Whether it's for the warm weather, siestas on lazy days, or simply taking in the sights, Spain is a gigantic open book of experiences you must not miss.
Before you arrive, it's a good idea to brush up on your knowledge of Spanish culture and acquaint yourself with ETIAS Spain requirements for US citizens.
We'll walk you through the important things you need to know about Spain before you go, from eating habits to learning the lingo. Let's begin the journey!
Learn some lingo
Even though many Spaniards can communicate in English, it isn't as common as in other European countries, so brushing up on your Spanish before going to the country is a good idea. Some common phrases like--Cuanto cuesta?/Cuanto vale? – How much is it? Donde esta el baño (ban-yo)/ Dónde están los aseos? – Where is the bathroom? Donde puedo coger (co-hair) un taxi? – Where can I find a taxi?--will prove really helpful communicating with the locals. At the same time, simple greetings (hola, buenos dias) and pleasantries (gracias) are always appreciated by locals.
Expect to eat late
In comparison to other countries, Spanish meal times are unusually late. Generally, Spaniards eat lunch between 2 and 4 pm, and dinner after 9 pm. You should be aware of meal times when dining out. It may be difficult to find restaurants open for lunch or dinner before 2 pm or 8.30 pm in many areas. Tourists can only get breakfast and lunch at 6 am and 11 am at small roadside stands. Fast-food chains in malls and street vendors, in particular, are becoming more prevalent, making it easier to get your fill of fast food.
Beware the pickpockets
As in any other country, pickpocketing is fairly common in Spain. Especially in major cities like Madrid and Barcelona, tourists are easy prey for pickpockets. Due to the high volume of tourists, these areas are notorious for pickpockets. When valuables like purses, bags, and electronic devices are stolen, it can be a hassle, which is why being watchful is critical in crowded places. Take extra precautions to protect your valuables by wearing a money belt or ensuring that your purse has a zip and is worn close to your body.
Shops are closed in the middle of the day
When planning a trip to Spain, keep in mind that some shops might be closed for midday. This happens especially in smaller towns, where salespeople typically take a long lunch break. Shops usually post a sign saying 'Corrado al medioda,' which means closed at noon for siesta or rest. In big cities, larger retailers and supermarkets are open throughout the day, but you can never be sure of finding an open shop in the middle of the day. However, stores are open later. In cities like Madrid and Barcelona, most clothing stores remain open until 10 pm.
Local wines are the best
A number of regional wines from Spain are renowned for their deep red color and distinctive aroma, including Rioja, Priorat, Ribera del Duero, and Cava. Following in the footsteps of France, the country ships a billion liters of wine around the world each year. It's a common tourist activity to visit La Rioja and sample the region's finest wines. There are hundreds of vineyards in the area dedicated to making the best Spanish wines. It's important to know that locals in Spain enjoy wine, especially those with a lot of special grapefruit in them.
Apart from the traditional paella, Spain is also famous for its delectable tapas (appetizers). Small snacks like olives and cheese are common in Spanish cuisine. Drinks in pubs and bars are frequently accompanied by a free snack, such as potato chips, a small ham sandwich, or a cheese sandwich. Tapas are small snacks served with drinks, particularly local wines and brews, and it's complimentary. If you're looking for great tapas, Granada is the place to go. However, almost any region, such as Seville and Madrid, offers free snacks to travelers.
Tipping isn’t necessary
Unlike in the US, where tipping is expected, this culture is almost non-existent in Spain. On average, customers leave restaurants and other businesses with nothing. Although tipping is not required, tourists are always welcome to leave a gratuity for the staff. A tip for a restaurant is extremely uncommon, and servers don't expect one. Locals rarely leave small change at cafés and bars, but tipping at a nice restaurant is completely voluntary. When a service exceeds your expectations, it's customary to leave at least 5 percent a gratuity.