Spain is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, with more than 10 million visitors per year. The country offers a blend of traditional and modern European cultures that draws people worldwide. Whether you’re planning on staying for a few days or want to spend several weeks exploring Spain, here are eight things you need to know before visiting Spain:
Spain vs. Catalonia
Spain and Catalonia are two different countries. You can’t just go to Spain and expect to visit Catalonia, as it is a region in Spain. The two countries have their own governments and laws, although they share similarities, such as having the same language (Spanish) and culture.
Spanish Paella vs. Catalan Paella
Spanish paella is made with short-grain rice, which has the best flavor and texture when cooked. For example, French Basque paella calls for long-grain rice, often available in cans (but not all brands are alike). Catalan cooks use a variety of long-grained rice, including Bomba and Calasparra, because they have less starch than other types of local artisanal rice such as Arroz de Galicia or Patatas Bravas.
- Spanish Paella Ingredients:
Spanish paellas feature seafood like langoustines (lobsters), scallops, shrimp, and mussels; meatballs made from pork or beef; chicken pieces marinated in garlic and herbs; sausages like chorizo or salchichon
The siesta is a thing of the past.
You may be surprised to learn that the siesta is a thing of the past. Most Spaniards take one between 2 and 4 p.m., which means they don’t have time to eat lunch at home and instead go out for dinner or meet friends for drinks.
If you’re planning on visiting Spain during this period, it’s best to eat dinner beforehand so you can enjoy your meal without rushing through it (and also because bars close earlier).
Almost everybody speaks English.
Spanish people are very friendly, helpful, and patient. They will try to help you with anything you need or ask. They are also polite and kind to strangers.
The Spanish are generous in their hospitality towards guests, especially if they have travelled abroad before themselves.
Spanish people are not very punctual.
If you’re used to the punctuality and organization of North America, you may be surprised by the lax attitude toward time in Spain.
The Spanish people are not very punctual. In fact, most Spaniards are very relaxed about when they show up for an appointment or event—and even if it’s a big one (like an important business meeting), they will often arrive late with no apology! This can be frustrating for Americans who expect their guests to arrive on time but understand how common this practice is here in Spain.
Siesta or “Siestazo” is a thing of the past
Siesta is a thing of the past.
Siesta is not a thing that people do anymore.
Siesta is not something people do anymore because it’s illegal to siesta in Spain, so you won’t see many people doing it.
Be prepared to wait for your food…and enjoy it!
Food is a very important part of Spanish culture. The Spanish love to eat and eat everything: fish, meat, vegetables and fruits (and sweets), loaves of bread and pastries—everything! When you go to Spain, you will see how much fun it can be when we all sit around the table together and share our food.
Cuisine has been influenced by many different cultures throughout history. However, today, it is still based on Mediterranean cooking styles that originated in Greece or Italy before being adopted by Spain during its reign as a Roman colony for nearly 400 years (hence why there are so many similarities between Italian food traditions and those found here).
Thanks to this rich history, there are also many local specialties reflecting Spain’s unique geographical features, such as seafood from the coasts, beans from Extremadura province, lamb from the Galicia region, etcetera–just name whatever category comes into your mind!
Everything (almost) happens at night in Spain, especially during summer.
If you’re used to the more relaxed and casual approach to time in America, you’ll be in for a surprise when visiting Spain. The Spanish concept of time is more social. People will welcome you into their home or bar at any hour, and they’ll want to share their culture with you while they do so.
If you’re looking for somewhere quiet and peaceful, this may not be the place for your vacation—but if you want something more exciting than staying on top of your bed all day (or night), then this might just be what’s needed!
Things to Know Before Visiting Spain
There are a lot of things to know before visiting Spain. Here’s a list:
- It’s a beautiful country with mountains, beaches, and cities.
- It’s diverse—a mixture of Spanish culture and African and Asian influences.
- The people are friendly and welcoming to foreigners!
- You can visit Barcelona or Madrid (or Bilbao); both cities have so much history it would take several lifetimes to explore everything there is to see in either city alone!
If you have any questions about visiting Spain, contact us! We are here to help make your trip a great one, and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have.