBlaCar, the Spanish version of Uber.
You Won’t Regret Visiting Spain
From its historic buildings to its thriving nightlife, Spain has something for everyone. And it’s a safe and affordable locale, unlike other popular destinations.
But I do have one last tip for you. Before traveling to Spain, pick up some of the local languages.
Spanish is easy to learn — and it’s mandatory if you want to have a good time. Without it, you’ll have trouble getting by since few Spaniards speak English.
With that in mind, you have the basics you need to have an unforgettable Spain vacation. Before booking your trip, research some of Spain’s different regions to see which one has what you’re looking for.