Sunset view of Gran Via in Madrid
Sunset view of Gran Via in Madrid

Madrid

Sunset view of Gran Via in Madrid
Photo by Florian Wehde

SPAIN

Europe

Spain Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Madrid

Location:

Southwestern Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Biscay, and Pyrenees Mountains; southwest of France

Currency:

euros (EUR)

Area:

505,370 sq km

Population:

47,260,584 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Castilian Spanish (official nationwide) 74%, Catalan (official in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and the Valencian Community (where it is known as Valencian)) 17%, Galician (official in Galicia) 7%, Basque (official in the Basque Country and in the Basque-speaking area of Navarre) 2%, Aranese (official in the northwest corner of Catalonia (Vall d'Aran) along with Catalan, <5,000 speakers); note - Aragonese, Aranese Asturian, Basque, Calo, Catalan, Galician, and Valencian are recognized as regional languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

Religion:

Roman Catholic 58.2%, atheist 16.2%, agnostic 10.8%, other 2.7%, non-believer 10.5%, unspecified 1.7% (2021 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+1

Tel Code:

+34

Weather

Climate in Spain

Spain has a diverse climate due to its large size and varied topography. The country can be broadly divided into three climate regions: the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and the Continental. The Mediterranean region, which includes the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands, and the Costa Blanca, has mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The Atlantic region, which includes Galicia, Asturias, and the Basque Country, has mild winters and cool summers with high rainfall. The Continental region, which includes Madrid, has cold winters and hot summers with less rainfall.

Best time to visit Spain

The best time to visit Spain depends on the region and what you want to do during your trip.

  • If you want to visit the beaches and enjoy the sun, the best time to visit Spain is from June to September, when the weather is warm and sunny.
  • If you want to visit the major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, spring (April to June) or fall (September to November) are the best times to go as the weather is milder and the crowds are smaller.
  • If you want to experience Spain's famous festivals, such as La Tomatina or Running of the bulls, the best time to visit is during the summer.
  • If you want to see the Christmas markets, the best time to visit is December. Keep in mind that the best time to visit also depends on your personal preferences, as some people may enjoy the crowds and the heat of the summer, while others may prefer milder weather and fewer tourists. It's always a good idea to check the weather forecast and plan your trip accordingly.

Transportation

Public Transportation

Spain has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, which includes trains, buses, and metro. The country's rail network is particularly extensive, with connections to cities and towns across the country. The Renfe (Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles) is the national railway company, and it offers a variety of ticket options, including single tickets, day tickets, and rail passes.

Cars

If you prefer to have more flexibility and freedom, renting a car is a great option. Spain has an extensive network of highways and roads, which makes it easy to travel between cities and towns. You can rent a car from major car rental companies such as Avis, Europcar, or Hertz. Keep in mind that driving in Spain requires a valid driver's license and a good understanding of the road rules.

Bikes

Spain is a great country for cycling, with well-maintained bike lanes and bike paths throughout the country. Bike rental is widely available in most cities, and many hotels and hostels offer bikes for rent. Bikes can be a great way to get around cities and towns, and they're also a great way to explore the country's beautiful countryside.

Taxis and ride-sharing

Taxis and ride-sharing services such as Uber are widely available in Spain, and they can be a convenient way to get around. However, prices can vary depending on the city, and in some cases, it can be more expensive than public transportation. Keep in mind that some cities have specific regulations, so it's always good to check before you ride.

Flights

Spain has several airports with frequent flights from various destinations, making it easy to fly to different regions of Spain. Some of the most popular airports include Barcelona-El Prat Airport, Madrid-Barajas Airport and Palma de Mallorca Airport.

Accommodation

Hotels

Spain offers a wide variety of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hotels to luxurious resorts. The country's major cities, such as Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia, have a large selection of hotels to choose from. You can find everything from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to high-end resorts and boutique hotels.

Vacation rentals

Another popular option for accommodation in Spain is vacation rentals. These can include apartments, houses, and even villas. Vacation rentals are a great option for groups or families traveling together, as they often offer more space and privacy than hotels. Websites such as Airbnb and Booking.com have a wide variety of vacation rentals to choose from in Spain.

Campsites

Spain is home to thousands of campsites, ranging from small, family-run campsites to large, modern holiday parks. Many campsites offer a variety of amenities, including showers, toilets, and electric hook-ups. Some sites also offer rental accommodations such as RVs, tents, or cabins. Camping can be a great way to experience the beautiful nature in Spain, particularly for those who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling.

Hostels

Spain has a large number of hostels, which are perfect for budget travelers, backpackers and students. Hostels are usually cheaper than hotels, and they offer a great way to meet other travelers.

Rural Accommodations

Spain has a wide variety of rural accommodations, including traditional farmhouses, country houses, and rural hotels. These accommodations are perfect for those looking for a more authentic and rural experience, and they often offer a great way to experience the local culture.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Spain Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Spain is a country known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and beautiful landscapes. From the bustling streets of Madrid to the sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Spain. Whether you're interested in art, food, or outdoor activities, Spain has something for everyone. Here are the top 10 things to do in Spain:

      1. Visit Alhambra

      Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Granada, and it is considered one of the most beautiful examples of Moorish architecture in the world. Visitors can explore the palace, the fortress, and the gardens.

      2. Walk through Park Güell

      Park Güell is a public park located in Barcelona, designed by the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The park is known for its colorful mosaics, sculptures, and architectural elements.

      3. Visit the Sagrada Familia

      The Sagrada Familia is a large Roman Catholic church located in Barcelona and it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church is considered one of the most important works of the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.

      4. Explore the Prado Museum

      The Prado Museum is located in Madrid and it is one of the most important art museums in the world. The museum is home to a vast collection of European art, including works by famous artists such as Velázquez, Goya, and El Greco.

      5. Stroll down La Rambla

      La Rambla is a famous street located in Barcelona that is lined with shops, cafes, and street performers. It is a great place to people watch and take in the lively atmosphere of the city.

      6. Visit the Park of the Retiro

      The Park of the Retiro is a large public park located in Madrid, and it's a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The park is home to several important monuments, including the Crystal Palace and the statue of the Fallen Angel.

      7. Visit the Mezquita-Catedral

      The Mezquita-Catedral is located in Cordoba and it is considered one of the most impressive examples of Islamic architecture in Spain. The mosque was converted into a cathedral in the 16th century, and it is now a unique blend of both styles.

      8. Take a day trip to Toledo

      Toledo is a beautiful medieval city located just outside of Madrid. It is known for its well-preserved old town and its historic architecture, including the Alcázar fortress and the Cathedral of Toledo.

      9. Visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

      The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is located in Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, and it's the final destination for the famous pilgrimage of the Way of Saint James. The cathedral is considered one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in Spain.

      10. Take a trip to the Costa del Sol

      The Costa del Sol is a popular coastal region located in the south of Spain, known for its beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, and great weather. Some popular towns to visit include Marbella, Malaga, and Torremolinos.

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