1. When’s the best time to visit Spain?
It depends on what you want to visit and whether you want to battle the crowds.
Southern Spain is almost always sunny, but you’ll fry in the summer months—it’s that hot. Typically, the summer months are also much more crowded than the off-season. The shoulder seasons (spring and fall) and the winter are less crowded and hotels are a lot cheaper, but the weather up north can be unpredictable and wet.
2. What currency does Spain use and can I use a credit card?
The currency in Spain is the Euro (€) and yes, most shops, restaurants, and hotels take major credit cards.
You can exchange your money for euros before you leave or use banks (for the best rate), foreign exchange bureaus or deluxe hotels to exchange your money in larger cities. You can use a debit card at any ATM to get euros, but play it safe and use ATMs in banks—like anywhere else, ATMs on the street are vulnerable to tampering. Make sure to have some euros with you to make small purchases or for places where they don’t take credit cards.
3. Is there free WiFi in Spain?
Yes. Many towns have free WiFi at public squares. Cafes and hotels will also have free WiFi, but you will have to get the password.
4. What’s Spain’s weather like?
Generally, the weather in Spain is great but will vary greatly from region to region.
The interior of Spain has a more continental-influenced climate. They have hot, dry summers and cold winters with rain in the spring and fall. The northern part of the country along the Atlantic Ocean has warm summers and mild winters with quite a bit of rain in the fall and winter. The southern Mediterranean coast enjoys more sunshine and less rain than the north of the country and summers can be extremely hot. It’s always wise to use a weather app to check the forecast for your destination.
5. My Spanish is really rusty, is that going to be a problem?
Not really. Learning a few basic words of Spanish always comes in handy. Many Spaniards don’t speak English at all, except in popular tourist areas. You can seek out help from younger Spaniards because they learn some English at school. You can also use Google Translate on your phone to get around.
Here are some of the words that you need to know in the Spanish language.
a. Good morning - Buenos Dias
b. Hello – Hola
c. Bus - autobus
d. Train - Entrenar
6. How do I get around Spain?
There are so many ways you can get around Spain.
The country has a safe and reliable public transportation system. You have your choice of Renfe (Spain’s excellent rail system), buses, the Metro (in the major cities), airlines and more. Taxis are readily available in many cities. Spain’s national train network (Renfe) is often the best way to get from city to city
a. Renfe, Spain’s national train network, is quick, reliable, and affordable. It offers a variety of options including high-speed, regular, and suburban train lines.
Renfe’s high-speed train is called AVE (Alta Velocidad) and runs between major cities. If you take the AVE from Barcelona to Madrid, you can cover the 311 miles in just 2 hours 40 minutes—and it’ll only cost €50.
Make sure you book your tickets in advance (they are a lot cheaper), especially for AVE trains where reservations may be required.
b. Coach buses - There are tons of amazing towns throughout Spain that don’t have train stations—luckily, coach buses in Spain are widespread and much more comfortable and reliable than those in the US.
ALSA is the biggest bus company in Spain and has a reputation for great service. ALSA runs between major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia, and León as well as small towns in every region in the country. A trip from Barcelona to Madrid will take you about 8 hours non-stop and will cost about €24.
Rental cars are always an option, but there are some things to consider
Renting a car is a great way to get around Spain, but it has its drawbacks. If you come from a non-EU country, you’ll need an International Driver's Permit (which you can get through AAA).
The largest highways in Spain (with the highest speed limits) are autovías.
Autovías are denoted by an “A” at the beginning of the road number.
Toll roads are called autopistas, and are denoted by an “AP” at the beginning of the road number. Make sure to have cash or credit card to pay for tolls.
c. Metro - There are metros in most major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Valencia. In Spain, metro tickets and passes let you travel on all types of public transportation, from city buses to suburban trains.
Spanish metros are known for their cleanliness and reliability. Though crime is very rare, you should always be aware of your surroundings and be on the lookout for pickpockets—especially using the Madrid Metro (check out this article on Safety in Spain for more info).
Here are some typical metro fares:
Madrid: €2.00 per journey for most lines or €18.30 for a bonometro (which is valid for 10 journeys across any station in the Metro network).
Barcelona: €2.20 for a single trip in one zone, or €10.20 for a bonometro.
Valencia: €1.50 for a single trip in one zone or €7.60 for a bonometro.
d. Uber - You can get an Uber in Madrid, but Barcelona has banned Uber from operating in the city. Currently, Lyft does not operate outside of the US and Canada, so rideshare app options are limited.
e. Taxis - The best advice is to use a licensed taxi to get around. These can be hailed anywhere in major cities, though in smaller towns you will have to call them. Taxis in most major cities do accept cards.
f. MyTaxi - To call a taxi to your location without the stress of finding and hailing one, try the MyTaxi app. It also eliminates cash-vs-credit issues since you pay with the app.
g. Scooter - Renting a scooter to get around Spain may seem like a good idea, but you will need to have all your ducks in a row before hopping on a Vespa. Most significantly, you’ll need an international driver’s license and some experience riding a scooter or motorcycle. Additionally, you’ll be sharing the road with some pretty aggressive drivers, so be careful!