Spain scored in 2015 the amazing figure of 65 million visitors. For a country of just about 40 million inhabitants, the increasing number of travellers visiting our country is a simple verification of the quality product we have to offer: Spain marks! As per the latest slogan of our Tourism Office.
Spain borders with France and shares the Iberian peninsula with Portugal. Being a peninsula converts into a quite long sea line, to which we should also add the archipielagos of Canary and Balearic islands. That is the reason why our #1 product is the SUN AND BEACH. Spain is worldwide known by the quality of its hotels and resorts along its quite long coasts. With a tourism industry that dates back to the 60s of last century, we can say that Spain is quite a mature destination, which offers a very complete choice of services for any taste.
But Spain is such a diverse country that actually Beach and Sun is only a rather small part of its many possibilities: centuries of history have left in our land traces from Phoenicians, Romans, Muslims, Goths and more. Arquitecture lovers will enjoy absolutely all possible steps from Romanesque to Contemporary pieces.
Gastronomy has won its right to have an privileged space in any description of our country: Mediterranean diet is acclaimed as one of the healthiest way of eating, and Spain has made this humble need to become almost an artistic behavior: we love eating and our visitors praise the quality and diversity of our food.
So many years of different dominations, religions and customes had to leave a deep pattern in our soul: Spain is a quite unique kaleidoscope, a crossroads where men have search for meaning since so long ago. That much meaning should be by force translated for the visitor: we are so glad of offering you the “dictionary” you need to best enjoy your trip to Spain. Welcome!
– Language: Spain has four official languages: Castillian, Basque, Catalonian and Galician, which gives an idea of the richness one could find while traveling through the different regions of the country.
– Art: with museums like Prado rivaling with Louvre or British, cathedrals like Burgos or Segovia, Unesco heritage sites like Cordoba or Alhambra: the list would be so long to mention…
– … and also a quite long list would come later about music, history, cinema, etc
Spain keeps 15 areas in our country with the maximum protection: the National Park, which covers from mountainous landscapes to groups of islands, offering the visitor a rich biodiversity and quite impressive ecosystems.
Our highest mountain is in the Canary Islands: the volcanic mount Teide in Tenerife, with 3.718 m above sea level. We have the chain of mountains that borders with France at the Pyrenees and some other high peaks in Asturias. We can guarantee high quality snow during winter in Catalonia, Aragon, Granada and sometimes Madrid too.
Water is a scarce reality in Southern Spain, but we name a number of interesting rivers and lakes where any active sports are possible. Another quite interesting niche to explore is the visit of our caves, among which the Altamira one is probably the most known.
Spain offers quite a varied landscape: from the arid and dry plateau around Madrid to the green valleys of Asturias, from the coastal rocky crests of Basque country to the immense sea of olive trees in Andalusia, each space offers unique settings for a sensitive photographer
Spain offers a quite mild Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and not too cold winters.
Madrid is quite dry and temperatures could vary from even below zero to forty degrees in summer. Barcelona is mild and humid, so normally temperatures would never drop below 7-8 degrees, while summer thermometers would hardly reach 30 ºC.
Traditionally visitors have avoided the months of July and August to visit Spain due to the heat, but lately temperatures have changed significantly, so we find now August being not too hot. Still we can say that the nicest period to visit our country -if beach is not the main reason to come- is April to June or September to October.
Current Time & Date:
Spain is part of the European Union, so we use the EURO. Although USD would be accepted in some shops and tourist places, we advise to use only our currency
Credit cards are widely accepted anywhere, but some small merchants like kiosks, taxis or some bars would not take cards, specially for minor payments of below 20 EUR. ATMs are present everywhere, but our recommendation is still to have always some cash at hand for any purpose.
Against what our long tourism tradition could lead you to imagine, English is not so widely spoken in the streets, so it might be hard sometimes to find anyone who speaks the language, specially outside the touristic routes. The disadvantage is not really big though considering the Spanish ability and readiness to cooperate with foreigners: do not be surprised if your question congregates a number of people discussing which could be the best answer to your need.
Food & Drinks:
Spanish customs are quite different from the rest of European standards. We start our morning normally at 08.00 am, have lunch by 0200 pm and dinner from 0900 pm. If you get your dinner ordered at 0600 pm, be sure you are in a tourist place and surely if you see any Spaniard around, they might be having a quite late lunch
Lunches and dinners are normally complete in Spain, including starter, main and desert, while breakfast could be simpler, with only coffee, a toast or churros and if at all an orange juice.
Many day by day matters are discusses at a bar with a coffee, so it is not a surprise that you can count more bars only in Madrid than in whole Belgium (even though they drink more beer per person…) and you will always see busy places no matter where you travel or what hour of the day you enter.
The secret of our kitchen is olive oil and garlic. Expect plentiful of both in your dishes and enjoy the tasting results of its use. Fresh ingredient is the rule, varying from meat to fish. Its not strange to get good quality “menu of the day” in any local bar for anything between 10 and 15 EUR, including bread, drink and coffee.
As in many other European countries, we celebrate:
– 1st January
– 6th January: Three Wise Men (with a great parade the previous night, they bring presents to our kids, unlike Santa Claus in the rest of the world)
– Easter (March or April)
– 1st May: Labour day
– 15th August: Our Lady
– 12th October: National day
– 1st November: All Saints
– 06th December: Constitution Day
– 08th December: Inmaculate Conception
– 25th December: Christmas
Madrid, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca are the three biggest ones, but you can also consider other options, like Bilbao, Malaga, Seville, Valencia, or even Vigo, Santander or Santiago