Everything the gloabal tourist needs to know about travel in Spain




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Spain - Country, travel and tourist information.

City tours and things to do in Spain   SPAIN - TRAVEL AND DESTINATION INFORMATION

Spain is the second most-visited tourism destination in the World after France. They welcome 52 million tourists per year, according to the World Tourism Organization.

Getting to Spain from the UK as well traveling around coastal Spain and surrounding Mediterranean is best done by ferry which is fast, safe, convenient, comfortable and affordable.

Ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao and Santander
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About Spain

The Kingdom of Spain (Spanish and Galician: Reino de España; Catalan: Regne d'Espanya; Basque: Espainiako Erresuma; Occitan: Regne d'Espanha) is the larger of the two countries that make up the Iberian peninsula (the other is Portugal) located in southwestern Europe.

To the west (and, in Galicia, south), it borders Portugal. To the south, it borders Gibraltar and, through its cities in North Africa (Ceuta and Melilla), Morocco.

To the northeast, along the Pyrenees mountain range, it borders France and the tiny principality of Andorra. It also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and a number of uninhabited islands on the Mediterranean side of the strait of Gibraltar, known as Plazas de soberanía, such as the Chafarine islands, the "rocks" (peñones) of Vélez and Alhucemas, and the tiny Isla Perejil (disputed). In the Northeast along the Pyrenees, a small exclave town called Llívia in Catalonia is surrounded by French territory

Capital: Madrid
Largest City: Madrid
Official Language: Spanish
Area: 504,782 km²
Population: 44,108,530
Currency Euro: (€)² (EUR)
Time Zone: Summer (DST) CET³ (UTC+1) CEST (UTC+2)
Calling Code: +34

Spain is divided into 50 provinces, grouped into 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities with high degree of autonomy.


Map of Spain


When Best To Visit Spain

Though most foreigners tend to think Spain is a warm place, it can be terribly cold in winter, especially in the Central Region and in the North, and in some places it is also rainy in summer. Remember to travel with adequate clothes.

Spain City Tours & Activities

Ferryto.co.uk have partnered the biggest online city tour and activity agency on the Internet, Viator, to offer you access to exciting tours and activities in all major destinations around Spain.




Madrid Card 1, 2 or 3 days Starting from GBP £24.65 per person
Click here for more information. The Madrid Card offers admission to more than 40 museums, unlimited use of Madrid Vision Tour Bus (hop on / hop off), the Madrid Planetarium, all guided walk tour from the Discover Madrid Program and a guided walk - Tour of Bernabéu, Zoo-Aquarium, Cable Card and more, as well as 100 establishments with offers for shopping, restaurants, car hire, flamenco shows and much more!
Every card comes with a FREE guidebook with helpful information on the establishments associated with the card, as well as a city map - BOOK NOW!
Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain
Click here for more information and Booking Details »

Madrid Vision (Hop On Hop Off Bus) 1 or 2 day pass Starting from GBP £8.90 per person
Click here for more information. Explore Madrid using three different tour routes! See all the main sights aboard an open-top double-decker bus and with over 50 stops to choose from you can hop on and hop off all around the city. Listen to the commentary (available in eight languages) and learn interesting facts. Spend as much or as little time at places of interest before jumping aboard for the next stop - the choice is yours! Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain
Click here for more information and Booking Details »

Toledo Varies Starting from GBP £23.28 per person
Click here for more information. Discover the heritage of mankind. Introducing one of the Spain's greatest national monuments for art, history and spirituality, the glorious city of Toledo! See its many beautiful sites including the amazing thirteenth century Cathedral, medieval castle, synagogue and of course its stunning El Greco masterpieces. Book this tour and allow this mesmerizing city to capture your soul. Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain
Click here for more information and Booking Details »

Tapas Walking Tour 4 hours Starting from GBP £27.55 per person
Click here for more information. Get off the tourist track and discover what the real Madrid is all about! Benefit from our local knowledge to avoid language problems and get straight to the heart of Madrid. Discover the history and culture of the Spanish and the Madrileños whilst enjoying the local cuisine. Get hot tips on what must not be missed in the city straight from the locals' mouth! Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain
Click here for more information and Booking Details »

Panoramic Madrid and Bullfight 5 hours Starting from GBP £28.75 per person
Click here for more information. Discover Madrid in all of its magnificence! You cannot fully appreciate Spain until you've witnessed a bullfight. This is without a doubt, one of the best spectacles in Spain! Experience the anticipation of the audience, the art and skill of the bullfighter and the bravery of the bull. Can you imagine booking a trip to Spain and being told that the bullfight is sold out? What would you do?
This tour is seasonal and operates from March through to October
Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain
Click here for more information and Booking Details »

Toledo, El Escorial, Valley of the Fallen 9 hours Starting from GBP £58.19 per person
Click here for more information. Journey south to the ancient city of Toledo, once the medieval capital of Spain. Become familiar with the life of a monk as you tour El Escorial Monastery, a magnificent building founded by Philip II. At the Valley of the Fallen, spare a thought for the dead of the Spanish Civil War and take a guided tour of its big Basilica excavated inside of a mountain. All entrance fees and lunch included. Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain
Click here for more information and Booking Details »

Panoramic Madrid 3 hours Starting from GBP £11.64 per person
Click here for more information. The history of the majestic city of Madrid will come to life when you allow you guide to introduce you to its incredible past. Once an Arabian Fortress, this city is now a thriving cultural center bursting with monuments, galleries and museums. You will also see Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, home of the famous Real Madrid football team. Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain
Click here for more information and Booking Details »

Avila and Segovia 9 hours Starting from GBP £36.28 per person
Click here for more information. Join the pilgrimage to the ancient city of Avila, known for being the birthplace of the mystic writer, Saint Teresa of Jesus, as well as its ninety semicircular towers dating back to the 11th Century. The magic of this tour continues to Segovia, most renowned for its famous Alcazar, perched over a magnificent rock, it is believed to be the inspiration for Disney Castle. Book now and experience a step back in time that you'll never forget! Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain
Click here for more information and Booking Details »

Pure Flamenco at "Corral de la Moreria" 4 1/4 hours Starting from GBP £27.39 per person
Click here for more information. Be entertained with a performance by Madrid's flamenco stars and relish in the sensual atmosphere that only this beautiful and passionate dance can create! Before the show begins, you will be introduced to Madrid's monuments lazily bathing in the Spanish moonlight and admire the floodlit fountains which will inspire you with their exquisiteness! Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain
Click here for more information and Booking Details »

Toledo by AVE 5 or 8 1/2 hours Starting from GBP £28.36 per person
Click here for more information. Travel to Toldeo on Spain's High Speed Network - AVE to the city of Toldeo. Toledo is a city that once visited, never ceases to rest in the imagination.The fortified city built on a hill overlooking the Tagus River is without a doubt one of the densest monumental cities in the world. Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain
Click here for more information and Booking Details »

Spanish Tourist information, tours and activities in Spain

Other Interesting Tourist Destinations in Spain
(Click on the city name below for more information)

Costa del Sol
Gran Canaria
Santiago de Compostela

More About Spain

Shopping In Spain

Spain is part of the European Union and the Eurozone; as such it replaced Spanish pesetas with the Euro (symbol: €) in the year 2002. Since it has been only a few years since the introduction of Euro cash, a few people will still use the old national currency names. For example, it is entirely possible that a Spaniard would still refer to peseta. They mean Euros and Cents, so just mentally substitute the two.

Do not expect anybody to accept other types of currency, or to be willing to exchange currency. An exception are shops and restaurants at airports. These will generally accept at least US Dollars at a slightly worse exchange rate. If you wish to exchange money, you can do so at any bank, where you can also cash in your traveller's cheques. Currency exchanges, once a common sight, have all but disappeared since the introduction of the Euro. Again, international airports are an exception to this rule.

Credit cards are well accepted. Most ATMs will allow you to withdraw money with your credit card, but you'll need to know your card's PIN for that. Notice many Spanish stores will ask for your passport, driving license or ID card before accepting your credit card. Athough somehow awkward for people from Eurozone countries that do not have an ID Card, this measure helps avoid credit card robbery.

Eating in Spain

Spanish are very passionate about their food and wine and Spanish cuisine is home of the world famous Paella. Spanish food can be described as quite light with a lot of vegetables and a huge variety of meat and fish. The Spanish cuisine does not use many spices; it relies only on the use of high quality ingredients to give a good taste.

  • Bars and Fast Food

The entry level to Spanish food is found in bars. Often you find a variety of different tapas and bars often specialize on some tapas. A Spanish custom is to have one tapa and one small drink and then go to the next bar and do the same. Tourists are easily spotted when they load their plates full of tapas. Fast food has not yet established a strong grip on the Spaniards and you will find McDonalds and BB only in bigger towns in the usual places. Pizza is increasingly popular and you will find some outlets in bigger towns as well.

  • Restaurants

Restaurants deliver a wide range of food and in coastal areas seafood deserves some attention, especially in the north Atlantic coast. Spanish are very concerned about the freshness of seafood and it can happen that you place an order and the waiter tells you that he can not serve this dish, because they did not receive this particular seafood freshly on the day. It is very unlikely to find dishes that had been prepared from frozen fish in real Spanish restaurant. Obviously so much freshness has its toll and seafood is quite pricy. Meat products are usually of very good quality, because Spain had maintained a quiet high percentage of free range animal. A speciality is "jamon iberico" from free range pigs.

  • Restaurant Service

Despite the good food the service in Spain is often lousy and waiters seem to be not very skilled in their profession or least they are not bothered about anything. Double that for touristy place, when you are a foreigner, and / or you are not fluent in Spanish. On the contrary I have found almost all Spanish waiters friendly and competent. As a non Spanish speaker I find them most helpful and always willing to help especially if you are trying to learn a few words of their language which they appreciate.

  • Tipping in Spain

A little tip is common and you are free to increase that if you are very pleased, but obviously you don’t have to tip a lousy waiter. Large tips are uncommon and are not expected. You would typically leave the small change after paying with a note.

  • Restaurant Special Offers

Many restaurants in Spain offer a lunch time menu for a fixed price and this often works out as a bargain. It is quite common that water and wines are included in the fixed deal. This is usually called in Spanish "menú del día".

  • Lunch and Dinner Times in Spain

Spaniards have a slightly different timetable than most people are used to: the main lunch time starts at around 2 pm. Most shops and public offices will also close from 1.30 pm to 4.30 or 5 pm, excluding those located in large malls or belonging to big stores. Dinnertime starts at around 9 or 10 pm so don’t be surprised that a restaurant looks completely deserted at 8 pm and crowded at 11 pm.

  • Spanish Food

Typical Spanish food can be found all over the country, however top tourist destinations such as Costa Brava and Costa del Sol have turned all existing traditions upside down. Meaning that drinks are generally more expensive (about double) and it is difficult to find proper Spanish food in the tourist centres. However you will get Schnitzel, original English breakfast, Pizza, Doner, frozen fish and all the good things that modern society has invented to supersize you.

However, if you are prepared to look a little harder then even in the busiest tourist towns, you can find some exceptional traditional Spanish restaurants. If you are on the coast then think fish and seafood and you wont be disappointed.

Typical Spanish dishes are:

Marisco”: Shellfish. Best shellfish in the world you can eat in the province of Pontevedra.
Calamares en su tinta”: Squid in its ink.
Chorizo”: Spain's most popular sausage is made from pork, ham, salt, garlic and pepper and is produced in multitude of varieties, in different sizes, shapes, short and long, spicy, in all different shades of red, soft, air dried and hard or smoked. Be careful: this kind of sausage may keep repeating on you.
Fabada asturiana”: bean stew from Asturias
Gambas pil pil”: a little prawn with garlic and chilli
Gazpacho Andaluz”: cold vegetable soup
Merluza a la Vizcaina” : The Spanish are not very fond of sauces. One of the few exception is merluza a la Vasca. The dish contains hake (fish of the cod family) prepared with white asparagus and green peas.
Morcilla” - sausages made from pig blood flavoured with anise, it comes as a fresh, smoked or air dried variety.
Aceitunas, Olivas”: Often served for nibbling, they are the fruit of olive tree.
Lentejas Españolas”: A dish made from lentils with chorizo sausage and/or Serrano ham.
Paella”: famous rice dish originally from Valencia and now eaten all over Spain.
Pimientos rellenos”: filled peppers stuffed with minced meat or seafood. The peppers in Spain taste different than all other peppers in Europe.
Potaje de espinacas y garbanzos”: chick pea stew with spinach
Jamón Serrano”: (=Serrano ham) An air cured ham similar to Italian Parma Ham
Tortilla de patatas”: probably the most popular dish in Spain. You can easily assess how good a restaurant is by having a small piece of “Tortilla de patatas”.

Bars In Spain

Probably one of the best places to meet people in Spain is in bars. Everyone visits them and they are always busy and sometimes bursting with people. There are no age restriction imposed to enter these premises. They are mainly to have drink or a small tapa. Usually Spaniards can control their drink better than their northern European fellows and drunk people are rarely seen here or on the streets.

  • Beer - The Spanish beer is not too bad at all and well worth a try. Most popular local brands include San Miguel, Cruzcampo, Mahou and many others, including local brands at most cities; import beers are also available. In Spain, beer is often served from a tap in 25 cl ("caña") or 33 cl ("tubo") tube glasses. Bigger servings are rare, but you can also ask for a "corto", "zurito" (round the Basque country) or simply "una cerveza" (south of the country) to get a half size beer, perfecto to drink in one go and get quickly to the next bar while having tapas.

  • Cava - Cava is Spanish sparkling wine and was invented after a long lasting dispute with the French about the right name for the sparkling wine. The Spanish called it for a long time champan, but the French argued that champagne can made only from grapes grown in the Champagne region in France. Nevertheless, Cava is a quite successful sparkling wine and 99% of the production comes from the area around Barcelona.

  • Sangria - Sangria is drink made of wine and fruits and usually is made from simple wines. You will find sangria mainly in touristy places prepared for tourists. Spanish prepare sangria for fiestas only and not every day as seen in Mallorca. Best avoided unless you are very sad!

  • Sherry (Fino) - The wines around Jerez are very high in alcohol and they produce the famous sherry. If you would like to have one in a bar you have to order a fino.

  • Wine - Spain is a country with great wine-making traditions: 22% of Europe's wine growing area is located in Spain, however the production is about half of what the French produce. The most famous wines come from Rías Baixas (province of Pontevedra), Rioja and from Ribera del Duero. The later ones are becoming more and more popular and are slightly more expensive than Rioja wines. White, rose and red wines are produced, but the red wines are certainly the most important ones. Spanish wines are produced with time and they have been in a oak barrel for at least one year (Crianza) and then another two years in a bottle, Reservas are first released after five years and Gran Reservas leave the wine estate after 10 years. Spain has seen a tremendous rise in wine prices over the last decade and Spanish wines are not any more such a bargain as they were one decade before. However you will still find 5, 10 and 20 year old wines for affordable prices.

To order a red wine in a bar you have to ask for a "un tinto por favor", white wine "un blanco por favor" and last not least rose "un rosado por favor".

Young people in Spain have developed their own way to have wine. When having "botellones" (big outdoor parties with drink and lots of people from the same town), most of them will be mixing some red wine with coke and drink such mix straight from the coke bottle. The name of this drink is "calimocho" or "kalimotxo" (depending on the part of the country you're in) and is really very popular... But don't ask for it while in an upper class bar, or among adults, since they will most certainly not approve the idea!

Accommodation (Paradores) in Spain

A parador (meaning: inn) is a state owned hotel in Spain (rating from 3 to 5 stars). These are a chain of hotels founded in 1910 by the Spanish King Alfonso XIII.

The unique aspects of Paradores are their location and their history. Most are in historical buildings, like convents, Moorish castles (like La Alhambra), haciendas,...

Paradores are the exact opposite of the uncontrolled development found in coastal regions like the Costa del Sol. Hospitality has been harmoniously integrated with the restoration of castles, palaces and convents, rescuing from ruin and abandonment monuments representative of Spain's historical and cultural heritage.

For example the Parador in Santiago de Compostella is located next to the Cathedral in a former royal hospital built in the year 1499. Rooms are decorated in an old-fashioned way, but nevertheless have modern facilities. Other notable Paradores are in Arcos de la Frontera, Ronda, Santillana del Mar (Altamira cave) as well as more than 100 other destination all over Spain.

Paradores will serve breakfast (ca 10 euro) and often have very good local cuisine typical for their region (ca 25 euro).

Accommodation prices are a good value, when you consider that the hotels are often found in the heart of scenic areas, varying from 85 euro's a double room to 245 euro's for a twin room (like in Granada). Two of the most beautiful paradors are in Léon and Santiago de Compostella.

There are some promotions available:

60+ can enjoy a discount.
youngsters under 30 can visit the paradors at a fixed rate of 35 euro per person.
two nights half board have a discount of 20%.
a dreamweek of 6 nights is cheaper.
5 nights at 42 euro's per person.
The promotions do not always apply, especially in August, they are not valid. It's not possible to have a discount at the parador of Granana, which had no vacancies, unless you book at least 6 months before your arrival.

For more information visit http://www.parador.es/english/index.jsp

There are also plenty of hostals in Spain , mostly in Madrid. Prices can vary from 15 to 25 euros the night.

Click here for conventional hotels in Spain or here for Youth / Backpacker Hostels and private hotels.

Spain Country and Geography

Map of Spain

Spain is a constitutional monarchy, with a hereditary monarch and a bicameral parliament, the Cortes Generales or National Assembly. The executive branch consists of a Council of Ministers presided over by the President of Government (comparable to a prime minister), proposed by the monarch and elected by the National Assembly following legislative elections.

Mainland Spain is dominated by high plateaus and mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees or the Sierra Nevada. Running from these heights are several major rivers such as the Tajo, the Ebro, the Duero, the Guadiana and the Guadalquivir. Alluvial plains are found along the coast, the largest of which is that of the Guadalquivir in Andalusia, in the east there are alluvial plains with medium rivers like Segura, Júcar and Turia. Spain is bound to the east by Mediterranean Sea (containing the Balearic Islands), to the north by the Bay of Biscay and to its west by the Atlantic Ocean, where the Canary Islands off the African coast are found.

Spain's climate can be divided in four areas:

The Mediterranean: mostly temperate in the eastern and southern part of the country; rainy seasons are spring and autumn. Mild summers with pleasant temperatures. Hot records: Murcia 47.2 °C, Malaga 44.2 °C, Valencia 42.5 °C, Alicante 41.4 °C, Palma of Mallorca 40.6 °C, Barcelona 39.8 °C. Low records: Gerona -13.0 °C, Barcelona -10.0 °C, Valencia -7.2 °C, Murcia -6.0 °C, Alicante -4.6 °C, Malaga -3.8 °C.

The Interior: Very cold winters (frequent snow in the north) and hot summers. Hot records: Sevilla 47.0 °C, Cordoba 46.6 °C, Badajoz 45.0 °C, Albacete and Zaragoza 42.6 °C, Madrid 42.2 °C, Burgos 41.8 °C, Valladolid 40.2 °C. Low records: Albacete -24.0 °C, Burgos -22.0 °C, Salamanca -20.0 °C, Teruel -19.0 °C, Madrid -14.8 °C, Sevilla -5.5 °C.

Northern Atlantic Coast: precipitations mostly in winter, with mild summers (slightly cold). Hot records: Bilbao 42.0 °C, La Coruña 37.6 °C, Gijón 36.4 °C. Low records: Bilbao -8.6 °C, Oviedo -6.0 °C, Gijon and La Coruña -4.8 °C.

The Canary Islands: subtropical weather, with mild temperatures (18 °C to 24 °C Celsius) throughout the year. Hot records: Santa Cruz de Tenerife 42.6 °C. Low records: Santa Cruz de Tenerife 8.1 °C.

Most Populous Metropolitan Areas in Spain

Madrid 5,843,041
Barcelona 4,686,701
Valencia 1,623,724
Sevilla 1,317,098
Málaga 1,074,074

Spanish Territorial Disputes

Territories claimed by Spain - Spain has called for the return of Gibraltar, a tiny British possession on its southern coast. It was conquered during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704 and was ceded to Britain in perpetuity in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. An overwhelming majority of Gibraltar's 30 000 inhabitants want to remain British, as they have repeatedly proven in Referendums regarding this issue. The UN resolutions (2231 (XXI) and 2353 (XXII)) call on the UK and Spain to reach an agreement to finish the colonial status of Gibraltar. According to Spain, these resolutions overule the Treaty of Utrecht. Besides, the current extension of Gibraltar does not correspond to that of the Treaty. Gibraltar is officially a non-self governing territory or colony according to the UN.

Spanish territories claimed by other countries - Morocco claims the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla and the uninhabited Vélez, Alhucemas, Chafarinas, and Perejil islands, all on the Northern coast of Africa. Morocco points out that those territories were obtained when Morocco could not do anything to prevent it and has never signed treaties ceding them. Spain claims that these territories are integral parts of Spain and have been Spanish or linked to Spain since before the Islamic invasion of Spain in 711 and returned to Spanish rule only a few years after the conquest of Granada. Spain claims that Morocco's only claim on these territories is geographical. Parallelism with Egyptian ownership of the Sinai (in Asia) or Turkish ownership of Istambul (in Europe) is often used to support the Spanish position.

Portugal does not recognize Spain's sovereignty over the territory of Olivenza. Portuguese claim the Treaty of Vienna (1815), to which Spain was a signatory, stipulated return of the territory to Portugal. Spanish allege the Treaty of Vienna left unaffected the Treaty of Badajoz which gave the territory to Spain and just encouraged the parties to reach a diplomatic settlement.

Spain Coat of Arms


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