Spain – home of flamenco and paella, sangria and Rioja, siesta and fiesta! But whilst you cannot deny that these stereotypes exist, Spain is much more than them. There’s too much to write here about Spain, but as a taster, here’s a few of its best bits. It has amazing cities - from chic Madrid, often overlooked but full of gems and fantastic museums, vibrant Barcelona and its standout Gaudí buildings to bustling Bilbao, regenerating its urban centre into a fantastic destination. It has historic towns – from Girona and warren of alleys in the Jewish Quarter, Cordoba and its geranium covered houses and Segovia with its famous aqueduct. You’ll fantastic landmarks galore – the Alhambra in Granada, La Mezquita in Cordoba or the City of Arts & Science in Valencia. There’s fantastic beaches all around the country, the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa, the vast planes of the centre, many nature reserves. Lying off the mainland are the Balearic Islands – Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera in the Mediterranean, whereas the Canary Islands, including Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria amongst others, lie in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa. With history including Romans, ruling most of the Mediterranean, the Moorish invasion, the expulsion of the Jews, the Inquisition, Columbus and the exploration of the New World, colonies, the Civil War and Franco, there’s much to keep history lovers occupied. Spain offers fabulous wine, a cuisine with dishes that are known around the world, on the go food with tapas or pintxos in small bars and speciality local dishes. And what’s more, almost every day is a feast – the nation needs no encouragement for a celebration or party!
**Requirements due to COVID-19 are constantly changing. Please check your own country's international travel advice as well as the airline requirements before travel.**
UK guests please see the UK Government Foreign Office Travel website for latest entry and exit advice; https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain/entry-requirements
US guests please see Travel State website; https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Spain.html
Spain is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S., Canadian, Australian and European citizens may enter Spain for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay and it is advised to have at least one blank page. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
There are a number of major international embassies located in Madrid, including those for the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. here are also a number of consulates based in Barcelona, Malaga, Las Palmas, Seville and other main cities. However, embassies for a number of other countries are located in other European cities, offering coverage to Spain. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs.
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour.
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints.
If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
Our standard Spanish tours are Activity Level 2 tour and will require moderate physical activity and include various forms of transport. However, please note, our Menorca Walking Tour requires a Level 3 Activity Level. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you.
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
There are currently no vaccination requirements for international travellers, but please consult your doctor before travelling for the latest immunisation information as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
We would recommend comfortable clothes and shoes for the tours to Spain. Feel free to include a smart-casual outfit for dinner if you wish, however there is no pressure to follow a dress code.
The weather should largely be warm and sunny throughout the journey, however it is always good to be prepared for every eventuality, so make sure you pack a light jacket in case of rain and the fact that it may be cooler in the evening.
Insect repellent and sun cream are also essential items. Don't forget your camera, with charger/spare batteries and memory cards.
Menorca Walking Tour: Please see specific joining instructions for the suggested equipment to bring on this tour.
• Luggage Allowances
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
Morocco Tour Extension to Spanish Member Events – This tour includes a flight from Spain. Please check with The Big Journey Company regarding specific luggage allowances for this flight.
Luggage handling is not included in our Spain tour. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge.
Laundry services may be available in some hotels on the tour.
Language in Spain is a big political topic. The majority of the country speaks Castilian Spanish – what is commonly known as Spanish around the world. However, in a number of regions around the country, you will find different regional languages still spoken daily by the locals. These local languages will be displayed on road signs, official buildings, menus and many other places and are official languages of the country. In Catalunya, Catalan, a mix of Castilian Spanish, French and Italian, is commonly spoken. A variation of Catalan is also spoken in Valencia and the Balearic Islands. In the Basque Country on the north coast, close to the French border, you will hear Basque, a language so distinct it has no known relative, and see its distinctive lettering on many signs. And the north west of the peninsula, the locals of Galicia speak Gallego, influenced by nearby Portugal, but with traces of Celtic. English is widely spoken across the country in the hospitality industry and by younger generations.
The time zone in mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands (including Menorca) is GMT+1, 1 hours ahead of London GMT. The time in the Canary Islands (including Tenerife) is the same as GMT, the same time as London, 1hr behind the rest of Spain.
The weather in Spain can vary considerably across the country, given the size and differing terrain. Andalucía and the south coast have a generally good climate all year round. Though temperatures may drop, and you may experience a few wet spells in winter, from Easter to October good weather prevails. In summer months, there are endless days of blue skies and high temperatures. The last few years have seen a number of heat waves, so it is best to be prepared for warm weather. The centre tends to be cold and dry in winter, but very hot in summer. The north coast is a lot wetter, with the weather coming straight from the Atlantic. Winters see big storms, rain and high waves, springs and autumns are a mix of sunny spells and blustery showers, but summers can be lovely. Temperatures are pleasant and bearable, not as high as the south, with many sunny days. Though there is always the chance of a front coming through, they normally blow through in a few hours.
The Balearic Islands tend to have a good year-round climate, with summers warm and pleasant. The Canary Islands have excellent summers. Winters can be blustery and windy, but temperatures remain warm.
In Spain, the standard voltage is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz. You will need a European plug adapter, and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
Spain has a well-developed communications infrastructure. A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. In populated urban areas, there should be good mobile signal but as we head into rural areas, signal may fluctuate. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas and most hotels and restaurants provide free WIFI. Please check data roaming charges for Spain with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive.
The currency of Spain is the Euro € (EUR). Credit cards are widely accepted at mid-high range establishments, but it is advisable to carry money in cash with you as well as cards are not accepted for many small transactions, nor in smaller bars, restaurants or shops. ATMs are widely available in cities, but not so in smaller villages.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards however many places do not accept cards such as Diners Club or American Express. If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip.
Important Note - European countries use chip-and-pin credit cards, so cards with magnetic strips on the back (commonly used in North America) may not work with certain automated machines. You might want to carry some extra cash in your wallet to use in these situations just in case. You may be asked to provide ID if you cannot pay by chip and PIN.
Spain is generally than some of its neighbour France, but a bit more expensive than Portugal. Prices in the cities and north are generally higher than in the south. Prices are often raised in tourist hotpots and it is advisable to look for a “local’s” bar/restaurant a street back. However, you will still find bargain meals of the day, cheap drinks and souvenirs.
• Bank Opening
Bank opening hours in Spain are now very short, especially in summer. Banks are usually open 8.30am – 11am Monday to Friday, some not even 5 days a week.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
Spanish cuisine is one of the best known in the world. From the paellas, the jamón, gazpacho, tortillas... the list is endless. The typical dishes are all centred around local, seasonal, fresh produce. Meals are an important part of daily life, and it is common to see all the family sat round a table and you will often find bars and restaurants serving a Menu del Día – a 3 course lunch with a drink for a reasonable price. However, you will also find lots of smaller dishes in bars – tapas, small dishes, are probably the most common and widely available. Pintxos, exquisite creations on a small slice of bread, are more typical of the Basque Country in the north of the country. With the excellent climate, fresh fruit is readily available.
And then there’s the wine – from the Cava fields near Barcelona, Rioja to the north, Sherry in Jerez and Moscatel from Málaga, each region has its own special wine to shout about.
Some meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
The tap water in mainland Spain is generally of excellent quality. Unless otherwise advised, you can drink the local tap water. However, the quality of the tap water on the Spanish islands varies and it is advisable to drink bottled water instead. Bottled water can be bought at supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Spain offers lots for visitors to buy. You can find lots of clothing, shoe and accessories. There are wine and food shops galore, as well as those selling traditional souvenirs. You’ll be spoilt for choice!
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, most retail shops are open from 10am – 8pm Monday–Saturday, though may vary locally. However, independent shops will often close for a few hours over lunch – from around midday to 3pm. Most shops are closed on Sundays, with the exception of certain grocery shops and souvenir shops. In summer months it is common in the cities for shops to close for a few weeks whilst the owners go on holiday, and in coastal resorts for them to close once the main summer rush has passed.
• VAT/Tax Refund
Numerous shops in Spain offer a VAT refund when leaving the country. Please ask the salesperson whether tax-free shopping applies to the shop in question.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Crime levels in Spain are low. However, there’s a risk of petty theft, particularly in airports in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards. Extra car should be taken in Barcelona, where pickpocketing is commonplace.
Smoking is banned in indoor public places, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke. Smoking is prohibited on all means of public transport. Smoking is still prevalent in Spain, more so than other European countries, and you will encounter many smokers outdoors.
Spain is mostly Catholic country, with some of the world’s best catholic cathedrals and churches found in the country. It is most prevalent in Andalucía, where you will still see many processions and public professions of faith.
Spain offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card!
SPECIFIC INFORMATION FOR MENORCA WALKING TOUR
Please check your tour information for further details on walking distance, what to pack and expect.
ARRIVAL IN SPAIN
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
For those continuing their stay in Spain to Portugal, Gibraltar (UK) or Morocco, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on these countries.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated Jan 2024