The grandeur of a caliph’s palace, sybaritic sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches, the staccato stamp of a flamenco dancer’s heels, the awed hush of pilgrims entering the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela after weeks of walking El Camino. You can find the soul of Spain in tourist attractions such as these, which represent the country’s tumultuous history, rich culture, and enchanting natural beauty. From the sunlight playing endlessly off the “scales” of Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum and the throbbing street life of La Rambla and Plaza Mayor to the forest of columns and Moorish arches disappearing into the silent expanse of Cordoba’s Great Mosque, Spain exudes a vibrant energy and a captivating blend of past and present.
Like the traditional tapas served in Spanish restaurants, a trip to Spain is like taking little bites of things. Each bit is delicious by itself … together, the effect is like an entire meal. Spain is a collection of wonderful cities, sprawling plains, snow-capped mountains, beautiful beaches and much more.
Most tourists make their way to Madrid and Barcelona, two entirely different yet equally fascinating urban and cultural centers. But Spain’s other cities…Sevila, Bilbao, Valencia or Grenada…are equally interesting and worthy of spending time.
Many visitors come for the sun and the fun on the Costa del Sol or the Costa Brava. Lolling on the beach by day, dancing the night away under the stars, Spain’s Mediterranean coast is a sybaritic pleasure for all. Pleasure is also the main ingredient at any of the country’s many festivals and religious celebrations. Whether you run with the bulls, smash tomatoes into each other’s hair, toss babies from buildings, or watch horses race furiously around a small town square, one can’t help being pulled into the spirit and fun that is life in Spain.
Of course, Spain is also full of history, both ancient and modern. Touring the exquisite Moorish palace of Alhambra, tracing the steps of the religious pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago on the way to Santiago de Compostela, exploring the many Roman amphitheaters and baths or descending underground to view the cave paintings at Altamira, it quickly becomes evident that some portion of mankind has lived on the Iberian peninsula for thousands of years.
Just as good things come in small packages, Spain is best digested a bit at a time.
The official language is Spanish, along with Catalan, Galician and Basque. English is understood throughout Spain and in all major tourism areas.
The official currency is the Euro (€). The euro is divided by 100 cents. The U.S. dollar buys approximately € 0.88.
Voltage is 220V, 50 Hz.The electric plug has two round pins.
Internet connections and WiFi spots are found throughout the country. Most major hotels provide good accessibility.
Travellers from most Commonwealth countries (including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK), most Western European countries, Japan and the USA may enter Spain for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. A valid passport is required for entry.
Tap water throughout Spain is treated and purified and is safe to drink. Bottled water is available everywhere.
Spain is in the Central European Time zone. Spain observes daylight savings time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. During standard time, when it is noon in New York, it is 5 p.m. in Madrid; during daylight savings, when it is noon in New York, it is 6 p.m. in Madrid.
Although visitors arrive year-round, Spain’s peak tourist season is in its summer months: May through October.