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).

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 !).

54 thoughts on “Spain

    • thestylishtrotter says:

      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

      Liked by 1 person

  1. gokulr27 says:

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete says:

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ariane says:

    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!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Taylor says:

    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 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tom says:

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jennifer says:

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lydia@lifeuntraveled says:

    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!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Allie says:

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. travelerettenyc says:

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Andrea Burolla Photography says:

    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!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Elizabeth says:

    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!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. vishvarsha says:

    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!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Gabrielle says:

    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!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. nomadicfoot says:

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ami Bhat says:

    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.

    Like

  16. Carola says:

    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

    Like

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