Spain Travel Guide

Spain travel guide

 

Social scientist and philosopher Salvador de Madariaga believed that honour is a basis for the Spanish national character. People in Spain are friendly and open-minded, cheerful and love eating well. Be sure that Spaniards are not couch potatoes. Mostly because they think that bars and cafes are the best places to hang out. That is why evening means not the time they go to bed, but the time they socialize with friends. This is confirmed by the tradition of a late dinner at 11:00 pm. The Mediterranean climate has a huge impact on the nature in Spain and people’s mentality. The summer heat doesn’t inspire to work hard, while the coolness of the evening encourages to go out and enjoy life.

 

There are a lot of places to visit in Spain. Madrid and Barcelona are the iconic cities and a lot of travellers start their journey from there. Granada is a city of Moorish culture surrounded by snow-peaked mountains of Sierra Nevada. Salou will deliver full range entertainment on the beaches and in the amusement parks. The Canary Islands offer a cheaper, peaceful and traditional experience for families or those looking for a secluded island getaway. Majorca and Ibiza have a number of clubs with all-night parties that would keep you dancing the night away as this makes the Balearic Islands a top destination for the young and those young at heart.

 

Backpacking Spain can cost around 60 EUR per day assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using public transportation. Spain is a great place to visit not only because of gorgeous beaches, nightlife and cultural events, but because it will keep your wallet heavy, unlike other Western European countries. Since Spain is so geographically and culturally diverse, it can be surprisingly exciting for those who visit it for the first time.

How Much does it Cost to Travel in Spain

Buses

Bus stations (Estacion de autobus) in Spain can be found in all major cities and on the coast. It doesn’t cause any difficulties to get anywhere on the bus. Central routes are usually marked with red color, while the blue color is for night routes. City buses in Spain run from 6:00 am until 12:00 am. Bus ride cost 1-3 EUR and to be paid to the driver or conductor. The city metro pass costs the same amount. T-10 ticket costs around 10 EUR. Travelcards can be used on all transport networks in major cities, the price depends on the number of days the card is valid and the Zones that are included.

The network of intercity bus routes connects all parts of Spain and provide a high level of service (air conditioning, WI-FI, TV). The trip by bus is cheaper than by train and allows you to become better acquainted with the country. During the peak season buses on major routes depart every 30 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office or from a conductor. It usually happens that the same route is served by several buses (depending on the number of tickets sold). You have to specify the bus number on the windshield in this case.

Trains in Spain

The train system (Renfe) prices may differ depending on the day of week and time of year, but still it quite expensive. On average, high-speed trains cost between 45-170 EUR, while slower trains will cost 20-60 EUR. You can pre-book tickets to any destination at large rail stations of Madrid, Barcelona, Seville or Salamanca. They accept all major types of credit cards. You can also book a ticket via the RENFE website. Tickets must be booked a maximum of 60 days. If you weren’t able to buy tickets in a booth, there is an option to get them from the conductor on board, but it will cost you more.

Metro in Spain

Underground in Spain is a convenient means of transportation, it allows to get to almost any point in the city. In addition, some of the stations are linked by the Renfe and tram networks. Metro can be found in such large cities as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Alicante, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, and Seville. Metro in Spain is usually divided into transportation zones, so passengers are charged in accordance with how many zones they cross. Prices start from 1,50 EUR. There are various types of tickets available while some of them can be used on other city transport. The ticket must be kept until the end of the trip. Metro in Spain is generally open from 6:00 am to 1:00 am.

Ferries

Spain has a well-developed network of ferries and other sea transport. Various companies provide transportation services to the Balearic Islands from Barcelona and Valencia, to the Canary Islands from the port of Cadiz. There is also a regular ferry service between Spain and Africa. Car and passenger ferries, speed boats are available. One way ticket from Malaga to Melilla (Morocco) will set you back about 35-40 EUR. Sea trip from Tarifa or Algeciras to Tangier cost between 25-32 EUR.

Spain Travel Guide – Accommodation

Accommodation businesses use seasonal pricing so you can expect lower fares in the inner regions of Spain during high season. Do your research in advance to figure out your desired options and get the best deals. Keep in mind that accommodation is pretty hard to find when festivals and annual events are in full swing. In general, accommodation in Spain is good value when compared with other European countries. If you are looking for a dorm room in a hostel with shared facilities plan to spend around 17-28 EUR p/n in high season. Prices for budget hotels usually start from 40-50 EUR. Catalunya and Mallorca offer lodging in the monasteries, so you may consider staying with the monks for 15-20 EUR. National parks in Spain are great, and there are a lot of authorized campsites. If you pick this option expect to spend about 6-7 EUR per person.

 

Spain Travel Guide – Food

Full course dinner will set you back around 15 EUR. This includes a salad, main course, dessert and a glass of wine. In order to save, try to avoid stalls and eateries near the main streets and squares. Spaniards are passionate about food and wine. Spanish cuisine consists mainly of vegetable dishes and a wide variety of meat and fish. Generally, restaurants in major cities are open until midnight, on weekends until around 2am-3am. If you plan to cut your food costs, consider cheap tapas and sandwiches for 4-6 EUR. In tapas bars, you will find a wide variety of dishes that are served as a snack to alcoholic beverages. Fast food like McDonald’s or Burger King cost around 7 EUR. Plenty of restaurants offer fixed price menus, (menu del dia) which might be value for money sometimes.

 

Spain is known for cheese-making traditions that go back thousands of years. A large amount of locally produced cheeses is available. The most famous are Queso Manchego, Cabrales, Tetilla, Mahon cheese.

 

Morcilla is a sausage made of pork blood flavored with aniseed. There are several regional recipes, which are used to make morcilla. Morcilla de Burgos and morcilla de verduras are the best-known types. The first one is made of pig’s blood, flesh and fat, onion, and rice. While the second one is cooked by using leek instead of rice.

 

Chorizo is another type of sausage in Spain. Made from pork, ham, salt, garlic, and pepper, it is being produced in many varieties, different shapes and sizes, with spices, various shades, soft, hard, dried or smoked.

 

Jamon is an air dried ham. Jamon Serrano is usually obtained by drying the salted ham. Another type is Jamon Iberico made from compound-fed Iberian pigs. Huelva, Guijuelo, Pedroches, and Trevelez are known as the places of most delicious ham. If you are planning ham tasting than price is the first thing to look at. Prices for Jamon Iberico at Boqueria Market in Barcelona start from 80 EUR/kilo for Jamon Iberico or 25 EUR/kilo for Jamon Serrano.

 

Paella is a famous Mediterranean rice dish. Types of paella include land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans. Despite that restaurants serve every type of paella imaginable, the original paella recipe is as scarce as hen’s teeth. The original recipe should include saffron (which is very expensive) and very certain seafood (that should be of the finest quality). Residents once advised me on where to look for original paella. Local festivals, weddings are the events may offer you that very paella. However, some Valencian restaurants still can compete with locals here.

Festivals in Spain

 

Spain is the land of fiestas or festivals, so there are dozens of them held throughout the year. Festivals embrace all spheres of Spanish life. Every city, village or town has its very unique festivals that make everyone dance and party all day long. The popular festivals are the fireworks of Las Fallas in Valencia, Semana Santa in Andalucia, the running of the bulls in Pamplona and the August tomato throwing festival in Bunol. Andalucia will surely delight you with flamenco dance, music and wine festivals whilst some tiny towns surprise with bizarre festivals such as a snail festival in Lleida, a seafood festival in O’Grove and a paella festival in Sueca.

Las Fallas Festival

Every year, in the middle of March, Valencia is engulfed in a celebration of fire and religious devotion. Throughout the city, there are the Fallas: hundreds of giant-sized effigies and weird sculptures that are burned on the final night. People attend Las Fallas in traditional Valencian costumes setting off firecrackers and doing crazy things. You definitely should see this with your own eyes!

 

La Tomatina

La Tomatina is held on the last Wednesday in August in Bunol when thousands of joyful revellers gather all together to throwing tons of overripe tomatoes at each other. Unfortunately, La Tomatina is no longer free as the town has recently started charging an entrance fee, so you’ll need a ticket to get in. Goggles and a change of clothes is a must during and after the fiesta.

Semana Santa

Holy Week is one of the most important annual festivals in Spain. The Easter events are widely celebrated all over Spain, but the most spectacular show is in Seville. Semana Santa is mainly a series of processions of intricate floats representing passages from the Bible, sinners wearing pointed hoods, and parish members. The celebrations start on Palm Sunday the week before Easter and run throughout the whole week. The city may be flooded with crowds, but the entire show is totally worth it.

The Seville Fair

Spring Fair (Feria de Sevilla) held two weeks after Semana Santa in Seville. Spring Fair is a joyful event when people spend an entire week singing, dancing, and eating. There is a huge area to the south-west of the city with numerous stalls, pavilions, and tents designed for drinking, eating and socializing. Some of the tents are private but there are public ones which can be easily visited. Feria de Sevilla provides excellent photo opportunities with its traditional flamenco dresses, parade around on horseback and in carriages.

Fiesta de San Isidro

Fiesta de San Isidro is the largest festival held in mid-May in Madrid. The event offers a great chance to wear the traditional castizo outfit and nibble food samples being given out almost everywhere. Music and flamenco dancing fill up the streets, while zarzuelas and Latin rhythms can be enjoyed at concerts all over the city. The fiesta starts with a major procession of giants and cabezudos, followed by a greeting speech in the Plaza Mayor. Over the next few days, entertainment and revelry take over the city’s public places.

Fiesta de San Fermin

Running of the Bulls is probably the most renowned festival, which held in July in Pamplona. This famous celebration attracts both the thrill-seekers and spectators. Numerous Spanish and international visitors come to Pamplona to enjoy the show, wear white shirts and red scarves to engage in a mad dash ahead of rampaging bulls careering through narrow cobbled streets. If you’re not fond of dubious pleasures, Pamplona is still a cool place to go grab some food, enjoy your drink, fireworks and brass bands.

Top Things to Do and See in Spain

Go Surfing

The northwest coast of Spain and the Canary Islands (primarily, Lanzarote) are considered to be great places for surfers of any skill level. Basque Country provides a large number of surf spots of different shore break and wave height. Some spots like Mundaka, Playa Salvaje are designed for advanced surfers, some like Aizkorri or El Sitio are best for beginners. Galicia’s coastline dotted with cliffs with a lot of sandy beaches, suitable for a good ride. Generally, the most popular spots here are Patos and Pantin. Lanzarote is one of the Canary Islands, which sometimes is considered European Hawaii due to the excellent surf conditions. The best time for newbies to visit is summer when the waves are not too high. Playa Famara and El Risco are the nice spots to learn surfing.

The Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao by Frank Gehry is one of the most famous museums of the XX century that has introduced deconstructivist style in architecture. For creating the curved forms of the museum, the architect used the special software, which is more common in the aircraft industry. This all resulted in a very unusual shape that reminds of a huge melted ship. The appearance of the museum has made Bilbao an attractive tourist destination and has launched an active process of urban renewal.

Exhibitions are held regularly and there is always to choose from. Exhibitions are held regularly and there is always to choose from. The museum is worth visiting even if you’re not a modern art fan, but just to enjoy the building’s amazing design.

Hang Out in Barcelona

Barcelona is top travel destination and the second largest city in Spain. It has everything most travelers need. Nightlife? Check! Historic streets and culture? Check! Beaches? Check! It is very friendly to everyone who visits it. Cheap food (especially at the markets), abundance of places to visit and to see, enjoyable weather make Barcelona was really high before I have checked it off my bucket list.

Visit the Medieval Granada

Visiting Medieval Granada with its impressive architecture and opulent park of Alhambra is like stepping back in time. The Red Castle (Alhambra) comprises ancient palaces and gardens of Muslim rulers and is considered the greatest achievement of Moorish architects in Western Europe. Today, Alhambra is a museum of Islamic art and culture, which is visited by millions of travellers from around the world.

Madrid

The capital city is rightfully called an open-air museum and cultural hub of Spain. Be sure to visit at least one of its numerous museums. The Golden Triangle of Art is comprised of three world-famous museums – the Reina Sofia Museum, the Prado Museum, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. Enjoy panoramic city view from one of the numerous observation decks and outdoor terraces. Picturesque views can be enjoyed from the deck opened on the 8th floor of the Communications Palace (there is an entrance fee). Madrid is a city to have fun from Monday to Sunday.

Admire The Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba

The Mosque-Cathedral as the Mezquita is a distinctive attraction of Cordoba, as well as one of the wonderful places to visit in Andalusia. Mezquita is the largest mosque ever built in Europe. However, during the Middle Ages, it was considered the second largest mosque in the world. The Cordoba Mosque is widely recognized as the most spectacular and beautiful mosque in Spain, inherited from the Moorish period. Its importance and grandeur can’t be overestimated since it was in the very center of the Caliphate of Cordoba in X century. Mezquita is located in the heart of Cordoba near the Guadalquivir River, among the old Jewish and Moorish quarters.

Getting Lost in Seville

The ancient part of Seville is located on the left bank of the Guadalquivir river. It has a complex pattern of narrow streets, tiny squares, historic palaces and a variety of unique sites with newer quarters around. There are several beautiful churches in the old part of the city, most of which once were Moorish mosques. On the right bank, there is a Triana neighborhood that is famous for its pottery workshops and flamenco. Visit Triana to attend festivals like Vela Santana dedicated to St. Anne and fair. The gypsy neighborhood is filled with restaurants and tapas bars.

Relax in San Sebastian

SanSe provides a great opportunity to hang out in local nightclubs and tapas bars. The city has been known as a travel destination since the 19th century when first elegant hotels and cozy cafes began to appear here. During the summer months, the resort is filled with tourists, boat owners, surfers and jazz fans, who came here to visit Jazzaldia festival.

Spend a Weekend in the Canary Islands

With an abundance of rugged cliffs, volcanoes and tropical weather, the Canary Islands make a great holiday destination. Tenerife is a mix of relaxing stay and vibrant parties, while Gran Canaria is for lovers of active leisure like sea excursions, water sports, windsurfing, fishing, and skydiving. Lanzarote and Fuerteventura offer beaches and secluded spots. La Gomera Island admires those fond of ecotourism.

Check Out The Segovia Aqueduct

Just several miles away from Madrid you can admire the ancient water delivery system. Known for 2000 years the edifice impresses with its shapely form and classic proportions. The majestic arches of the aqueduct seem light and airy. They were stacked together without the use of fasteners or solution, granite blocks are held firmly under their own weight. The aqueduct is also nicknamed the “Devil’s Bridge”. The legend has it that Lucifer was involved in construction with an intention to impress his lady love.

Costa del Sol

Costa del Sol occupies an enormous area in southern Spain. It is where travellers love to party all night long and enjoy the stunning beaches during the day. The picturesque and pristine beaches stretch from the city of Malaga to Gibraltar, forming the unique cultural region, customs, and traditions that can be felt here more distinctly than anywhere else in Andalusia. Malaga and Marbella are the most expensive places on the coast are often overcrowded in summer.