6 Steps to Plan Your Perfect First Trip to Spain

Palace of Charles V, Granada, southern Spain

Palace of Charles V, Granada, southern Spain

Planning your first trip to Spain is an exciting time. This incredible country is home to a beautiful culture, matched only by the beauty of its architecture and landscapes.

While this well-established country may seem like an easy place to visit, it has unique qualities that can make it tricky to plan your first trip. Here are six steps to plan your perfect first trip to Spain.

Know When to Go

The tourist season in Spain covers April through October, though most savvy travelers avoid going in August. Not only is the heat stifling, but many of the Spanish people take time off during the month, making some restaurants and shops inaccessible.

If you can go in April or October, you’ll get the benefit of being in the fringe season. Attractions typically cost less at this time, and the weather is warm, but not overbearing.

The Plaza de España, in Seville, Spain

The Plaza de España, in Seville, Spain

Know Where to Go

Spain, unlike many European countries, is deceptively large. It’s nearly 400 miles from Barcelona to Madrid, for example, and you’ll want lots of time to venture outside the cities and experience the incredible wilderness and small towns.

Make a plan of where you want to go on your first trip so you can see what’s feasible with your schedule. Once you’ve decided, start planning an efficient route and how many days you’ll spend in each area.

Valencia, Spain

Valencia, Spain

Book Your Travel and Accommodations

Ideally, you’ll book your accommodations and transportation months in advance. There are plenty of ways to get around Spain: renting a car, taking advantage of numerous airports, hopping on a high-speed train, etc. However, the best options tend to book up early.

Once you have a general idea of the route you’ll take, start booking accommodations and travel between the various points. By booking train and airplane tickets well in advance, you’ll have more options for peak times. Furthermore, by booking well in advance, you’ll save hundreds of dollars in transportation costs.

The Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid, Spain

The Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid, Spain

Learn and Embrace the Culture

To enjoy your time in Spain, you’ll want to embrace the culture and immerse yourself in everything the country has to offer. Start by learning more about the individual areas and breakthrough preconceived notions about the country.

While it’s worthwhile to always keep your favorite pair of dance shoes with you for Flamenco lessons, this traditional dance is native to the Andalusia region in the south. Believe it or not, paella isn’t available everywhere: you’ll want to head to Valencia to taste this delectable dish.

The Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain

The Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain

There are many areas in Spain that don’t speak English… or Spanish for that matter. Plan on learning some conversational Spanish to get you through the smaller towns, but go knowing that the Moorish culture still has a strong presence in Spain.

Plan Your Daily Itinerary

Things happen differently in Spain than they do in North America, and you’ll need to plan your days accordingly. While it’s nice to have some flexibility to go where your adventure leads you, you’ll need to do a bit of planning to have fun.

First, plan your meals and excursions to happen on Spanish time. Shops and restaurants tend to shut down for a siesta during the afternoon heat, limiting your options. Dinner usually starts around 9 pm in Spain and often lasts for hours. You’re meant to relax, enjoy your meal, and partake in the conversation. Don’t expect your servers to be checking on you every five minutes– service moves at a different pace here.

Once you’ve planned where you want to go and what you want to see, take advantage of online ticket deals. Doing so will allow you to see the attractions when you want and take advantage of online discounts.

Arc de Triomf, Barcelona, Spain

Arc de Triomf, Barcelona, Spain

Pack Accordingly

When you go to Spain, it’s best to pack layers and plan to re-wear certain items. Leave the heels at home and opt for flats– a lot of the roads are cobblestone. Wear supportive footwear for walking around and bring clothes that provide light coverage for conservative areas.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

With careful planning, your first trip to Spain can be perfecto!

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