Whether you want to marvel at the architecture of Gaudí in the Sagrada Família, Barcelona or soak up the sun on the beaches of Costa del Sol, Andalucía, no matter what kind of trip you are planning to undertake, there are just a few tips that can see you through, making sure you get the most out of your holiday in the wonderful country of Spain.
Enjoying Spanish Cuisine
Eating together and enjoying food is a fundamental part of Spanish culture. If you are not staying in a hotel and plan to seek out the best ‘tapas’ and brasseries in the area for a good taste of Spanish cuisine, then be sure to take note. The Spanish eat very late in the evening, and in suburban parts of the country, local restaurants may not open until as late as 9pm. Similarly, smaller restaurants will take their siesta and close for a couple of hours at noon. Tapas are enjoyed widely throughout the country, however ‘menú del día’ are also available consisting of a beverage, starter, main course and dessert. Credit cards are accepted throughout the country but it is common courtesy to leave a 10% tip in change for the waiter to collect.
Getting around and about
Most parts of Spain are fairly accessible with trains and buses running frequently and being very reliable. Families are better off booking car hire for freedom to roam the country and get about. Chain car-rental companies have branches across the country but it usually tends to be cheaper to book in advance before your trip to ensure the best deals. When you book, double check that air-conditioning is fitted or you will find yourself enduring some very uncomfortable care journeys! If you don’t plan to travel much and just want the odd day for sightseeing then buses are a quick and economical way of getting around. Fares are much lower than trains and services run regularly throughout the day.
Visit when the time is right
The climate in Spain is fairly warm all year round with temperatures sometimes hitting as high as 38°C. The optimal time to visit is between May and October for a warm comfortable temperature. If you are after a Winter Holiday, The Pyrenees are best for skiing from December to March. Try to avoid beach resorts in July and August, as these attract not only a mass of tourists but also Spaniards taking their summer holiday. If you want to travel in this time, instead make the most of the empty cities. Places such as Madrid and Seville won’t be heaving giving you more time to enjoy the wonderful sights such as Real Madrid FC and Seville Cathedral.
Don’t lose out on Euros
The official currency in Spain is the Euro. Understandably, with that long pre-holiday checklist, buying your travel money is something we don’t really consider and sometimes even forget entirely! Try not to leave it last minute as Airport Bureaus are renowned for poor exchange rates; likewise, High Street Banks are no more favourable. Make your life a little easier and buy your travel money in advance; sites such as MyTravelMoney allow you to compare the cheapest deals on currency and will even deliver it straight to your door the next day! A very useful tip is to benchmark the sell rate you are offered with a currency converter then you’ll get the ‘real’ mid market exchange rate.
Learn some basic Spanish
¿Hablas español? As with any travel destination, it is courteuous and civilised to attempt at least a please and thank you in the local language. That’s ‘por favor’ and ‘gracias’ to you in Español. With an abundance of tourist attractions and famous landmarks to visit, you don’t want to spend half your time staring at a map trying to navigate your way round on your own. Spaniards will be more than happy to help and give you directions so it generally helps to be able to differentiate left from right before you ask. Not only will you be able to get around quicker but the Spanish really appreciate tourists that make an effort.
Hopefully these tips have set you up for an enjoyable trip to Spain, even sparing a few Euros here and there. ¡Buen Viaje!
Sofia is the Web Editor & Community Manager at MyTravelMoney – an award winning UK travel money comparison website.