Spain is famous for its sunny beaches, delicious food and fascinating architecture. The Mediterranean climate makes Spain a popular vacation spot for many Europeans and other visitors. Some of Europes most exciting festivals and influential churches can be found in this beautiful country.
The food, architecture and even the language are heavily influenced by nearby nations both past and present. Moorish arches and natural fountains found in the architecture demonstrate the influence of Northern Africa. The Roman Empire can still be seen in some surviving roads and amphitheaters and the Byzantine Empire has left a lasting impression on Spanish art. Spain's food is also heavily affected by their former colonies in the Americas. Foods that are now staples of Spanish cuisine originated in the Americas including tomatoes, various types of beans, vanilla, chocolate and potatoes. Much of what we associate with Spanish cuisine today is an amalgamation of ingredients and techniques from the Americas, Northern Africa and the Middle East.
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Must-See Landmark: La Sagrada Familia, Church in Barcelona
- Must-Try Food: Paella [Pie-yay-ah]
- Most Common Language: Spanish
- Emergency Services Telephone Number: 112
Travel Insurance Plans for Spain
With a wide range of plans on the market, it may be difficult to select a plan. To find the plan that's best for you, first assess the condition of your health then take a look at your travel plans. From there, you can compare plans side by side with our compare tool. For travelers with pre-existing conditions, senior travelers and those looking for more complete coverage, a comprehensive plan is the best option. If you are looking for basic coverage at an affordable price, a limited plan may be the way to go.
Visas and Documentation
If you are planning on visiting Spain (or any country in the Schengen area) for 90 days or less for holiday or leisure, you can either enter with just your passport or with a Schengen Visa, depending on your home country. Most countries in North and South America, including Canada, Mexico and the United States, can enter the Schengen area without a visa. Citizens of most African and Asian countries, however, will need this visa and are required to carry travel medical insurance for the duration of their stay. For more information and to see if you need a visa for your trip to Europe, check the Schengen Visas official site.
To receive a Schengen Visa, you must prove that you have travel insurance that includes medical coverage and emergency evacuation. You may need additional documentation if you plan to work or study while in the Schengen region.
Weather and What to Pack
Spain can get quite hot, particularly during the summer months between June and August with temperatures often rising to 31℃ (88℉). In general, more inland areas will be warmer than those on the coast or in the mountains. It is a good idea to pack warm-weather clothes, but keep in mind that Spaniards like to dress to impress! Keep your clothing choices classy and conservative. Avoid very short skirts and shorts and make sure that your shoes look clean and/or polished. Spaniards believe that shabby shoes can ruin a good outfit.
Although it is known as Sunny Spain throughout Europe, it can be rainy and cold in the winter months, particularly in the northern and mountainous parts of the country. It is a good idea to pack a light jacket and scarf as well as a light raincoat and umbrella as the weather can change quickly.
If you forget any essentials, don't worry—you can always purchase them at your destination. However, it is usually more cost- and time-effective to simply bring your favorite supplies with you when you travel.
Common Words and Phrases in Spanish
- Yes: Sí [see]
- No: No [no]
- Please: Por Favor [por-fah-vohr]
- Thank You: Gracias [grah-see-ahss]
- Cheers: Salud [sah-loohd]
- Hello: Hola [oh-la]
- Goodbye: Adiós [ah-dee-ohss]
Etiquette and Cultural Norms
In general, people tend to stand quite close together and often use their hands when speaking. It is alright to stand close together but do not imitate the hand gestures of Spaniards.
It is acceptable to be 15-30 minutes late to social engagements, but not to business meetings or bullfights. Spaniards often interrupt each other when speaking. Expect this, especially if you are conversing in Spanish. In general, it's a good idea to bring the spirit of patience to your time in Spain. Nothing is done in a hurry, but time is enjoyed to its fullest.
- Madrid: Spain's political capital and largest city, Madrid has everything you would expect in a large city with a touch of Spanish flair. Check out one of the many open-air plazas like Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. Keep your eyes and ears open for colorful flamenco dancers and the gentle notes of a guitar.
- Barcelona: This northern, coastal city is very different from the rest of the country as it is heavily influenced by the language and culture of Catalan, a region within what today is known as Spain. Some highlights to see while you're in the city are the amazing tastes of La Boqueria Market and the architecture of Antoni Gaudí including the Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, Park Güell and the church of La Sagrada Familia.
- Seville: The perfect mix of Spain's past and modern life, Seville is full of beautiful architecture influenced by Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions. Enjoy some tapas, drink sangria and soak up the vibe of this delightful city.
- Granada: This southern city nestled in the Spanish Sierra Nevada is full of Moorish influence. This small mountain city is beautiful and relaxed, a perfect place to soak up the past and enjoy the now.
- Valencia: Cobbled streets, oranges, beaches and art museums all make Valencia a great and surprisingly cost-effective place to visit.
Health & Safety Tips
If you are taking public transportation, be sure to keep your purse, backpack or bag closed and in your hands at all times. If you are wearing a backpack, take it off and hold it in front of you to avoid bumping other passengers and not being aware if someone attempts to open your bag. Phones, wallets and cameras are particularly at risk of being stolen.
Stick to areas with lots of people and avoid deserted alleys and streets, particularly in Barcelona and Madrid. Also, never leave valuables unattended in public or on a beach.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following vaccinations for Spain: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis, polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza. Rabies is also recommended if you are likely to come into contact with wild animals or plan to explore any caves.