If you’ve been thinking about going to Spain…
Let us help you tick the boxes!
So you’re going on a Holiday in Spain? That’s great!
As a Spaniard, I would have to say that Spain is not just about the sunshine and party place like the most people have in mind. Spain has a lot more to offer than that…. the atmosphere, the vibe, the people, the culture, the food… all of these elements is what makes Spain special …very special.
So take a break and continue reading this post because I’m going to give you some essential tips that you should know before your trip.
Here goes! 😉
1. Many Distinct Cultures in One:
Spain is a multi-cultural country divided in 17 regions: the main land, two different groups of islands (Balearic and Canary Islands), and Ceuta and Melilla situated in the north of Morocco.
Every region could be a country of its own with its own traditions, different typical food, different lifestyle, different accent from one region to another, and even different languages depending of the area (Catalan, Valencia, Basque, Galician…). As native English speakers, you may take a while to notice the different accents.
2. Spanish People Speak Loud:
Yes we do! 🙂
It’s part of our culture. People in Mediterranean countries tend to talk louder and we have more physical contact, as well as smaller personal space. Also we use hand-gestures when we talk. And when we meet with someone, we give 2 kisses (one in each cheek) and we like to give hugs to people we are familiar with!
Some people say its because of the weather!!! The interaction outdoors is a norm in Mediterranean countries and also in Latin America. For example: Young boys playing on the streets, with cars passing…, Teens meet and hangout at the beach, with the sounds of the sea…, and so on.
3. Spaniards Love to Socialise:
Yes, this is very true!
There’s always a good excuse to go out to do something. Thanks again to our good weather, we spend a lot of time outdoors, and always with people… family, friends, neighbours or even friends-of-friends.
And also Spanish people like to stay out till late. In Spain, we have a different sense of time compared to the other European countries. When I arrived to England, I was shocked to see that almost everything close very early (about at 6pm??), and the commercial or shopping districts are totally empty…
In Spain people normally finish work about 8 – 9 pm, so we usually go out after this. And on weekends, teens and the younger crowd meetup to go out after 11 pm.
4. Spanish Meal times
Also our meal times are later than in the most of the countries.
When we wake up and before to go to work or going out, we would have breakfast (about at 8 – 10 am). Our lunch is about at 2 – 3 pm. And Breakfast isn’t our main meal…. it’s the lunch! And the dinner is about at 9 – 10 pm.
5. Shop or business hours
In Spain the shops, supermarkets, offices and other business in general… have what we call “split-shift”. This means the shops open in the morning (9am until 2pm), close during a couple or three hours, and open again in the evening (5 – 9 pm).
Yes, during at 2pm until at 5pm you’ll see almost everything would be closed in most areas. This is because in Spain people would go home to have lunch with the family. For us, the family unity is very important and it’s part of our culture.
6. Eat Free “Tapas”
In many bars (or pubs) in Spain (depending on the area), you can order a drink and you’ll get a free “tapa” (tapas). It’s a small snack to eat while you drink, and yes it’s free!
If you order a few drinks, you’ll get full with the free food and you won’t need to eat at home! hehehe.
In the north of Spain, tapas are called “Pintxos”. But these cost around 2€ because they are more sophisticated but they are really good. If you are visiting the Basque Country, you should to try it!
And do you know that Spain has the most bars in the world versus population? Yes, we do!
Last year (in 2018), there were a total of 260,000 bars. That is, one bar for every 175 people! Told you so, we love to go out, right? 😉
And speaking about bars…, in Spain, it’s not mandatory to leave a ‘tip’ like in other countries. Of course you can leave some coins if the service was good. The waiter would be happy for your tips! hehehe. But it’s not compulsory…
7. Affordable Country
Spain is a lot cheaper if you compare it with the most of the European Countries or North America. So it’s a very affordable Country for most tourist. Of course, in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona, or touristic areas like Balearic Islands are much more expensive than the rural areas.
8. Summer in Spain is very HOT
Yes, it’s hot… very HOT!
The summer months (June-August), the entire country can be very warm, especially the southern regions of Spain. Cities like Seville, Cordoba, Ciudad Real, Albacete… its dry-heat and could be as hot as 45degC (or 115degF for you Americans). So, if you’re not used to this kind of heat, avoid visiting Spain in summer… 😉
Every year there are hundreds of Festivals around the country. Almost all of them are in Spring and Summer that every single town has its own festival or even more than one.
The most popular ones :
Colourful and rhythmic carnival is the most extravagant party in all of Spain, but the celebrations in Tenerife and Cadiz are the most popular attracting thousands of people every year.
The Fallas (Valencia):
The most explosive party celebrated in Valencia city during one week in the middle of March. Gigantic, colourful statues and figures fill the city’s squares and streets. They are often satirical and reference political or pop-culture events that happened throughout the year, but each and every one of them is unique.
Los Sanfermines (Pamplona):
The fiestas of San Fermin are celebrated in Pamplona, in the region of Navarra, every year from the 6th to the 14th of July. They have become internationally famous from the bull-runs, where the bulls are lead through the streets of the old quarters as far as the bull-ring by the runners.
Ever felt like throwing a tomato to someone? Here you can!
This crazy tradition started 70 years ago in a Town called Buñol (Valencia). It takes place every last Wednesday of August. Thousands of attendees throw tomatoes at each other during the most fun event of the year. The number of participants is limited to 20,000, which seems a lot, but tickets are sold out really fast!
Cordoba Patios Festival:
The festival takes place every year at the beginning of May in Cordoba city. During this time the owners of the most beautiful and colourful patios that are normally closed, open up their courtyards for the public to visit.
The April Fair of Seville:
The fair starts with the traditional lighting of the entrance to the fairgrounds at midnight, and there’s a week where the city would be filled with entertainment, colours, and the best of Andalusian art such as flamenco (it means flamingo in translation, the dancers moves in a flamingo-like motion -don’t they?).
Fair of Jerez (Cadiz):
Celebrated during one week also in May. You’ll find joyous celebrations, flamenco performances, the best of Andalusian gastronomy and of course lots of horses! That’s very popular in this town.
Fair of Malaga:
Celebrated during one week in mid-August. The city centre will host the fair during the day, the more traditional part with street markets, music and traditional dances. The fair during the night takes place just outside the city, with attractions, food stalls and dance tents.
10. Currency in Spain
Spain, as member of the European Union, we trade and use Euros as a main currency (€).
Most of Spain is Catholic. About all people in the south are more religious than in the north. And of course, old people are also more traditional comparing to the younger people.
Easter is a big celebration in Spain. The Holy Week, which takes place during Easter, is an entire week filled with processions and other religious celebrations.
The brotherhoods of the most important churches spend months in advance practicing their processes, resulting in a solemn and awesome experience. Dozens of men and women march through the streets, carrying the statue of their church’s patron saint, flanked by hundreds of candles.