16 Travel Tips and Hacks for Visiting Spain
There always something in Spain attracts you to travel, whether its bright sunshine, a leisurely nap or stunning landscapes. Spain is always colorful, enthusiastic and passionate, which you cannot resist.
The best part of visiting Spain is the cultural diversity of the whole country -- the huge difference in urban cities, culture, food, and languages. Whether it is your first time to Spain or not, those diversities will increase your excitement and freshness to explore the country. You are properly going to get new and fantastic experience in these familiar places. This is the charm of Spain itself.
Even though there are diversities in different cities, some rules are in common. Today, I am going to share with you 16 travel tips and hacks that you should know before visiting Spain.
1. Learn Some Common Spanish Phrases
Although many Spaniards speak English, it is not widely used in Spain as in other European countries. So it is essential to learn some common Spanish phrases before your travel. For instance, ¿Dónde está? (“where is ?”)，” hola”(hello)，” gracias”(thank you), these phrases will help you a lot when you ask locals for help or show you are polite. Spanish is not the only official language, but almost all Spaniards can speak Spanish. Therefore, it is not necessary to learn other local languages.
2. Spaniard Eat A Little Late
Meals' time in Spain is different from most countries, and they usually eat a little late. In general, Spanish lunchtime is between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., dinner time is after 9 p.m... Thus, please watch out time when you are out for meals, most restaurants open after 2 p.m. for lunch, 8:30 p.m. for dinner. If some restaurants open earlier, you should notice if there are traps for travelers.
3. Pay Attention to Pickpockets
Some cities in Spain, especially big cities like Barcelona and Madrid, are well known for pickpockets. These pickpockets are mainly aiming at travelers in the metro and famous landscapes, so you should especially keep an eye on your valuables when going to these places. What's more, you may take some actions to protect your valuables, such as carrying an anti-theft travel backpack to keep your stuff safe, using a zipper wallet and keep it close to your body to avoid thieves. If you go to a crowded place, beware of surroundings; don't make it obvious that you are a traveler, or you will be the best target for pickpockets.
4. Stores Might be Closed During Lunch Time
In Spain, many stores have long period breaks for lunch, especially in smaller towns. Many companies and shops are closed for a few hours in the afternoon, so don't run errands between 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Nowadays, big stores and supermarkets in big cities are still open at noon, but there's no guarantee that the store you want to visit will be open during lunchtime. While, some shops open late, especially in big cities like Barcelona and Madrid, which often last to 10 p.m...
5. Sangria Made for Travelers
Sangria is a wine that travelers visiting Spain often try. But the locals are fond of tinto de verano, a summer wine, made with red wine and lemonade. If you want to experience the local wine, order one glass of summer wine to avoid overspending money on the sangria which is made especially for tourists.
6. Pintxos Match Well with Pre-meal Drinks
Pintxo is a kind of local snack in Spain, usually served over drinks in the evening. Trying one pintxo with one glass of wine or beer at a place (you could go to different bars and try different pintxos) is a wonderful experience. Pintxo is usually cheap and can be got at the pub easily. It often costs less than 2 dollars.
7. Pan Con Tomate for Breakfast
Pan Con Tomate is simple as its name, chopped tomatoes, fresh olive oil, a little salt and a piece of bread. This is a delicious breakfast you could try in the morning, which will keep you happy and energetic when you enjoy sightseeing in the town. You should have a try!
8. Install Navigation APPs on your phone
Walking to explore the streets of a city is one way to travel. If you don't want to get lost or waste time in finding ways, installing a navigation APP will help you easily avoid the hassle and embarrassment of getting lost. Of course, driving with a navigation APP will make sure you don't get lost or violate traffic rules in a strange city.
9. Embrace Local Culture
One of the most important things to do while traveling is to explore cultures that are different from our own. Embrace the Spanish culture and live like the locals. You not only can get a real travel experience but also discover a brand new side of travel and adventure, learning more about the local customs of the country.
10. Enjoy a Relaxed Lifestyle
You will properly find out, especially in the South, that life is much slower and more relaxed than you used to experience. Believe me, this is definitely a good thing. Sometimes it is great to experience a different pace of life in a different place. You can learn from it and make use of it in your life at home.
11. Not Only Continent But Also Islands in Spain
A bunch of small islands in Spain is worth visiting. Spain has many beautiful islands, such as the island of Menorca around with dazzling blue seas, Ibiza with the magnificent sceneries, and the unpolluted island of Fuerteventura (the Canary Islands), which cannot be missed if you have enough time for visiting.
12. Tips are Optional
Tips in Spain are not absolutely necessary, although it is often appreciated. If the service is good, I usually tip 15% or more. But please check first before you tip, because some restaurant bills already have included a service charge. If you don't speak that language, you can be hard to find out.
13. Air Tickets Cheaper Than Train Tickets
If you are going to have a long-distance trip in Spain, for example from Malaga to Bilbao, you may find that airfares are much cheaper than train fares. What's more, taking planes also saves a lot of time. Even though I have to admit that the views along trains ride across-country are awesome.
14. Events May Not Start on Time
Formal official events often start on time but don't be surprised if you are the first person arriving at parties or dating places with friends. You are properly going to be waiting for a while until the party begins. This is a common scene. Therefore, if you arrive early, just be patient and wait.
15. Great Public Transportation
Although many events don't start on time, pubic transportation is not late. Trains and buses almost leave as scheduled. It's easy to travel to Spain by public transportation, for its transportation network is well developed. You could travel across the country by air, buses or trains, it is optional. In the cities, metros and buses are excellent choices, providing day tickets and week tickets. Pubic transportation is convenient and cheap. Of course, it is great!
16. Best Visiting Time Isn't August
Even though August is a summer holiday when most families have a vacation, August is not a good time to visit Spain. Many companies, including restaurants and cafes, close during August when people in most areas in Spain heading for the beaches or the countryside for a summer break. Even the main tourist attractions are still open, if you want to experience more of the local side of life, choose other months. Moreover, August is the hottest month of the year in Spain. The cities like Granada, Seville, and Cordoba usually experience temperatures of more than 40°Celsius, which is not suitable for outdoor activities for hours.
There is more than sunshine, beaches, and seas in Spain. You can also go skiing. Thus, you can plan a journey and get to know the destination in advance according to what you want to experience and where you want to go. In this way, you will not only have a happier and securer trip but also help you to learn more about local cultures. Hopefully knowing these 16 tips and hacks will make your trip to Spain a better experience.
If you want to share your experience of traveling to Spain, feel free to leave a comment below.