There is a reason that Spain’s tourism is booming. Between the amazing museums, the food, the culture, and the outdoor activities, Spain has enough to keep visitors busy for a lifetime. With so much to see and do, it can be difficult to plan your trip without leaving something out–that’s why travelers tend to return again and again.
Here’s our guide to helping you prepare yourself for the trip of a lifetime to Spain.
Language spoken: Spanish
Year founded: 1479
Type of government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Population: 46 million
Type of money: Euro
Visas and immigration
Spain is part of the Schengen region, which gives travelers free movement through participating European companies. Currently, you can visit the Schengen area for tourism or business for 90 days without having to apply for a visa (though this may change soon). Stipulations include that you cannot work for a Spanish company without a work visa, and you can not spend more than 90 days in the area within a six-month period.
All you will need to do as a United States citizen is present your passport at customs. You might be asked what you are planning to do in Spain, where you are staying, and a copy of your return flight itinerary.
Helpful Spanish phrases
Most Spaniards speak English, but don’t be surprised if they expect you to speak a little Spanish in return. Different areas of Spain have more English speakers than others–those tend to be the areas where tourists visit the most. You should be able to navigate fairly easily, but it never hurts to know a few phrases before heading to a country where you don’t speak the language.
Pocket dictionaries can be helpful, as well as apps like Google Translate.
Buenos dias – Good morning
Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
Buenas noches – Good evening
Hola – Hello
¿Como estas? – How are you?
Bien – Good
Por favor – Please
Gracias – Thank you
¿Hablas ingles? – Do you speak English?
Yo quiero, yo no quiero – I want it, I don’t want it
¿Donde esta? – Where is ___?
¿Cuanto cuesta? – How much is it?
¿Que hora es? – What time is it?
¿Tienes? – Do you have?
La cuenta – The check
Tarjeta de credito – Credit card
Yo necesito – I need
El bano/servicio/aseso – The bathroom
Dinero – Money
Un menu – A menu
El aeroporto — The airport
¡Ayuda! — Help!
Spain is a very safe destination and for the most part, you shouldn’t have any problems. The most common crime for tourists is pickpocketing, and it was common a few years back to have your purse or bag stolen in restaurants. However, it has become safer and safer as the economy improves and tourists learn how to be safe. Occasionally, you might witness protesting (especially in Barcelona). Here are some tips you might want to keep in mind before you go.
- Make sure your purse, camera, passport, or any valuables are with you at all times. Either find a way to conceal them or keep them in your hotel room in a locked safe.
- Use ATMs in banks rather than the ones on the street. While most likely nothing will happen, you might have someone attempt to steal money from your hand. Also, ATMs on the street are more likely to have been tampered with, meaning it is possible that your card information is more likely to be stolen.
- Avoid anyone who approaches you asking you to sign a clipboard or offering you something. These can be skilled pickpocketers.
- Women should avoid walking alone at night.
Articles on Spain
How to give back
Spain has been invested in giving back to its environment since the 90s. With an abundance of national parks and camping locations, Spain is a great place to visit for the sustainable traveler. There are also several tour companies available that cater to those who want to give back while traveling.
The biggest issue that often faces travelers when they head to Spain is whether or not they should visit a bullfight or the running of the bulls in Pamplona. This can be difficult because it is a tradition unique to the culture, and many festivities are based around it. However, bulls are often treated terribly and killed in a violent manner. It is up to you if you would like to attend, but be aware that it is a horrific event and the animals are severely mistreated.
Here are some additional tips to help you travel ethically to Spain.
- Take public transportation if possible. Spain recently invested money into its metro, train, and bus systems and you can get anywhere within the country within a few hours.
- Make sure to recycle all possible items. Spain has a quality recycling facilities and fines (albeit small) for those who don’t recycle.
- Choose “green” hotels or those who have been approved by several different organizations.
- Eat at local restaurants. Not only is it more sustainable, but it also gives you a more authentic look into the culture.
Helpful websites and information
Here are some additional websites and information for travelers headed to Spain.
This site provides safety and immigration information, as well as any updates to protests or terrorist activities.
This site provides comprehensive information on the various areas in Spain, as well as information for LGBTQ travelers and those looking to learn some facts about the culture before you go.