Spain is well-known around the globe for Flamenco music and dance, bullfights, pristine beaches, as well as plenty of sunshine. But, as many people forget, Spain has been one of Europe’s cultural mainstays for thousands of years.
Aside from that, after Italy (49) and China (45), Spain has the third-most World Heritage Sites in the world. There are presently 44 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. Furthermore, according to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, Spain boasts 14 Intangible Cultural Heritage locations, or “Human treasures,” and it ranks first in Europe.
LANGUAGE: The majority of Spain speak Spanish, Castilian, or Castellano, the official country’s language. However, co-official languages exist, and varied degrees of bilingualism are widespread throughout the country. Furthermore, many people refer to a foreign language as their mother tongue or at least speak it.
In addition to Castilian, six of Spain’s sixteen autonomous communities have co-official languages: Castilian, Catalan, Galician, Basque, Occitan and Arenese.
VISA POLICY: If a foreign citizen is a resident of one of the 26 Schengen countries, they are not required to obtain a visa to visit Spain, since they are granted freedom of movement whether entering by air, land, or sea, for any purpose. Other visa-exempt travelers to the Schengen Area are now granted visa-free entry as long as their stay does not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period, for a few specific purposes such as tourism.
Spain’s visa laws include 150 other countries that must obtain a visa in advance from a Spanish embassy or consulate in order to visit the country for tourism purposes. This involves submitting a variety of supporting documentation, including an eligible passport that is valid for at least 6 months prior to the planned date of entry into the country.
CURRENCY: The Euro is the official currency in Spain, which means you’ll need to make sure you convert it accurately and have enough cash to get around the city, pay for meals and services, and shop. Its abbreviation is EUR, and its symbol is €. It’s denominations are: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent; and 1 and 2 euro coins. While Euro banknotes are: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.
BANKS AND ATMS: You can find ATMs that accept your debit and credit cards by using online ATM locators for Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Discover (Your credit cards in Spain will work as long as you have a 4-digit PIN code). ATMs are typically run by one of three service providers: multinational banks, regional banks, or non-bank ATM operators.
ATM fees apply in most of it that includes: Basic cash withdrawal fee, Out-of-network withdrawal fee, Currency Conversion Fee, or ‘Exchange Rate Margin’, and Dynamic currency conversion fee. So be sure to have Euros on hand or have them exchanged prior instead of using ATMs in Spain. They not only charge a higher exchange rate than the market rate, but they are often worse than a traditional bank’s exchange rate.
SOCKETS AND ADAPTERS: Power plugs and sockets in Spain are of type F, popularly known as “Schuko.” This socket is also compatible with plugs C and E.
The standard voltage in Spain is 230 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Spain if your country’s standard voltage is between 220 and 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). If the standard voltage in your country is between 100 and 127 volts (as it is in the United States, Canada, and most South American countries), you will need a voltage converter in Spain. You might also try a power plug adapter/voltage converter combo.
CONNECTIVITY: Movistar, Vodafone, Orange, and Yoigo are the four major Spanish mobile networks. Movistar offers the strongest nationwide coverage, followed by Vodafone and Orange. The pricing and package differences between these major carriers are minimal (except for Movistar which typically is the most expensive option). Vodafone and Orange usually have good promotions, especially if you choose a phone plan contract with internet for your new home.
TRANSPORTATION: Public transportation is widely available in cities around Spain and is one of the most common modes of transportation for locals. Throughout Spain, there are several public transportation alternatives. Keep in mind that the options accessible to you may differ.
Train: Traveling by train is a common mode of transportation. It is quite convenient, albeit service on the major line, the Spanish Speed Train (AVE), is somewhat restricted, traveling only from Catalonia to Andalusia and passes over Madrid. The AVE is more expensive than other train options, yet all are within most budgets. Furthermore, the trains are quiet, clean, and comfortable, allowing you to take them with ease.
Bus: Another popular mode of transportation in Spain is the bus. They travel where the railway does not, with more regular service and more destinations. There are numerous different coach companies that operate buses around Spain at relatively low prices, all of which are very affordable for the budget.
Cab: Cabs may be rented in most cities around Spain. Taxi cabs are convenient since they can take you anywhere you need to go. Taxi cabs are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Taxis may be costly, with taxi companies charging a per-meter rate for each location. There may be flat fees to and from the airport.