There’s always an excuse to visit Spain! It’s one incredible country to explore, especially with all the best places across the country, the totally stunning beaches and gorgeous areas in Northern Spain that are too gorgeous to miss. This is exactly why I wanted to share some tips for visiting Spain that I’ve learned over the years of visiting.
Whether it’s for the glorious sunshine, lazy-day siestas or soaking up those beautiful sights, the whole country is an open book of experiences that you kinda can’t miss.
For me, the best part about visiting Spain though is the sheer diversity you can find all across the country. The cultures, food and even languages can change quite dramatically depending on where you find yourself in Spain.
This of course only adds to the excitement of visiting and re-visiting Spain as each time gives you the possibility of having fantastic new experiences.
Now, despite the diversity, a few rules hold true!
No matter where in Spain you’re planning on visiting and indeed, it doesn’t matter if it’s your first or tenth visit, Spain always manages to find brilliant ways to surprise and impress you.
To that end, I’ve put together some tips for visiting Spain that will be useful for your next galavant. Have the best trip!
1.) Spain ain’t small
Yup, Spain’s not a small country!
This makes for a truly exciting country to visit, especially if you’re planning a road trip where you can experience so much!
2.) The best views are not where you’d expect
Everyone knows the locals know where the best spots are and that holds particularly true in Spain.
Even if you don’t end up mingling with the locals for some reason or the other, ask the receptionist at your hotel (or you host on Airbnb) or pretty much anyone you find that lives in the local area.
Their simple tip can sometimes be the one thing that makes your holiday extra special.
3.) See lesser-known places
The beautiful Mediterranean coast, the mountainous Basque region and the plains around Madrid all provide ample stomping ground for us travellers to see and explore a different aspect of this stunning country.
4.) The love of Siestas is real
A siesta is a pretty big deal in Spain, and rightly so!
Usually, around 1-4 pm, many shops, offices and restaurants will shut their doors for a little afternoon kip. Take advantage of this time to chill-out and relax.
Just make sure to enjoy a cheeky siesta yourself! It’s one of the best tips for visiting Spain that you have to lean into! 🙂
5.) You’re going to eat late
One thing to note (especially if you’re not from Southern Europe) is that dinner is usually much later than its Northern European neighbours.
Dinner will usually start around 10 pm for locals and can last a good few hours.
Food is not rushed and is an amazing opportunity to socialise until the wee hours in your new local haunt.
6.) Pintxos are yummy
Pintxos are usually a quick snack that you’ll eat whilst having an early evening drink and little (or long) gab with your friends.
Grab a wine or beer and order one pintxos at each place you visit. After all, you can go to as many places as you like, enjoying a scrumptious snack before your late evening meal.
Pintxos are usually inexpensive and readily available in bars, especially in the northern parts of Spain. Don’t expect to pay more than 2-5 Euro per pintxo.
Well, unless you’re ordering caviar!
7.) Spain isn’t just Spanish
This is one of the most important tips for visiting Span… Don’t be fooled into thinking that Spain has one national identity.
Catalonia and the Basque region both have very strong identities that people are very rightly proud of.
The language, food, culture and even architecture changes quite dramatically depending on where you are. If you’re visiting Barcelona, for instance, learning a little Catalan is always a nice little nod to the region and its proud people.
8.) Eat Pan Con Tomate for breakfast
It’s as simple as it sounds, shredded tomatoes, fresh olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and a baton of bread (cut to size, of course).
It’s such a delicious breakfast and it fills you up royally before you traipse around the towns.
9.) The roads are great!
Roads in Spain are great, especially if you’re using the toll roads between major urban centres.
If you’re driving, grab yourself a GPS system or just use Google Maps.
This will allow you to better concentrate when driving in an unfamiliar country, while also making sure you don’t get lost; not that I expect that you would!
10.) Eat where locals eat
One of the biggest things I learned about Spain (and with other countries I’ve visited) is that you should follow in the footsteps of locals.
If I see a restaurant filled with locals, I will always try and go there. I’ve yet to be disappointed and it’s always a nice surprise to discover something that’s not a total tourist trap.
This is a good general rule when you travel but one of the important tips for visiting Spain as there can be quite a few tourist traps.
11.) Download free offline walking maps
Exploring a destination on foot is a great way to explore wherever you’re visiting but getting lost is a waste of time (especially if you’re just visiting for a few days) that can easily be avoided by getting yourself an offline map.
This will allow you to walk the winding streets like a boss, all without getting lost when on foot!
12.) Look out for pickpockets in Barcelona
Look, it happens in most global cities and it’s not specific to Barcelona but like any large urban destiantion, petty crime does exist.
Be sensible by keeping your belongings in front of you and not filling your back pockets with gold bullions, diamonds or that precious chocolate bar.
Take extra care on the metro when spaces can be cramped, you might not notice a sticky finger or two.
13.) Embrace the culture
One of the most important things about travelling is exploring a different culture to your own.
Delve in with open arms and live the ways that locals live! Not only will this give you authentic travel experience, but it’ll also let you discover a whole new side of travel and adventure that might be a world away from your life at home.
14.) Learn the lingo
Everyone appreciates a little convo, especially when it’s in your mother tongue. This is totally true here and one of the best tips for visiting Spain if you want to impress.
Try and pick up a few phrases and ‘sayings’ before you go. Practice with free apps like Duolingo that’ll train you each and every day before your trip!
If you need some help, teach yourself some Basque with these 28 essential phrases you’ll need for your trip.
15.) Chill in Spain
You might find, especially in the south of Spain, that life moves at a much more relaxed pace than you’re used to -trust me when I say this is a good thing.
Sometimes it’s so nice to see another perspective of living at a different pace that you can learn from and take home with you.
16.) See the new and old architecture
Spain’s got some pretty dazzling buildings with the likes of Gaudi, Calatrava and Miralles.
Make sure you take some time to enjoy some of the breathtaking buildings that have been erected in this millennia and the last.
17.) Spain isn’t just the mainland
Yup, there’s a whole heap of little islands that are also worth a visit! From the dazzling blue seas around Menorca, or the breathtaking beauty of Ibiza, to the largely unspoilt island of Fuerteventura (in the Canary Islands) – Spain has a wealth of pretty islands that shouldn’t be overlooked.
18.) The coast isn’t just the Mediterranean
Spain is largely surrounded by water that isn’t just the Mediterranean.
Often, when thinking of Spain it can be easy to think of the coast as just the Mediterranean but there’s so much more.
Discover the west coast of Spain and take advantage of those powerful waves that attract surfers from all over the world, or even dip your toes into the waters around the Bay of Biscay! There really is so much diversity on Spain’s coast.
19.) Tip if you like
Tipping in Spain isn’t essential, though is often greatly appreciated. If service is good I’d usually offer a tip of 15 per cent and above; but do check before you double tip.
Some restaurants automatically add a service charge (i.e. a tip) upon your bill that can be harder to spot if it’s not in a familiar language.
20.) Take the metro or train
The metro in places like Barcelona is a great way to hop across the city. Plus, they have some pretty fast trains between the main city hubs.
It’s totally easy and one of the easiest tips for visiting Spain to remember when you’re travelling around the country itself.
21.) Flights can be cheaper than trains
This sounds counter-intuitive but hear me out.
If you’re travelling long distances, say from Malaga to Bilbao, you will probably find that flights (with low-cost airlines) are much cheaper than a return fare on the train.
This can be a convenient way to save time if you want to visit a place for a weekend whilst on a bigger trip in beautiful Spain.
Though, I’ve gotta admit, a good train journey across the countryside is always nice (and better for the environment).
22.) Grab a Kalimotxo
The Basque region of Spain is a beautiful, relatively rural area close to the French border. Hire a car, discover the natural beauty of the region and don’t forget to drink some Kalimotxo (red wine and Coke, mixed together). 😉
23.) Book tickets online for big-ticket attractions
Queues can be long and you can waste a huge portion of your day, especially at peak times! Booking in advance gives you an allocated time, making you more efficient in planning your day!
24.) You can ski in Spain
Spain isn’t just sun, sea and sand! You can actually ski in Spain too! One great place to show off your skiing skills is just outside Granada in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
At certain times of the year, the mountains become a playground for ski enthusiasts and people just like me… who seem to roll down the hill.
Honestly, if you’re a skier, this will be one of the tips for visiting Spain that will serve you well; especially if you’re already in places like Granada.