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Spain is one of the richest countries in the world from a cultural perspective. Its history runs from as far back as the period of the Roman Empire, the inquisitions among other eras that shaped world history.

This makes it an interesting country to visit, at least once in a lifetime. However, there are things you need to know before visiting Spain to make your stay an enjoyable one.

The following are 5 important things to know about traveling to Spain. 

5 Things You Should Know About Traveling to Spain

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Learn a Few Spanish Words

Some Spaniards especially those living in major cities such as Madrid do speak English. However, most of the population can only communicate in Spanish.

Before you travel to Spain, learning Spanish can make your travel a lot easier, even if it means mastering only few words. For instance, you can practice how to say hi, and how to ask for directions in Spanish.

It would be catastrophic to get stuck in a foreign country, without being able to ask for directions to your hotel! This can make you more vulnerable to scams and cons which take advantage of your language barrier.

Traveler RF

You Don’t Need to Buy Bottled Water

As a tourist, there is always the urge to buy bottled water. This is quite understandable given that you are never sure about the quality of the tap water in most foreign nations.

This is not the case with Spain though, and the tap water is very safe to drink. There is no point in wasting your hard-earned cash on expensive bottled water; travel with a drink bottle and top up when you need to; this also cuts down on plastic waste. 

Be aware though that some old cities, like Barcelona, may have issues with old pipes, meaning high amounts of certain minerals which have the potential to mess with your stomach. If you’re worried about it, chat with the team at your hotel as they see tourists every day and can advise you on what’s the safest way.

In Spain They Eat Late

In most countries, lunch is usually between 12 noon, and 1 P.M, but this is not the case in Spain. Spaniards eat late, and you might not find a place open to eat before 2 P.M in the afternoon.

Knowing this in advance allows you to plan your day around it and work it into your trip planner. Even in the evenings, Spaniards tend to take dinner later at the night, mostly after 9 P.M.

If you visit a Spanish home in the course of your travels and dinner comes a bit late in the evening, don’t be surprised; it’s part of Spanish culture.

There’s No Tipping Culture in Spain

Unlike the Japanese, Spaniards don’t frown upon tipping, but they also won’t mind if you don’t leave a tip. Tipping in Spain is not common, and you won’t find any locals doing it. 

If you choose to tip it will be appreciated, and they’re not going to turn down your money, but if you don’t, it’s not a big deal. 

Drink Orders Come With a Free Snack

Spaniards have a very interesting culture whereby all drink orders come with a free snack! It may be a bite of cheese, potato chips, or even a fruit.

When you receive this, don’t panic; you won’t be charged. Just enjoy the freebie snack together with your drink. It’s just a part of Spanish culture known as tapas. Don’t expect this; free snacks are not a standard in all cities in Spain. Some have it others don’t. But don’t be surprised!

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    17 Comments

  1. Great info! Thanks

    • Glad the post was helpful – have a great time in Spain!

  2. Very helpful! I’m going to Spain this spring so these things are good to know

    • Be careful yourself. Spanish people don’t like any americans.

    • An: Have an amazing time! We loved it, such a fabulous destination!

      Peter: My husband is American and we didn’t run into any problems. Everyone was really welcoming and friendly. He speaks Spanish decently enough to get by, so it could have helped that he made an attempt to speak to people locally 🙂

  3. Actualy its not totaly safe to drink all of the water in spain. In some of the old citys (i know Barcelona specificaly has this problem) where the pipes are very old it isnt safe to drink. This is because of the high amounts of certain minerals in the pipes. While it wont hurt you to drink it a little bit it yoy need to, i wouldnt sugest only drinking it while you are there.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Marc – we didn’t run into problems in Barcelona, but everyone’s different, and sensitive stomachs might definitely run into problems from the pipe situation you’ve described. I’ll make an update to the info we have above to include your feedback. Thanks!

  4. Spain is right next to Portugal where the weather is good, the food is awesome, the prices are cheaper, most people speak English and culturally very rich as well.All travellers are welcome. Come to Lisbon, our capital city, you will not regret it!

    • I haven’t yet made it to Portugal, but have heard amazing things, and would love to get there at some stage. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Free snacks “tapa or pincho” are not a standard in all cities in Spain. Some have it others don’t.

    • Thanks for clarifying Roberto 🙂 I’ll update the post to make a note. Appreciate it!

  6. These are great tips! Thank you — wish we had known them last summer. My partner took a trip through Spain walking The Camino. He took a side trip in Madrid and I was supposed to join him, but alas, I got stopped at the airport with an unexpected passport expiration problem. We’re hoping to visit again someday.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Val! Sorry to hear that you got stopped at the airport on your first trip. Something to watch out for too is that most passports need 6 months validity on them to travel.

      Congrats to your husband for walking the Camino – that’s no easy challenge! Hope you do have the opportunity to visit someday again soon 🙂

  7. I gonna plan my trip to Spain. All your information will help me on my trip. Thanks

    keep going!

    • Awesome Justin! Glad we could help with some pre travel tips 🙂 Have a great trip!

  8. This 2018, I plan to visit Europe and Spain. For my summer holiday, I’m looking at Tenerife or Lanzarote. I came across this one article about the place. I’ve never been to either and apparently, the beaches are fantastic as well as being suitably ‘different’ to make it interesting.

    • A fabulous choice of destination for summer Daniele – I hope you have an amazing time! Let us know which one you end up visiting and what you think 🙂

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