Americans Traveling to Spain: Your Questions Answered
If you’re thinking of traveling to Spain, you’re probably familiar with the country’s highlights. From coastal Barcelona to stunning Seville, there are a number of must-see attractions that await your visit. You could easily spend a month exploring this kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula—how to narrow it down?
Here are answers to some of your key questions about traveling to Spain:
Planning a trip to Spain?
Unlike other European countries, touring Spain by train isn’t the most common tactic. Many of Spain’s most popular attractions are more easily accessible by a car or bus.
Spain is part of the Schengen Area. What does that mean?
Read: What Americans Need to Know About the Schengen Area
France is part of the Schengen Area. What does that mean? Read: What Americans Need to Know About the Schengen Area
What’s the most popular thing to see?
The exquisite Alhambra Palace, or Red Castle, built by the Moors in the 13th century, is perhaps the most remarkable destination in Spain, if not the whole of Europe. A spectacular site, the palace complex and its colorful patios, gardens and water fountains will enchant you. Planning a trip to Spain at the right time is key—the Alhambra is fully open between March and October.
Where can I experience the culture of Spain?
The culture of Spain is typified by its classical guitar-based Flamenco music and dancing, common along the Costa del Sol and specifically Andalusia. If you’re up for a challenge, try a dance lesson. Or simply revel in the flamboyant costumes and traditional songs in a small club.
What is the "Can’t Miss" attraction in Spain?
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is a world-class example of contemporary architecture designed by celebrated architect, Frank Geary, and tops many lists of things to do in Spain. The building itself, coated in titanium, is a major tourist attraction while also offering a collection of modern and contemporary art, with an emphasis on large sculptures. You should definitely put this on your list of places to see when planning a trip to Spain.
What are the best Spanish fiestas?
If you time it right, you can witness the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Stunning images from this event are often the first things that come to mind when thinking about traveling to Spain. The annual San Fermin fiesta takes place every July 6 to 15 with daily bull runs and other cultural events. Or, if you’re up for a food fight, visit the town of Buñol, near Valencia. La Tomatina is a massive battle with tomatoes as ammunition held annually on the last Wednesday of August in honor of the town’s patron saint.
Any distinctive places to visit?
One of the most distinctive places is in the seaside city of Barcelona, home to the surrealistic Art Nouveau architecture of Antoni Gaudí. His signature structure—the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia—is the most visited monument in Spain. Other Gaudi masterpieces include the Casa Vicens, his most important building, Parc Güell and Casa Batlló, a UNESCO heritage site.
Where can I take the kids?
Palmitos Park is a zoo and botanical garden on the island of Gran Canaria offering a dolphin encounter and other educational programs for kids. Though roller coasters may not be the first thing you think of when traveling to Spain, the PortAventura Park theme park in Catalonia features roller coasters, drop towers, and water rides in addition to parades and a firework show that the kids will love.
What tastes of Spain should I try?
To get the true flavor of Spain, indulge in some of the classics—seafood paella with a refreshing glass of sangria, or a selection of tapas made with the famous jamon iberico. Top off your meal with a decadent flan or a crispy churro with hot chocolate. Keep in mind that the Spanish eat late—it’s common to sit down for dinner between 9 and 11pm.
Where do the foodies go?
When traveling to Spain for the food, take a road trip along the picturesque Basque coastline and pause in the cool coastal city of San Sebastián. San Sebastián frequently tops lists of the world's best places to eat and it’ll make a charming addition to your itinerary. The lively old town is home to the popular pintxo bars and you’ll fall in love with the beach vibe at Playa de Gros.
Any other things to do in Spain?
Sports fans in your group will want to see if FC Barcelona is playing during your trip. It would be a thrill to see top soccer player Lionel Messi at his home field, Camp Nou, a massive stadium that holds nearly 100,000 fans.
Is it safe?
Spain is not dangerous, but petty theft and pick-pocketing are a couple of things to be aware of. Don’t leave your beach bag unattended while you swim and consider buying travel insurance to protect your valuables.
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Whatever you decide to do when traveling to Spain, keep in mind that the cultural rhythm is slow, so embrace the siesta. Long leisurely meals are common and some dinners may last for hours. Your trip to Spain could be the most relaxing vacation you’ve had in a decade!