Spain is a festive country full of passion and excitement. Located at the end of Western Europe and on southern part, they have one of the best weather with beautiful sunlights and warm weather even in winter.
There are lots of World Heritage after Italy, and their unique architectures and different charms of each city totally amaze you. Not only arts, architectures, and culture, but also local foods attract you. There are numerous delicious local cuisines you never want to miss out.
LANGUAGE : Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician language
AREA : 5,059 million 6,400㏊
RELIGION : Catholic over 74%
CURRENCY : Euros
VOLTAGE : 220V
The area of Spain is so huge, and there are many different cities to visit in Spain. From Barcelona to Madrid, and some other small cities around, you might want to experience different atmospheres. Even when you are visiting only one city, there are many museums and historical places and architectures you don't wanna miss, so we recommend you to take enough time when you are planning to travel in Spain.
1) BARCELONA : Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, Parc Guell, La Ramblas, Catalunya Plaza, Picasso Museum, Boqueria Market, Barceloneta, Montjuic, Magic Fountain
1-2) CITIES NEAR BARCELONA : Girona(Eiffel Bridge, Arab Baths, Plaza de la Independencia, Girona Cathedral, Girona Wall), Sitges (Beach, Maricel Museum, Cau Ferrat Museum), Montserrat
2) MADRID : Madrid Royal Palace, San Miguel Market, National Museum Art Center Reina Sofia, Puerta del Sol, Prado Museum, Cybele Square, Retiro Park, Plaza Mayor of Madrid, Gate of Alcala,
3) TOLEDO : Toledo Old Town, Cathedral Primada, Monastery of San Juan de Los Reyes, Puerta del Sol, San Martin Bridge, El Greco Museum, Mirador del Valle, San Ildefonso Church, Santo Tome Church, Puerta de Bisagra, Puente de Alcantara, Alcazar of Toledo
4) SEVILLE : Cathedral of Seville, Giralda Bell Tower, Maria Luisa Park, Royal Alcazar Palace, Plaza de Espana, Tower of Gold(Torre de Oro), Santa Cruz Street, Casa de Pilatos
5) RONDA : Ronda Old Town, Bullring, Moorish Palace, Puente Neuvo, Arabic Baths, Arena
6) MALAGA : Malaga Old Town, Plaza de la Constitucion, Pablo Picasso Museum, Malaga Port, Alcazaba, Malaga Cathedral, Roman Theater, Gibralfaro Castle, Plaza Merced, Mercado de la Merced, Bullring, Mercado Atarazanas, La Malagueta Beach
7) GRANADA : Alhambra, Albaicin, Cathedral of Granada, Carmen de Los Martires Gardens, Charles V Palace
8) VALENCIA : Valencia Cathedral, Torres de Serranos, La Lonja de la Seda,El Miguelete, Central Market, Plaza de la Reina, Valencia's Town Hall, Fine Arts Museum, Plaza del Ayuntamiento
9) ISLANDS : Ibiza, Menorca, Mallorca
Mediterranean sunshine greets you, March-June
The weather in Spain in March is just like spring. The average temperature in Spain is comparatively higher and it gets very hot during summer time. Thus, spring can be the perfect time to travel to Spain. It is a perfect season to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine of the Mediterranean. Daily temperature range is quite huge until May, and it rains around 1 week until June, so get a light jacket and an umbrella.
Hot as much as the passion of Spain, July-September
Summer in Spain is even hotter than the other countries as it's more at south. You need to make sure to drink enough water and apply sunscreen and bring sunglasses. The day time is longer than other seasons which allows you to enjoy longer, but it can be dangerous to walk too much under the sun in Summer. You can start your trip a bit late in the morning so that you don't be too exhausted before seeing the night view.
A season welcoming you with fresh breeze, October-November
After hot summer time, when breezy autumn arrives in Spain, it gets much more enjoyable and easier to travel. It can be quite cool in the early morning or at night, so we recommend you to take a light jacket and also an umbrella in case. Compared to summer, from autumn, the openin hours for many tourist attractions get shorter so you need to check in advance.
The passion of Spain also cools down, December-February
In Spain, the temperature normally does not go under zero even during the winter, and the weather is more like in the beginning of spring of late autumn. However, there is a huge daily temperature range, so you still need to bring a thick jacket.
The price seems a bit cheaper in Spain compared to other Western European countries. They have the tapas culture, which allows you to order a small amount of food anytime of the day you want, and there are many local snacks like churros at low cost. In Spain, you must try their jamon, Cava, and Sangria which you can easily buy at supermarkets at cheaper price than restaurants and enjoy at your hotel or appartment. However, there are many places to visit including museums, historical places and the admission fee is quite costly. You can expect to spend around 80-120 euros per day per person in Barcelona, excluding the hotel, but the budget varies depending on how many museums you visit and what type of food you eat.
Tapas culture in Spain is very famous. There are many tapas restaurants and bars in Spain. Tapas is not the name of the food, but a type which is served with small amount. You can order tapas anytime you want. There are numerous types of tapas, and we will introduce you some of the most famous tapas you must try.
1) PAELLA : The most famous and popular Spanish food, Paella! If you prefer seafood, you can have seafood paella, if you like both meat and seafood, you can also order mixed paella. Or, if you want to try something more unique, you can try Arroz Negro, which is a black paella made with squid ink. In many restaurants, you can order paella from minimum two persons, but some restaurants can make paella for one person as well. If you are traveling alone, check in advance where you can order paella for one person.
2) JAMON : When you visit local markets or supermarkets, you will see many giant pig legs. Spain is the country to produce the most jamon Iberian jamon is considered the best. You can buy them from the market or order and enjoy them at the restaurant. It is allowed to bring jamons to some EU countries, but some countries including the United States don't allow you to bring them in, so you must check if you can take it to your country or not.
3) TORTILLA ESPANOLA : Spanish Tortilla, which is a bit more thicker and heavier with eggs, tomatoes and onions. If you prefer your tortilla lighter, you can request to take out the onions. This is the perfect menu for breakfast.
4) PATATAS BRAVAS : One of the most common tapas menus, Patatas Bravas. Patata means potato. On sliced and fried potatoes, they put different sauces.
5) PULPO : Boiled and chopped octopus are topped with olive oil, sea salts, and spanish paprika powder. There are often mashed potatoes under octopus.
6) GAMBAS AL AJILLO : Another famous and popular tapas, Gambas al Ajillo is a must-try food. Fresh shrimps are cooked with olive oil and garlic flakes.
7) CHURROS : One of the most famous Spanish snack is churro. You can simply have churros, or there are churros filled with some jams inside as well. Locals often have churros with hot chocolate, and they dip churros in the chocolate. If you pass by Xurreria, which means churros shop, don't forget to try it.
8) PAN CON TOMATE : The most common appetizer menu in Spain. Pan con tomate means bread with tomato. On crispy bread, you rub garlic and hemisected tomato on bread. You can also add oilve oil and salt on it. Some restaurants serve bread, garlic, tomato separately so you can make your own pan con tomato on your table.
9) CREMA CATALANA : When you are visiting Barcelona, try Crema Catalana as a dessert. It looks very similar to French Creme Brulee. While creme brulee is usually served warm, Crema Catalana is eaten when it is cold. Made with lemon and cinnamon, it is sweat and refreshing.
10) SANGRIA : The representative alcohol in Spain, Sangria. It is a red wine added with fresh and sweet fruits. There are other types of Sangria with white wine, rose wine, and so on.
11) CAVA : If you cannot drink red wine, try cava. It is a Spanish campagne which is light and sparkling.
The transportation fee in Spain is comparatively cheaper. You might visit only one big city or several cities in Spain, and the budget can be a bit reduced in transportation.
If you are traveling for a long period, you can consider a Renfe Spain Pass which includes not only Renfe trains but also access to museums or discount coupons. With Renfe Spain Pass, you cannot take the night train, and the ticket varies depending on your travel route. You cannot tranfer the pass to others, and you can choose between 4, 5, 8, 10 routes within 1 month. It is valid for 6 months from the date of issue. Even when you possess the pass, you need to book a seat in advance.
1) TRANSPORTATION IN SPAIN BETWEEN CITIES
TRAIN : The most popular transportation of Spain is Renfe train. You can easily go to main cities from one another. For the night train, there are some sleeping compartments available as well. You can buy a ticket online or on spot, but the website occurs many errors so we recommend you to buy tickets on spot early. They sometimes check your ticket and you need to present your passport with ticket. http://www.renfe.com/
BUS : Alsa is the biggest bus company in Spain. If you cannot book a train or if there is no train to your destinations, check out the bus. You can buy the ticket online or on spot. https://www.alsa.com/en/web/bus/home
2) TRANSPORTATION IN BARCELONA
The main transportations in Barcelona is metro and bus. The metro comes quites often, and operates from 5a.m. until midnight on weekdays, until 2a.m. on fridays, and runs for 24 hours on saturdays. There are many bus to everywhere and there are night bus too. In Barcelona, there are several zones divided for metro, and most of the tourist attractions are inside Zone 1.
T-10 TICKET : T-10 is very useful in Barcelona. When you purchase T-10, you will get one ticket which you can use for 10 times, and transfer up to 3 times within 75 minutes. Don't forget to validate your ticket in the bus and metro. You can transfer the ticket to others as well. On the back of the ticket, they will record whenever you validate so that you can check how many times left before finishing 10 times.
BARCELONA CARD : If you are planning to use public transportations more often, you can consider to buy Barcelona Card. The ticket is varied from 2 days to 5 days tickets, and you can use unlimited public tranportations within the valid time. The time starts to be counted once you validate the ticket, and it is counted by hours, not by day. With Barcelona Card, you can use metro, bus, trains in the city, punicular, tram, and some regional trains including the train between Barcelona city and Barcelona airport. If you buy the card online in advance, you will get a voucher via email which you can change to Barcelona card at any metro stations in Barcelona.
HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTER FROM BARCELONA AIRPORT
AIRPORT BUS : Airport bus runs every 5-10 minutes from Terminal 1, and every 10-20 minutes from Terminal 2. It drops you off at Plaza Catalunya, which is very at the center of Barcelona, and wifi service is offered in the bus. The one way costs 5.90 euros while round trip costs 10.20 euros. The round trip tickekt is valid for 15 days.
TRAIN : If you are arriving at Terminal 2, you can use Renfe train to get to the city center, and you can use T-10 ticket to take the train. If you arrive at Terminal 1, you can take the free airport shuttle bus to Terminal 2(T2-B station). Follow the Renfe sign from Terminal 2. The train stops at Sants station or Passeig de Gracia station, and it takes around 20-30 minutes.
BUS 46 : One of the cheapest way to get to the city center. The one way ticket is 2.15 euros or you can also use T-10 ticket. It departs from Terminal 1, and drop by Terminal 2 and Plaza Espagna. Depending on where you stay, you need to check at which station you need to get off.
3) TRANSPORTATION IN MADRID
The main transportations in Madrid are metro, bus, and tram. You can buy a single ticket or 10 tickets. 10 tickets are printed in one ticket which you can validate and use for 10 times at a discounted price, and also tranfer to others.
For the metro in Madrid, there are zones divided, but most of the tourist attractions are in Zone A where you can go at a basic price. There are more than 250 stations and 12 lines in Madrid Metro, so it is better to check the route before departing. Don't forget to validate your ticket in the machine when taking metro or bus.
There are many lines for the bus, and when there is N before the number, it means it is the night bus.
DAY PASS : You can also choose day passes from 1 day to 3 days if you plan to use tranportations often. It is 8.40 euros for 1 day pass.
MADRID CARD : Madrid card allows you to access not only public transportations, but also city tour bus and many museums. You can choose the card between 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours ticket, and it costs 47 euros for the 24-hour ticket. Plan your itinerary in advance to compare the price of madrid card and each admission fee of museums you will visit.
HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTER FROM MADRID AIRPORT
AIRPORT BUS : The airport bus runs 24 hours every day. It stops at every terminal except Terminal 3, and you can get to Atocha station or Cybele Square which are close to the city center. It operates every 15-20 minutes, and it comes less often after midnight. It takes around 30 minutes to the city center, and costs 5 euros for one way.
TRAIN : You can take the train from Terminal 4, which costs 2.6 euros for one way, and 5.2 euros for round trip. It operates every 30 minutes, and the shuttle bus from one terminal to another doesn't come very often, so you need to check the timetable. It takes around 30 minutes to the city center.
METRO : Follow the METRO sign from any terminal you arrive. Before taking the metro, you can buy the ticket from the machine. You cannot change to Cercanias line, which is Renfe train from Metro, and in case you need to transfer to Cercanias line, you need to get another ticket. Check the destination and route and it will be easier to take metro when you don't need to transfer to another line.
If you are a student, prepare the international student ID card as there are many discount benefits for students in Spain. Before paying for the ticket, check if there is any discount for student and present your ID card.
Being famous for the tourism, there are many spots to visit like architectures and museums, and the admission fee is quite costly in Spain. There are some travel passes, but still you have to buy the tickets separately for many famous touristic attractions.
With Barcelona Museum Pass, you can enter 6 museums including Catalunya art museum, Joan-Miro foundation, and Picasso Museum.
Madrid card allows you to use unlimited public transporations and also access many museums. You can buy different Madrid cards depending on how long you are staying in Madrid. From 24 hours to 72 hours, the card varies. It is 47 euros for 24 hours one.
Main tourist attractions usually have very long queue. If you buy the tickets online in advance, you can save the waiting time, and also it is cheaper to buy online than on the spot.
The currency in Spain is euro, thus, if you are traveling in Europe, you do not have to exchange the money twice. Often in some restaurants, they only take cards. So you need to bring your card just in case.
1) ESPADRILLES : A must-have fashion shoes especially during summer. There are many espadrilles ateliers in Spain. The oldest espadrilles shop in Spain is Casa Hernanz in Madrid which opened in 1840. La Manual Alpargatera is one of the most popular ones in Barcelona.
2) JAMON : Dry-cured ham from Spain. You can easily purchase them at supermarkets or local markets. You can bring them to EU countries, but some countries forbid you from brining hams. So you must check if it is possible to bring it home or not before you buy them.
3) SANGRIA : Sangria is a must-try alcohol in Spain. To enjoy the same atmosphere you had in Spain, you can bring a bottle to home.
4) CAVA : If you prefer lighter and sparkling wine, you can try cava wine which can be a good souvenir as well.
5) OLIVE OIL : Spanish olive oil is considered the best in the world. They have a history over 3000 years, started from Andalusia and later spreaded out all over Spain. The dry and sunny weather in Spain is perfect to grow olives. From the normal olive oils to the ones with truffle, there are various products made of olive oil including cosmetics and foods.
6) HONEY CAMOMILE TEA : Honey Camomile tea is one of the most popular and cheapest souvenir from Spain. There are many honey Camomile tea(Manzanilla con Miel) from different brands, but the most famous brand for it is Hornimans.
7) PAELLA KIT : Top famous food in Spain, Paella. With the paella kits, you can easily cook paella at home. They sell the black rice or sauce only or a whole kit even including the paella pan.
8) TURRON : The most representative snack in Spain, Torron. Each region has different recipes to make torrons. It is normally made with honey, eggs, sugar, and nuts creating savory and sweet tastes. From the soft to hard ones, there are various types of torrons.
9) HAND MADE SOAPS : When you are in Barcelona, you can drop by Sabater Hnos, where they make hand-made soaps. There are 5 shops in the world, and they produce many different soaps with different sizes, scents, and shapes. There are soaps good to cure acnes and atopy.
10) SOCCER CLUB SOUVENIRS : Are you a big soccer fan? Spain is famous for its famous soccer clubs like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. There are so many souvenir shops of each soccer club in the city center and they sell a variety of souvenirs like pens, key rings, uniforms, bags, and jackets.
11) FASHION ITEMS : There are many famous fashion brands from Spain like Camper, Mango, Zara, Desigual and Massimo Dutti. You can get various fashion items from Spain at lower costs than in the other countries.
From Mango to Zara, Desigual, Massimo Dutti. There are many brands from Spain we know, and Spain is a good country to enjoy shopping.
To get a tax refund in Spain, you should not be a resident in EU countries, and need to exit Spain within 3 months. Also, the minimum price spent should be over 90.16 euros.
In Spain, even though you bought the items on different days or from different cities, if they are from the same brand, you can combine the receipts to get a tax refund if the total amount exceeds 90.15 euros. For example, you spent 50 euros at Zara yesterday in Madrid, and you bought some more items from Zara and spent 45 euros today in Barcelona. The total amount you spent at Zara is 95 euros, which is more than 90.15 euros, then you can get a tax refund combining two receipts.
When you get the tax refund form from stores, try to fill out the form with your information including email address, postal code, and phone number so that you can save the time at the airport.
If Spain is the final destination of your trip before going back to your country, you can get a tax refund at the airport in Spain. If you are visiting some more countries after Spain, you can get a tax refund at the last EU country you visit. If you have a transit of the airplane in other EU country, you still get a tax refund at Spain.
In Spain, there are two big tax refund agency, which are Global Blue and Global Exchange. On your tax refund form, the name of tax refund agency is written, so you can go to the counter accordingly depending on the tax refund form. If there is only one counter at the airport, you can proceed tax refund at once, and put the documents in each post box after.
You can get a refund by cash or card. When the counter is open, you can get a refund by cash, but when you arrive at the airport at late night or early morning, you can get a refund only by card as you can only put the documents in the post box.
There isn't a speical tipping culture in Spain. The service fee is already included, but local people sometimes leave some small changes or leave some tips when they visit fine dining restaurants or when they experienced nice service. You can ask for the bill at the table to make payment at restaurants, like in many other European countries.
There is a tension between Spain and Catalonia. People from Catalonia often introduce themselves as Catalan, instead of Spanish, and they use Catalan language. When you are traveling in Catalonia, including Barcelona, you can often see the flag of Catalonia, and regional emotion is vented when it comes to football matches as well. Many international football fans buy the uniforms of the football club, but you need to be careful with it. If you wear the uniform of Real Madrid in Barcelona, you might encounter an unexpected embarrassing moment.
In many countries near the Mediterranean sea, there is a nap time in the afternoon which is also called Siesta. Some tourist attractions, shops, restaurants, supermarkets might close during Siesta time. It really depends on each shop or tourist attractions, so you need to check their break time when you plan your trip.
Locals usually start dinner around 8P.M. Many restaurants suddenly get crowded before and after 8 in the evening. If you are planning to enjoy a meal at famous restaurants or with more quiet atmosphere, we recommend you to have dinner before 8P.M.
Spanish food is relatively salty. If you prefer plain than salty food, remember 'sin sal por favor', which means you want your food without salt.
During the lunch time, you can try 'Menu del Dia' from restaurants. It is like 'today's menu' which allows you to enjoy a starter, a main dish, and a dessert at a low cost.
In most of the big cities in Spain, there are Cathedrale and Alcazar. Spain does not have the national religion, but there are lots of catholic church, which is cathedrale. Alcazar means castle or fortress in Arabic, and mostly located on hills where you can have the great view to look down the city.
You can enjoy your trip even more when you have enough knowledges about places you visit. Audio guided tour is available at many museums, which will help you to have even more interesting and valuable tour.