10 Ways to Fit in When Traveling to Spain
Spain is one of my favorite countries for vacation for many reasons – good food and music, tons of stores with huge discounts, the beaches…This is the only European country with an actual dessert, huge mountains, and seaside on the west and north. Spain has so many regions and cities that each of them could easily pass as a country on their own (in Catalonia they speak Catalan which has nothing to do with Spanish).But, Spain is much more than sangria and flamenco, and definitely, it offers more places than Barcelona, Madrid or the islands.Many people ask me what to do when they go to Spain, how to fit in, how to enjoy their stay like a local.
Well, I have some suggestions.
- Dress nicely – Spaniards are stylish people. They’ll know you’re a tourist if you wear a tank top or shorts. If you want to fit in, pick a nice shirt and decent dress, especially if you go to a restaurant. Save the shorts for the beach or evening parties.
- Siesta – What can I say, these people value their breaks more than anyone else. Forget about shopping or doing things in the middle of siesta. After lunch, everything closes for about three hours
- Late dinner – These guys don’t have their last meal earlier than 9 PM. I know this might not work for your touristy stomach, but adapt your meals to the Spanish dining hours and you will be fine.
- Take a dictionary – Spanish people speak English, but not so well, and in fact, not everyone will speak it. So, learn a few phrases before you decide to hit the stores or ask where you can buy handmade shoes (which you must if you go to Spain
- It’s not always sunny in Spain – Everyone’s first assumption is that there is eternal summer. This is not true; the northern parts of the country (and northern-western) have four seasons and can be quite chilly. Bring your umbrella and at least two pieces of warm clothes. However, the southern cities are sweltering, it’s almost unbearable to function (you will only need summer dresses and bikini
- It’s a vast country – Spain is not only Barcelona and Madrid. If you don’t want to fall in the usual touristy places go to Malaga, Marbella, Alhambra, Seville, Figueres. Wherever you go, make sure you book a tour, with a well-known and trusty tour company like this here
- Hit the festivals – Almost every city and town in Spain has some festivities during the year. Summer fairs, horse fairs, tomato fights, bull races, religious festivals are just some of the few. Check which one is occurring during your visit and don’t hesitate to have fun with the locals
- Shopping – You have no idea how much the Spaniards love to shop. During “rebajas” (sales) there is a sea of people heading towards the stores and malls. If you like shopping and find yourself in Spain during the sales season, get some good stuff for excellent prices
- Dance – These people are born to dance, and they love music like no one else. I did not think I would get infected with their rhythm before I went there, but once you hear Spanish guitar, you forget about everything and your feet guide you. Flamenco is a delight to see; you will immediately want to buy yourself a red dress
- Wear a scarf and good shoes – Spanish men love their scarves. It seems like a national dress, because wherever you see they wear something funky wrapped around their necks. Looks like a cool detail. When comes to shoes, forget about your comfy sneakers. Spanish people value good shoes (you will notice immediately); if it is too hot, pack a pair of nice sandals. Also, socks up to your knees combined with sneakers are a big NO