Are you thinking about traveling to Spain soon? If so, you’re not alone.
In fact, each year, close to 83 million tourists visited Spain in the past year. And for the past six years, the country has broken its record for its number of foreign visitors.
With its world-class beaches, laidback atmosphere, and vibrant nightlife, it’s no wonder so many people flock to this coastal country each year. If this is the year you finally visit Spain, there are some things you need to know before you plan your trip.
Check out this guide to discover the top Spain travel tips to keep in mind.
1. Choose the Right Time to Travel
One of the great things about traveling to Spain is that thanks to its temperate weather, there’s really never a bad time to travel here. However, each travel season comes with its pros and cons, and it’s important to know these before booking your trip.
Here’s what you should know about each travel season:
Summer in Spain (June-August)
The biggest advantage of traveling in the summer is that you’ll get to take advantage of the country’s 5000+ miles of coastline. From golden sands to rocky cliffs, you could easily spend your whole trip exploring the coastline without getting bored.
In addition to warm weather and beautiful beaches, the summer months bring the infamous San Fermin Festival and the Running of the Bulls in July.
However, the summer months also bring scorching hot temperatures as well as large crowds of tourists. Luckily, there are plenty of private tours you can book so you don’t have to navigate the crowded tourist scene on your own.
Autumn in Spain (September-November)
Autumn is the best time to taste Spain’s seasonal wines as well as seasonal cuisines. You can even attend a Chestnut festival at the end of October. If you’re a fungi fan, this is the perfect time of the year to go foraging for mushrooms.
Although it’s not beach weather, you’ll still be able to enjoy warm temperatures during these months.
Many people hesitate to visit Spain during the winter months because they think it means freezing cold temperatures and staying inside. However, in many parts of the country, the average winter temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even if you’re visiting the colder regions, you can take advantage of any number of Spain’s world-class ski resorts. This is also the best time of the year to take cooking classes and go on epicurean tours.
If there’s any country that knows how to do spring right, it’s Spain.
During the spring months, you can enjoy cycling, hiking, or horseriding in the countryside. Or, you can just sit back and admire the almond blossoms as you stroll along the near-empty beaches before the tourist crowds roll in. In the holy week leading up to Easter, there are all kinds of parades and celebrations over the country.
2. Embrace the Siesta Lifestyle
In Spain, there’s a period of time during the day known as the “siesta”. Siesta directly translates to “nap” in English.
What this means for you as a tourist is that many grocery stores, retail shops, and other establishments are closed between the hours of 2 pm and 5 pm. That’s right, there’s a 3-hour window each day where many places just aren’t open.
If you’re traveling in big cities, you don’t have to worry about the siesta too much, as you’ll always find something open. However, if you’re traveling through small towns, be aware that the entire town may practically shut down during the siesta hours.
For the most part, however, bars and restaurants stay open during siesta hours, so it’s a good idea to plan to have your lunch during this time and then to push your dinner to 9 or 10 pm.
In Spain, people stay up much later than their Western counterparts, and a 6 pm dinner is practically unheard of. In fact, it’s not uncommon to head to the bars at 1 am and leave around 6 am.
3. Restaurant Service
When it comes to restaurant service, Spain is quite different than the US.
By this, we mean that when you enter a restaurant, don’t expect to be promptly greeted by a hostess with a warm smile eagerly awaiting to seat you. While Spaniards are certainly friendly, restaurant service here runs a bit lackadaisically, to say the least.
This means that when you enter a restaurant, you need to take the initiative to seat yourself and ask for a menu. Also, don’t expect your server to check on you a bunch of times throughout the meal. If you want refills, you’re going to have to catch their eye as they pass by.
Also, don’t forget about the best part of Spanish restaurants: free tapas! At nearly every restaurant in Spain, as long as you order a drink, you’ll get a selection of free tapas (aka, small snacks). This can be anything from bread to olives to chips to peanuts.
4. Learn the Lingo
A lot of Spaniards, especially young ones, know at least some English.
However, an effort to learn some Spanish is certainly appreciated. Luckily, there are hundreds of free resources out there, from podcasts to apps to books, for learning the language.
But, don’t forget that while Spanish is the most popular language in Spain, it’s not the only language spoken here. In Barcelona, for example, many people speak Catalin as a nod to their Catalonian heritage.
If you head north to the Basque country, you’ll hear a different language being spoken in this autonomous community.
Learning a bit of the local language is a nice little nod to the area and its proud people, so do what you can to pick up a few phrases.
Spain Travel Tips: Are You Ready for Your Adventure?
Now that you have these Spain travel tips in mind, it’s time to book your trip. Before you know it, you’ll be eating tapas and relaxing on the beach!
If you liked this article, be sure to check back in with our blog for more travel tips and tricks.