Best time to visit
Olé! Spain is the flamenco dancer. With a swish of her skirts, the seasons change, but no matter the tempo, the performance is always beautiful. In winter you’ll find a quieter rhythm, and less crowds. Summer moves to a faster beat, and drama and passion soar as life heats up. All year round, Spain is ready to twirl.
Winter (Dec –Feb)
Spain is one of the more travel-friendly countries in winter. In the south, the jewels of Andalusia aren’t quite as chilly as their sister cities in the north. With the usual flows of tourism drying up this season, enjoy the architectural wonder of Alhambra fortress in Granada without the crowds, and marvel at the lavish lifestyles of the Mor Kings of yesteryear at the Alcázar of Seville.
Spring (Mar – May)
Spring in Easter is bursting with life. Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a highlight of the Spanish calendar, a one-of-a-kind display of tradition, music, culture, theatre and religion. Seaside resorts (which the Spanish do so well), are beginning to open, but the crowds haven’t yet arrived to fill them. Lengthening days tempt you outside and you can already feel excitement tingling in the air as summer fiesta time approaches.
Summer (June - Aug)
The party is here! Long nights. Active days. No wonder Spain clings to the siesta; with the pace of summer, life wouldn’t be sustainable without it. In August, the Spanish head on holidays down to Malaga for sun, sand and sangria. If you want to stay north, Barcelona offers all three, plus Gaudi architecture and Catalonian culture. This is the time of year that Spain truly comes to life.
Autumn (Sept – Nov)
If you’re a gallivanting gourmand, autumn is the perfect time to Go Live It Up in Spain. Adios, refreshing summer gazpachos – the dramatic change in cuisine is the calling card that autumn has arrived. See the change in menus as the local produce dictates the dishes, from crema de calabaza (cream of pumpkin soup), cocido madrileño (stew of Madrid) or caldo gallego (Galician soup) with autumn veggies. And any meal isn’t complete without a drop of from Rioja or Ribera, as September is wine harvest time.
Culture & customs
Spaniards really live life to the full, and their enthusiasm for, well, everything, is contagious. Spanish life can seem a little upside-down, with days that start late and accelerate as the sun goes down. Join the locals for paeso, and enjoy the ritual of an evening stroll. Family fuels Spanish life, with much of the culture revolving around meal times spent with loved ones. Where time is often an abstract concept, things can run a little late, but that’s just part of the charm of easy-living Spain.
Electronics & devices
Spain uses 230 volt power, so you won’t need a voltage converter. You will however, need a plug adaptor. Spain uses a round 2 prong plug.
A universal adaptor, that converts Australian and New Zealand plugs to fit any outlet globally, will make your life easier. Or you can carry individual adaptors for each country. Country specific adaptors can be bought individually or in set, which is great if you’re going to more than one place, and don’t want to travel with a universal adaptor.
It can be difficult to find adaptors for appliances once you leave, so make sure you have what you need before you leave home. Adaptors are easy to find at here. Department stores, electronic stores, luggage stores, large chemists and many stores at airports carry them.
Health & safety
Spain is known for its expert pick-pockets, with business booming for petty thieves in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona. Be extra careful in transit areas, such as on the metro or on buses, and be sure to keep any money or valuables close to you. In case of any incidents, remember that your travel insurance is there for a reason.
While no specific immunisations are required for Spain, a pre-departure visit to your GP doesn’t go astray – they’ll let you know what you should take with you in case of illness. Also, be sure to visit http://smartraveller.gov.au for current safety and travel information.
Language & useful phrases
The Spanish language has a long history, shaped by its central location between Europe, Africa, and America. While there many different dialects spoken by Basques, Galicians and Catalans, common Spanish is always understood, and slang widely used. Sound like a local when hitting up a tapas bar, tossing in vale (to say OK), or no pasa nada (don’t worry about it).
Money & costs
Not only are the locals generous, but the currency too; a little goes a long way. Feast on tapas; these delicious bite sized plates of seafood, salads and meat-filled pastries can cost as little as 2 euros for basic to 10 euros for seafood. A cup of coffee costs between one and two euros.
One of the big draw cards of Spain is its cuisine. Every region has its own speciality, and are often vastly different from that of its neighbours. With slow food mentality being a part of Spainish culture since its conception, every town and city will have its own fresh food markets. Be sure to get down to La Boqueria in Barcelona and Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid – as well as an array of fresh, local produce, these markets are packed with local cooks stirring up a storm of authentic, regional dishes.
Spain is also best experienced by foot. You never know what the next laneway will lead you to, whether that be a funky antique store or a magnificent old church. On your down time, strolling through the city is one of the best ways to experience Spain like a local.
Visas & insurance
Australian and New Zealand citizens don’t need a visa for holiday stays of under 90 days in Spain. We strongly recommend travel insurance, because the real travel magic happens when you’re worry free. We hope you don’t lose a bag or need a doctor (that’s not in our travel plan either!) but if the worst happens it’s good to have backup. Travel insurance is an easy way to take the worry out of travelling.