Spain is a hugely diverse country and much larger than people often think. Yes, there are the Costas, where sun worshipers go to top up their tan, but that is literally just the outskirts of the country and there is so much more.
The vast majority of tourists visit Spain for beach vacations, but there are some beautiful and spectacular cities to enjoy. Just look at Barcelona with Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, the Roman Catholic church that was started in 1882 and is still being added to! Or the Alhambra in Granada, a fortress and palace that dates back to 889 AD.
Don’t forget to pack your USB travel adapter in your hand-luggage to make sure you are always ready to get that fantastic shot with your camera. Missing a once in a lifetime photo opportunity would be gutting if your battery was flat.
Top Tips for traveling in Spain
You are not going to see the whole of Spain, its different cultures and scenery during a two-week vacation! Pick a small number of areas to concentrate on, say a week on the Mediterranean coast followed by a few days in Madrid and a few days in the north of Spain. You’ll get a much better sense of the real Spain by doing this. This leads on neatly to travel!
Internal flights, say from Barcelona to Santiago, can be very cheap and will save you time compared to traveling by train or bus. Of course, sometimes the journey is a big part of the vacation, and a train ride across the whole of Spain with stops on the way could be a wonderful way of exploring. And remember, Spain is more than the mainland. There are Spanish islands, the Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands of the coast of North Africa. Flights here can also be cheap, especially if you are not restricted by dates.
High-speed trains are available, called the Alta Velocidad, that can whisk you from Barcelona to Madrid, a distance of over 300 miles in under three hours. Use the Eurorail website to find the trains and book.
Watch out for Siesta
The afternoon nap in Spain is still an institution and don’t be surprised that the majority of offices, shops and even restaurants will close so the staff can have a bit of a kip! It’s not going to change, so relax, enjoy the peace and maybe have a snooze yourself!
The Spanish generally eat quite late, and it’s not uncommon to see a restaurant almost empty until around 10 pm. Dinner is something to be enjoyed slowly here and it can often go on into the early hours of the morning. Like the siesta, chill and enjoy the slower pace. Either that or enjoy an empty restaurant all to yourself!
Sadly, petty crime is all too common these days and Barcelona has a particularly bad reputation. That said, anywhere along the Costas where there are a lot of tourists will attract pickpockets and the like. Just be vigilant, spread cash between people in your group, and keep an eye on your valuables at all times and it’s no worse than many other tourist hotspots.
Learn some Spanish
Being able to say hello, thank-you and please at the very least will go a long way to get you in the locals' good books! Many will speak at least some English, particularly in tourist areas, but venture into the country just a little and you’ll soon find only Spanish will do. This is particularly true if you head into the Basque area. They are particularly proud of their heritage and language, so learning a little Basque would really impress.
Spain is a beautiful country with plenty of space and things to do. Take your time, keep your camera and smartphone fully charged by packing a travel adapter and make sure you record those special moments. Check our blog on travel adapters for Spain and also, our information on dual-voltage devices when traveling.