From siesta to fiesta and everything in between – Spain travel tips for the ultimate getaway

Woman with her hands up overlooking Spain from a balcony

Spain is a place full of rich culture and breathtaking beauty. From the bustling sidewalks of Barcelona to the hidden alleyways in Seville, this country has a little something for everyone. Before you head on your flight to España, make sure you’re ready for what’s to come. Here are some FAQs to help make your Spanish getaway go as smoothly as possible. 

Where is Spain located?

Spain is a country located in southwest Europe and connects to Portugal on the west and France on the northeast. It occupies about 85% of the Iberian Peninsula and is surrounded by water. The Mediterranean Sea is found on the eastern side of the country and the Atlantic Ocean is to the northwest and southwest. 

What language do they speak?

The national language of Spain is Spanish, however, many languages are spoken throughout the country. There are many regions within Spain where a different language can be heard. Catalan is spoken in Catalonia (where Barcelona is located), Glacian is spoken in Glacia (where Santiago de Compostela is located), and Basque is the language in the Basque Country and part of Navarre. The Balearic Islands and Valencia also have their own languages. But don’t worry, no matter where you are, the locals will typically understand and speak Spanish and English. 

Street sign that says "Plaza del Marcado" in a city in Spain.

What is the local currency?

Spain uses Euros as its currency. It’s recommended that you bring some cash on your journey to use for things like markets (such as La Boqueria in Barcelona) and street vendors, who typically prefer cash. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted throughout the country, but be aware of foreign transaction fees that your U.S. bank may charge you. Check out this list of no foreign transaction fee credit cards to see if you are able to obtain one before your trip. 

What is the tipping culture?

Tipping differs everywhere around the world. First and foremost, Spain doesn’t have the same tipping culture as the United States. If you’re going out for something simple like tapas, coffee or just a drink, you can round up to the nearest dollar amount or leave a bit more, but don’t be surprised if the server tries to give it back to you. When dining out at a nice restaurant, tip based on how much you enjoyed the meal and the service. The staff will be very appreciative of whatever amount you leave them but know that it isn’t necessary. If you’re looking for a basis, 10 to 15 percent of the bill is always a good place to start. 

Tapas on a table at a restaurant.

How do you get around the country?

Depending on what city you’re in, there are many different forms of public transportation – like buses and metros. If you want to travel around the country, the train system, Renfe, is the most reliable, easiest and inexpensive way to do so. You can book cost-effective domestic flights through RyanAir or Vueling, giving you many options to explore Spain by plane. If you are looking to travel by car, make sure to download Cabify, an app that is similar to Uber and Lyft, but requests local taxi cabs instead of personal cars. If your preferred method of transportation is by metro or bus, download the TMB app on your smartphone for schedules and step-by-step directions. 

Metro sign in a city in Spain.

What food is Spain known for?

Spain could be considered a food-lovers paradise. From fresh seafood to unique tapas to mouthwatering cheeses, this country will tingle all your taste buds. The most popular and traditional dish of Spain is paella – a blend of saffron-spiced rice and a mix of seafood or meat (depending on which region of the country you’re in) served in a large steel pan. Tapas are also a traditional Spanish treat. These are small dishes that can be found throughout the country and consist of anything from fresh anchovies to flavorful chorizo. Other traditional foods include patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), gazpacho (cold soup), tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelet) and croquettes (deep-fried dough with filling), to name a few. 

Large pan of paella sitting on a table.

What is the weather like?

While the climate depends on where you are in the country, Spain has around 3,000 hours of sunshine each year. The temperatures stay mild with the coolest seasons being spring and fall. The coldest months tend to be from December to February, but it’s still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors comfortably. The highest temperatures are usually seen in the summer months, with the hottest being July and August. Check here to see what the weather is like in different parts of the country.

People in a row boat in a river outside of a building in Seville, Spain.

What are the best cities to visit? 

Every city in Spain offers something unique and is well worth the visit. But when it comes to our favorites, Barcelona, Madrid and Seville top the list.  

As the capital of Catalonia, situated on the eastern coast of Spain, Barcelona is a vibrant city known for its architecture, beaches and rich culture. Take a stroll through Plaça de Catalunya or secure tickets to an FC Barcelona match to get the true Catalan experience. 

Large crowd of people sitting in the stands while soccer players play on the field at a soccer game in Spain.

Madrid is Spain’s capital and home to world-renowned museums and iconic plazas, such as Plaza Mayor. Just by walking down the streets of this city, you will fall in love with the history and beauty that surrounds you. 

Archway leading to a street in a city in Spain.

Seville, a.k.a the city where Flamenco dancing was born, is the perfect place for beautiful weather and a laid-back vibe. Make sure to visit Real Alcázar, a gorgeous royal palace with gardens that still host the royal family when they visit Seville. 

Flamenco dresses hanging from a balcony.

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