Everything to know before visiting Spain


Though Spain has its charm throughout the year, but personally I need pleasant weather and reasonable costs for everything hence  the best time to visit Spain is typically

  • Spring (March to May) or
  • Fall (September to November).

At these times, you’ll likely find fewer crowds, cheaper accommodations, and the best weather (even for hitting the beach!). Please avoid the peak seasons i.e. the holidays, its packed, crowded, and overpriced!


Many visitors to Spain will not need to obtain a visa for up to 90 days. This includes citizens of all other European Union countries, Canada, Australia, Japan, and the United States. U.S. citizens may enter Greece without a visa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

Other Nationals may have to get a Schengen visa. A Shengen visa will allow you to travel to Spain and all countries covered under the Schengen Agreement. The requirements for getting a visa might differ from country to country, so you may have to check up on that.


Time to download google translate! I could only say “sí”, “no”, “gracias” and “adíos”. That doesn’t sound significant, isn’t it? Right after I arrived in Sevilla, I realized Sevillians are not that good in English as I thought they would be. Most of the people in Spain only speak Spanish and just a few speak very well English. Only at tourist attractions and in those surroundings people know English and most of the time their English is limited.


The official currency in Spain is the Euro. British Pounds, US Dollars and other major currencies can be easily exchanged locally in banks or bureau de change prior to departure.

Credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in most major hotels, restaurants, and shops. Don’t forget to keep some cash on hand, especially in smaller towns.

Traveler’s Cheques are not recommended as they’re often difficult to exchange and incur high fees.

Packing tips

  • Don’t overpack instead you should underpack. Spain is amazing for shopping, so make sure you have some space for all that you buy!
  • Since you will be going to the beach, pack your beach essentials
  • Since the heat is too much, a scarf is a must
  • There will be a lot of walking. Do pack a pair of comfortable shoes
  • Carry medication that you may need, You may not face difficulty in finding the exact drug you need.

DO’s and DONT’s


  • Do shake hands with everyone, from the oldest to the kids, and expect a kiss on each cheek, a hug or a pat on the back from those you know.
  • Do dress stylishly, but modestly. Wear nice accessories too.
  • Do get ready to become a second-hand smoker if you are not a smoker, and pretend that you are fine with it. Smoking is widely accepted in Spain.
  • Do leave your valuables in the hotel safe. Wear a money belt or something to keep money really close to your body to avoid pickpocket attack.
  • Do carry small changes for using the public toilets.
  • Do be prepared for late lunch and dinner. In Spain, no one goes out much before 10pm to eat or for a drink, try to have a light snack about 5pm to put you on.
  • Do tips if you are satisfied with services. Tipping is not customary in Spain.
  • Do rest your wrists at the edge of the table when eating.
  • Do put your knife and fork on your plate parallel with the handles facing to the right to show that you have finished eating.
  • Do give a high quality gift, such as brandy or whiskey, and bring a small gift for children as well. Open your gift immediately when receiving a gift.
  • Do be patient. The Spanish have a very relaxed view of time.
  • Do be aware that dining is important to business relationships in Spain.
  • Do make use of the public transport system. Well organised and one ticket fits all.


  • Do not complain about smoking. Spanish believes whoever complains about smoking are actually afraid of life.
  • Do not get involved with any drugs. The penalties for the possession of any kind of drugs are severe in Spain.
  • Do not wear shorts in public.
  • Do not eat with your hands. Not even fruit!
  • Do not get drunk and do not walk around at night alone.
  • Do not carry your wallet in back jeans pocket, nor do the ladies sling your bags over the backs of chairs.
  • Do not be tempted to walk home if you are out after the Metro and the buses are shut down.
  • Do not cross the eight lane roads anywhere except at the crossings.
  • Do not walk anywhere uphill in the heat and humidity.
  • Do not dally watching the street entertainers as the pickpockets are there making a living too.
  • Do not go to Starbucks, the coffee elsewhere is better and cheaper.

Other Information

It’s hot. Really hot.

Go anywhere south of Madrid in summer and you’ll find that the place is an absolute furnace. Temperatures in cities such as Seville and Cordoba regularly nudge 40 degrees during July and August, making it pretty uncomfortable for travellers. It makes you appreciate why siestas are so popular.

Every region could be a country of its own

There’s an amazing amount of diversity in Spain – this is a country made up of 17 semi-autonomous regions, each of which clings fiercely to a unique culture. From the Basques in the north to the Andalusians in the south, the Catalans in the east to the Leonese in the west, to journey through Spain is to discover what feels like a new country at just about every turn.

Spanish food is amazingly good

You may arrive in Spain with low expectations of the food – after all, our only contact with the cuisine in Australia is overpriced tapas bars. So it’s a huge shock to find that Spanish food is not just good, it’s the best in the world. Seriously: the world’s best restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, is in Spain. So is the sixth best (Mugaritz), the 13th best (Etxebarri) and the 17th best (Arzak). But there’s more to Spanish fare that Michelin stars – food in Spain is as cherished and richly enjoyed as it is anywhere in Europe, with regional specialties and home-style cooking showing the best of gastronomy across the country.

Foreign food is amazingly bad

While the Spanish are incredibly good at making their own food, they’re almost equally bad at making other people’s food. Don’t attempt to go out for Chinese, or Thai, or Vietnamese, or even Italian in Spain. Stick to the local stuff. (The only exception to this is cosmopolitan Barcelona, where pretty much everything is good.)

A little effort goes a long way

While few people might be able to speak English, any attempt you make at their native tongue will be hugely appreciated, especially if that language isn’t Spanish. Learn just the bare minimum of words in Basque, or Galician, or Catalan, and you’ll find frowns instantly become smiles, doors miraculously open, and you’ve made friends for life.

La Sagrada Familia is probably the most stunning building you’ll ever see

St Peter’s Basilica and Notre Dame might hog most of the attention, but by far the most impressive church you’ll ever see – in fact maybe even the most impressive building you’ll ever see, full stop – is La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Gaudi’s masterpiece is stunning from the outside, and even more amazing on the inside. (See for yourself in the gallery above)

Siesta is both the best and worst thing ever

Having an excuse to go for a guilt-free snooze after lunch is certainly a custom most people can get on board with. However, on the off chance you don’t go to sleep and instead attempt to get something achieved between the hours of 2pm and 4pm – say, going shopping – you’ll be annoyingly thwarted by the fact that everything is closed and everyone has gone home. This doesn’t apply, thankfully, in Barcelona and Madrid.

It’s cheap

While Europe on the whole can be pretty pricey, Spain is refreshingly affordable, particularly down south. Head to Seville or Granada and a meal at a restaurant will only cost $20 or so; a beer at a bar will be a couple of bucks. Accommodation, too, is surprisingly cheap throughout much of the country.

The clichés really happen

Hang out in any old bar in Granada and there’s a reasonable chance that someone will pick up a flamenco guitar and start playing, and someone else will sing along. Tapas bars exist, everywhere. Bullfights take place, and some people love them. Everyone is fiercely proud of the region they come from. Siestas are popular. So is drinking.

The cities are great – but the countryside is stunning

It’s easy to fall in love with places like San Sebastian, or Valencia, or Barcelona, or Seville, or Cadiz. But some of the best parts of Spain lie outside of the cities: regions such as Galicia, with its valleys and cliffs, or Andalusia, with its barren rolling hills, or Rioja, with its vine-covered landscapes, or Malaga, with its jaw-dropping mountains… The list goes on.

Only tourists eat before 9pm

Plenty of restaurants won’t even open their doors before 8pm. If they do, you’ll find there are two dinner seatings: the tourist seating, which starts at about 7pm, and the Spanish seating, which goes anywhere from 9pm until midnight. The Spanish like to go out late, and stay out late. You’ll need to adjust your body clock accordingly. And embrace the siesta.

There are far better festivals than San Fermin and La Tomatina

While everyone knows about the Running of the Bulls and the big tomato fight, the best Spanish festivals are the ones you’ve probably never heard of. There’s Semana Santa, or “Holy Week”, during which huge street processions take place in every city; there’s Las Fallas, a street parade and fire festival in Valencia; there’s Moros y Cristianos, a recreation of an ancient battle in southern Valencia; and then there’s Calcotada, a Catalan celebration of spring onions. Don’t knock it till you try it.

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