10 Things to Know Before Visiting Spain + Cultural Do’s & Don’ts🇪🇸
Spain is one of the most visited country in the world, each one of its region has its own culture that you can immerse yourself in. Delicious paellas, beautiful beaches, amazing architecture, and scenic coastline, are just a few things that will make you want to visit Spain.
How to Get Your Visa for Spain
You can get the visa by going to the embassy, or visiting the official website, or getting it with an agency like iVisa. iVisa provides 100% online travel documents such as: Visas, health declaration forms, embassy registrations, passport photos, passport renewals, tourist cards, and other travel documents. It is the simplest solution to process your travel visa.
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How to Get to Spain
Spain’s biggest airport is Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport Airport a.k.a. Madrid’s airport, you will be able to find a lot of international flights that goes there. You can also find other international flights to Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport a.k.a. Barcelona’s airport.
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Cultural Do's & Don'ts
Learn Spanish: You need to learn at least the basics of Spanish, if you are visiting the touristy areas then you will be fine, but if you love to visit places that locals do visit, then you need to speak Spanish, trust me I lived there and I know. Most people don't speak English, and it is understandable since Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world, so do learn the basics of Spanish.
Respect meal times: Spaniards eat late, dinner is usually between 21:00 and 23:00, so do expect your meal times to change because restaurants won't be open at any other times.
Expect quiet during siesta: this is basically a break between 14:00 and 16:00 and it is called siesta, during this time people tend to either have lunch or take a rest. Be aware that shops and businesses will be closed during that time.
Spanish greetings: Do expect greetings with a handshake and a kiss on each cheek even if it is someone you just met.
Enjoy the nightlife: In comparison to other European countries, people stay up later in Spain, so do expect to stay up late especially during the weekend, don't be surprised when you are walking at 02:00 on a weekend and find basically everyone in out as well.
Check Why You Should Visit Spain: 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Spain
Criticise the culture: This a don't in any country in general but especially in Spain, yes the Spaniards may complain about things in their country, but everyone does, but as a tourist or a visitor; you are not allowed to do so since you are basically insulting them that way. Be aware of the regional differences!
Speak about Catalonia: Do not bring up the topic of the independence of Catalonia, you will never know what the other person's thoughts are, so avoid speaking about it at all especially if you are not in Catalonia.
Stereotype: Do not call Spaniards lazy, late, or bad at their work, just don't. This stereotype will annoy and frustrate them so don't say anything.
Criticise someone's football team: Spaniards love football, but don't ever criticise the team they support, I mean I'm not Spanish but I support Real Madrid, and if someone criticise my team; I get pissed, so you can talk football but avoid any criticism.
Expect punctuality: I know I just mentioned above to not stereotype, but do not expect punctuality when in Spain, I mean I'm from Egypt and it is the same thing here, just don't get offended by it.
10 Top Things to Know Before Traveling to Spain
1. Meal Times in Spain
As I mentioned above, do expect to eat late when visiting Spain. Breakfast is between 07:00 and 09:00 and it is usually something light but some people skip it. Then it is time for Almuerzo, which is basically mid-morning snack, this is usually a bocadillo, this is between 10:30 and 12:00. Next is lunch time which is between 14:00 and 16:00, so do expect shops and businesses to be closed during that time. Then you have Merienda which is mid-afternoon snack, so if you feel a little bit hungry before dinner, eat something but make sure it's small. Lastly it is time for dinner, and restaurants open between 21:00 and 23:00, and during the weekend people ten to have dinner later than that.
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2. Public Transport is Amazing
One of the best things in Spain is the public transport, I have never had an issue moving around in Spain especially in Madrid. Metros and buses always come and leave on time, and are clean as well, and in comparison to other countries, they are affordable, so you can easily travel long distance.
Check My Solo Trip to the Spanish Town: Setenil de Las Bodegas
3. Spanish isn't the Only Official Language
The Spanish dialect tend to differ based on the region, so the Spanish that you know of is called castellano which is the official language and the predominate language in Spain. So for example, if you are in Catalonia then they will speak Catalán as well, if you are in Galicia then they will speak Gallego, and if you are in País Vasco then they will speak Euskera.
Check Why You Should Visit Setenil de Las Bodegas: 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Setenil, Spain
4. Paella is Not the Only Food You Can Eat
People expect to eat paella whenever visiting Spain, which is true of course you can, but you fun fact; you will not find it everywhere. Paella is originally from Valencia and it is regarded as one of the symbols of Valencia, but in other regions in Spain they do not consider it to be their national dish. Try other Spanish national dishes such as Gazpacho, tortilla de patatas (Tortilla Española), patatas bravas, croquetas, and many more. Do immerse yourself in the culture.
Check Setenil de Las Bodegas Travel Guide: 6 Top Things to do in Setenil, Spain
5. Spanish Festivals
There are so many Spanish festivals, so if you are into festivals then you will be able to visit one when in Spain. There are so many festivals in Spain that it is so hard to keep track of them all, so chances are that one festival will coincide your trip to Spain.
Check Setenil de Las Bodegas Travel Guide: 24 Hours in Setenil, Spain - A Complete 1 Day Itinerary
6. Avoid Visiting in August
You might think August is the best time to visit Spain, but it is not, because most of Spain go on holiday so most businesses will be closed, including cafes and restaurants. Major touristy places will be open but that's about it. Also, the weather is not that great especially in the south of Spain, because temperatures will reach 40 degree Celsius so it is unbearable to walk or explore.
7. Drink the Tap Water
Since I lived in Spain, I can tell you that it is a waste of money to buy bottled water. Tap water in Spain is drinkable so do not waste money on bottled water. A tip here is when you are at a restaurant or a cafe and you ask for water; they will bring you bottled water, but instead you can as for tap water (agua del grifo) and they will bring it to you. Honestly don't bother spending money on bottled water because it is not worth it.
8. Be Aware of Your Belongings
In any country, you need to be aware of your belongings and don't leave them unattended even if it is safe. Pickpocketing is an issue especially in big cities like Barcelona, so make sure to take good care of your belongings.
9. Tipping isn't Part of the Culture
Tipping isn't a big deal in Spain, Spaniards either leave a few coins or leave nothing at all. I don't remember tipping that much when I was living there, but if you are having a fancy meal, then do tip 10 percent, other than that you do not have to worry about tipping.
10. Expect Free Food
Okay I don't mean free food, but when you order a drink in most places, they bring a snack for free with it. This can be a bowl of potato chips, some nuts, or olives, you do not have to pay for this since it is a complementary snack to enjoy with your drink.