With over 5,000 km of coastline, 48 UNESCO sites, and more bars than anywhere else in Europe, it’s little wonder that around 80 million tourists travel to Spain each year. The birthplace of the first novel (Don Quixote), flamenco, and tapas, Spain has a vibrant but relaxed culture that caters to intrepid explorers, city lovers, and families alike.
Not sure which places to visit in Spain? These suggestions will get you on the right track—and show you how to budget for your trip!
Planning your trip to Spain
Before you travel to Spain, there are a few steps to cover first, including:
- Finding the best places to visit in Spain to match your needs
- Setting up your travel budget
Luckily, we’ve got your back. Below, you can discover how to do all of the above. Before you know it, you’ll be diving into a paella while drinking a glass of sangria in beautiful Spanish surroundings!
Budget your trip to Spain
Nothing beats the feeling of being financially prepared for your vacation. Knowing that you can cover any hiccups that may happen along the way can be deeply reassuring. So, before you embark on your Spanish trip, it’s a great idea to work out how much cash you’ll need while you’re there. This means researching how much accommodation, transportation, entertainment, and food cost in your chosen destination. A useful tip is to use how much you pay for food at home as a baseline to get a rough idea of how much you’ll spend while in Spain. Of course, this will vary if you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family—and depend on how extravagant you want to be while you’re there!
Once you have a ballpark idea of how much you should save, you’ll next need to identify areas where you can cut back. To begin, go through at least three months of recent bank statements. This will help you understand how much money you have coming in and going out of your account each month. This makes identifying areas where you can save much simpler. The easiest expenses to tackle are what’s called your “variable costs,” i.e., less essential expenditures such as subscription services, eating out, and unused memberships.
If the idea of creating a budget seems overwhelming, you’re not alone. A place to get started is the 50/30/20 budget. It’s a straightforward budgeting method that has helped many people gain control over their finances.
Managing your money when traveling to Spain
Before you travel to Spain, it’s important to make sure you know how to take money out while you’re there—and what to do in case of an emergency.
Using your debit card in Spain
In general, Spanish ATMs will accept most foreign debit cards, but it’s always a good idea to confirm this with your bank before you go. It’s also smart to tell your bank that you’re planning to travel to Italy so they don’t block your card while you’re away. Banks occasionally do this as a security measure if they suspect that your card is being used fraudulently.
Foreign transaction fees abroad
When using your debit or credit cards in Spain, your bank can charge you foreign transaction fees. These fees are often incurred when using a currency different from the currency in your ‘home’ country. In addition, some banks also charge a 1.5% currency conversion fee on top of any transaction that takes place on the weekend. This is so that the bank can protect itself against any fluctuations in the exchange rate. In general, it’s best to ask your bank what fees you can expect to incur when using your cards in Spain.
Losing your debit card while traveling
If you lose your debit card while traveling, act quickly and contact your bank immediately. The quicker the better as canceling your card stops any potential fraudulent activity from taking place on your account. In some cases, your bank may be able to send you an emergency card to a fixed address while you’re traveling so you can still access your money.
Get insured when traveling to Spain
For peace of mind when traveling abroad, consider getting travel insurance to cover any health emergencies or cancellations while you’re away. This can save you a considerable amount of money and can help to reduce any travel anxiety both before and during the trip. There are many insurers to choose from, the important thing is to make sure you choose a plan that makes sense for you.
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Where to stay and what to do in Spain
There are many fantastic places to visit in Spain, so to make your choice easier, you should decide what type of vacation you want to have while you’re there. As Spain offers a huge variety of different experiences, you’re certain to find what you’re looking for. Here are some of our top places to visit in Spain to point you in the right direction.
The family-friendly vacation: Seville
Nestled in the southwest of Spain, Seville is the capital of the Andalusia region and the fourth largest city in Spain. Famous for its striking historic center, the largest in Europe, its narrow winding streets, lush parks, and being the birthplace of flamenco, Seville is the perfect family-friendly vacation location. Located on the Guadalquivir river, kids will love exploring the city by pedal boat and riding beneath the Isabel II bridge. Back on land, take a trip up Seville Cathedral’s Giralda Tower to get stunning views over the city. Close to the cathedral, the Santa Cruz neighborhood is a delightful old Jewish quarter where the whole family will enjoy wandering around the winding streets and discovering plenty of ice cream shops!
On a warm day, The Plaza de España is a must for Star Wars fans as it is featured in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. From here, it’s just a few minutes walk to Maria Luisa Park which is right next door and one of Seville’s nicest parks, boastingseveral playgrounds and plenty of shade. A ten-minute walk away, you’ll find the Royal Palace of Seville and its impressive gardens. Comprising a sizable seven hectares, bursting with lemon, orange, magnolia, and cypress trees, there’s plenty of space to run around. But, to really get the adrenaline going, nothing beats a trip to Isla Mágica, Seville’s very own theme park! With rollercoasters, boat tours, and water slides, you’re guaranteed to wear the family out. But, if the weather is a little gloomy, head to the Flamenco Museum or the Aquarium instead to get your fun fix for the day.
For the adventure traveler: Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands
With 300 days of sunshine a year, huge national parks, and stunning beaches, when it comes to finding an action-packed vacation, the island of Gran Canaria really does have it all. Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria, is the perfect base from which to explore the island. Located in the northeast, as the island’s coast is well-connected, it’s only an hour’s drive to get to the island’s southwestern tip. Boasting the world’s longest urban beach in the world, Playa de Las Canteras, avid scuba divers use Las Palma as the starting point for exploring old shipwrecks, caves, and discovering the area’s vibrant marine life. Additionally, tour operators in the area offer you the chance to try ‘coasteering’ along the western cliffs. This entails zip lining through caves and into the sea, jumping into the water from various heights, and swimming through caves.
For more water adventures, head 30 minutes down south to the Pozo Izquierdo or Vargas beaches. These are some of the best spots for windsurfing in the world as the trade winds and water currents provide budding surfers with optimal surfing conditions. If you’re new to the sport, head to the Pozo Izquierdo International Windsurfing Centre and sign up for a beginner lesson. However, if you prefer to surf without a sail, then Playa del Inglés has a thriving surfing culture and many keen instructors! On the other side of the island, an hour’s drive from Las Palma, Playa de Mogán offers plenty of kayaking, jet skiing, and parasailing opportunities. When you tire of the waves, the Ruta de Las Presas hiking trail is well worth checking out as is the Camino de Santiago, a 77km long route that takes 3 days to complete and goes from the south to the north of the island.
A culture lover's dream: Barcelona
The vibrant cosmopolitan capital of the Catalonia region, Barcelona is at once an architectural wonder and a thriving metropolis. Its most famous street, La Rambla, is an absolute must. At 1.2km long fully-pedestrianized street, it stretches from Plaça Cataluyna all the way to the port. Along the way, you’ll find many different street performers as well as gelaterías and florists. Be sure to stop off at La Boqueria, a colorful, bustling market of over 200 different stands just off the main street. Five minutes further south, you’ll find the Liceu Theatre, a breathtaking opera house built in 1847. If you get the opportunity to see one of its acclaimed shows—take it! Northeast, directly opposite the theatre, you’ll find the picturesque Gothic Quarter, a complex of winding medieval streets, gothic churches, squares, and restaurants.
Just to the west of the Gothic Quarter, you’ll find the Picasso museum which is home to over 4,251 works by the prolific cubist. In the other direction, a seven-minute walk west of Las Rambla, you’ll find the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA). Here you’ll discover Spanish and Catalan masterpieces as well as some international works by Jean-Michel Basquiat. A twenty-minute metro ride north will land you in Park Güell, a park plucked straight from the vivid imaginations of Eusebi Güell and Antoni Gaudi. As a result, it boasts many vibrant, curvy walkways and an iconic mosaic lizard. To the south of the city, check out the Santa Maria del Mar and La Sagrada Família—the latter was also designed by Gaudi and is home to 18 instantly recognizable spiraling towers.
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Spain’s national rail operator is RENFE. Most of the network’s main routes connect via Madrid and Barcelona, but you can get all over the country by train. RENFE also operates AVE trains. AVE are high-speed trains that travel up to 310km an hour, connecting Madrid and Barcelona in just two 2.5 hours. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, FlixBus operates many bus routes throughout Spain, though here a trip from Madrid to Barcelona can take you 9 hours, which makes it nearly three time’s slower than by AVE.
If you decide to explore Spain by car, rental companies such as Sixt, Hertz, Avis, and Europcar have got you covered. But be sure to use a price comparison site such as Kayak, Expedia, or rentalcars.com to find the best deal out there. Additionally, in some of Spain’s bigger cities, you’ll be able to hire a car for short trips using car rental apps such as Ubeeqo and Getaround. For even shorter trips, you can hop on a scooter from Yego, Acciona, eCooltra, or an e-scooter from Lime or Bird.
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What are the requirements for traveling to Spain?
To travel to Spain, you have to present an identity document or valid passport.
Depending on your country of origin, you might need a visa to access the country as well as the Schengen area.
Are there any COVID restrictions on traveling to Spain?
Currently, you don’t need to present any health certificate in relation to COVID-19 in order to enter Spain.
What is the best time of year to visit Spain?
The best time to travel to Spain is during the low season, which is during spring and fall. At this time of year, temperatures are milder, there are fewer tourists, and prices are lower.
How long should I spend in Spain?
Depending on your budget and travel preferences, you’ll need at least seven days to see some of the main tourist attractions. For visiting the capital city, Madrid, you’ll need around four days.
How long can you stay as a tourist in Spain?
Visitors of most nationalities can stay as a tourist in Spain for a maximum of 90 days (three months) within a period of 180 days (six months).