Welcome to Spain Travel Blog & Planning Guide
Heading to Spain, and don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we got you covered! First off, we are so excited for you!
Spain is one of the amazing destinations in Europe. Filled with iconic Gaudi landmarks, Andalusian cultural nuances, Pyrenees, and the amazing coastline, Spain will not disappoint you!
Spain Travel Blog: City guides, itineraries & tips
Discover the best of Spain through our itineraries, detailed travel guides, and tips!
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Quick Facts: Ultimate Guide to Spain Travel
✔️ Officially Known as – Kingdom of Spain (or Reino de España in Spanish)
✔️ Capital City – Madrid
✔️ No of Provinces or States – 50
✔️ Population – 47.35 million (2020)
✔️ Spain Tourist Visa – Schengen
✔️ EU Member – Yes
✔️ Currency – Euros
✔️ Language – Spanish is the official language, also known as Castilian (English is spoken)
Getting ready for Spain – Travel Visa
Spain is located in Southwestern Europe. It is a country on the Iberian Peninsula and is blessed with a Mediterranean coastline of 4,964 kilometres (3,084 miles).
It shares a border with Portugal, another beautiful European country.
Spain is a member of the European Union, and belongs to the Schengen zone of countries, and follows the Schengen Agreement. So,
🗸 If your passport is not visa-exempt, then you will require a Schengen visa to enter and visit Spain
🗸 EU Nationals (European Union) countries do not need a visa
🗸 For citizens of the United States and Canada, no visa is required for staying up to 90 days in Spain for tourism purposes
Flight Tips for Spain
There are about 59 airports in Spain, and the Madrid Barajas International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in the country.
Madrid, the capital city of Spain, and Barcelona are great options to fly into. Depending on your departure airport, you can easily find direct flights leaving from North America.
Once you are in the country, you can easily make connections from one of the major cities to the various small towns, beachside resorts, and islands.
Spain has their own network of high-speed trains, regional trains, and buses, which you can rely on.
When traveling from within the European Union, there are a ton of budget airlines options available from RyanAir, Vueling, TAP Air Portugal, etc.
Iberia, or Líneas Aéreas de España is the national carrier of Spain.
Best time to travel to Spain
Spain experiences 4 seasons – spring, summer, autumn/fall, and winter. Although you may not notice heavy snowfall in most parts of the country, except for northern Spain – the dip in temperature will signal the change in seasons.
Here are the seasons, and months in Spain
- Spring: March to June
- Summer: June to September
- Autumn/fall: September to December
- Winter: December to March
The official dates do overlap and crossover into other months.
As mentioned the variations in temperatures change as you move from south to north, and also from inland to islands!
🗸 Spring and Fall Months – Spring and fall months are considered to be the best time to visit Spain. This is great because of the pleasant temperatures – you can easily wander outside and enjoy the various attractions and landmarks.
During this time, destinations in southern Spain like Seville, and Cordoba won’t be super hot (rather it will be bearable). Places in Catalunya will experience rains in the fall, but there are tons of festivals happening at this time as well.
There is no offseason as such in Spain. Based on the number of visitors there is a high and low season, but even on fall and spring days, we have seen people line up at attractions. We do recommend booking tickets online for major landmarks.
🗸 Summer Months – The summer months are super hot in Spain, particularly the months of July, August, and September. In July, you can expect average temperatures to be around 32 degrees Celcius (89 F). In the evening, the temperatures are cooler and sit around 18 degrees Celcius (64°F).
🗸 Winter Months – Officially, winter in Spain kicks off around 22 December and ends in March. This is also a good time to visit. The temperatures in December and January are crisp but not SUPER cold so you don’t have to wear multiple layers.
A nice warm coat and a scarf with winter boots are perfect outfits to enjoy the weather, Christmas markets, and festive cheer + shopping in the cities.
Rains are also uncommon in the winter. There are a few ski resorts in Spain that you can visit. Be sure to pack ski gear, if you do so.
Also pack extra woolens when visiting northern Spain, the Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada, etc.
Winter is also a great time to visit for those who wish to escape the snow. The Canary Islands are the answer for soaking in the winter sun!
Our favorite month to visit Spain is late September to October. April and May are not bad either (spring-summer crossover months).
- Best time to visit: September – mid-October, April – May
- Avoid: July – August
- Winter Sun: December – January
Average Temperatures in Barcelona & Seville (popular destination in North and South of Spain)
- Winters: 15 C/59.6 F (Barcelona)
- Winters: 16 C/61 F (Seville)
- Spring: 20 C/67 F (Barcelona)
- Spring: 22 C/72 F (Seville)
- Summer: 29 C/84 F (Barcelona)
- Summer: 36 C/96 F (Seville)
- Autumn: 23 C/73 F (Barcelona)
- Autumn: 26 C/76 F (Seville)
- Las Fallas: March in Valencia
- Semana Santa (Holy Week): Easter week in Seville
- Carnival: Easter
- Feria de Sevilla: April
- San Juan (Saint John’s Day): June
- San Fermin: July in Pamplona
- Tomatina Tomato Fight: August in Bunol
- Semana Grande: August in Bilbao
- National Day of Catalunya: September in Barcelona
- National Day of Spain: October
Festivals in Spain:
Spain celebrates traditional and religious festivals, national/regional days as well as cultural fests all year long. In the table above, you can find the popular festivals taking place each month.
National Day of Spain is celebrated every year on October 12, and there are festivities all across the country. Barcelona and various parts of Catalunya also celebrate the National Day of Catalunya in September. More about Barcelona in September
When it comes to religious and traditional festivals, Easter is the prime time to visit, particularly in the southern cities like Seville and Cordoba. Holy Week, Carnival, and Semana Santa are very popular.
You can also join and participate in unique festivals like the La Tomatina (Tomato Flight) in Bunol. And Semana Grande in Bilbao in northern Spain.
Don’t forget the Christmas Markets in November and December, so when you do plan to visit Spain, you can check off some of these festivals.
What to pack for Spain? Spain Packing List
Generally speaking, the vibe in Spain is very casual and inviting. Locals dress stylishly and smartly like in most European cities. One can wear shorts and nice tops in cities and beaches.
Having said that, Spain’s dress code is a little conservative in nature too. Like there are dressing norms for religious sites and certain places. Spanish women wear modest clothing, without being too flashy.
Spanish men are also found to be well-dressed but in a very casual way. When visiting Spain, we recommend avoiding baggy pants, loose hoodies with loud logos!
Now depending on the month you are visiting, and the activities you will be undertaking your packing list for Spain will vary.
Summers are warm so carry airy and breathable clothing. Flowy dresses, tops, short or linen pants are good options. Comfortable walking shoes are a must plus a waterproof light jacket.
Autumn kicks in with moderate temperatures, and we recommend bringing in something warm (a scarf, cardigan, booties, etc) along with the summer clothes.
In the winter, a warm jacket or wool coat is a must. Add snow boots, a scarf, and a sweater for winter activities. In northern Spain, snow is common, so do carry your baselayers for layering and enjoying the snow.
Keep in mind that snowfall is very rare in a majority of Spanish cities.
In the spring months, temperatures are pleasant and are perfect for outdoor activities.
Here is your packing list for Spain
- Top: Long sleeve tops, shirts, blouses
- Nice sweater dress for dinners out (her, winter). Flowy dresses
- Bottoms: Fitted jeans, linen pants, shorts
- Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes, hiking boots (summer), booties (winter)
- Outerwear: Wool coat (winter). Light waterproof jacket (all year)
- Winter Accessories
- Scarf (winter)
- Gloves (winter)
- Warm socks (winter)
- Beanie (winter)
- Lounge wear
- Toiletries: Moisturizer, sunscreen, toothpaste & toothbrush, shampoo, body cream, light make-up
- Your cellphone.
- Sim card
- Charger: Like this multi charging cable to power up multiple devices
- Universal travel adaptor: Europe uses a plug with two round pins (type C), unlike the flat ones in North America. Don’t forget to carry your universal adaptor
- Camera: Don’t forget your camera. We carry our Sony Mirrorless Camera and Sony A7iii.
- SD Card: To back up all the photos
- Laptop: Optional
- Travel Documents
- Passport: Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival in Spain. The passport must be in good condition and not torn or tempered.
- Visa: If you require a Schengen Visa for Europe/Spain, do apply for it prior to your trip.
- Currency and Credit Cards: Don’t forget your credit cards, and currency
- Travel insurance (medical, trip cancellations, etc): You can get a quote in minutes from Worlds Nomad Insurance
- Transportation: City Pass, flight tickets, or any tour confirmation
- Hotels: Confirm hotel reservations, and save your emails or a screenshot of the booking email.
Budget for Spain Travel Tips
Spain is not super expensive like Switzerland or Iceland. In our experience, we were able to find hotels and nice restaurants (similar to what we do back home in Canada) in a mid-budget range in major Spanish cities, and also found affordable finds in southern Spain.
For us, we set aside a budget of $120 – $180 per adult which included the hotel (twin-share), day tour/pass, and food.
During our trips to Spain, we were eating out a lot. Southern Spain was very cheap, and we loved the tapas and bar hopping (with countless beers and coffee). If you are dining in fancy restaurants or in touristy areas, expect the prices to be higher.
You can also save money by picking up food and groceries at a store.
Shared accommodation in most popular Spanish destinations starts at $80 USD. Hostels are of course cheaper and you will find lots in Spain – that start at $30 USD and above.
On average, expect to spend around $2000 USD for 2 weeks in Spain – with food, transport and shared accommodation (flights and travel insurance are extra).
- Luxury: $300+
- Mid-Budget: $120
- Hostel: $26 (dorm)
- Restaurant: $20-60
- Fast Food: $10-20
- Day Pass: $5.70+
- Taxi: $7.50+ (is base)
- Car rental: $40/ day+
What to see in Spain? Best places to visit in Spain
The cultural landscape of Spain, along with its traditions and landmarks is diverse across the country. There is so much to do and see – here is our guide on the most beautiful places to visit in Spain
Add the following destinations to your Spain bucket list
🗸 Madrid – Madrid is the capital city of Spain, and also the most populous. The city is known for its historical buildings, the Royal Palace, markets, and parks. You can visit a lot of contemporary art museums, Renaissance architectural sites and enjoy a bustling nightlife with a host of great restaurants.
The heart of old Hapsburg Madrid is a must to explore.
Many travelers to Spain, wonder if Barcelona or Madrid is worth visiting. We recommend exploring both. You won’t be visiting Spain, just once – we are sure. So take the time to visit both.
Statistically, there are more metropolitan/contemporary galleries and city attractions in Madrid (versus Barcelona).
🗸 Barcelona – Barcelona is one of the first Spanish destinations that come to mind. And for good reasons.
Barcelona is home to architectural gems of Anthony Gaudi such as the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Mila and Casa Batlló. There are also numerous green spaces, parks, and museums in the city that you must check out.
Do check out the Gothic Quarter, the popular La Ramblas, the Boquería market, and the Barcelona Cathedral, and the stunning coastline with the Barceloneta Beach close by.
🗸 Valencia – Valencia is one of the Spanish destinations that is still considered a hidden gem, as it is not super touristy still. But the city is home to many beautiful churches and many UNESCO World heritage sites.
Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences is a must-visit, so do add it to your itinerary.
🗸 Seville – The capital of Andalusia – Seville, is one of the must visit places in Spain. From the iconic Real Alcazar Palace, Plaza de Espanya, and the largest Seville Cathedral with the Giralda tower, there are tons of attractions to visit in the city. Food or tapas in Seville is delicious and super affordable.
🗸 Granada – One of our favorite Andalusian cities in Granada. Full of charming lanes and the iconic Alhambra makes Granada one of the must-visit destinations in Spain. With its Moorish influence, Alhambra is a showstopper. In fact, the entire Albayzin area and narrow winding streets are mesmerizing.
🗸 Cordoba – Cordoba is one of the most beautiful cities to visit. Located in southern Spain, Cordoba is home to the La Mezquita, the remarkable mosque dating from 784 A.D. When in Cordoba do explore landmarks such as the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs, Castillo Almodovar del Rio, Roman Bridge, and Plaza del Potro.
🗸 Girona – Located in the northern part of Spain, Girona is a delightful city worth visiting. The city has stunning medieval cathedrals, churches, and historic monuments, including many Game of Thrones shooting locations that pull in a lot of tourists.
The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and makes a great place to explore the city and check off its remnants.
When you are visiting Barcelona, you can also add a day trip (or longer) to Girona.
🗸 San Sebastian – San Sebastian in Basque Country is located on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. Known for its beaches, restaurants, and laid-back and relaxing atmosphere. When in the city, do try out various Michelin restaurants and others offering traditional Basque dishes, including delicious seafood.
We take pride in planning and crafting the perfect itinerary to make the most of our trips, and Spain is no different.
With an efficient transportation system and a plethora of day tours, you can easily explore a region in Spain by keeping one city as a base and then venturing on day trips from there.
Take a look at our Southern Spain itinerary, we have included a ton of samples with or without a car. Our recommendation is to keep Seville as a base for a short trip.
Have 7 days in Spain? We have a guide on – one week in Spain itineraries with samples, covering the length and breadth of the country.
Here are some more Spain itineraries that we have written about,
How many do you need in Spain?
We recommend at least one week in Spain to visit a couple of cities, go on scenic day trips, check a few iconic landmarks, and eat delicious food!
Spain Package Tours
Guided tours are a popular way to explore Spain if you do not wish to do all the research and planning/booking. Our favorite booking website is Intrepid Travel. They are a small group tour company that organizes tours to Europe, including Spain.
You can choose from a range of departure dates, activities, areas and make the most of your travel time. You do have to book flights separately, but hotels are included. They include a few meals and guided sightseeing with free time.
They also book accommodation in a mid-budget range.
TourRadar is another site, worth looking into. We took a Cosmos tour a few years ago, which was a large size group tour. We were happy with the amenities that came with the package and utilized the free time by exploring on our own.
🗸 Explore the best of Andalusia – Andalusia in 8 days, from traditions, food to landmarks, book this tour here
🗸 Visit Spain and Portugal in this epic tour – Go on this 11-day tour of Spain and Portugal with Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia. View the tour here
🗸 San Sebestian – Go on a 7 day surfing tour in San Sebestian. More details here
🗸 Pyrenees – 8-day snowshoeing tour in the Pyrenees in the winter. Check it out here
🗸 La Tomatina Festival – 4 day La Tomatina festival
🗸 Camino de Santiago – 10 day Camino de Santiago hiking tour (epic)
🗸 There are also day tours that you can use to make the most of your trip, without a full package!
Transportation Options in Spain
There are various ways to explore Spain – you can use tours, public transportation, or rent a car. We have already listed the guided multi-day tours – these tours cover transport, accommodation, and 1-2 meals.
Day tours are a great option too. We book all of our tours in Europe via GetYourGuide (they also have an amazing cancellation policy, so you are in safe hands when you book through them).
Day tours start at $65 USD+ which includes a return trip and may include an entry fee and a meal.
Public transportation is an affordable way of exploring Spain, especially if you are visiting major cities or relatively well-known towns. To connect between 2 places via public transportation, expect to pay around $91 USD, one way.
In Spain, you will find regional trains (including high-speed connections), metro and subway lines, buses, etc. Each city has its own city pass (full day pass, weekly or monthly pass) for trains which you might want to consider. They also include free or discounted entry tickets to attractions.
For exclusive train travel in Spain, consider getting the Renfe Spain Pass. This pass allows you to travel with all long-distance trains, for 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 trips within one month after activation.
Note that you have to reserve your seats with this pass.
Renting a car is always an option in Spain. And road trip in Spain will be epic – trust us!
If you have a valid international driver’s license or national ones (like the USA, Canada) you can rent a car, and drive in Spain.
Spain drives on the right-hand side of the road just like the USA and Canada.
On average a rental car will cost about $40 per day. Keep in mind that many hotels may not have free parking especially in the city centre areas. We recommend using tours and trains for exploring major destinations and using a car for remote locations.
Where to stay in Spain?
When exploring Spain, it is possible to base yourself in a major city and then take day trips to venture into smaller towns or beaches. They will have the best places to stay, in terms of transportation, finding a variety of tours, restaurants, and accommodation options.
We recommend staying in Barcelona, Madrid, or Seville for a short trip, that way you can save money on hotel rates (multiple stay discounts), and also make it easy to base and store your luggage instead of lugging them around.
When you stay in a major city, opt for a hotel at the centre, so that all the major attractions and tour meeting points are within walking distance to your accommodation. If you are renting a car, consider staying away from the centre to secure parking.
From Barcelona, you can explore Montserrat, Girona, Baga, and the Pyrenees, or from Seville, visiting Granada, Cordoba and Ronda are easy options.
In Spain, you will find standard hotels, as well as luxurious resorts in all the major cities, and popular tourist towns. Hostels are quite popular in touristy cities, so are Airbnbs. (Read: Best Airbnbs in Spain).
Whichever accommodation you book, you are required to pay a tourist tax at the hotel reception, which ranges from 1 to 4 euros (camping, hostels, hotels).
In Catalonia, you will have to pay a city tax (of 0.75 Euro per person per night for 3-star hotels, 1.25 Euro per person per night for 4-star hotels, and 2.5 Euro per person per night for 5-star hotels).
We use Booking.com, and Airbnb to browse accommodation deals.
What to eat in Spain?
If not for its history and culture or beaches, visit Spain just for its culinary delights. Here you will easily find traditional and international cuisines, with vegan and vegetarian options, seafood, fast food chains, Michelin Star restaurants, and more.
Wherever you are traveling in Spain, you must try these foods
🗸 Paella: Paella is considered to be the National Dish of Spain. I love that it is a rice dish. Different regions have their version of paella (and Valencia is known to be the birthplace of paella)
🗸 Tortilla Española: This Spanish omelet is everything. YES! It has onions, ham, chorizo, spinach, potatoes, and what not – and tastes delish!
🗸 Pollo al ajillo: Yummy – garlic chicken! Or Gambas al Ajillo – garlic shrimp
🗸 Tostas de tomate y jamón: Iberico ham with tomatoes!
🗸 Spanish Chorizo: Fermented and cured sausage
🗸 Churros: Sugary fried dough rolled in cinnamon and served for breakfast or snack. It is eaten by dipping in a warm cup of chocolate
🗸 Crema Catalana: Similar to cream brulee
You can browse food tour options online and book them via GetYourGuide
Safety in Spain
Overall Spain is a safe country to visit in Europe. Locals are accommodating to tourists, and are used to seeing visitors in their neighborhoods, restaurants, and stores.
Spain is safe for solo, female, or senior travelers including couples or families. It is a great destination for any and all ages. Many retirees find Spain to be the perfect place to call home!
Violent crimes are rare in Spain.
Although safe, petty theft including pick-pocketing in major tourist attractions is very common, especially in Barcelona. You will find a lot of Spain travel blogs highlighting horror stories of travelers who lost their bags, camera, or passports!
Read our detailed guide to Barcelona tips to stay safe on your travels.
Keep in mind you can have a great time in Barcelona (or any of the major cities) by packing light, carrying only what you need, and always keeping an eye on your belongings. Don’t leave your purses unattended in restaurants or inside of public transport.
Spain also has a few rugged areas (volcanic, parks, different trails, etc), and this is where you have to adhere to local alerts and follow guidelines to stay safe. Extreme climatic changes are not very frequent.
We hope you found this our Spain travel tips useful in planning your getaway. Have questions? Ask us or leave a comment below!