38 In Destinations

12 Things to Know Before You Travel in Spain So You’ll Love It

Last Updated on March 31, 2023 by Nina Ahmedow

The Royal Palace. The Prado Museum. Medieval castles. Antoni Gaudí’s magical architecture. Those are only some of the beautiful sights you can see when you travel to Spain. For the last days of November, I went back to spend four days in Spain – Madrid to be precise! It was a delight to return to this captivating city, and this time as a vegan. In this post, I’ll explain everything you need to know before you travel in Spain’s different regions.

Plaza de España Seville

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Spain?

To answer this question you first have to figure out where to travel in Spain. Spain is a country with very distinct regions and even climate zones. The center and south of Spain experience a Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers.

By contrast, the north of Spain gets a lot more rain throughout the year.

And then there are the Canary Islands which tempt you with eternal spring. So you can pretty much visit Spain all year round. It simply depends on what you are looking for. But when you travel in Spain from one region to the next you may need to pack completely different clothes.

Do You Need a Visa to Travel to Spain?

Spain is a member of the Schengen region. As such, if you have a valid visa for any Schengen country it’s also valid for Spain so you automatically have your visa to travel to Spain. Citizens of most of the countries in the Americas do not need a visa to enter the Schengen region for 90 days, meaning there is no need for a visa to travel to Spain.

Nationals of most African and Asian countries need a visa to travel to Spain.

Please do the necessary research about the Schengen Visa before your trip.

If you’re already in the Schengen area, there are usually no border controls. But you will need your ID to board a flight.

Five Reasons You Should Visit Spain

Spain is a very diverse country.

It may seem surprising, but the many regions in Spain all offer completely different experiences. Madrid, the capital, boasts some of the best museums in the world. Barcelona has some of the most magical architecture you will ever come across. In Andalusia, you can see the remnants of Muslim Iberia. And don’t get me started on the numerous islands! When you travel to Spain you see a lot more diversity than in some other countries and figuring out where to travel ion Spain can be difficult. Some of the places to travel in Spain differ immensely from one another.

The different regions also differ culturally.

You have probably heard of Flamenco music, but this is a typical form of Andalusian music the Roma people most likely created. In the rest of Spain, it’s not really a big thing. Likewise, the world-famous paella is actually a typical Valencian dish. There are so many different places to travel in Spain that you would need weeks to see them all.

Spain has 19 autonomous communities and cities with very distinct cultures and languages. One of the reasons Spain is so exciting is that it can feel like a trip to many different countries. However, please keep in mind that the independence of some regions is a touchy subject in Spain for people on both sides of the argument.

Spain used to be under Muslim rule.

For more than 700 years Muslims from North Africa and Arabia governed various parts of Iberia (Spain and Portugal). They referred to the region as al-Andalus. Unfortunately, after the Christians reconquered the Iberian peninsula they destroyed much of the architecture, though you can still see beautiful remnants of the Muslim era in Andalusia which makes this southern region one of the most interesting places to travel in Spain.

Spain was the world’s first global empire.

Wait, I’m not saying that colonizing other nations is a good thing! But Spain today is a multicultural country with an interesting history worth learning about.

Spain became a democracy again in 1978.

From 1939 to 1975 dictator Franco ruled Spain, and it took three years after his death for the new constitution to be approved. Unfortunately, despite the horrible crimes committed by Franco and his military dictatorship, it has only been in the last 15 years that some of his statues have been taken down.

me plaza mayor madrid spain

But at least the tourism industry is now no longer part of a propaganda machine and it’s safe to travel to Spain.

Two Important Things to Know Before You Go to Spain

Spain is a multilingual country.

What English speakers refer to as “Spanish” is generally referred to as “castellano” (Castilian) in Spain.

Why does that matter? Well, since Spain has different cultures and languages, calling the language Spanish can be a form of erasure of the other national groups. The different places to travel in Spain don’t always share the same native language. Furthermore, in some regions such as Catalonia, people prefer if you at least attempt to speak a word or two of Catalan.

If people know you’re a tourist they’ll go easy on you. But it’s always nice to make an effort to distinguish things properly.

Bullfighting is a controversial subject.

For vegans, the subject of bullfighting is obviously a concern when traveling to Spain, and you may wonder if it’s safe to travel to Spain for someone who is sensitive to animal cruelty. However, this “tradition” is no longer as popular in Spain as it used to be – Catalonia has even banned it.

In my experience, it’s quite easy to avoid anything related to bullfighting. In general, older or more conservative people might still defend the practice.

Is It Safe to Travel to Spain as a Vegan?

Are you afraid that you won’t find any vegan options in Spain? Don’t be. While Spain is famous for seafood, ham, sausages, and cheese, the vegan scene is amazing. If you ask me where to travel in Spain Barcelona and Madrid have dozens of vegan restaurants for you to check out.

According to HappyCow there are:

  • 40 vegan restaurants in Madrid,
  • 25 vegan restaurants in Barcelona,
  • 6 vegan restaurants in Granada,
  • 3 vegan restaurants in Seville.

And those are only the entirely vegan restaurants. You can also find bakeries and doughnut shops. And if you’re open to trying vegan options at non-vegan restaurants you’ll have even more options to choose from. But the best places to travel in Spain as a vegan are certainly the big cities.

On my trip to Madrid last week I went to:

  • 4 vegan restaurants,
  • 3 vegan doughnut shops,
  • 3 vegan bars that offered food,
  • 2 vegan cafés,
  • 1 vegan cake shop.

And these were all rated a minimum of 4.5 our of 5 stars – what more can you expect? For details, check out my vegan guide to Madrid.

Where to Travel in Spain

As you may have realized by now, I am more into city trips. I’ve been to Spain four times, and each time I stayed in a city. You can definitely plan a beach vacation or a trip to explore an entire region as there are a ton of places to travel in Spain.

But so far, I have only been able to see some of the bigger cities. And look at how beautiful they are:

cibeles palace madrid
church in seville

City trips are an easy way to get a feel for a country. But if you have more time to spare, a longer trip to an entire region would definitely be a way to immerse yourself more in the culture. When you stay longer you can fit in things like a day trip to Elche near the Costa Blanca.

Places to Travel in Spain as a Muslim Woman

I still look back fondly on the time I went to Andalusia some years ago. As a Muslim woman, I marveled at the beauty of Seville’s Real Alcázar and Córdoba’s Mezquita which combine Muslim and Christian architectural styles.

The Real Alcázar is the ultimate place to see what can happen when different cultures and religions meet. Muslim rulers initially built it as a fortress and palace. After the Christians conquered the city, they turned it into a residence for their monarchs. And its beauty is astonishing. A gorgeous blend of cultures and religions.

This was particularly special to me because Islam often gets a bad rep in Europe even though it has contributed to much of the beauty here. I was happy to see that a European nation shows pride in some aspects of its Muslim past.

Why should that matter? Well, I believe that for non-Muslims it’s important to see that Muslim heritage is part of Europe. (Read my post about the Islamic heritage in the Greek city of Ioannina.) And for young people from Muslim families, it’s nice to see something beautiful that came from our heritage.

It shows that we can do better than the current state of some countries shows. Muslim societies have a rich history of creating beautiful architecture, art, science, etc. I hope that younger generations will be able to focus on adding something beautiful to this world.

Too many people have forgotten the beauty in our past which is why they haven’t yet found a healthy approach to modernity. Muslim cultures are not a monolith, and I have a whole post about Orientalism in travel blogging if you’re interested.

But enough of that. My point is that it’s extremely touching to see the remnants of Islamic architecture. And for those who don’t need a visa to travel to Spain but would need one in other countries with this type of architecture this might be a perfect compromise.

Seville and Córdoba are not the only places to travel in Spain to see the beauty of the Muslim era. In Granada, you can see the famous Alhambra, a palace built by the Arabs during this era. But before you go make sure you know how to get tickets for the Alhambra.

So, should you visit Spain?

Visiting the Kingdom of Spain is an absolute must, in my opinion. If you are already in Europe or traveling there anytime soon you should definitely include some time in Spain.

Have you ever been to Spain? What else would you like to know about it? And which places to travel in Spain are your favorites?

places to travel in spain pin lemons and luggage


  • Reply
    Alek Zayas-Dorchak
    December 9, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Awesome post!! I spent 5 weeks in Spain for a study abroad summer semester, and absolutely loved it. Everything you mentioned is worth seeing.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 10, 2019 at 11:17 am

      You must have had such a wonderful time, especially since it was summer!

  • Reply
    Alek Zayas-Dorchak
    December 9, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    ALSO props for pointing out Spain’s history while not glorifying colonialism.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 10, 2019 at 11:20 am

      Thanks! In this post, I wanted to focus on the positive aspects, and I think multiculturalism is the one good thing that came out of colonialism. But surely, one could write pages of all the damage that has been done.

    • Reply
      December 13, 2019 at 7:29 am

      You’re absolutely right, Spain is such a culturally rich country that time never seems to be enpugh to check all the builgings and amazing architecture, mostly in the South. The first picture is amazing. Were is that?

      • Reply
        Nina | Lemons and Luggage
        December 13, 2019 at 1:56 pm

        Thank you, Gabi! The first picture was taken on Barceloneta beach in Barcelona.

  • Reply
    December 9, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    I agree, Spain is so interesting due to its history of cultural diversity. The mix of muslim and christian architecture is what makes its cities so beautiful, just noticed in Valencia!

    Also I get the impression that bullfighting is not a thing among youngish people, as I noticed that many get annoyed about the common association between Spain and Corrida.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 10, 2019 at 11:15 am

      That mix is so unique, isn’t it? And I think they appreciate it, too.

      Yes, as I said in my post, bullfighting is more of a thing for older or more conservative people Most younger people aren’t really interested in it and some are really keen to put and end to it.

  • Reply
    Under Flowery Sky
    December 10, 2019 at 12:26 am

    I would love to explore Spain more. Thanks for the vegan guide..

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 10, 2019 at 11:13 am

      Spain is fantastic! The vegan guide will be up soon!

  • Reply
    Rocio Llontop
    December 11, 2019 at 1:16 am

    I agree with this. I love Spain. Great post

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 11, 2019 at 2:51 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Rocio. What’s your favorite part of Spain?

  • Reply
    Bruce Schinkel
    December 11, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    Really great tips in this post! I’ve already had Spain on my list for many of these reasons, but you’ve added some more that I wasn’t aware of.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 12, 2019 at 2:15 pm

      Thanks Bruce! I hope you get to go and experience the beauty of Spain.

  • Reply
    December 11, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Gosh, your pictures make this look like such a breathtaking place to go – I’m definitely feeling inspired right now, thank you. Looks like you had gorgeous weather as well judging by those clear blue skies. It’s good that it worked out well in terms of dietary requirements as well, that can always be a concern.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 12, 2019 at 2:16 pm

      Thanks Lindsey! We weren’t very lucky on the most recent trip, but on past trips, I’ve always had fantastic weather in Spain.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    I love Spain. I’m so glad you gave a nod to how easy Spain is for vegan travelers. Thank you for also pointing out the heritage travel in Spain for Muslim travelers. So many great tips and insights here – Cheers!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 13, 2019 at 1:52 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Derek! Spain is a fabulous and very diverse country indeed.

  • Reply
    Nicole Hunter
    December 12, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Spain is one of my favourite countries in the world so I completely agree with you and all of your reasons of why people should travel there. However, I got to say that Spanish food is likely my number one reason!!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 13, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      I was also really impressed with the food, and my vegan food guide will go up very soon!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2019 at 6:07 am

    Ugh I would LOVE to travel to Spain one of these days! BTW your pics are beautiful 🙂

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 13, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Thank you, Claire! I hope you get a chance to go there and explore it for yourself soon.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2019 at 11:01 am

    I have been putting Spain on the back of my list for a very long time, which is a mistake. But I will get there one day. I’m looking forward to it more and more when reading your post.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 13, 2019 at 1:57 pm

      I get it, Albí, there are so many places to visit that it’s really difficult to decide where to go next. But I hope you will manage to see Spain soon.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Spain is such a gorgeous country! I fully agree with all your reasons for going, and as a fellow vegan it’s really good to know that I wouldn’t be stuck for choices

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 13, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      Wait until you see my vegan guide to Madrid which goes live this weekend. You will be amazed at all the yummy options!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Lovely post! Gorgeous country with so much history. Thank you for sharing your trip and perspective.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 14, 2019 at 11:16 am

      Thank you, Ana! Every single time I went to Spain I really loved it.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    This was such a great, new perspective on Spain. You really dove into many areas that are helpful. I had no idea Spain was under Muslim rule – it’s really sad that some architecture was lost thereafter. I’m considering Spain in 2020 so this was a great guide to read.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 14, 2019 at 11:17 am

      Thanks so much for your comment, Nikki! I really hope that you go to Spain next year, it’s well worth exploring.

  • Reply
    Carrie Ann | Should Be Cruising
    December 15, 2019 at 12:23 am

    I love your focus in this post on Spain’s history and how it influenced the various styles of architecture around the country. Hope I’ll have the chance to explore more of Spain one day, especially Andalusia – it looks so beautiful!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 15, 2019 at 11:45 am

      Thank you so much, Carrie Ann! Andalusia is really incredible, and I hope you get to see it with your own eyes one day.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome post and a great guide! Keep returning to Barcelona because it is so beautiful and never boring.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 16, 2019 at 11:53 am

      Thanks, Georgina! Barcelona is magical, isn’t it? I hope to go back soon.

  • Reply
    Medha Verma
    December 16, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Oh I was in Spain earlier this year and absolutely loved it! You’re right about the cities being very different and how you can see the Islamic rule existed especially in the south, in Granada with the Al Hambra and the souks in the city. Also, flamenco is popular mostly in Andalusia and I didn’t really get to see or hear of it much in the North. Seville was amazing for me and I also loved Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona. I would love to go back someday!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      December 16, 2019 at 11:54 am

      It’s such an exciting country with so much diversity, right? I also hope to go back again soon.

  • Reply
    Jason Reid
    January 16, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Agree that there are plenty of reasons to visit Spain. I’ve been lucky to visit a few different regions and one of the islands (Ibiza) and it’s great to experience the different sides to the country.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      January 17, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      I definitely want to visit the islands next. They must be so different from the ones in Greece.

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