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Spain Travel Guide

Flawless beaches? Check. To-die-for local cuisine? Absolutely. Historic cities? Of course! There’s no denying that Spain is insanely beautiful, and is an absolute must-visit for travellers searching for local experiences. We’d suggest starting your Spanish odyssey sooner rather than later. 

The Highlights

  • Barcelona

    From Las Ramblas where you can watch the world go by during the day or tasting your way through some of the best food you might ever encounter, Barcelona stands out as a must-visit destination in Spain. Most importantly, don’t forget about the Gaudí experience which is nothing short of breathtaking. The Sagrada Família, Park Güell, Casa Milà and the Casa Batlló are the standouts. 

  • Pyrenees Mountains

    This is not your average mountain range. Standing tall along the Iberian Peninsula, these mountains separate France and Spain and is the site for the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, and a base for many outdoor enthusiasts to use as a launch pad for hiking, skiing, climbing and bike riding. We’re almost certain your camera will get as much of a workout as your legs wills. 

  • Granada

    You can’t ignore the lure of The Alhambra (a breathtaking Moorish palace) when talking about Granada, however, this city boasts far more than just one-star attraction. There’s street art. Brilliant tapas bars. Lucious gardens. Intricate architecture and historic cathedrals. And so the list of things to see in Granada goes on. Do yourself a favour and visit this gem of southern Spain.

  • Madrid

    It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Madrid, and as a capital city, it does not disappoint. For a glimpse into the lives of the royals, look no further than the Royal Palace in Madrid or check out the vintage stores and flea markets in Malasaña or the El Rastro Market in La Latina. Then, make sure you visit Chocolatería San Ginés that has been serving delicious treats since 1894.

  • San Sebastián

    Known for the famous La Playa de la Concha, San Sebastián is the place to grab a board and ride those waves like a pro or simply make like a beach towel and spend your day lazing horizontal in the sand. Is it the most beautiful beach in Spain? It’s definitely a contender. If the beach life isn’t for you, spend time sampling many pintxos then see what the vibrant nightlife is all about. 

  • Balearic Islands

    Step away from the mainland and venture to the sun-kissed archipelago of the Balearic Islands where Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera dominate the coastline east of the Spanish mainland.  With idyllic islands and hidden coves to explore, expect to discover a blissful side to Ibiza that’s not always written about in the guidebooks.

The Basics

When to Visit

when to visit
  1. Peak Season

    June to August

    Planning a trip to Spain can be difficult, as the best time to go (perfect weather, vibrant atmosphere, for example) is by far the most expensive time – not to mention the busiest. During the Northern Hemisphere’s summer holidays from July through August along with Christmas and New Year’s Eve is when Spain will be at maximum capacity. Beaches will be filled with throngs of visitors. Hotel prices will be significantly higher but of course, this is when Spain truly shines. The exception is if you were to travel through inland Spain to the more off-the-beaten-path areas where it will be less busy than the coast. 

  2. Low Season

    October to February

    Depending on your budget, really it is down to your preference and what you’re willing to tolerate, as Spain certainly slows down during the winter months. During the low season, you can make the most of mild temperatures without battling large crowds at major sights and through museums. Yes, the beaches might be a no-go area, but in the south of Spain, the temperatures will still be pleasant. If you head up north, ski resorts in the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada will be at their peak and many Christmas markets and seasonal festivities will be in full swing across Spain.

Spain Tours

  • Visit Responsibly

    Travelling responsibly means respecting the communities, culture and environment of the places you visit. Keep these tips in mind when travelling to Spain:

    Go green. Be environmentally conscious on the road by taking short showers; turning off the lights in your hotel room when you leave; and resisting the urge to collect any plants, seashells, or other natural flora.

    Respect cultural differences. Before travelling, read about the local culture and customs – even just knowing the dress code and a few basic phrases in the local language will go a long way.

    Support local businesses. Enjoy a more authentic experience and directly support the local economy by travelling with a local guide, eating in local restaurants, buying from local artisans, and staying in locally-owned and operated accommodations.

    Wherever possible, avoid single-use plastics. Pack reusable items such as your own shopping bags, utensils, a water bottle, and a straw. These items are typically lightweight and compact, and will greatly reduce your consumption of plastics.

    Be conscious of overtourism. Opt to visit the lesser-known regions of Spain or travel outside the peak season – you'll likely even get a better deal and won't have all the crowds!
  • Sustainable Tourism in Spain

    National Parks
    Spain’s first national park, the Picos de Europa National Park, was founded in 1918 after the USA’s historic creation of the National Park Service under the “Organic Act.” Due to Spain’s continued efforts over the years, a large portion of its land falls under special protection and is dedicated to national parks.

    Ecotourism
    Founded in 2010, the Association of Ecotourism in Spain (AES) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the sustainable development of Spanish ecotourism destinations. The organisation also runs the well-known Ecotourism Club in Spain, which requires its member companies and destinations to follow established environmental requirements. Through it’s hard work, the AES is making strides in offering authentic experiences for tourists that highlight Spain’s natural and cultural heritage.

    Eco-Friendly Hotels
    From large international hotel chains to eco-friendly resorts and farmhouse stays, Spain has a number of sustainable accommodation options. For example, Son Bernadinet hotel combines rustic charm with a sustainable swimming pool and an organic food garden. Moreover, tourists can even choose to stay at Spain’s first 100% eco-friendly farmhouse-turned-resort, Mas Salagros Eco Resort.
     

FAQs about Spain

  • Do you tip in Spain?

    There isn’t much of a tipping culture in Spain, but it is recommended to leave a tip of 10% in a restaurant, although service charge can already be included on the bill. It is also polite to round up your bill to the nearest Euro and leave the change, as this will always be appreciated. 
  • What is the internet access like?

    Internet connection in Spain is great and you should have no problem with day-to-day tasks like emailing or surfing the web. WiFi is available in many cafes, hostels and hotels for free. 
  • Is the tap water safe to drink?

    Of course! Tap water in Spain is most certainly drinkable, however, if you do not enjoy the taste, you can boil it or buy bottled water. 
  • Can I use my credit cards?

    Yes, credit cards are widely accepted throughout Spain, and Visa or Mastercard is preferred. Please check with your bank about any foreign transaction charges.
  • What are the public holidays?

    Along with common public holidays such as New Year’s Day, Christmas and Good Friday, Spain has Labour Day on May 1, Feast of the Assumption on August 15, National Day on October 12, Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 along with other regional holidays. 
  • Is it safe to travel solo Spain?

    Yes, of course, and you will have an absolute ball in Spain! With millions of visitors that travel to Spain annually, and there are many safe hostels or guesthouses where you can mingle with other travellers or join a small group tour to meet other like-minded travellers.
A TRAVEL MAGAZINE BY TOURRADAR