Since we started this blog four months ago, we’ve been getting a lot of questions via social media and email on how to travel to Spain, when or where to go, etc.
So we’ve decided to launch our first Frequently Asked Questions post with all you need to know about traveling to Spain (we’ll keep updating it with your future questions, so keep asking 🙂 )
Spain FAQs about the country
Spain still offers great value compared to most Europe. The best thing is that you can still travel on a budget and visit, just depends on the season and where in Spain you want to travel.
Spain is always evolving. Everything that was there in 1992 is still there, but better, and there are many new museums and activities that you can do and that weren’t available back then.
The infrastructure is great since the Olympics and the Expo, and there are new luxury and boutique hotels and hostels worth checking out.
On top of that, Spain is one of the trendiest countries in Europe, especially for food and music. And it offers something for every type of traveler.
How much time you want to spend is up to you. At TravelTo5 we are not experts on the Camino, but our friends Noelia and Jan from WomantoSantiago are, and they will be happy to assist you on that (and yes, they speak English.)
The answer depends on where you want to go. We always tell you how to get to the destinations we write about, so you can choose wisely. Most top destinations are connected between them by train, bus and/or plane. Just take into account that regular trains are not that fast (fast ones are marked as AVE) and buses sometimes are limited when visiting under-the-radar destinations.
If you are planning to drive in Spain, we recommend obtaining an international driving permit prior to your arrival in Spain.
It depends on where you want to go. Southern Spain is sunny all year round but expect melting hot temperatures during July and August. Northern Spain’s weather is excellent in the summer and can be moody the rest of the year. But in general, spring or fall tends to be ideal. If you are thinking on skiing, check December through Easter week for good snow in most resorts. Or visit the Canary Islands for an almost all year sunny weather.
Yes and no. It is high season in the eastern and southern coasts, which get really crowded. Madrid goes almost empty with many stores and restaurants closing in August. But it is also a great time to visit, just take that into consideration when you book your trip.
The currency in Spain is Euro. Dollars and Pounds are not accepted. Well, maybe in some really touristic spot with only Brittish people, but don’t expect to be able to use them anywhere else.
Payment with credit and debit card is widely accepted (but mostly Visa or MasterCard, not AmEx). Also Apple Pay in major cities.
Many people do and we believe it is a great choice. Specially when you are traveling through the Northern and western parts of Spain. Just don’t plan a 5-day trip to cover both countries, you won’t be able to see a thing and you’ll end up really tired.
Same here. It is a great choice when you are traveling to the Southern region of Spain, but give yourself enough time to enjoy both countries.
Spain FAQs: Accomodation
Paradors are government owned and managed hotels, mostly in historic monuments. Some are amazing and others meh! They are not the only option if you want to sleep in an old convent or a palace, so just check the online reviews and choose as if they were any other regular hotel.
Not exactly, a hostel (shared dorms and bathrooms) is also known in Spain as an Albergue, like the ones you will find on the Camino de Santiago. But in cities, you will find Hostels tagged as Hostales (the cheapest accomodation category with no shared dorms and, sometimes, shared bathroom).
The only proven way to differentiate is that true Hostels usually have “hostel” in their brand name.
Besides that, accomodation rates in Spain depends on location and services. One indicator of price and quality is often the 5 stars system, which is a national system to rank hotels depending on their facilities and services. But, again, as it depends on the facilities, some 3 starred are better than some 4 starred.
Spain FAQs: Food in Spain
Spanish cuisine changes a lot from region to region. We write about the restaurants and the food we’ve tried on each region to help you avoid the tourist traps. Just drop us an email if you want to know more.
There are wine regions all over Spain, whites and reds. Most people know Rioja, but there are many many more designations of origin producing amazing wines in Spain. Also, try local drinks like Asturias “sidra” or Galician “Licor café”, and the great beers the country produces (craft or not). And if you don’t know what to order, ask the people seating nearby, it will be a great way to start a conversation.
Tipping in Spain is customary, although the Economic crisis has made a lot of people avoid tipping. If you don’t know how much to tip, round up the bill in restaurants and other services, or tip them up to 10% of the fare.
Some areas of Spain are easier than others. But today all restaurants and food vendors must have an allergies document for you to read, so you can check which dish has some specific ingredients, like milk, cereals, nuts and others.
While this won’t fit all cases, we recommend asking your waiter/waitress for the ingredients and always double check if there is ham on the dish (as strange it may sound, many Spaniards forget to count Ham as meat when asked about vegetarian options).
Also, in major cities and those with a big community of foreigners, it will be easy to find Kosher and Halal products even at supermarkets. Vegans will enjoy the variety of fresh vegetables available all around the country.
It depends on the place, the city and even the day of the week. Most cities offer “Menú del Día” on Mon-Fri from 13:00 to 15:00, including two dishes and dessert, which can range from 8 to 14 euros depending on the place (some a bit more.)
Some regions, like Galicia or the Basque Country are widely known to be cheaper despite the high quality of the product. Some others like the Balearic Islands of Barcelona, are much more expensive on the average, due mainly to the high amount of tourists visiting each year.
Spain FAQs: Activities in Spain
Yes and no. Futbol season usually runs from late August through May and tickets are available for most matches from weeks before each match. Just don’t expect to find a Barça-Real Madrid ticket easily. Reselling is illegal (although quite common). But, there are tours to the stadiums of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou.
Yes and no. The capital of flamenco is in Andalusia and you will find many options there (from pure tradtitional flamenco joints to some tourist traps.)
You can also attend a tablao at other places in Spain, like Madrid, but don’t expect Flamenco dancers in the northern part of the country.
Certainly It is not for everyone. If you are interested, check out the bullfighting season in Madrid, Sevilla and Ronda, seats are usually available weeks in advance.
Depends on the place you are visiting. We will try to make a list of recommended items every time we cover a new destination, so you can choose wisely when following our steps in Spain.
Spain FAQs: Telephone and gadgets
Plugs in Spain follow the European standard Plug and 230 volts. Avoid pluging items that run on a lower voltage as you might damage your appliances.
Many towns have their own free wifi available at public squares and even on local transport. Most cafes also offer free wifi, but you will need to ask for the password. Only AVE trains offer free wifi for now.
The end of roaming charges will be arriving to Europe by July 2017, but it won’t take full effect until 2020. Also, note that it only affects users from the European Union using phone services from the EU. If you are planning to bring your phone from abroad, check your roaming charges before you leave home or book a wifi router at providers like AlldayInternet.
Spain FAQs: Before you go to Spain
Just the regular ones that you would take to any European destination.
No visas are required for most Americans but tourists can only stay in the Schenghen area up to 180 days. Tourists cannot work in Spain, but they allow you to study as long as you don’t stay over 180 days.
For European citizens: Spain belongs to Schenghen area.
If you are from another country, please ask your local government or contact the Spanish Embassy.
Learning a few basic words of Spanish is always handy. Most Spaniards don’t speak English at all, with the exception of the most touristic areas. Does it mean that you won’t find anybody to talk to? Absolutely not! Spaniards are open and easygoing, the younger generations study English at school and there are lots of foreigners here that will surely be glad to help you out. And… you can also try drawing or sign language to get yourself understood, or drop us a message and we’ll be glad to help you out.
Social Security (the Spanish medical insurance) is free for Spaniards and all European citizens with a valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). If you are visiting from a country outside Europe or you don’t have a valid EHIC, you will still be helped on emergencies at any public hospital but you could get charged for the expenses if you don’t have a travel insurance to cover the cost.
¿More questions? Let us know below or send us an email and we’ll keep adding new answers to the list.