Country name: Kingdom of Spain
Area: 504.782 sq km
Population: 40 million
Capital City: Madrid
People: Spaniards, Basques, Catalans, Galicians, gypsies
Language: Spanish Basque, Gallegan, Catalan,
Religion: 90% Roman Catholic
Government: parliamentary monarchy
Head of State: the King - Juan Carlos I-
GDP: 1000 billion $
GDP per capita: 22,000 $
Annual Growth: 3%
Major Industries: Textiles & apparel, food & beverages, metals, chemicals, shipbuilding, tourism
Member of EU: Yes
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1
Dialling Code: 34
Electricity: 230V ,50 Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
Facts for Travellers
Visas: Spain is one of member countries of the Schengen Convention, an agreement whereby all EU (European Union) member countries (except the UK and Ireland) plus Iceland and Norway abolished checks at internal borders in 2000. EU, Norwegian
and Icelandic nationals need no visa, regardless of the length or purpose of their visit to Spain. However, if they stay beyond 90 days they are required to register with the police. Legal residents of one Schengen country (regardless
of their nationality) do not require a visa for another Schengen country. Nationals
of many other countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand,
Switzerland and the USA, do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days
in Spain, although some of these nationalities (including Australians and Canadians)
may be subject to restrictions in other. Nationals of those countries wishing
to work or study in Spain may need a specific visa, so should contact a Spanish
consulate before travel.
The standard tourist visa issued by Spanish consulates is the Schengen visa,
valid for up to 90 days. A Schengen visa issued by one Schengen country is generally
valid for travel in all other Schengen countries. Those needing a visa must
apply in person at the consulate in the country where they are resident. You
may be required to provide proof of sufficient funds, an itinerary or hotel
bookings, return tickets and a letter of recommendation from a host in Spain.
Issue of the visa does not guarantee entry
When to Go
Spain can be enjoyable any time of year. The ideal months to visit are May,
June and September (plus April and October in the south). At these times you
can rely on good-to-excellent weather, yet avoid the extreme heat - and the
main crush of Spanish and foreign tourists - of July and August. But there's
decent weather in some parts of Spain virtually year round. Winter along the
southern and southeastern Mediterranean coasts is mild, while in the height
of summer you can retreat to the northwest, to beaches or high mountains anywhere
to escape excessive heat. The best festivals are mostly concentrated between
Semana Santa (the week leading up to Easter Sunday) and September to October.
In true Spanish style, cultural events are almost inevitably celebrated with
a wild party and a holiday.
Carnaval takes place throughout the country in late February (Tenerife and
Cadiz can be the better place for this party).
Las Fallas, in March, the meeting point is Valencia and its week-long party
with first-class fireworks, all-night dancing, drinking and colourful processions.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) is the week leading up to Easter Sunday, and is marked
by parades of holy images through the streets; Seville, Granada or Toledo, if
you can get accommodation.
In late April, Seville's Feria de Abril is a week-long.
The Running of the Bulls (Sanfermines) in Pamplona in July is perhaps Spain's
most famous festival.
The Spanish public holidays:
1 Jan - Año Nuevo (New Year's Day)
1 May - Fiesta del Trabajo (Labour Day)
Mar/Apr - Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
15 Aug - La Asunción (Feast of the Assumption)
12 Oct - Fiesta Nacional de España (National Day)
6 Dec - Dia de la Constitucion (Constitution Day)
8 Dec - La Inmaculada Concepcion (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)
25 Dec - Navidad (Christmas)
Budget & Prices
The official currency in Spain is Euro.
· Budget: €5-10
· Mid-range: €10-15
· High: €15-20
· Deluxe: €20+
· Budget: €15-40
· Mid-range: €40-70
· High: €70-100
· Deluxe: €100+
Spain is one of Europe's more affordable countries. If you are particularly
frugal it's just about possible to scrape by for around 20 Euro per day. This
would involve staying in the cheapest possible accommodation, avoiding eating
in restaurants or going to museums or bars, and not moving around too much.
A more comfortable budget would be 40 Euro per day, allowing for a basic hotel
room, set meals, public transport and entry to museums. With 100 Euro per day
you can stay in excellent accommodation rent a car and eat some of the best
food Spain has to offer.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at hotels and restaurants, especially
from the middle range up, and also for long-distance train tickets. But be careful
carrying your money, because tourists are the major targets of theft - hundreds
of thousands of credit cards go missing in Spain every year.
In restaurants the law requires menu prices to include service charge, and
tipping is a matter of personal choice - most people leave some small change
if they're satisfied and 5% is usually plenty. It's common to leave small change
at bar and cafe tables.
This is Spain's headiest city, where the revelling lasts long into the night
and life is seized with the teeth and both hands. Strangers quickly become friends,
passion blooms in an instant, and visitors are swiftly addicted to the city's
With a triad of truly great art museums that includes the Museo del Prado, and
buildings like the Palacio Real that span the centuries, plus lively plazas,
mighty boulevards and neighbourhoods brimming with character, Madrid has plenty
of sights to keep the eyes, ears and mind occupied.
Barcelona is one of the most dynamic capitals in the world. Summer is serious
party time, with week-long fiesta fun. But year-round the city sizzles - it's
always on the biting edge of architecture, food, fashion, style, music and good
The original architecture of Gaudí dominates the streets of Barcelona
and makes for some of the finest city-walking in the world. The art will beckon
you from museums and streets. A lively avenue, La Rambla, will lead you to the
city's marvellous medieval quarter, Barrio Gotico (Gothic District).
Toledo is medieval city of narrow winding streets perched on a small hill above
the Río Tajo. The city is crammed with fascinating museums, galleries,
churches and castles. The awesome cathedral harbours glorious murals, stained-glass
windows and works by El Greco, Velázquez and Goya.
Unfortunately, it is also crammed with daytrippers arriving from hotels in Madrid,
so travellers wanting to enjoy the city should stay overnight and explore in
the evening and early morning to see it at its best. The Alcázar is the
dominant building and it has been the scene of military battles from the Middle
Ages right through to the 20th century. Other attractions include the city's
two synagogues. Other interesting point is the Iglesia de Santo Tomé
which contains El Greco's greatest masterpiece, el entierro del conde de Orgaz,
The Burial of the Count of Orgaz).
Enjoy yourself with a quite walk by the Tajo River near of the "Casa del
During the last period of Muslim domination of Spain, Granada was the finest
city on the peninsula. Today it is still home to the greatest Muslim legacy
in Europe, and one of the most inspiring attractions on the Continent - the
If you go to Spain, you must see the Alhambra palace. Set against the stunning
Sierra Nevada and surrounded by cypress and elms, it's an escape into Granada's
Moorish past. There's a lot to see, including the Alcazaba, the Palacio de los
Nazaries and the Generalife gardens, so allow at least a long afternoon.
Other attractions of the town are the Cathedral, Albaicin District, Cartuja
Monastery or the caves in Sacromonte.
Seville (or Sevilla if you prefer) is the lively capital of Andalucia.
In keeping with the slow-burn nature of the city's charms, two great monuments
- the Muslim Alcázar and the Christian cathedral - reveal most of their
glories only once you're inside them. These, along with many other buildings
and areas around Seville, are World Heritage Sites.
Floating in the Mediterranean between Spain and Italy, the Balearic Islands
are invaded every summer by a massive force of hedonistic party animals and
sun seekers. This is hardly surprising considering what's on offer: fine beaches,
relentless sunshine, good food and wild nightlife.
San Sebastián (or Donostia in Euskera) is a surprisingly relaxed town
with a population approaching 180,000. Those who live here consider themselves
the luckiest people in Spain and will not hesitate to tell you so. After spending
a few days on the beaches and a few evenings sampling the city's sumptuous tapas
and nonstop nightlife, you may well begin to appreciate their immodest claim.
The Playa de la Concha is one of the most beautiful city beaches in Spain.
The Museo de San Telmo, in a 16th-century monastery, has a bit of everything
- ancient tombstones, sculptures, agriculture and carpentry displays, a wonderful
fine arts collection - and the squeakiest floors in Spain. Overlooking Bahía
de la Concha is Monte Urgull, which is topped by a statue of Christ and has
Spain's third-largest city, and capital of the province of Valencia, comes as
a pleasant surprise to many. Home to paella and the Holy Grail, it is also blessed
with great weather and the spring festival of Las Fallas, one of the wildest
parties in the country.
One of Valencia's most raved about attractions is the baroque Palacio del Marqués
de Dos Aguas. The facade is extravagantly sculpted and the inside is just as
outrageous Pulling four million visitors a year, Ciudad de las Artes y de las
Ciencias is a huge complex devoted to sciences and the arts that is easily the
city's most popular attraction. Valencia's cathedral is also worth a visit.
Climb to the top of its tower for a great view of the sprawling city.
Getting the Country & Away
Spain is dotted with international airports, and connections with the rest
of Europe are good. Otherwise, bus is the cheapest option.
Spain has many international airports: Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao,
Santiago de Compostela, Sevilla, Granada, Málaga, Almería, Alicante,
Valencia, Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza and Mahón. A departure tax applies when
flying out of Spain, but this is included in the price of the ticket at purchase.
There are regular and cheaps bus services to Spain from all major centres in
Europe, including Lisbon, London and Paris.
Travelling to Spain by train can be more expensive than by bus unless you are
under 26 or have a rail pass.
If you're coming from the UK or from Morocco, you could consider a ferry, but
it's a not common way of entry in the country, except for the North-African
Moving around Spain is best done by bus. The bus network gives you better coverage
and cheaper than the rail system, with dozens of independent companies, and
the bus network is more extensive than the train system and cheaper.
Ferries regularly connect the mainland (Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona...) with the Balearic Islands, but flying
is a better choice considering the time saved.