Spain is the second most visited country in the world, after France. Last year alone we received almost 83 million visitors from all over the world! It is no secret that people are mostly attracted by our warm weather and healthy Mediterranean diet. However, even the most experienced travelers may have a complete different expectative of Spain. That is why we bring you this helpful list of “8 Tourist Mistakes To Avoid in Spain”.
Clothing mistakes to avoid
1. Not packing enough winter clothes
As we mentioned, people are mostly attracted to the warm weather of Spain; but that doesn’t mean we have warm weather all year round. When you decide on a travel date, you have to take into consideration the season. Spain is in the northern hemisphere, and that means our winter begins in December.
Another thing to consider is the region you are traveling to; for instance, if you’re traveling to the northern regions of the country, you could even find temperatures as low as -30ºC; if there’s a Polar front. Even in the mountains around Madrid, the lowest registered temperature is -20ºC! So, be mindful when packing your winter clothes, and always check the forecast before traveling.
2. Not packing the right summer clothes
On the other hand, some people may think our summer weather is tropical; when actually, in the Southern half of the country we have an arid climate and not enough high mountains. This makes the heat go up to 48ºC in the shade! That is why you should avoid going out during the central hours of the day (if you don’t want to meet only other tourists walking around with maps); and definitely wear the correct clothes for this kind of weather.
Foodie mistakes to avoid
3. Expecting to find paella and sangria everywhere
One of the most common mistakes tourist must avoid when traveling to Spain is: expecting to find a good paella and sangria everywhere. If you are visting Spain but you are not going to Valencia, don’t expect to find a “real paella”; like Valencians like to say.
The international version of paella is made of sea food. However, the original paella from Valencia is made of rabbit and chicken (and sometimes even snails!). And, although sangria is recognized as a Portuguese-Spanish drink; it has its origins in the Spanish colonies in the Americas. We don’t really drink it in Spain as a daily beverage; and it is usually overpriced.
4. Expecting the food to be similar to Mexican dishes
Some people will come to Spain with the idea of finding spicy hot food and corn “tortillas”. The truth is that Spanish food is very different from the food from Mexico or other Latin American countries. We basically have nothing spicy hot (we already have a hot weather!). The closest thing to spicy is the Mediterranean food that is seasoned with (non-hot) spices; something that we inherited from our Arab past.
5. Expecting to have lunch at noon
We have a saying here that goes “Spain is different”. This phrase perfectly matches Spain in most aspects of our culture. One of the characteristics that makes Spain unique is the time we have our food at. If you are a traveler expecting to find all kinds of local/traditional restaurants open at your arrival, well, you may find the opposite.
Spaniards have lunch at around 2-3 p.m, and that is why most of our local restaurants open at this hour. But it doesn’t end there. Restaurants will actually close after 4 p.m and won’t open again until 8 or even 9 p.m, for our late dinners. Of course, there are a lot of places adapting their schedules to tourists, but they will charge you a higher price.
Cultural mistakes to avoid
6. Expecting to see bullfights and flamenco
We know bulls and flamenco may be a symbol of Spain outside of Spain. It will all depend on the place and time you travel. Bullfights are a more common tradition in the South of Spain. There is actually a bullfight season (Spring and Summer).
The same happens with Flamenco. To see an authentic flamenco show you must travel to the South, as it was originated in Seville. In the local “ferias” or fairs of the towns in the South of Spain (usually in Spring); you will see people actually wearing Flamenco dresses, but that is about it.
7. Thinking people are being rude
Something fascinating about romance languages, is that we have a thicker vowel pronunciation. This makes our voice sound louder than usual, and many tourists may find this rude. But worry not, we are friendly and welcoming, we are definitely not being rude nor yelling at you.
In addition, Spaniards may hug you or pat your shoulders or back when talking or greeting you. Do not be surprised if you are given two kisses on the cheeks when you introduce yourselves, either.
8. Trying to practice Spanish
Yes, you can practice your Spanish skills; but please do be aware that in Spain we speak more than one language. Officialy, according to our Constitution, there is one common language: Castillian (Spanish). But there are other five co-official languages in different regions of the country: Catalan, Valencian, Galician, Basque and Occitan. It is culturally sensitive to speak Spanish or ask about Spanish traditions in some of those regions. Specially due to the recent political tensions, thus, it is one of the main mistakes tourist must avoid when traveling to Spain.
Taking care of every little detail like all the ones mentioned in this list, is part of our daily job as a travel specialist company. We design tailored tours and activities just for you! We make sure that everything is settled before you travel, so you can enjoy your trip safely and live the real Spanish experience.
Post written by: Alba Delgado