Why Travel to Spain?
If you’re new to travelling Europe, Spain is a fantastic place to start. If you’ve never travelled Europe, Spain will blow you away. Spain’s history, culture, and food is like no other amongst its European counterparts. Every region in Spain will introduce you to something new. Whether you’re in the fiery south; where flamenco dancer’s stomp, and Moorish architecture reigns or in the classical medieval north, Spain will impress. Spain also houses a smorgasbord of languages and dialects. With Spain’s proximity to Africa, and borders to Western Europe, it creates a complex blend of nationalities, and intriguing cultural treasures. Spain is also one of Europe’s most affordable destinations. Most cities have an abundance of budget accommodation, and sightseeing can be a fraction of the price compared to the rest of Europe. If you’re traveling in Europe already or planning to travel this continent, then don’t miss out on this amazing country and witness a completely unique part of Europe.
When to Travel to Spain
High Season (June – August) -The high season offers the best weather. High season is also when the public holidays are and tourism is in full swing. Accommodation can sometimes double in price.
Shoulder (March – May, September – October) – A great time to beat the crowds and also still have good weather. Travelling at this time can be amazing as there is plenty of festivals happening.
Low Season (November – February) – Spain tends to be cold at this time of year. It can be great if you want to ski in the north but make sure you come equipped for the cold.
Language – Spanish, Catalonian
Religion – Catholic
Capital – Madrid
Visa – not needed for most nationalities
Currency – Euro EUR
1 USD = 0.91 EUR (March 4, 2016)
Typical Travel Costs and Getting Around Spain
Accommodation – Spain has a wide variety of accommodation that can fit any budget. Spain’s major centres, as well as the smaller towns, offer hostels and guest houses. Prices of a dorm bed are as low as 5 EUR. Spain’s guest houses can also be a great bargain. Many of the guesthouses are centrally located in the historic districts, and ooze with character. More than often, these guest houses are also run by local families who will give you a great insight into Spanish culture. Guest houses in Spain start at 20 EUR for a double bed, and rise depending on location and quality. More guest houses in Spain are converting into boutique style hotels. These places cater to the midrange kind of travellers. The prices of these hotels can vary but expect to pay around 50-100 EUR. In some locations in Spain such as Toledo, you can stay in historic castle or other medieval type places. This is a fantastic way to experience the old Spain! These types of places can also become a sight on their own, giving you an all-round great travel experience.
Food – Spanish cuisine is unique in Europe because of its close proximity of Morocco to the south, and France to the north. Spain has developed a complex blend of eastern spices and typical European fare. The Spanish also have a love for Tapas. Tapas is multiple appetizers, allowing you to try a wide range of foods in one sitting. Spain is also famed for its Jambon. Jambon is essentially cured pork. Say this to anyone from Spain however, and you will receive a confused look. This is because Jambon is the most prized delicacy in Spain. Iberico de Bellota Jambon being the most famous variation. Made from a wild Spanish boar fed a very special diet. Jambon is serious stuff and can also become very expensive, but it’s very worth it to try it at least once. Another famous dish is called Paella. Paella is a delicious rice mix dish. Paella’s ingredients change depending on where you are in Spain, but the main ingredient, Saffron, does not. Eating in Spain does not have to be expensive. Just ask the locals where they eat, and usually some delicious places can be found for a great price. Eating quite well I spent around 8 EUR for most meal, but it’s very easy to find food as low as 3-4 EUR as well. If you love food as much as I do then budget yourself around 30 EUR a day, this will allow you to try most of what Spain has to offer.
Transport – Spain being connected with the Euro Rail can provide great opportunity to travel around the country fast and efficient. If you take advantage of the Euro Rail pass you will be able to connect to all corners of Spain and Europe. The metro within Spain’s major centres is also phenomenal. It’s incredibly easy to use and very helpful. Most Metro tickets cost around 1-2 EUR. If the rail is not your thing or you want to take on more of the smaller communities, than Spain’s bus network is also great. Buses usually go every hour and cost a fraction of the train….sometimes. For example I paid from Seville to Grenada only 15 EUR by bus! If you however are traveling Spain or Europe on a budget then try to limit your transportation as it adds up fast. If this is the case you can always do as I did, and hitchhike around. You might end up waiting hours for a ride, but sometimes it can lead to a very fun experience. If your plan is to hitchhike, familiarise yourself with the language as it can make or break whether you’re going to get a ride sometimes.
My Favourite Places in Spain
Grenada – Grenada is simply perfect. In Grenada you will walk its stunning cobblestone walkways through architecturally perfected medieval neighborhoods. You will visit restaurants and shops that will engrave themselves in your mind. Grenada is Spain in every single way. Granada is also home to Alhambra. Alhambra’s Moorish architectural perfection will shock you. Its mathematical skill and absolute attention to detail is a wonder of this world. Walk these detailed halls and ponder the craftsmanship of Spain’s previous rulers and complex history.
Seville – The fiery south includes amazing food, Flamenco dancers, Gothic/Roman architecture, and some of Spain’s most interesting sights and people. Visit Seville and get a real taste of Spain’s southern province. Time your trip right and be here for some of the most mind blowing Easter ceremonies and celebrations. Seville’s architecture (more Moroccan than Spanish) will marvel you with its palaces, churches, and ancient markets.
Cordoba – Cordoba and its white façade buildings are great, but the real reason to visit Cordoba is because of the Mezquita. The Mezquita is an example of perfected Islamic architecture. The red and white archways hypnotically go on forever throughout the dark corridors of the Mezquita. This Mosque now turned church by the Spanish king, is a perfect example of the complexity of Spanish history and culture.
Madrid – Spain’s capital is often overlooked. Missing the capital however could possibly be your biggest mistake when visiting Spain. Madrid is Spain’s culture all wrapped into one amazing Paella. It’s historic. Full of museums offering a great look into Spain’s history. Most of all it’s where the Spanish all come to unite under one big city. Dine in some of Spain’s best restaurants or just bar hop along one of Madrid’s best drinking avenues. Madrid left me with a whole new perspective on how wonderful Spain’s residents are.
Barcelona – Barcelona is not Spain. It is culturally different and it feels very different. This is what makes this country so amazing. Enter this Catalonian capital and discover an entire new side of Spain. Catalonian culture and people are incredibly unique and they show this through their amazing sights like the Sagrada De Familia. A massive church not yet completed is the heart and soul of the city. A visit to Spain is not completed without a visit to Barcelona. So if you’re looking for a whole different cultural experience head over to Barcelona.
My Favourite Experiences
Selecting the Perfect Jambon – While in the majority of Spanish cities you will see the hanging pork legs in Jambon shops. Enter these shops and taste test some of the most delicious Ham I have ever had. Pick the perfect Jambon for you and pair it with some stinky cheese and fine cheap ass wine and enjoy a Spanish quintessential experience.
Admiring Moorish Architecture – Wander the halls of the Mezquita or Alhambra and you will wonder how someone can create something so absolutely perfect. The detail in the architecture is so beautiful. Seeing these places is a remarkable feeling and will stick with you long after you have left. Spain’s architecture is a great example of its diversity and the different rulers throughout history. From Islamic kings, to crusading Spanish royalty, this place is amazing.
Partying in Madrid – Madrid is a fantastic place to grab a beer and meet the locals. So many designated drinking streets allow for traffic-free bar hopping opportunities that locals and tourists alike love. Try multiple different brews or delve into the magnitude of Spanish wines while stuffing your face with some delicious Tapas. Hang around long enough to practice your Spanish and receive some of the most heartwarming welcomes from Spain’s amazing people.
Witnessing the Hard to Watch Bullfight – Yes it’s cruel and inhumane I agree. But bullfighting is a part of Spanish culture. The fights are only at certain times of the year so timing is key. The fight itself is truly difficult to watch, but remember that this is their culture, not yours. Once you get past this, you will see the crowd and their reaction to this spectacle. That was the last time I will go see this, but I am very happy that I did, and got to see the amazing dance between beast’s and matadors.
Top Travel Tips for Spain
- Eat at markets and grocery stores to save money
- Learn Basic Spanish as English isn’t as common here
- Get beer and wine at a grocer, it’s very cheap
- Be careful at night pickpockets are rampant
- Grab a guide book if you’re a first time traveller here
- The sun is relentless wear sunscreen here
- Avoid touristic areas for eating, it’s pricey
- Check out the Eurorail pass it can save money
- Stay at least one night in the countryside it’s beautiful
- Meet as many locals as possible they are amazing
- Barcelona and Spain are very different don’t think otherwise
- Avoid festivals if you’re on a budget they can get pricey
- Eat Jambon and lots of it
If you are a new traveller or just want to see the most you can see without hours and hours of research, check out one of the awesome guided tours that are offered by G Adventures! This tour actually hits nearly all of my favourite places in Spain. Check it out!