Spain vacation travel guide
Why choose Spain?
Spain’s rich history is reflected in the stunning architecture, from the Moorish palaces of Andalusia to the modernist landmarks of Barcelona.
The country’s diverse landscapes range from the sun-soaked beaches of the Costa del Sol to the tall mountains of the Pyrenees, catering to a variety of interests, whether it’s relaxation or adventure.
Spanish cuisine, famous for tapas (small snacks), paella (rice dishes), and world-class wines, provides a culinary journey in itself. Spain is also known for fun festivals like tomato fights and bull runs, which are unique and exciting.
With so much to see, eat, and do, Spain is a perfect choice for a memorable holiday.
Planning your Spain vacation
• Visa: Spain is part of the Schengen Area, a group of 26 European countries that have eliminated passport and other types of border control. Check if you need a Schengen visa based on your nationality before traveling.
• Vaccinations: There are no mandatory vaccinations for Spain, but it’s always recommended to be up to date with routine vaccinations like measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and your yearly flu shot.
• Flight Booking: Check out our flight booking tips to make sure you get the best value for your money.
• Currency: The currency used in Spain is the Euro (€). Most places in Spain, including hotels, restaurants, and shops, accept major credit and debit cards. However, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand, especially in smaller towns or for smaller purchases.
Best beaches in Spain
• La Concha Beach (San Sebastián): Often ranked as one of the top city beaches in Europe, La Concha is known for its beautiful half-moon shape and the city scenery around it.
• Playa de Ses Illetes (Formentera): Located on the smallest Balearic Island, this beach is famous for its crystal-clear waters and white sand, resembling a tropical paradise.
• Playa de Bolonia (Tarifa): Known for its vast dunes and ancient Roman ruins nearby, this beach is a part of the Costa de la Luz and is popular among windsurfers.
• Playa de Levante (Benidorm): This busy beach is in a famous tourist spot in Spain. It’s known for its fun, lively feel and the walkway along the beach.
• Playa de Muro (Mallorca): A long, sandy beach with clear shallow waters, ideal for families and water sports enthusiasts.
Can't-miss Spain attractions
• La Sagrada Familia (Barcelona): This iconic, unfinished basilica by Antoni Gaudí is a masterpiece of Modernist architecture, known for its detailed facades and stunning interior.
• The Alhambra (Granada): A stunning Moorish palace complex with beautiful gardens, detailed tile work, and breathtaking views of the city.
• Seville Cathedral and La Giralda: A UNESCO World Heritage site, this is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, with its bell tower offering panoramic views of Seville.
• The Running of the Bulls (Pamplona): This famous event is part of the San Fermín festival in July, a unique but controversial spectacle.
• The Camino de Santiago: A famous pilgrimage route ending in Santiago de Compostela, it’s popular with both hikers and those seeking a spiritual journey.
Our favorite food in Spain
• Paella: Originally from Valencia, this flavorful rice dish is often cooked with saffron, various meats, seafood, and vegetables.
• Tapas: Small, savory dishes that can range from simple olives or cheese to more elaborate preparations like patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) or gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp).
• Gazpacho or Salmorejo: Cold soups made from blended vegetables, perfect for hot summer days. Gazpacho is usually tomato-based, while Salmorejo is thicker and often topped with hard-boiled eggs and ham.
• Jamón Ibérico: A type of cured ham produced in Spain, known for its rich flavor and smooth texture.
• Crema Catalana: A dessert similar to crème brûlée, with a rich custard base and caramelized sugar top.
Each region in Spain has its own specialties, so it’s worth exploring local dishes wherever you travel in the country.
Cultural experiences in Spain
• Flamenco Show: Witness the passion and skill of flamenco, a traditional Spanish dance, especially in Andalusia where it originated.
• Wine Tasting: Spain is renowned for its wines. Visit a vineyard or bodega in regions like Rioja, Ribera del Duero, or Priorat for wine tasting.
• Walk the Camino de Santiago: This pilgrimage route provides not just a physical journey, but also a deep cultural and spiritual experience.
• Attend a Fútbol Match: Soccer is a way of life in Spain. Catching a match, whether it’s a local team or a world-famous club like FC Barcelona or Real Madrid, is a thrilling experience.
• Local Workshops: Engage in workshops like pottery, flamenco dancing, or guitar making to get a hands-on experience of Spanish crafts and traditions.
Spain customs and etiquette
• Greetings: In Spain, it’s common to greet with two kisses on the cheek, starting with the left. This applies mostly to women and between men and women; men often shake hands.
• Meal Times: Spanish meal times are typically later than in many other countries. Lunch, the main meal of the day, is usually between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM, and dinner often doesn’t start until after 9:00 PM.
• Tipping: Tipping isn’t as common or expected in Spain as in some other countries, but it’s appreciated. In restaurants, rounding up the bill or leaving 5-10% is customary if you’re satisfied with the service.
• Siesta: In some regions, particularly in the south, there’s a tradition of taking a siesta (a short nap) in the early afternoon, especially during hot summer days. As a result, some shops and businesses may close between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM.
• Eating Customs: Tapas, small dishes shared among the table, are a popular way to dine. When eating tapas, it’s common to order several different dishes and share them with your group.
How do I avoid Spain roaming charges?
Travel tips for your Spain vacation
Explore Spain on a budget
• Use Public Transport: Spain’s public transport system is efficient and affordable. Consider getting a travel pass for unlimited use within a specific period.
• Eat Like a Local: Avoid touristy restaurants and opt for where locals eat. Menú del día (menu of the day) offers great value for a full meal, usually including a starter, main course, dessert, and a drink.
• Walk or Bike: Explore cities by walking or renting a bike. It’s economical, and you get to see a lot more of the local life.
• Free Attractions: Many of Spain’s attractions, like cathedrals, parks, and some museums, offer free entry or have special days when entry is free.
• Shop at Local Markets: For fresh and inexpensive food, local markets are a great choice. They also offer a glimpse into local life.
Spain phrases that will come in handy
Try to learn a few basic phrases, as this is appreciated by locals and can enhance your travel experience.
• Hello/Goodbye: “Hola” / “Adiós” – (OH-lah / ah-DYOS)
• Please/Thank You: “Por favor” / “Gracias” – (por fah-VOR / GRAH-syahs)
• Yes/No: “Sí” / “No” – (SEE / noh)
• Excuse me/Sorry: “Perdón” / “Lo siento” – (pair-DON / loh SYEN-toh)
• I don’t understand: “No entiendo” – (noh en-TYEN-doh)
• How much does this cost?: “Cuánto cuesta esto?” – (KWAN-toh KWEHS-tah EHS-toh?)
• Where is the bathroom?: “Dónde está el baño?” – (DON-day eh-STAH el BAH-nyo?)
Famous Spain festivals
• La Tomatina: Held in the town of Buñol, La Tomatina is a massive tomato fight and one of Spain’s most unusual and internationally famous festivals.
• Running of the Bulls (Fiesta de San Fermín): This world-famous festival in Pamplona is known for the encierro, where bulls are let loose on the streets.
• Feria de Abril (April Fair of Seville): A week-long celebration in Seville featuring flamenco dancing, traditional dresses, horseback parades, and decorated marquees (‘casetas’).
• La Mercè: Barcelona’s main annual festival, honoring its patron saint, features a range of activities, including human towers (‘castells’), parades, and fireworks.
Go on a Spain shopping spree!
• Know the Shopping Hours: Traditional Spanish shops often close for siesta in the early afternoon, around 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM, and then reopen until about 8:00 PM. Many stores, especially in larger cities and tourist areas, stay open all day.
• Sales Season: Spain has two main sales seasons, ‘rebajas’, in January-February and July-August. This is a great time to find deals, especially on clothing and shoes.
• Fashion and Boutiques: Spain is home to many famous fashion brands like Zara, Mango, and Desigual. You’ll find their stores in most cities, often offering better prices than in other countries.
• Souvenirs: Popular souvenirs include Spanish fans, flamenco music CDs, Saffron, and local wines. For something more unique, look for artisan shops on the smaller streets away from the main tourist areas.
• Explore Local Markets: Spain is famous for its local markets. They are great places to find fresh produce, local delicacies, and unique handmade items. Markets like La Boqueria in Barcelona are a must-visit.
Plan the perfect Spain vacation
Spain in January
Traveling to Spain in January offers a range of weather conditions suited for various activities, with generally cooler temperatures across the country. In the middle parts, like Madrid, it’s pretty chilly. Temperatures go from 2°C to 10°C (36°F to 50°F), which is great for exploring the city and checking out indoor places like museums and historical landmarks.
Near the coast, like in the Costa del Sol, the weather is nicer and not as cold, about 8°C to 17°C (46°F to 63°F). This is really good for hanging out at outdoor cafes and taking walks with nice views.
Up in the northern areas, especially in the Pyrenees mountains, it’s ski season. It gets really cold, often below freezing, so it’s a good time for snow sports.
Spain in February
In places like Madrid in the center of Spain, the weather stays cool in February, with average temperatures between 3°C and 12°C (37°F to 54°F). This is comfortable weather for walking around the city and seeing all the cultural spots.
Near the coast, like in the Costa del Sol, the weather is a bit warmer, with temperatures from 10°C to 18°C (50°F to 64°F). This is really nice for taking it easy with walks along the coast and eating outside.
February isn’t as busy with tourists, so it’s a good time to see different parts of Spain and its cities. Just remember to check when places are open, as some might still have shorter winter hours.
Spain in March
March is a quieter tourist month in Spain, making it a more laid-back time for visitors. It’s the start of spring, so you can enjoy seeing flowers and trees start to bloom.
In places like Madrid, in the middle of Spain, the weather gets warmer, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 16°C (41°F to 61°F). This makes it really nice for walking around the city and seeing the first signs of spring.
Near the coast, like in the Costa del Sol, it’s a bit milder with temperatures between 12°C and 20°C (54°F to 68°F). This is great for outdoor stuff like walking on the beach and checking out the coastal towns, but it might still be a little too cold for swimming.
Spain in April
In central areas like Madrid, temperatures in April typically range from 7°C to 19°C (45°F to 66°F), providing comfortable conditions for sightseeing and enjoying the city’s outdoor terraces and parks as they come to life with spring blooms.
Coastal regions, such as the Costa del Sol and the Mediterranean coast, experience warmer weather, with averages between 14°C and 22°C (57°F to 72°F), making it an excellent time for walks and beginning to enjoy the beaches, although the sea might still be a bit cool for swimming.
April is also a fantastic month to witness some of Spain’s famous festivals, like Semana Santa (Holy Week).
Spain in May
Visiting Spain in May is a great choice because the weather is just right for all sorts of fun activities. In the middle of Spain, like in Madrid, it’s warm and sunny, with temperatures usually between 11°C to 23°C (52°F to 73°F). This weather is perfect for sightseeing, hanging out at cafes, and walking around in the evening.
Near the coast, in places like Costa del Sol or the Balearic Islands, it starts to feel like summer with temperatures around 16°C to 25°C (61°F to 77°F). It’s a good time to start enjoying the beaches and trying some water sports, even though the sea might still be a bit cool.
Up north, in places like Asturias and the Basque Country, the weather is nice and mild, great for checking out the green scenery and small coastal towns, with temperatures that are comfortable. May is also less busy with tourists, so you get to see more of the real Spain and join in local spring festivals.
Spain in June
Traveling to Spain in June means experiencing the start of the summer with warm and pleasant weather, ideal for a variety of activities.
In central areas like Madrid, temperatures typically range from 16°C to 30°C (61°F to 86°F), making it perfect for exploring the city, enjoying outdoor dining, and experiencing lively nightlife.
Along the coastal regions, including the Costa del Sol, expect great weather with temperatures averaging between 20°C and 28°C (68°F to 82°F). This is ideal for beach activities, swimming, and seaside relaxation.
Spain in July
Visiting Spain in July means fully embracing the hot summer weather.
In central cities like Madrid, temperatures soar, typically ranging from 19°C to 33°C (66°F to 91°F). It’s great for experiencing the city’s lively atmosphere, though it’s best to plan outdoor activities during cooler morning or evening hours.
Coastal regions, such as the Costa del Sol and the Balearic Islands, see peak beach weather with temperatures averaging between 22°C and 30°C (72°F to 86°F). These conditions are ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying various water sports.
July is the heart of Spain’s tourist season, offering an array of festivals, outdoor dining, and energetic nightlife.
Spain in August
Visiting Spain in August, you’ll be in the peak of summer with hot weather ideal for beaches and outdoor fun.
In places like Madrid, it’s really hot, with temperatures from 18°C to 34°C (64°F to 93°F). The evenings are cooler, perfect for enjoying the nightlife.
Coastal areas like Costa del Sol and the Balearic Islands are great for beach activities, with temperatures between 23°C and 31°C (73°F to 88°F).
Northern Spain, including Galicia and the Basque Country, is cooler, around 17°C to 26°C (63°F to 79°F), great for outdoor sightseeing.
August is peak tourist season in Spain, so book your accommodation early.
Spain in September
Traveling to Spain in September, you’ll experience the pleasant transition from the hot summer to the milder fall.
In cities like Madrid, temperatures start to cool down, ranging from 15°C to 27°C (59°F to 81°F), offering comfortable weather for exploring and enjoying the city life without the intense heat of summer.
Coastal regions like the Costa del Sol and the Balearic Islands still enjoy warm weather, perfect for beach activities, with temperatures typically between 20°C and 28°C (68°F to 82°F).
September is a fantastic time to visit Spain, as the peak tourist season winds down, offering a more relaxed experience with fewer crowds.
Spain in October
Visiting Spain in October, you’ll enjoy the mild and often pleasant fall weather, which is ideal for exploring and experiencing the country’s rich culture.
In central regions like Madrid, temperatures cool to a comfortable range between 10°C and 20°C (50°F to 68°F), perfect for city sightseeing and enjoying outdoor cafes without the summer heat.
Coastal areas, such as the Costa del Sol and the Balearic Islands, still offer relatively warm weather with temperatures around 18°C to 24°C (64°F to 75°F), making it possible to enjoy the beaches and outdoor activities in a more peaceful setting.
October in Spain marks the off-peak tourist season, allowing for a more relaxed exploration of its cities and regions.
Spain in November
In central areas like Madrid, temperatures become cooler in November, ranging from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F), ideal for museum visits and exploring historic sites without the crowds of the high season.
In Northern Spain, including regions like the Basque Country and Galicia, expect cooler and wetter conditions, with temperatures between 8°C and 15°C (46°F to 59°F).
November is a quieter month for tourism in Spain, making it a great time to witness local life more authentically and participate in seasonal events and celebrations.
Spain in December
Traveling to Spain in December, you’ll experience the onset of winter with its cooler weather, creating a festive atmosphere perfect for exploring Spain’s holiday traditions and indoor attractions.
In central regions like Madrid, temperatures range from about 2°C to 10°C (36°F to 50°F), making it ideal for enjoying the city’s Christmas markets, lights, and cozy indoor cafes.
Coastal areas such as the Costa del Sol have milder weather, with temperatures usually between 8°C and 17°C (46°F to 63°F). While it’s too cold for typical beach activities, the weather is pleasant for coastal walks and exploring seaside towns.
December in Spain is a magical time, especially with the Christmas and New Year celebrations, offering visitors a chance to experience the country’s festive customs and traditional foods.
How do I use my phone in Spain?
Choose a data package
Install your eSIM
An eSIM is a downloadable SIM card, so you’ll install your eSIM on your phone or tablet. It takes less than two minutes, and then you will have a Spain eSIM on your phone.
Activate your package
When you’re ready to start using your Spain eSIM you’ll activate your data package and make sure your device knows to use your Spain eSIM for all mobile data.