You don’t really travel to Spain; you experience Spain. Among all trips for students abroad, Spain is definitely a country you don’t want to miss. Here’s the thing about the whole Iberian Peninsula thing: it was part of the Roman Empire, was controlled by Moors (Muslims) at one point, and is also definitely a part of modern Europe. All of this cultural heritage you will find in Spain – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes, and more. Add to that the fact that temperatures are pretty great (summers can be a bit hot), and you can actually go there any time of the year.
So how does a student make a trip to Spain amazing? Here are some key tips.
City Vs. Country
Cities are modern but still house lots of Medieval architecture – you can get a taste for history as well as a great taste of the party life. English is more commonly spoken in the cities.
Rural villages are great fun to visit too. And, if you take the “Camino de Santiago” across northern Spain, you will be on the same route of medieval pilgrimages while you visit those villages. Hostels are abundant for cheap lodging – perfect for student travel on tight budgets. You will not find English-speakers in the villages, so brush up on your Spanish.
OMG – The Food
Everyone returns from Spain talking about tapas. Tapa is not a specific dish. It is a bunch f finger foods that are served all over the place – often for free. If you’re in a bar, there may be a small charge, but the tapas will be of higher quality.
Other than tapas, you will find a huge variety of foods, from seafood, to pork and beef. There are an amazing assortment of homegrown fruits and vegetables too. You’ll love it.
Tourism in Spain
When is the best time to visit Spain?
Spain has some legendary beaches along the Mediterranean coast, so it’s hard not to suggest going during the summer. But really, Spain is pretty comfortable year-round. The downside to summer travel? It’s real hot, and the beach resorts are real crowded, so keep that in mind. If you’re looking for things to do in Spain but you’re worried about sweating to death, you’re better off visiting in the spring or fall, when the weather is comfortable. If you want to go in the winter, stick to southern Spain, where it’ll be the warmest at that time of year.
Is it safe to travel to Spain?
Spain is very safe for student travelers, but it does have a bit of a petty theft problem in the touristy and crowded city areas. Pickpocketing is the most common occurrence of this, so it’s smart to stay alert and keep watch on your wallet and phone, even if you think there’s no way someone could slip them from your pocket without you knowing. Pickpockets are good at their job. There’s also a small chance someone might try to run by and grab your phone out of your hand, like when you’re taking a selfie in front of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. Just be smart and alert, and it’ll be fine.
- All Emergencies: Dial 112
- Police: Dial 092
- Tourist Helpline and Emergency Number: Dial 902 102 112
Places to Visit in Spain
Spain is so vast and varied that we tried hard to give you a little taste of everything in this list. There are incredibly beautiful churches, ancient Roman ruins, art galleries and museums, nature hikes and wild dance clubs.
Basilica of the Sagrada Familia
This Roman Catholic church, designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, soars above the Barcelona skyline like a Disney castle on steroids. It has an unreal view of the city from it’s spires, bring your student ID and get a discount on the ticket.
This palace in Granada might seem like a tourist trap, but the awe-inspiring structure, built back when Spain was mostly Islamic, is worth a visit. It was updated in the renaissance, and now is a blend of a thousand years of architecture.
There’s a buzz you get when you step out into the stands of Camp Nou and let the passion of the singing, cheering Barcelona football fans wash over you. This legendary soccer stadium is the largest stadium in Europe.
Serra de Tramuntana
If you can’t decide between hiking beautiful mountains and going to unreal beaches, hit this mountain range on the island of Mallorca. If you’re brave, there’s even companies that will take you cliff-diving here.
Camino de Santiago
Known as “The Way of St. James,” this medieval pilgrimage probably deserves it’s own travel guide. It’s a legendary hiking route, where you’ll cross the entirety of northern Spain while traveling through rural villages and sleeping in hostels.
Touch Karaoke, Barcelona
This karaoke bar is a big hit with locals and travelers. Get up on stage, and sing your heart out, but remember that this is Spain, and locals consider any time before midnight “too early” to start partying, so you might want to go late.
Cities to See in Spain
Spain is perfect for students for two reasons; everywhere you turn has something beautiful to see, and every street corner has cheap and delicious food. This is an explorer’s paradise, where wandering around can show you hidden sights and lead you to secret tapas bars crammed with friendly locals. Check out our budget tips for Spain, and get lost in the winding streets.
Incredible food and legendary nightlife, “Barca” has it all. Check out the neighborhood of Barrio Gotico for a historical feel and quaint bars, the neighborhood of Born for bakeries and street art, and the Gracia neighborhood for shopping during the day and great nightlife. Check out the city from the top of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, and start exploring.
A modern city that has been able to maintain its historic charm, Madrid is inarguably, quintessentially spanish. Visit the Plaza Mayor, a massive central square surrounded by balconies where people can drink or dine, or spend an afternoon trying all the tapas in the La Latina neighborhood. At night, take in a flamenco show to start the dancing off right.
A gem of Andalusian Spain, Seville is a small city that is jam-packed with old world charm. Game of Thrones has used the renaissance-style city as a backdrop, just to give you a hint of how fantastic this city looks and feels. You can see a lot of what it has to offer in a few days, but it can be a great base camp for your exploration of southern Spain.
This island is known across Europe as the party island. At night it is coast-to-coast dancing and music, and during the day it is beach lounging. There is so much partying in Ibiza that you can find the type of party that fits you best; from wild EDM ragers to low-key affairs. This is the perfect place to recharge from a face-paced travel schedule.
Like a lot of southern Spain, Granada has an incredible blend of western architecture and middle eastern art, as a throwback from the middle ages. There are a lot of beautiful touristy sights to see, like the Alhambra, and it’s a perfect walking city with a ton of gardens and scenic views. Make sure to explore the tiny side streets and try every tapas bar.
Other Important Tidbits
It’s the currency, so be sure to check the exchange rate. Right now, the exchange rate is $1.00 = € 0.89.
The Daily Schedule
Most businesses and stores close in the early afternoon for “siesta” time. They don’t really sleep -they take a really long lunch break. They open again in late afternoon, and this is probably why restaurants really start serving dinner at about 8:00 p.m.
It’s not expected but 10% will be appreciated.
You will find Wi-Fi in all major cities, and connections are free. You should consider renting a Wi-Fi device if you want to stay connected outside metropolitan areas. You will also need electric outlet adaptors.
Spain is pretty good weather-wise year-round, although southern Spain is preferable during the winter. At the same time, that area, while it has great beaches, will be pretty hot in the summer.
Students from most every “western” country can now enter Spain with only a passport – no visa required. This includes students from the U.S.
Unless you have a large part of your summer or a full semester, you will not see all that you should. There is just too much to experience in this amazing country. You will find yourself making plans to return at some point.
Amanda Sparks, pro writer and editor at Essay Supply, lifestyle writer at Huffington Post. I am fancy doing perfect things for this perfect world, and help people make their life easier with my lifestyle tips.