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How to Plan a Trip to Spain: Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: November 29, 2022

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Moorish architecture of the red and white arches within the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Spain

Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Spain

Explore answers to the most common questions travelers ask before a trip to Spain to find inspiration for your vacation.

Whether you are searching for the best time to visit the country, deciding between a trip to northern or southern Spain, or want to know what food to try on your trip, the following tips can guide you in the right direction.

Below, you will find everything you need to know about Spain and suggestions to help you iron out the details of your trip. With these answers and a Zicasso travel specialist’s assistance, you can experience the best of Spain on your first-time or return visit.

Overview
  1. Can I travel to Spain?
  2. When is the best time to visit Spain?
  3. How many days should I spend in Spain?
  4. What are the most popular destinations in Spain?
  5. What should I do on my trip to Spain?
  6. Should I visit northern or southern Spain?
  7. How do I travel around Spain?
  8. Is Spain a good destination for families?
  9. Is Spain suitable for senior travelers?
  10. Is Spain suitable for couples or honeymooners?
  11. What food should I try in Spain?
  12. Is Spain a good destination for wine?
  13. Do shops close during siesta in Spain?
  14. Is Spain safe to visit?
  15. What language do they speak in Spain?
  16. What vaccinations do I need to travel to Spain?
  17. Which airports should I plan for?
  18. Do I need a visa for Spain?
  19. What currency does Spain use?
  20. How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to Spain?
  21. Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Can I travel to Spain?

Spain is open to American travelers.

For the latest information on entry requirements for all European countries and beyond, browse our guide on Where Americans Can Travel Now.

Learn more: Plan Your Trip to Spain

When is the best time to visit Spain?

March through May and September through November are generally the best times to visit Spain as the weather is warm, travel rates are great, and there are fewer crowds than in the summer months of June, July, and August.

From March through May and September through November you can enjoy hiking across the Dolomites, sightseeing along the Basque Country coastline, and wine tasting in Andalusia. They are also excellent times of the year for grape harvesting with your partner, city tours with your family, or adventures across the Spanish countryside for seniors.

Although clear skies dominate June, July, and August, the temperatures in Spain during summer reach all-year highs. You should only visit at this time of year if you are comfortable navigating the crowds that flock to Spain’s Mediterranean coast and famous cities, and can bear the heat.

Learn more: Best Time to Visit SpainBest Time To Visit Barcelona

How many days should I spend in Spain?

To visit Spanish highlight cities, spend time on the Mediterranean shores, or explore the Andalusian countryside, we recommend you spend between eight and 14 days in Spain.

Depending on where you would like to go, eight days to two weeks is enough time to visit iconic places like Barcelona, Seville, and Madrid, or stay in unique destinations like Córdoba in Andalusia or San Sebastián in the Basque Country. These durations can give you a more rounded view of Spain and offer leisure time between tours.

You can also spend more than 14 days in Spain on trips that combine off-the-beaten-path experiences with visits to neighboring Mediterranean countries like Portugal or France.

Learn more: 8 Day Spain Itineraries10 Day Spain Itineraries12 Day Spain Itineraries2 Week Spain Itineraries

What are the most popular destinations in Spain?

Whether you wish to enjoy San Sebastian’s Mediterranean shores or explore fashionable Madrid, there are many great places to consider. However, the list below shares the most popular destinations to help you narrow down your choices:

  • Madrid
  • Seville
  • Barcelona
  • Málaga
  • Granada
  • Córdoba
  • San Sebastián
  • Mallorca
  • Valencia
  • Bilbao

Madrid is one of the world's fashion capitals, Barcelona is a reservoir of surreal architecture by Antoni Gaudí, and Seville is an Iberian treasure trove of Roman and Moorish antiquity. To learn more about these iconic cities and more of Spain’s best destinations, explore our guide to the 10 Best Places to Visit in Spain.

What should I do on my trip to Spain?

The list of things to do in Spain is long as each city within each region shares new discoveries. You could visit royal palaces, explore historic quarters, and enjoy Spanish tapas, with this list highlighting the top things to do:

  • Tour Antoni Gaudí’s iconic architectural landmarks to admire the surreal facades of La Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, and Park Güell
  • Explore artisanal shops, fashion boutiques, and other high-end stores laden with intricate Spanish crafts in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona
  • Sample authentic and gourmet Spanish tapas, charcuterie, cheese, and street food like chorizo, bocadillo, paella, and pinchitos
  • Embrace Madrid fashion on a tour of the Golden Triangle of Art at the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía, and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums
  • View the blend of Moorish and Spanish Renaissance art and architecture in the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Andalusia
  • Enjoy a cooking class introducing you to the flavors of Catalonia, where you will pick fresh ingredients and learn from a master chef
  • Watch a traditional flamenco show expressing Spanish spirit and passion or learn to flamenco with a professional dancer and performer
  • Trace Spain’s religious history on tours of medieval cathedrals and spiritual complexes, including the Catedral de Sevilla, the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, and the Royal Alcázar of Seville

Learn more: Top 10 Things to Do in SpainTop 7 Things to Do in San Sebastian9 Best Museums in Spain and Where to See Them

Should I visit northern or southern Spain?

This depends on the experiences you would like to enjoy in Spain. For example, southern Spain is a treasure trove of Moorish history and traditional Spanish style. At the same time, northern Spain boasts mountain villages, the sun-soaked Basque Country coastline, and the Catalonian capital, Barcelona.

In southern Spain, you can sip locally-produced sherry, wander the historic quarters of Seville, and cross the iconic Puente Nuevo bridge in Ronda. In northern Spain, you can experience the highlights of Barcelona, spend time in the resort town of San Sebastián, and indulge in the Rioja wine region’s vintages.

We recommend using our sample trips for northern and southern Spain to pick an itinerary that matches your idea of an incredible trip to Spain. These collections will share more about what is possible in each region, while considering the logistics of your vacation.

Learn more: Northern Spain Tours & VacationsTours of Southern Spain

How do I travel around Spain?

Many transportation options are available, from planes to trains, private transfers, rental cars, buses, and boats.

The options may suit different experiences or solve logistical problems during your trip. For example, domestic flights can quickly get you from northern to southern Spain if your journey includes stops in Barcelona and Seville. Trains are excellent options for scenic cross-country adventures, boats can take you between coastal towns, and private transfers are the most comfortable options for city tours.

Buses in Spain are well-equipped, with several class options for comfortable trips to nearby cities, and rental cars are available for adventurous travelers on a road trip.

Learn more: The Best Ways to Travel Around Spain

Is Spain a good destination for families?

From Antoni Gaudí’s fairytale architecture to delicious, bite-sized tapas, Spain's highlights and culinary delights are fun for the entire family. There is also a strong family spirit in Spain that you will grow to love as you and your children meet friendly locals and explore kid-friendly places and things to do.

You can swim against the Basque Country coastline to spot lobsters scuttling across the sea floor or giant turtles flying beneath the water’s surface. The Moorish palaces, like the Alhambra and Royal Alcázar of Seville, look like they belong in storybooks and your children can clack castanets during flamenco performances.

From cultural Seville to Moorish Granada and the magic island of Mallorca, you and your children can discover all sorts of family-friendly activities in Spain’s best places to visit as a family.

Learn more: Spain Tours for FamiliesTop 8 Things to Do in Spain with Family9 Best Places to Visit in Spain with Family

Is Spain suitable for senior travelers?

While certain cosmopolitan cities, like Madrid and Barcelona, bustle, the typical Spanish lifestyle is slow-paced, making it a great place for senior citizens to take their time exploring the country’s culture.

It is easy to settle into the local way of life as friendly residents invite eager travelers to slow down and appreciate the wonders of Spain. On a senior trip, you can wander the cobbled lanes of Barcelona’s historic quarters, relax on the soft sands of San Sebastián, or enjoy Rioja wines at hilltop estates.

Part of the journey is experiencing Spanish forms of art. Flamenco shows, the Prado Museum, and the Royal Alcázars of Seville are some of the best representations of the country’s music, art, and architecture.

Learn more: Spain Tours for Seniors

Is Spain suitable for couples or honeymooners?

With a rich cultural heritage, idyllic Mediterranean beaches, fantastic gastronomy, and scintillating nightlife, Spain is one of the best destinations in Europe to visit as a couple or for your honeymoon.

Fashion-forward couples flock to Madrid to watch models flaunt modern garments on catwalks, romance floods private beaches along the Basque Country, and the Moorish architecture of Seville is as stunning as it gets. With so many postcard-perfect places to visit, you can find a dreamy destination for your getaway or honeymoon.

Beyond breathtaking places, Spanish culture and traditions exude passion and intimacy. Flamenco dancing finds its origins in the Romantic Era, Spanish tapas tasting is an overwhelming sensory experience, and the wines of Rioja are sumptuous.

Learn more: Spain Tours for CouplesSpain Honeymoon PackagesOur 7 Best Sample Romantic Trips to Spain

What food should I try in Spain?

From bite-sized tapas to massive pans of paella, Spanish cuisine combines Mediterranean and Moorish influences, and the dining culture centers around enjoying food as a group or a family. If you are looking to enjoy sensational seafood or sample Spanish flavors, the following list shares the top foods to try:

  • Paella, a rice dish with mixed seafood served in a pan
  • Gazpacho, tomato-based soup served cold
  • Jamón, dry-cured Spanish ham
  • Patatas bravas, fried potatoes dressed in spices
  • Spanish tortilla, a Spanish take on an omelet
  • Sangria, a wine punch mixed with fruits
  • Chorizo, fermented, cured, and smoked Spanish pork sausage
  • Manchego cheese, made from the milk of Manchega sheep
  • Gambas al Ajillo, Spanish-style garlic shrimp
  • Pimiento de Padrón, Padrón peppers

The best ways to enjoy these dishes include tasting tours of tapas or pintxos, snack bars, at Spanish farms on the Iberian peninsula, during culinary classes in cities like Barcelona, or at San Sebastián seafood restaurants on the Basque Country coastline.

Learn more: Food & Wine Tours in Spain7 Best Places for Food and Wine in SpainTop 5 Food and Wine Things to Do in SpainAn Expert Guide to Spanish Tapas

Is Spain a good destination for wine?

Wine tourism is popular in Spain as there are many phenomenal wine-growing regions across the country. From La Rioja to Andalusia, Catalonia, and more, you can taste the distinct varieties during a trip to one or more of these regions.

In La Rioja, bold and full-bodied Tempranillo wines derive from the green vineyards nourished near the Ebro River. Valencia also produces Tempranillo, but white wines from Macabeo grapes are particularly impressive. During a wine tour of Spain, you can also enjoy Moscatel sherry in Andalusia, Cabernet Sauvignon in the Ribera del Duero, or Xarel-lo in Catalonia.

Learn more: 6 Best Wine Regions in SpainBest Time to Visit Spain for a Wine Tour

Do shops close during siesta in Spain?

Shops in places like Seville, Granada, and other historic cities close during siesta, typically for two to three hours between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Not all shops will close during this time, especially in major tourist destinations like Barcelona and Madrid, but being aware of the siesta period is helpful when planning your day.

Is Spain safe to visit?

Spain is a very safe destination to visit.

Of all European countries, Spain is one of the safest and is also considered one of the safest countries in the world. As a solo traveler, family, couple, or senior, you can travel to Spain with few safety concerns as the crime rates are low, public transportation is reliable, and locals are welcoming.

However, we recommend keeping your personal belongings out of sight in busy town squares as pickpocketing, although rare, is on the list of petty criminal activities in major cities. Pickpocketing is a problem that affects all tourist destinations, so use common sense and stay vigilant in crowded public areas.

Spain has few natural disasters, although forest fires can occur in the sweltering summer months. In summer, we advise following the guidance of your tour operator when hiking and applying plenty of sunscreen when outdoors or visiting beaches.

What language do they speak in Spain?

Spain’s official language is Spanish or Castilian Spanish.

Catalan, Basque, Galician, and Aranese are also widely spoken and preferred by locals in their respective regions. They are not dialects of Spanish, but official languages steeped in millennia of independence and local culture.

Knowing some Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician, and Aranese words and phrases would be beneficial depending on where you go. However, English is widely used in major cities like Barcelona and Madrid, and you should not have much trouble communicating in hotels, restaurants, museums, or cultural sites.

Other Spanish dialects and minority languages are spoken in different parts of the country and your guides will be able to translate on your behalf if necessary.

What vaccinations do I need to travel to Spain?

The CDC Spain Vaccination Information recommends several vaccinations if you travel to Spain. While you do not need these, they help avoid illness or infections when traveling internationally.

Therefore, we recommend consulting your doctor or travel nurse to confirm recommendations and receive the vaccinations necessary for the regions you wish to visit.

Which airports should I plan for?

The most convenient airport to fly in and out of Spain is Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) in Madrid. It is also the busiest airport in the country, so you may wish to consider alternatives. The following list shares our airport recommendations for international and domestic travel:

  • Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD), Madrid
  • Josep Tarradellas Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN), Barcelona
  • Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI), Mallorca
  • Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport (AGP), Málaga
  • Seville Airport (SVQ), Seville

Do I need a visa for Spain?

As part of the Schengen area, American travelers can enter Spain without a visa for trips of up to 90 days.

As you plan your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist, you will receive the latest travel information regarding visa requirements should anything change between now and your vacation.

What currency does Spain use?

The official currency of Spain is the euro (€).

Most modern businesses in Spain, including hotels, restaurants, and museums, accept Visa, Mastercard, and American Express electronic payments. However, we recommend carrying euros with you as it is the most widely used currency across the country, especially in rural towns or villages in the Andalusian countryside.

How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to Spain?

A Zicasso travel specialist can help you plan a trip to Spain with our collection of Spain Tours & Vacations, showcasing ideas of what your vacation could look like. You can browse these sample trips to find a Spanish itinerary that appeals to you and then work with your travel specialist to customize it.

Whether you want to experience the culinary culture or history of Spain, cross the Andalusian countryside with your partner, or enjoy Spanish highlights for the first time, the options are endless and your travel specialist can tailor an itinerary for you.

To start working with a Zicasso travel specialist, fill out a Trip Request where you can select your destination, determine your trip duration, note your travel intentions, and set a rough budget. Then, our Travel Care team will contact you to discuss your idea and connect you to a Spanish travel specialist who can make it happen.

Your travel specialist will answer your questions, book your accommodations, and facilitate your tours, while being available for the duration of your trip in case of emergencies. A travel specialist's support will give you peace of mind when planning and embarking on your travels to Spain.

Learn more: How to Plan Your Zicasso Trip in 4 Easy StepsHow to Plan Your Zicasso Trip Budget in 3 Easy Steps

Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Castle on the rocks at Lloret de Mar in Costa Brava, Barcelona

Costa Brava, Barcelona, Spain

Discover the right combination of logistics and inspiration for your trip with sample itineraries from our Spain Tours & Vacations. These are excellent places from which to customize your travel itinerary.

Whether you wish to explore the beautiful medieval towns or enjoy Spanish cuisine prepared by forward-thinking chefs, great beauty and simple details capture the essence of Spain. To learn more about the country and possibilities for your trip, explore our Spain Travel Guide.

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