10 Travel Tips for Spain

10 Travel Tips

1. The language approach

Even if Spanish is the official language in Spain, widely understood by almost everyone, it’s interesting to know there are other 4 (official) languages spoken across the country. If you visit Northern Spain you might find locals that speak Basque (Euskara) and Occitan, if you go to Mallorca or Valencia, people will speak Catalan (the second most popular language after Spanish, spread all across the Catalonia region) and at last, if you visit Galicia, you’ll find that the locals speak Galician.

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2. Siesta time is respected

The siesta time in Spain usually starts by 2pm ending somewhere close to 5pm. This is a tradition kept alive since the agriculture times when people had to take a rest during the hottest part of the working day.

Even if there were discussions of giving up this tradition as far as i know it is still implemented almost everywhere in Spain.

Why is the siesta time important for us as tourists? This keeps us in the picture about the small shops time-table that usually close during the afternoon hours. The big chain stores, El Corte Ingles, museums and in general, the majority of the restaurants and bars don’t close their doors, but there might be always exceptions.

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3. Pickpocketing

When i first visited Spain, the locals told me to watch out for pickpockets. Of course there are ways you can prevent this from happening to you, looking as a disoriented tourist never helps, it’s always good to walk with purpose and keep your wallet close to your hands (front pocket is better).

There are few scams thieves usually use to distract your attention, either by offering you something that will keep your eyes/hands busy or by “accidentally” touching you, in a different part of the body than seemed intended, only to confuse you. There are many examples of scams that you can read about online, just to get an idea of what’s been going on in the area, before visiting the major cities.

4. Best eat/drink

Best eat: of course, paella. Originally from Valencia, this rice dish can satisfy many tastes, as it can be cooked in a variety of styles.

My favourite one is the seafood paella. Usually they bring it in a hot pot that is for 2-3 people to be served, so you might consider sharing it (price: ~ 12 -25 €/per meal).

Best drink i had: sangria. This lovely punch contains red wine, cut fruits, soda water, sometimes brandy (there is no fixed recipe).

Note. I do find drinking considerably cheap in Spain, comparing to the food pricing.

5. Favourite festival: Las Fallas

The most impressive festival i attended in Spain: Las Fallas, the fire festival in Valencia.

Every March, from 15th to 19th (the feast of Saint Joseph) takes place this important celebration in Spain with beautiful street parades, lots of noise, fire, fireworks and fiestas (parties). Check here for prices

Remember to book in advance your accommodation, as even the hostels are fully occupied days before the manifestation.

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6. Flamenco, jamon and olive oil

Spain would not be the same without the magic of flamenco, the flying red dresses moving on the rhythm of the Spanish heart. Seville has some popular shows you might not want to miss out.

A popular thing to have in Spain is the jamon iberico, the cured locally produced ham. I personally don’t eat pork products but this product has been recommended by many for its delicious taste.

Spain is the largest producer of olive oil in the world and their organic products are absolutely amazing. I even recommend to bring home as souvenirs some bottles of this fine high quality product.

7. Buy a map

Buy yourself a map to get a better understanding of the regions distribution in Spain or get one for free from El Corte Ingles.

8. Tipping

Even if tipping is not a commun practice in Spain from what i was informed by local people, it is a nice gesture to leave 1 or 2 € to your taxi driver and 7 to 10% of your bill in any restaurant/pub as the service charges are rarely included in the note.

9. Cheapest transportation in Spain

I could say the cheapest way to see Spain is by train if you are a solo traveler, and by car (the rental cars offers are reasonable – European standards), if you are travelling in a group.

The national railway name is Renfe and the tickets can be purchased also online.

I recommend you to choose Madrid for its central position as a start point to the other cities.

There are 2h:30 min approx between Madrid and Barcelona and 1h:40 min approx between Madrid and Valencia.

A good itinerary could be (looking at the map): MadridSevilleValenciaBarcelona, adding more cities as one desires.  

Car rentals are also a valid option, especially if you are travelling in a small group. Don’t forget that you need to present a valid ID/driving license if you are the driver, pay a refundable insurance (around 100 €) and activate the GPS.

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10. Being polite will take you miles

Spanish people are nice, polite people that will do their best to help you in any situation. Manners and respect are very important and few words in their national language will take you a long way, like for example: “por favor” (please), “gracias” (thank you) or “que tengas un buen dia ! ” (have a good day !).

 

66 Comment

  1. Spain is such a fantastic country, with all its warmth, vibrance and rich culture. We have been only once till now but there’s so much more to be explored.

    1. I totally agree with you.

  2. thestylishtrotter says: Reply

    Spain ia gorgeous and I enjoyed this article

    1. thestylishtrotter says: Reply

      I just read the part about the siesta again and its quite funny to me how they have passed the tradition down. Americans are still working around 2pm but the spanish cherish their sleep. I like that laid back attitude.. life shouldn’t be all about work, work and more work

      Cool pictures by the way

      1. Yes exactly life shouldn’t be only about work. Life was meant to be more beautiful I don’t know what just happened in between. But hey, at least we can travel:).

  3. These are such good tips for Spain. I remember when I first travelled in Spain the Siesta really did take me aback – I wish the UK was like this! I also got pickpocketed in Barcelona – but I’d still go back.

    1. I like what you said now, that you’d still go back despite that bad experience. That means you are a fighter, that’s great Samantha !

  4. This has been super useful for my upcoming trip to Spain!! Esp the information on pick pocketing. Can’t wait to try paella!!
    Thanks for the tips!

    1. Thanks Rosie for your appreciation.

  5. gokulr27 says: Reply

    Spain is indeed a fantastic country. Loved the tips you have given here. Very well detailed and could really help the newbies in Spain. I found the info in Tipping quite useful as I was not aware of the Service Charge being included in the bill.

    1. Thanks man. I love Spain as well.

  6. Pete says: Reply

    This reminds me of my visits to Barcelona. I think tipping is a pernicious habit and should not be encouraged, but of course, I’ll generally round up a bill or give back small change, as is the custom.

    Possibly returning later this year. If so, I know I’ll enjoy it.

    1. If you are going back, have fun and enjoy it to the maximum!!

  7. Ariane says: Reply

    Thank you for reminding me the sweet taste of Ramon Iberico! it truly is a delicacy…mhhhh!!! Also, I didn’t know that Basque, Occitan, Catalan and Galician were languages… I thought they were just dialects!

    1. Me too …I thought these are dialects but no, apparently they consider this 4 as official languages for different regions 🙂 .

  8. Great tips. I’ve been to Barcelona and it was one awesome experience. The architecture of Spain is just breath-taking!!! You just reminded me of it.

    1. I’m happy i brought back nice memories. I remember now the arhitecture of Madrid and Toledo ….day dreaming 🙂

  9. I love what you brought up about siesta times because it really is so important to be aware of those things when traveling!

  10. Rox says: Reply

    Siesta time is my kind of time 🙂 I would love to visit Spain someday and I am thankful for these tips.

  11. Sara says: Reply

    These are great tips and cover basically everything you need to know! My favorite place in Spain was Toledo. 🙂

    1. Toledo, where El Greco lived and painted, I think after he was 35. I love Toledo as well, it has flavour 🙂

  12. These are awesome tips! I’ve been dying to travel to Spain!
    http://notokthatsokcoach.com/

  13. Taylor says: Reply

    I don’t have any plans to visit Spain anytime soon, but I loved reading this! It’s so interesting to learn about cultural and social differences. I definitely wish us Americans had a dedicated siesta time 😉

  14. Tom says: Reply

    Barcelona is always cited for pickpockets, but I don’t think it’s much of a problem in the country in general. As for transportation, I usually found that buses are by far the best value. The train is good between very common routes, but their rail system is not as extensive as in some other Euro countries. Buses, however, go everywhere.

  15. Thank you for the tips! I learned so much!

  16. spain is absolutely gorgeous! we are planning to go there this year! fingers are crossed!

    1. Fingers crossed from my side as well, you’ll not regret it. It’s an amazing country !

  17. I’m so happy I found your blog. I’ma travel blogger too! 🙂

  18. Lots of good tips here, not just in Spain but in other countries as well. When I went to Italy, gypsies were everywhere and a friend of mine had her wallet stolen right out of her bag as we were getting off the subway. But I also learned that people appreciate it more if you make an attempt to speak their language. I would love to visit Spain some day as well because I’ve heard it’s an amazing country to see.

    1. Yes Jennifer you’ll not regret it (visiting Spain) , this country it’s so rich in culture. Thanks for the appreciation 🤗

  19. You know I ‘ve always wanted to visit Bilbao. I love the team, Athletic Bilbao and coach Ernesto Valverde! The tips you give here are really precious, and I will hold it in case I will find my self in Spain in the near future!

  20. I studied in Granada one summer. I miss Spain like it’s a second home! Tinto Verano was my favorite drink that summer.

  21. lydia@lifeuntraveled says: Reply

    I went to Barcelona years ago and I was so confused by their language and signage! I speak enough Spanish to get by but I soon found out that Catalan is different from everyday Spanish. I also really like sangria especially when there are lots of fruits!

  22. Allie says: Reply

    A great overview of Spain! I spent a great 6 months living in Madrid, there’s so much to see and do there. Next time we’ll definitely be visiting Santiago de Compostela, the one spot on my wish list that we didn’t get to visit.

    1. Yes I agree with you
      ….I want to go back also for the Santiago de Compostela !!!

  23. How interesting! I never would have guessed that siesta was such an important consideration!

  24. travelerettenyc says: Reply

    I found the siesta tradition a little surprising when I was in Spain, but it is important to know about beforehand. I didn’t use the train though, I got around by BlaBlaCar, which worked very well. I’m sure the train would be good too, and as you say, it is cheap.

  25. Ashley says: Reply

    I love this post. I have never traveled in Spain, but it is somewhere that I would love to visit one day!

  26. Emily Moore says: Reply

    I have always wanted to visit Spain! These are GREAT traveling tips! I hope someday my husband and I will be able to go.

  27. Andrea Burolla Photography says: Reply

    Great tips! I wish we could, as a country get behind #2 in the US (wishful thinking) and I’ve found in all my travels ALWAYS practice that last one!

  28. Your tips are awesome! I especially like that most of the tips come from locals. It’s so important to immerse yourself into a culture to get the real feel of the place.

  29. Nice tips. I’m going to Spain in two weeks to see some small and less known villages in the south. Do you think they will have siesta there in winter everywhere including restaurants? I also love sangria – it’s amazing, especially in Spain.

  30. Elizabeth says: Reply

    Awesome tips! I will keep them in mind if I ever go! Language is an interesting thing…in China Mandarin is the overarching written language, but there are over 200 individual spoken dialects! It’s so interesting!

  31. I loved reading about your tips on Spain! I’ve only been to Barcelona but I really liked how you mentioned stopping in Madrid first and then visiting surrounding cities from there.

  32. The Southern Atelier says: Reply

    Oh, how I love Spain!! These tips are absolutely perfect for any traveler.

  33. Spain is such a beautiful country! I love siesta time! one my favs!

  34. vishvarsha says: Reply

    Some really great tips here, specially the one on cheap travel options! And siesta seriously!
    Spain is such a culturally strong country even now, I wonder how!

  35. wow! So many amazing, informative tips that I didn’t know about Spain! I have always thought it is so neat that they have “siesta,” time every day and it is something that is collectively observed! I have never tried paella before, but now I totally want to try it!

  36. nomadicfoot says: Reply

    Spain is such a beautiful and vibrant country. It is one of the country i would love to visit in Europe. You have given all the important tips here. These tips are really helpful.

  37. Nice roundup of everything important to know for someone visiting! I would love to eat paella and see a flamenco show….of course I would respect the siesta time and take myself a nap!! 🙂

  38. Nice roundup of everything important to know for someone visiting! I would love to eat paella and see a flamenco show….of course I would respect the siesta time and take myself a nap!! 🙂

  39. These are really practical tips. These help you deal with the new country and its norms better. And the last point is true wherever you go…Being polite takes you a long way.

  40. Carola says: Reply

    What a brilliant introduction into the country! And I love your photos – they are completely different from the vibrant images you often see from Spain but still so atmospherical.

    Thank you & continued happy travels!

    C

  41. I’ve actually only ever visited Majorca, never mainland Spain! I’m really interested to go to the Catalan region!

  42. Candy says: Reply

    I have heard that pickpocketing is quite common in Spain…sigh…It’s unfortunate when countries are known for things like this. Of course, it can happen anywhere!! I got pick pocketed in Hong Kong 🙁

  43. Great tips! I can attest the accuracy of all of these since I’m in Spain right now :). I would favor using Google Maps over a regular map though! That way you don’t look like a tourist and become a potential pickpocket target!

  44. Sally says: Reply

    Great tips! I can attest the accuracy of all of these since I’m in Spain right now :). I would favor using Google Maps over a regular map though! That way you don’t look like a tourist and become a potential pickpocket target!

  45. Stephanie says: Reply

    I’m headed to Spain later this year and will need to brush up on these scams so I can be aware. I also think I can get on board with this siesta thing. I like to start my day early, but it will be nice to take a break before dinner and nightlife. I also want to learn the trains so I can get around and see a lot of wonderful places!

  46. In Spain if you learn to say ‘Ola, Che tal?’ everything is fine and you have new friends. I agree with the buy a map advice. I always have a map with me and I think that is one of the primary things that anyone should do. Not knowing where you are is strange when you’re travelling, I even cannot imagine myself doing that.

  47. Aparna says: Reply

    Great tips! I absolutely loved Spain when I visited a couple of years back. If you have not been, I also highly recommend the Feria de Abril in Seville – a weeklong celebration that is a fantastic time! I also found Spain much cheaper for food and drink than other big European tourist areas.

  48. I never felt like I had enough time visiting Spain. But I will say, my main drive for going there was to see Gaudis work and to eat ALL of the Paella!! I took a class and now I make it all the time.

    Great tips!

  49. Tara says: Reply

    I so long to live in a place where the siesta is respected! Sometimes I feel like we just never slow down in the US!

  50. Izzy says: Reply

    Being polite is the fastest way to achieve anything. I think that point is the minimum for all travelers so good on you for sharing it! 🙂 And omg stoppppp it. My favorite things are sangria and seafood paella, I can feel my stomach grumbling just thinking about it. The Spaniards have it right when it comes to siesta, I feel like that is a habit that should be implemented all around the world!

  51. Hi there!
    Great tips about Spain! I lived there for almost 2 years. Lovely country! If you get a chance, go back to Seville in April when it is the “Feria de Abril” – just such an amazing experiences with people all dressed up with flamenco dresses and horse carriages! Completely recomment it!

  52. Everything to know about Spain is right here.which is really helpful. I always wanted to see a flamenco show, it really has me tempted me to get to Spain ASAP!. Moreover traveling by train seems fun! Gracias for the tips!

  53. These are great tips and facts about Spain. I would love to get there soon. I really like your vintage-looking photos! I can totally get down with siesta… I hope they still implement it when I get there!

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