Spain is a beautiful country primarily located on the Iberian Peninsula (which it shares with Portugal) and is also comprised of the Balearic Islands (including the stunning beaches of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza), which are located in the Mediterranean Sea, and the picturesque Canary Islands, nestled in the Atlantic Ocean.
Spain is a country of large geographical and cultural diversity. It is a country that values regionalism - each autonomous region has its own local customs, foods, and often, language. Traveling in Spain one can find virtually every type of experience. From lush green valleys and snowy mountaintops in the Northern regions, to arid desert zones in the South, and everything else in between. You'll find large cities with European flair and small towns almost lost in time. Cultural treasures of art and architecture cover every corner. Spain has it all!
Visitors to Spain will love the museums of Madrid, Gaudí’s extravagant creations in Barcelona, culinary masterpieces in Bilbao, and the Moorish majesty of the Alhambra in Granada. If you’re looking for nightlife and sunshine, then Ibiza or the Costa Brava are your best bet. Lovers of peace and tranquility will enjoy a stroll through the Alcazar gardens in Seville, while lovers of the great outdoors should make for the footpaths of the Picos de Europa in Cantabria. Finally, those in search of spirituality will be in their element on the long-distance Camino de Santiago de Compostela path, armed with a pilgrim’s shell and walking stick.
Wherever you choose, you’ll delight in the world famous cuisine of Spain. Fresh fish and seafood, delicious charcuterie and, of course, the tapas for which Spain is so famous. Arrive hungry!
In order to truly enjoy Spain, it is best to pick a few places of interest instead of trying to experience it all in one trip. You might visit the cities Madrid (and the surrounding towns of Toledo and Segovia) and Barcelona on one trip, discover the region of Andalucía in another, and hike in the Basque region for a third. Make sure to not overbook your time. An important component of Spanish culture, is to take the time to sit in cafes and plazas, to walk along the meandering streets, and to enjoy the atmosphere around you.
Know Before You Go
The Spanish currency is the euro.
In Spain the power sockets are type F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. An adapter and/or converter is necessary to use appliances from the United States.
Visa/Passport Information Passport Validity
Three (3) months beyond your date of departure is required, but it is recommended that you have six (6) months beyond the date of departure. Spain is part of the Schengen Treaty in Europe. This means that there is relative freedom of crossing borders within the countries of the European Union for short-term tourism and business trips.
Blank Passport Pages:
1 page per stamp. A tourist visa is not required for stays less than 90 days.
No vaccinations required.
Spanish is the official language of Spain. Many people learn English, especially in the larger cities. Regional dialects are also spoken in many places. Some on the larger regional dialects include Catalan in the Basque Region, including Barcelona (though Spanish is also used).
If Spain is a country of many regions, it’s also a country of many climates. The best time to visit depends on where you’re going and what you’re planning to see. The high central plains (which include Madrid) experience extremes – very hot in summer, and cold (and sometimes swept by freezing winds) in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to be damp and misty, with a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round, and in parts of Andalucía it’s often pleasant enough to take lunch outside, even in the winter months. From my perspective, Spring, the early part of summer, and autumn are the best times to visit for many regions. Temperatures will be fairly temperate, sites and attractions open, and tourist numbers relatively low – worth considering, especially if your destination is one of the beach resorts or cultural attractions.
The average flight time from the East Coast of the United States is 8 hours (not including time change). Average flight time from the West Coast of the United States is 11 hours. Spain is six hours ahead of the Eastern Coast of the United States and nine hours ahead of the West coast.
Spain is one of the largest countries in Europe with some 900 kilometers separating the Northern and Southern coasts, and aprox.1000 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Travelling in the country requires time to cover such long distances.
Traveling by Car is recommended if you intend to visit different cities. Highways and good roads connect the center of the country - and thus the capital, Madrid - with the main Spanish cities. Old Spanish towns can be tricky to navigate and park, as they were not made with cars in mind. Smaller more compact cars are better suited for this type of driving. Many different companies offer car rentals. Keep in mind you must have an International Driving Permit, which is good for one year, in order to rent a car in Spain.
Traveling by train is also a convenient option, since they are very reliable and reach many cities and locations. There are three different types of trains: High Speed (AVE), Cercanias (slower trains with more stops), and local (stay within regional confines). Always check to make sure you know which schedule you are viewing.
Transportation by bus is also very popular in Spain. Buses reach places where trains do not and will also offer you better schedules for smaller destinations, than trains.
Traveling by plane is also a good choice, as the main cities are serviced by regional plane service and can save you a lot of time if you need to cover long distances.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Spanish law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities. The Spanish government generally enforces these provisions; levels of assistance and accessibility vary across Spain.
Madrid, Barcelona, and many other major cities have made great strides in making public transportation, museums and other public buildings accessible to those with physical disabilities.
Most buses have ramps to accommodate wheelchairs and many metro stations have elevators; taxis that can accommodate wheelchairs are available, but generally must be booked in advance.
In historic areas and in some other areas, sidewalks can be narrow and have uneven surfaces. Take this into account when planning your visit.