As you daydream about stretching out on the sand and sipping cocktails, getting ready for your holiday can be almost as much fun as being there. If Spain is your getaway destination you’ll find it pretty easy to get familiar with your surroundings as English is widely spoken and tourism has been around for a while.
To help ensure you have the best possible holiday experience while visiting, take a look below at our top useful tips before you go.
Before you go – vaccinations and paperwork
Mainland Spain and beautiful coastline areas such as Costa de la Luz are some of the easiest destinations to go on holiday as you don’t need to do much planning in advance.
One thing that is definitely worthwhile getting before you leave the UK is a free European Health Insurance Card.
An EHIC card gives you free access to medical attention in public healthcare centres and hospitals during your visit on the same terms as Spanish nationals. This isn’t a replacement for full insurance cover though, so it’s advisable to have comprehensive medical and travel insurance in place.
If you require emergency assistance, you can dial 112 free of charge throughout Spain. In tourist destinations, emergency operators will be able to speak both English and Spanish.
Getting Spanish currency
The local currency in Spain is the euro which you can get in all high street banks and exchange bureaus before you leave. Once in Spain it’s also easy to exchange UK sterling or buy more euros at local exchange bureaus, most local banks, larger hotels and travel agents.
The majority of Spanish shops and restaurants will accept international credit cards and traveller’s cheques accompanied by a passport. So you’ll generally be fine if you run out of physical cash.
Time differences in Spain and the Canary Islands
There’s not much difference between UK and Spanish times, so you won’t lose any holiday time getting used to a new routine.
If you’re travelling to the Spanish mainland or Balearic Islands the time difference is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) + 1 hour in winter and GMT + 2 hours in summer. If you’re destination is the Canary Islands there is no GMT time difference in winter, so it’s the same time as in the UK. In the summer the time difference is GMT + 1 hour.
Just like in the UK, Spain changes its time between summer and winter seasons. Over the last weekend in October the clocks go back one hour, and over the last weekend in March they go forward one hour.
Using your hairdryers, laptops and electric shavers in Spain
You can use all of your newer electrical devices, such as smartphones, hair-straighteners, tablets and e-readers so you should be able to enjoy your holiday surrounded by all your usual creature comforts.
Spanish plugs use 220-240 volts and have a different shaped pins, so remember to take a travel adaptor plug with you.
Making phone calls and using the internet
You can make calls, send texts, videos and photos just as you would in the UK, so your friends and family won’t miss a moment of the fun and laughs you’re having on holiday.
Spain has extensive 4G mobile coverage, so you’ll usually be able to use your regular mobile using your own network provider’s international roaming service. Just be sure to check out your service provider’s roaming call rates and service charges before you go.
You’ll find many venues like cafes and restaurants offering free Wi-Fi connection, which make it easier for you to look up local details, as well keep up with your social media. There are also internet cafes and bars in most resort centres, so either way you can easily keep yourself connected to home.
A few words on local laws and customs
Spanish laws and customs are little different from the UK, so it’s best to be aware of some of the the key points.
It’s not unusual in Spain to be asked for photographic ID by police officers, so whenever possible keep some form of ID with you as you travel about.
Some local councils in Spain have banned the drinking of alcohol in the streets with an on-the-spot fine if this occurs. In some parts of Spain it’s also against the law to wears bikinis and swimming shorts or to go bare-chested anywhere other than on the beach.
In most tourist areas you shouldn’t have any problems, just cover up your swim gear once you leave the sand.
Travelling in cars and taxis with children
The Spanish love children, making Spain a very family-friendly destination.
They have very similar rules to the UK when it comes to children travelling in cars and taxis, but they’re still worth noting. So, if you’re driving around in Spain, be aware that it’s prohibited to carry children in your arms in vehicles, and no one under 12 years old can sit in the front without a child car-seat.
Living the Spanish Life – a personal blog written by a Dutch expat, Linda now lives in Spain and documents her adventures, complete with local reviews and recommendations.
Our Year in Spain – tales of one family who upped roots in Australia and started a new life in Granada, Spain.
One Foot in the Cave – in interesting look at some of Spain’s most impressive caves, alongside general tips and recommendations from those in the know.
Big Lovely Days in Andalucia – an inspiring and informative blog about life in Andalucia by a family who love the great outdoors, camping, beach life and gourmet food.
Bees That Buzz – documenting the highs and lows of a family of three, who recently opted for a warmer, slower pace of life by moving to Andalucia.
Piccavey – a detailed blog that centers around Spanish culture, with recommendations on things to do and places to eat from Molly — a Spanish expat of almost 20 years.
Spain is one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations, so you’re sure to have a relaxing and enjoyable stay. If you have specific queries about holidaying in Spain, take a look online at the Gov.uk’s Travelling in Spain section.
Do you have a useful tip for travelling to Spain? If so, drop us line to tell us your favourite bit of advice in the comments below.