Weather & Climate

For anyone contemplating a visit to Spain, one of the first things they will have heard about the country is that it is very sunny.

There can be no doubt that one of Spain’s major attractions is its climate. This is a country in southern Europe, located on a peninsula that is bordered by the Mediterranean to the south and east and by the Atlantic to the north; barely 15 kilometres from the coast of Africa at its southernmost tip and not overly far from the Tropic of Cancer.

All this makes for a climate that is generally warm and dry, but one would need to take a closer look in order to gain a better idea of what to expect during a visit to Spain.

Spain boasts four distinct climate types: Mediterranean, continental (in the centre of the country), alpine (in the country’s various mountainous areas, some of whose peaks rise to over 3,400 metres), and the Atlantic climate, to the north and north-east of the peninsula.

The seasons are:

Spring April – June
The climate during this period is milder than in the summer, but it is not unusual for temperatures to reach 30 degrees centigrade. A good time to visit cities such as Seville, Granada or Cordoba, which are excessively hot during the summer and where we can enjoy the major local festivals taking place at this time.

Summer July – September The period that sees more visitors
This is the period that sees more visitors than at any other time of the year. The main attraction is the vast coastline that almost totally surrounds the country, offering a tremendous variety of beaches (sandy, rocky coves, …) and very high temperatures that can easily exceed 30° C. This is also the time to visit the major cities (Madrid, Barcelona, … with fewer local residents and plenty of tourists at this time of year).

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Autumn October – December
This is when the climate is at its mildest, neither too hot nor too cold. Spain is not an excessively rainy country, especially in the southern region, so you can enjoy a plethora of excursions in the mountains, perhaps in search of mushrooms or exploring the Spanish scenery.

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Winter January – March
Although temperatures in the coastal areas don’t fall much below 10° C, they can easily drop to freezing point or even lower in the central region. This is an ideal time to make the most of the ski resorts in the Pyrennees, the central region, or the Sierra Nevada in the south.

As we can see, there is a wide choice of activities to suit all tastes, for visitors to enjoy throughout the year and throughout the country.

Getting to Spain

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Located in south-western Europe, Spain is a gateway to and from Europe and neighbouring continents. It has more than 30 airports, the busiest of which are the ones in Madrid (Barajas), Barcelona (El Prat), Palma de Mallorca, Málaga (Costa del Sol) and Gran Canaria, all of which are well served by both traditional and budget airlines.

Most travellers coming from Latin America, or anywhere in the southern hemisphere, are likely to arrive in Europe via Spain. Travellers from Asia can find direct flights from Beijing to Barcelona and Madrid. If you are travelling from another airport in Asia, it’s easiest to fly to any city in central Europe and then get a connecting flight to a Spanish airport.

Like all European airports, Spanish airports have excellent infrastructure and implement effective security measures to ensure a safe and comfortable journey. They also offer a comprehensive range of transport and car hire services, hotels and more.

Once at your destination, the road network, train services and internal flights make it easy to travel around freely so you can enjoy the beauty of Spain to the full.

If you are fond of trains and are planning to visit different parts of Spain, be sure to try the AVE, the cutting-edge Spanish high-speed railway network. It is not just quick – for example, it can take you from central Madrid to the centre of Barcelona and Seville in two and a half hours, to downtown Valencia in one hour and 40 minutes, and to Zaragoza in an hour and 15 minutes – but also extremely comfortable and reliable. Tickets can be booked well in advance and regular special offers are available.

If your priority is price over speed, it may make sense to opt for a coach rather than a train. Several companies run routes all over Spain and to neighbouring countries, the biggest of which is ALSA. The journeys are typically much longer, but significantly cheaper.

Once at your destination, the road network, train services and internal flights make it easy to travel around freely so you can enjoy the beauty of Spain to the full.

Languages in Spain

Spanish is the official language and is spoken throughout the country. Like many other European languages, such as Italian, French and Portuguese, Spanish is a Romance language directly derived from Latin.

Geographical factors and historical influences mean that the Spanish spoken in different parts of the country has its own unique features depending on the region you visit. Northern and southern accents are very different and each region has its own linguistic idiosyncrasies, which sometimes change the meaning of an expression or phrase.

Some regions also have their own official language, which is spoken in tandem with Spanish, such as Catalan in Catalonia, Galician in Galicia and Basque in the Basque Country. The latter is the only official language not derived from Latin and is believed to be one of the oldest languages in Europe.

While the Spanish are not renowned for their ability to speak and understand many other languages, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone who speaks enough English if you need to ask for information or assistance. And there’s no need to worry if your English is not perfect because probably theirs isn’t either, and Spanish people are mostly easy-going!

Lastly, you may notice that the noise level of conversations among the Spanish is higher than you’re used to. Don’t worry, they’re not angry. This is simply how people converse in Spain.

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Life in Spain: Living in a Country of Contrasts

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With the diverging and sometimes contradicting elements in Spanish culture, many visitors simply cannot help but marvel at the sheer breadth of Spanish lifestyles and customs.

The easiest one to spot is likely the divide between urban and rural.  In the large and medium-sized cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, Zaragoza and Bilbao, where locals live according to metropolitan customs and modern mentalities, nightly parties and cosmopolitan glories abound.  However, the opposite can be found in the calmer, traditional life of more sparsely populated rural or town-like settings.

Still, Spanish residents (whether they are ethnically Spanish or not) enjoy a stable environment, from safety to modernity, from quality education to justice. Life expectancy and quality of life rank among the highest worldwide. These factors combine to ensure travellers to Spain have little to worry about.

However, no matter where you might settle in Spain, the common denominator is a unique historic and natural environment, excellent gastronomy, and a fabulous climate.

Visitors will find Spaniards highly sociable, ready for exchanges with foreigners, and fully prepared to accept other cultures and customs. This hospitality and peaceful coexistence are, without a doubt, one of the main features of the Spanish in general, making Spain an ideal place to live or visit.

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Currency in Spain

The currency used in Spain is the euro, which was introduced as a common currency in many European countries in 1999. This means that citizens can use the same currency to complete transactions in Spain and neighbouring countries that are part of the ‘eurozone’.

As a traveller, you can rest assured that the euro is a reliable currency. You can safely exchange your own currency for euros at market value without any risk.

If you are travelling from outside the eurozone, the best option is to order euros in your home country before you come to Spain. Banks are often the ideal place to do this.

Most airports both in Spain and internationally also have currency-exchange facilities, but the fees charged can sometimes be quite high. Waiting to exchange money at high-street banks in Spain is not advisable as your currency may not always be accepted.

If you book your trip well in advance, it can be worth taking the time to shop around and find the best exchange rates. Also bear in mind that rates are constantly changing, so you may want to follow events in the currency markets, which can result in you getting more or less euros for your money.

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Visa & Passport

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Spain requires those who enter the country from within or outside of the European Union to prove their identity. Visitors from the European Union can simply show their national identity card. Other travellers need to show a valid passport.

Tourists from outside the EU are advised to check whether they need a visa. Should this be the case, they can obtain one from the Spanish consulate in their country of residence.

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