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Spain Travel Guide- Everything You Need to Know

Spain Travel Guide

In this Spain travel guide, we will share what you need to know before you travel to Spain for the first time. Spain is a beautiful country, with a rich history, stunning landscapes and spectacular cities and islands. Spain offers an incredible vacation for every traveler. From the stunning architecture by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, to the incredible art collections in Madrid, to the incredible beaches in Mallorca, there are perfect travel itineraries to Spain for every time of traveler. Here is a travel guide to Spain, filled with everything you need to know before your first trip to Spain. Check out our Spain travel guide below, and the links to Madrid, Barcelona and Mallorca travel guides, which go into much more detail for each destination.

Spain Travel Guide Quick Links

Spain Travel Guide Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you travel to Spain?

Traveling to Spain promises to be an unforgettable vacation. What makes Spain different from other countries in Europe is that there are a ton of free things to do in Spain. There are so many cities and villages where you can spend the entire time strolling within the neighborhoods and villages and appreciating the culture. There are many incredible free parks, free beaches, and you can also get a lot of incredible food for cheap prices. Most of the cities have food markets that are relatively cheap and the tapas style restaurants enable you to try a lot of different types of dishes because they are smaller, cheaper portions. A glass of wine sometimes only costs a few euros more than a bottle of water. In addition to the great cities often talked about like Madrid and Barcelona, you can also visit islands in Spain like Mallorca. Spain has a great climate, and you can expect a warm vacation especially when traveling in the early summer through early fall.

Easiest Way to Get to Spain

The easiest way to get to Spain from the US is by flying. Major cities in Spain like Madrid and Barcelona are well connected with direct flights to major cities in the US. These direct flights are frequent and you can also find good deals, so you don’t necessarily need to fly to another city in Europe first and then fly to Spain to save money. Once in Europe, it is also easy to get to Spain as many major European cities have direct, cheap flights to Spain and some cities also have trains to Spain. And, once in Spain you can use their high speed train system to travel to other cities within Spain.

What US cities have direct flights to Spain?

Spain has several international airports, and you’ll find many direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona from the US. There are more direct flights during the summer as that is peak tourist season. In general, you can expect direct flights to Spain from major US cities like New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. These cities have the most frequent direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona. Other cities with direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona include Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.

What European cities have direct flights to Spain?

There are many European cities that have direct flights to Spain including major hubs like London, Paris, and Frankfurt which provide frequent direct connections to cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Mallorca and Valencia. Cities like Rome, Amsterdam, Lisbon, and Zurich also offer regular direct flights to various Spanish destinations. To get the best flight deals flying from other European cities to Spain, book your flight with a budget airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet. British Airways, Air France, and Lufthansa also offer direct flights, though they tend to be more expensive.

What European Cities have trains to Spain?

You don’t necessarily need to fly to get to Spain, as several countries have trains that go to Spain. Train travel tends to be cheaper, though sometimes takes significantly longer depending on where you are traveling from. Several major European cities have direct train connections to Spain, making it accessible for travelers preferring rail over air travel. Paris offers high-speed trains to Barcelona and Madrid. From Lisbon, Portugal, night trains connect to Madrid. Other cities like Marseille and Lyon in France also have direct train services to various Spanish destinations.

What do I need to know before going to Spain?

  • Taxis are plentiful and it is easy to get a taxi at the airport. During busy times, taxis can be harder to come by so download Cabify (similar to Uber) as another option.
  • Spain has a robust public transit system and it is easy to use public transportation to travel within cities and also very easy to use high speed rail to travel to other cities within Spain.
  • Ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended departure date to ensure smooth travel.
  • Europe is starting new visa requirements for US travelers, but this is now delayed until 2024 or 2025. When it starts, US travelers between 18-70 years old will need to fill out an ETIAS visa-waiver form prior to their trip, and pay a €7 entry fee, to travel to European countries within the Schengen Area. This will be valid for three years or until your passport expires. It’s expected to have a quick turnaround but it’s important to plan and submit ahead of your trip.
  • The official language is Spanish, and English is not always understood so download Google Translate ahead of time incase you need Google to translate your English to Spanish. Many restaurants have English menus.
  • Spain has a typical Mediterranean climate, though temperatures and rainfall can vary by region. In general, expect hot, dry summers and warm, mild winters. Once the sun goes down, it does feel chilly than the temperature suggests so be sure to bring a jacket.
  • The currency is the Euro.
  • AMEX is not accepted everywhere but is accepted some places. It is best to bring another credit card with you.
  • Credit cards are widely accepted, though every now and then a taxi driver will have issues with their credit card machine or you want to get a cold water on the street so it’s best to have a little cash with you.
  • Tipping is not obligatory but appreciated. In restaurants, rounding up the bill or leaving about 5-10% is common. For taxis and other services, small tips are sufficient.
  • Spain uses a 230-volt, 50 Hz electricity supply with Type C and Type F power plugs and sockets.
  • It is very easy to start in one city in Spain, like Barcelona, flying direct and then fly direct out of another city in Spain, like Madrid.
  • The dress code in Spain is generally casual, though you do not see much athleisure walking around.
  • The food in Spain is great and there are a lot of affordable options, though the touristy spots can be more expensive.
  • Don’t miss out on trying local food specialties like jamon, cheese, basque cheesecake, hot chocolate and churros, Spanish wine, tapas, Spanish omelet, and seafood.  
  • Pay attention to the public holidays in Spain as they can affect business hours.
  • Spain has a siesta culture, and many shops are closed in the afternoon for siesta, typically from 2pm to 5pm. Dinners also start late, usually with the earliest seating at 8pm, though many people don’t start having dinner until 9pm or later.

What are the top destinations in Spain?

For a first time visit to Spain, there are several top destinations in Spain to visit. Madrid is the capital of Spain and boasts world-class museums like the Prado museum, has great plazas and parks and overall is a great city to stroll around. Barcelona is another top destination in Spain for first time visitors and has great parks, incredible food and many of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces. Seville is another great city to visit, and has a stunning cathedral. San Sebastian is a foodies paradise. Mallorca is an incredible island to visit, filled with stunning beaches but also the large Palma de Mallorca city which has incredible restaurants.

What are the best islands to visit in Spain?

Though most travelers think of Greece when it comes to visiting islands in Europe, Spain is home to several stunning islands as well. Each island in Spain offers its own unique charm and attractions. Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic islands and has breathtaking beaches, charming villages, incredible food and vibrant nightlife. Ibiza is renowned for it’s legendary party scene though more and more families have started to visit Ibiza. The Canary Islands, which includes Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote has diverse landscapes ranging from volcanic terrain to forests and boasts year round sunshine. There are also more islands in Spain including Menorca, Formentera, La Palma and more.

What are the best things to do in Spain?

There are many different destinations in Spain, the best things to do in Spain will ultimately depend on which locations you choose to visit and what your personal preferences are. If you love art, Madrid and Barcelona are two perfect destinations as they offer great museums and great architecture. If you enjoy the beach, visiting an island like Mallorca or spending a day at the beach in Barcelona is perfect. San Sebastian is known to be a top foodie destination, but we also found incredible food in Barcelona and Mallorca. If you want to party, Ibiza has legendary clubs. Here, you can find all of the best things to do in Mallorca, Madrid and Barcelona.

How many days should I spend in Spain?

The ideal number of days to spend in Spain depends on various factors, including how many destinations within Spain you plan to visit. Your interests and budget will also impact the right amount of time to spend in Spain.

Overall, it is best to plan at least 2-3 nights per destination in Spain, depending on how packed you want your trip to be. It is easy to spend a week in just one location as well. If you want to see the majority of destinations in Spain, it’s best to plan to spend at least two weeks in Spain. This would include exploring major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and could also include a few days to one of the islands like Mallorca, a few nights in San Sebestian and other smaller villages and cities. No matter what length of time you decide to spend in Spain, even if it’s as short as a long weekend, it will be a great visit.

Best time of year to visit Spain

The best time of year to visit Spain really depends on the regions you want to visit, your budget and your preferences. The spring months and the Fall months generally offer pleasant weather, fewer crowds and cheaper hotel and airfare prices. If you want to go to the beach though, the summer months of July and August are best, even though it is also most crowded then. Winter, from December to February, is a quieter time to visit and has cooler temperatures but also has the lightest crowds and best hotel prices. If you’re looking to visit an island, here are the best times to visit Mallorca.

What is Spain famous for?

What Spain is most famous for really depends on the destination you are visiting. In general, Spain is famous for great food, especially tapas, jamon, wine, cheese and seafood. In Spain, you can find famous landmarks like as La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Royal Palace of Madrid. Ibiza is famous for its party scene. Mallorca is famous for its beaches and picturesque villages. San Sebastian is famous for it’s worldclass food.

What is the weather like in Spain?

The weather in Spain really depends on what region within Spain you’re in and the time of year. Generally, Spain has a Mediterranean climate meaning it has hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Along the Mediterranean coast and southern regions, summers can be scorching with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F). In central Spain, including cities like Madrid, summers are hot and dry, with occasional thunderstorms. When we went to Madrid and Barcelona in June, it was shorts and t-shirt weather but temperatures were nice enough where we could spend an extended time walking outside. At night, a jacket was helpful and was also nice when it got windy and there were clouds. In Mallorca in September, it was beach weather and we hardly needed a jacket even at night.

Is Spain Safe?

Overall, Spain is considered a safe destination for travelers. Spain has a low crime rate and violent crime is rare in most areas. However, it’s essential to take common-sense precautions to ensure your safety and especially your belongings. In crowded tourist areas especially, pickpocketing can occur. Keep belongings secure, and be cautious of scams. Spain sometimes has protests and demonstrations, especially in major cities.

Driving in Spain

If you are staying in any of the major cities in Spain like Madrid and Barcelona, there is no need to rent a car. It is easy to get around the city by walking, taking a taxi / Uber/ Cabify, or public transportation. Especially in the cities, there are certain restricted zones on where you can and cannot drive, streets can be very narrow and it will cause more stress than it is worth while you are on vacation. If you need to rent a car to explore outside the city, the road network is well-maintained and major highways connect major cities and regions. In Spain, you drive on the right side of the road like in the United States.

The driving on the islands really depends on the islands. In Mallorca, Palma and other villages had driving restrictions within the villages and it was very easy to walk around the villages. But, to explore the rest of the island we did rent a car for a day and found that that was best. Once you are out of Palma, the taxis and public transportation isn’t as widespread and a car is really needed to go at your own pace and be guaranteed a way to get around. We did have to pay extra attention to where to park and what streets we could drive on when exiting Palma so that we didn’t get fined for driving in a restricted zone.

How to save money traveling in Spain

Traveling to Spain on a budget is very achievable. To save the most money, travel during the off season or shoulder seasons so you can get better pricing on hotels and airfare. Also, make sure to book your hotels early to get the best price and also the cheapest room at the hotel. Spain has a robust public transportation network, especially the cities, and you can also get cheap train tickets in between cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Seville as well. If you prefer to take taxis, we found that the taxis in Spain were cheaper than taxis and Ubers in many US cities as well as major European cities like London and Paris. There are many things to do in Spain that are completely free, like visiting attractions like La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and only seeing the outside, many parks and plazas, many outdoor food markets and more. A glass of wine sometimes only costs a few euros more than a bottle of water. When dining out, there are many good tapas restaurants. Even if the restaurant is “expensive” because the plates are tapas style, you can try a plate or two and overall your bill will be lower. If you can get a great deal on airfare, and a great rate at a hotel, the rest of your trip to Spain will be easy to keep affordable.

Spain Travel Guide Conclusion

In conclusion, Spain is a great country to travel to, and we hope this Spain travel guide helped plan your first visit to Spain. Whether you choose to visit just one destination within Spain, or multiple places like Barcelona, Madrid and Mallorca, your trip to Spain promises to be a great one.


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