Spaniards are passionate about living the good life. Long, lingering meals, exquisite wines, and even afternoon siestas are ingrained in Spanish culture. Who wouldn’t love traveling through Spain? To give you a little background and to help you have the most enjoyable trip possible, check out a few factors that are useful to know before you go:
Spain Travel Tips:
Languages Spoken in Spain
Spanish (Castilian) is obviously the main language of Spain and is spoken by 99 % of the population. There are several regional dialects depending on what areas you are traveling through. Catalan also known as Valencian is spoken by 19% of the population, Galician by 5%, and Basque by 2%. Though English is the most-spoken second language in Spain, only about 60% of the population speak it. You might want to brush up on your Spanish and check out our tips on how to travel to a country where you don’t know the language.
Spain’s currency is the Euro, like most of Western Europe.
Spain Travel Requirements
If you are a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you will need a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond your intended stay. We recommend erring on the side of caution and getting your passport renewed six months before it expires. A visa is not required unless you plan on staying longer than 90 days.
Weather in Spain
The weather in Spain, like most other countries, can vary depending on what region you are visiting. Overall, Spain has a sunny, attractive climate, making it a top European vacation destination. The north is home to milder summers and wet, chilly winters. While in the south, there are sweltering summers but pleasantly mild winters.
How to Arrive
If you’re looking for direct flights from the U.S. to Spain, you’ll most likely fly out of New York City, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, or Dallas and into Madrid or Barcelona. There are many other options but they most likely won’t be direct. If you are flying in for our Spain Food & Wine Tour, there are no direct flights into Bilbao from the United States.
Food to Eat
Spain has a reputation for marvelous cuisine. Each city and region has its own specialties and flair. A few must-trys: Paella, a delicious rice dish originally from Valencia that typically features chicken, seafood, and vegetables; Jamon Iberico, a type of cured ham touted as “the finest ham in the world”; Patatas bravas, a fried potato dish served with a spicy, flavorful sauce; Tortilla Española, or “tortilla de patatas”, an egg omelet with fried potatoes incorporated, and sometimes onion; and so many, many more. We’d recommend partaking in one of the most famous local customs, a tapas or pintxos crawl, to try as many of these delectable dishes as possible.
Wines to Drink
Spain has many remarkable wine styles but is especially known for its big reds made primarily from the grape Tempranillo. Tempranillo can be found as a stand-alone wine or in a blend of grapes known as a Rioja, named after the wine region it comes from. But don’t just stop there! Make sure to check out Spain’s lovely Granache, Cava, Txacoli, and Monastrell wines.
Culture & Customs of Spain
Spanish culture is vibrant and diverse. It has been shaped by a variety of other cultures that occupied the land over thousands of years, including the ancient Greeks, Romans, Moors, Celts, and Phoenicians. Spaniards seem to have a true zest for life. Their calendar and culture are alive with feasts and celebrations giving them an excuse to relax and enjoy life as much as possible, take in a siesta, and enjoy a glass of wine, even in the middle of the afternoon. Spaniards are well known to eat dinner very late at night (according to U.S. standards) and are known to dine from 9:00 pm to midnight.