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flag Spain Spain: Practical information

In this page: Accommodation | Eating Out | Getting Around | Time and Time Difference | Climate | Electrical Standards and Measurement Systems | Paying | Speaking | Emergency Numbers | Communications

 

Accommodation

Parador
These are hotels in a special setting and in historical buildings: castles, mansions, convents and monasteries, etc. These hotels are generally expensive.
Paradores
Hotel
Ranked from 1 to 5 stars.
Hotels.com
Hostales, pensiones, hospedajes, casas de huéspedes
Inn or guesthouse type. Basic facilities but attractive prices. The hostales do not provide breakfast.
Hostales.org, Infohostal.com, Guiadepensiones.com, Hospedajesydominios.com
Country houses
Country houses offer some services.
Ruralgest, Casasrurales.info,
Apartments or tourist homes
Rented furnished and fully-equipped but without services.
Terreespagne.com, Vacaciones-España, Rentalia
Hotel Rules
All hotels are non-smoking. Some areas and/or rooms are sometimes reserved for smokers. If the reservations are made directly, a written confirmation is required with a credit card number and expire date. Checkout time is usually noon. Prices are per room per night. VAT is included in the price.
For Further Information
Ministry of Tourism
 

Price Indications

Economy Room 25 to 40 EUR
Medium Price Room 40 to 70 EUR
Good Quality Room from 70 EUR

Source: Lonely Planet

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Eating Out

Categories of Restaurant
 
  • Tapas bar
Here people eat at the counter or standing. Prices are more or less expensive depending on the tapas.
  • Mesón
Typical Spanish cuisine: home-made and not expensive.
  • Comedor
Restaurant of a hotel or a bar, typical Spanish cuisine at affordable prices.
  • Restaurants
Restaurants of all types, from traditional cuisine to international cuisine. More or less expensive depending on the restaurant.
  • Marisqueri­a
Restaurants where only fish-based dishes or seafood are served.
  • Restaurants serving regional cuisine
Each region has a traditional type restaurant serving regional specialties. Regional specialties are eaten and in general there is only one menu at a reasonable price.
Rules For Eating Out
Timings: 13:30 to 16:00 and 20:30 to 23:00, except in tourist areas where the restaurants open much earlier.
The Spanish menu consists of an initial course (rice, pasta, dry vegetables, mixed salad), a second course (fish or meat) and a dessert (rarely cheese). The prices are usually listed without VAT. Bread is billed separately.
 

Price Indications

Economy Meal 6 to 11 EUR
Medium Price Meal 12 to 17 EUR
Good Quality Meal from 18 EUR
 
Food Specialties
Traditional Spanish cuisine has a country base with distinct regional specialties.

Fried squids, gazpacho and tapas.

Caldereta: Lamb stew: Shepherd's dish. It is an adaptable dish allowing all types of local ingredients like wine, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, red and green peppers and garlic to be added. In the old recipes of Extremadure, the cooking juice is thickened with dried bread-crumbs, lamb liver and almonds, mixed up with a meat stock to make a sort of dough.

Paëlla: typical saffron rice-based Spanish dish accompanied with seafood and meat or poultry.

Churros: In Spain, the churros are part of the popular tradition. The dough is generally molded in a decorating tube with a star-shaped nozzle to make arm-length strips. Once they are fried, they are stacked and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon in cascade. They are eaten with hot and thick chocolate (Spain has obtained a waiver from the EU to be able to continue making chocolate containing a thickening agent).
Drinks
The quality of the numerous Spanish wines is constantly improving.
The main labels of quality are: Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorat, Toro, Ribeiro, Rias Baixas, Albarino, etc. Catalogne prepares large quantities of a Champagne method sparkling wine labeled « cava ». The Andalusian cherries are known for their variety: fino, oloroso, amontillado, manzanilla, Pedro Ximenez. There are special spirits: anisette, Pacharan and fruit liqueur. Asturias produce cider and Pays Basque du Txacoli (white wine).
Dietary Restrictions
 Rabbit, horse meat and snails are eaten only in some regions of Spain. It is rare to eat raw shellfish.
Table Manners
Continental table manners are followed. What is considered « good » table manners is not common in the average Spanish homes.

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Getting Around

Means of Transport Recommended in Town

Recommendation
It is recommended to use taxis (plenty, well signposted and affordable). It is necessary to have sufficient knowledge of the city beforehand to use the mass transport. The cities usually have a very good bus network.
Maps of Urban Networks
Madrid metro map
Barcelona metro map
Barcelona transport map
Valencia transport map
Urban Transport Agencies
Metropolitan Transports of Barcelona
Urban Transports of Seville
Find an Itinerary
Find a schedule to Madrid
Find a schedule to Barcelona
Taxi Companies
Spaintaxireservations
 

Transportation From Airport to City Centre:


Airport

Distance

Taxi

Bus

Train

Car Rental
Madrid - Barajas (MAD) 13 km / 8 miles EUR 17-23 / 20-30 min EUR 1.10 EUR 2 Available
Barcelona - El Prat (BCN) 13 km / 8 miles EUR 13-50 / 25-35 min EUR 2.80 / 30-40 min EUR 2.40 Available
 

Means of Transport Recommended in the Rest of the Country

Recommendation
Apart from the high-speed lines, it is better to avoid rail transport since it is slow and often behind schedule. Domestic airline services are aplenty but crowded and flight departure delays are frequent. The bus transit network is dense, reliable and affordable.
Rail Companies
RENFE (Entire Spanish territory)
FGC (Catalonia)
FGV (Valencia)
Euskotren (Basque Country)
 

Airlines

Name Type Domestic Flights International Flights
Iberia Major yes Yes
Air Europa Major yes Yes
Spanair low cost yes Yes
Vueling low cost yes Yes

You Can Consult The EU Air Safety List. Look Also at the rating of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

 
 
 

Travelling By Yourself

Recommendation
The road network is excellent. The major cities are served by turnpikes (AP - autopistas de peaje) or free expressways (A-autovías). The police is very strict about respecting speed limits. Fines are very high and foreigners must pay immediately in cash. Impounding for wrong parking is systematic. It is compulsory to have a fluorescent vest inside the car (and not in the trunk) and also two hazard warning triangles.
Driver's License
Considered valid in Spain are the driver's license:
- of EU nationals,
- issued by other countries in accordance with rider 9 of the Geneva Convention or with rider 6 of the Vienna Convention, for the essential sections,
- issued in the Spanish language or accompanied with an official translation,
- international driving permits issued abroad in accordance with rider 10 of the Geneva Convention or in the model of rider E of the International Convention of Paris,
- recognized by bilateral agreements between Spain and the country of origin.
Conditions For Renting a Vehicle
Normally, the minimum age to rent a car is 21 years. It is also necessary to have a driver's license (valid in Spain and within the validity period) and a credit card acceptable by the renter.
Rental Agencies
Europcar
Avis
Hertz
Atesa
Easycar (low cost)
Tolls or Taxes
The tolls on the turnpikes (AP) vary according to the dealers and are revised annually.
Road Maps
Road network map
Find an Itinerary
Via Michelin
Traffic Conditions Online
Director General of Traffic (in Spanish)
Parking Facilities
Parking in the large cities is regulated and very difficult. Violations are punished severely. Rather than parking anywhere and risk impounding, it is better to use a public or private (hotels) parking if it is available. New legislation requires the owners to bill by the minute. To locate parking lots, visit Guia Campsa or Michelin Guide.
 

Rules of the Road

Minimum Driving Age
18 years (16 years for driving with a companion after a written test).
Side of the Road For Driving
Right
Speed Limits
Barring a few exceptions, road signs and markings are duly provided: speed limit is 50 in city, 90 on roads, 120 on freeways or expressways.
Safety Belts
Compulsory in both the front and back seats of the vehicle.
Permitted Amount of Alcohol in the Blood
0.25 mg/l of exhaled air for ordinary drivers
0.15 mg/l of exhaled air for professional drivers
National Roads Organizations
Director General of Traffic (DGT)

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Time and Time Difference

Current Local Time
It is %T:%M %A In Madrid
Summer Time
Summer time from March to October.
 

Map of the Time Zone

Time zone

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Climate

 
Type of Climate
Spain has a varied climate depending on the regions. It is mostly oceanic climate in the north, Mediterranean not to say dry climate in the south and a continental climate in the rest of the country. The seasons are more distinct in the heart of the country. Average temperatures in Madrid are 8°C in January and 27°C in June and in Barcelona 9°C in January and 20°C in June. The best time to visit Spain is from mid-May to mid-October.
For Further Information
Spanish meteorology agency
 

Average Annual Temperatures and Rainfall

 

Climate

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Electrical Standards and Measurement Systems

System of Measurement Used
Metric system
Unit of Measurement of Temperature
Degree Celsius (°C)
 

Use our service Measurement Converter.

 
Electricity
 
  • Voltage
230 V
  • Frequency
50Hz
Type of Electric Socket
Type C and F.
Type of Telephone Socket
RJ-11
DVD Zoning
Zone 2

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Paying

Domestic Currency
Euro
ISO Code
EUR
To Obtain Domestic Currency
The easiest is to directly withdraw money from the ATMs. There are many of them easily accessible in the airports, downtown and in all areas. 
Possible Means of Payment
All credit cards are easily accepted in the hotels, restaurants (except the very small ones and the bars) and businesses, except American Express. Taxis which accept credit card payment are rare. It is not possible to pay by checks other than certified checks. The Spanish have the habit of paying by cash; it is common to see people with wads of bills. If you want to pay by credit card, you will be asked to show an identity card.
 

To Find a Cash Machine Where You Need, Use the ATM locator

 

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Speaking

Official Language
Castilian (Spanish)
Other Languages Spoken
Some regions use their regional language for conducting business (Euskera, Catalan, Galician, Valencian). Other minor regional languages can be used: Bable, Aragonese, Aranese, Extremaduran.
Business Language
Spanish.
English is rarely used but it is developing.
Getting Some Knowledge
Use the travlang website.
Free Translation Tools
Dictionarios.com : Translation from Spanish to English, German, French or Italian as well as to Euskera, Catalan or Galician.

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Emergency Numbers

Fire Department 080
Guardia Civil (Regional police) 062
National Police 091
Civilian welfare (including medical emergencies) 112
Medical emergencies (in Catalonia) 061

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Communications

Quality of Communications
Means of communication in Spain are developed and cover the entire region. The communication network is decent. However, using mobile phones or Internet can be difficult in the rural areas.
Telephone Codes
To Make a Call From Spain, Dial 00
To Make a Call to in Spain, Dial +34
Number of Digits of National Telephone Numbers
9 digits
9 + area code + 6 other numbers
mobile: 6 + operator code + 6 other digits
Mobile Telephone Standards
GSM
National Mobile Phone Operators
Movistar, Orange (formerly Amena), Vodafone, as well as other virtual operators.
 

Availability of Internet

Internet Suffix
.es
National Internet Access Providers
Telefonica, Orange, Jazztel, Ono, Yacom, Arrakis, Al-pi (Catalonia), Euskaltel (Basque Country), R (Galicia).
Access in Public Places
There are more than 400 business centers, 650 cyber-cafes and many WiFi zones in public places (bars, fast food, business centers, etc.).
Access in Hotels
All higher range hotels offer internet connectivity.

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Latest Update: November 2022