Horseback riding in Spain

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Equestrian tours in Spain

 Spain Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide


The straw donkey and sombrero image of Spain is now largely consigned to the bin - along with the paella and chips. In its place comes a sheaf of sparkling and evocative new images, as the visitor trend turns from sun-and-fun package holidays to individually tailored, more sophisticated themes.

Spain is a country on the move, a place of rapid change. High-speed railways have conquered the country's mountainous terrain and many cities now have modern metro and tram networks, testifying to a vibrant and growing economy. But here, too, you will find a country where time stands still, where Roman columns rise into a clear blue sky, where crumbling Arab watchtowers maintain a lonely vigil over vast and magnificent landscapes, and city plazas where the baroque jostles with the modern to strike a uniquely Spanish harmony.

The historic cities of Spain are drenched in the atmosphere of the past, but well equipped to meet modern needs as well. The countryside is infinitely varied, from the ‘Green Spain' of the rugged Atlantic coast to the parched plains of Castile and La Mancha. The open roads across endless open spaces produce a steady stream of surprises, with hidden villages and unexpected castles, shepherds roaming with their flocks and hilltop windmills appearing unexpectedly. It is a great country for touring.      

Rich in history and natural beauty and with more than a fair share of sunshine Spain is a year-round, natural choice for many different kinds of holiday, from outdoor adventures to world-class museums and art galleries to an infinite variety of popular beaches and secluded coves. Not least the people are warm and welcoming - and they know how to party. The Spanish experience would be incomplete without joining in at least one of its famous fiestas.



Passport Required?









Other EU


Visa Required?









Other EU


Return Ticket Required?









Other EU




A passport valid for three months beyond the length of stay and issued within the past 10 years is required by all nationals listed in the chart above except (1) EU nationals holding a passport or national ID card which is valid for the duration of stay.

If travelling from one border-free Schengen country to another however, EU nationals are not required to show a passport or national ID card. It is still recommended that you travel with your passport or ID card to prove your identity if necessary though. Note that Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK are not part of the Schengen area, so a passport or ID card is required if travelling to/from these countries.

EU nationals are not required to possess a return ticket or show sufficient funds.

Passport Note

Spain is a signatory to the 1995 Schengen Agreement.


Not required by nationals of EU countries regardless of purpose and/or length of stay; 2. not required by nationals of other countries referred to in the chart above for stays of up to 90 days.

Visa Note

Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements (see Contact Addresses).




Euro (€) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

Currency Exchange

Money can be changed in any bank, and at most travel agencies, major hotels and airports.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. ATMs are widely available.

Traveller's Cheques

International traveller's cheques are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Euros or Pounds Sterling. Traveller's cheques should be changed at banks or exchange bureaux.

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri, generally 0830-1330.

Exchange Rate Indicators


June 2








Special Precautions



Hepatitis A










Yellow Fever


Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

Health Care

Comprehensive travel insurance is advised for all other nationals, although basic health insurance is not essential. If suddenly ill or involved in an accident during a visit to Spain, free or reduced-cost necessary treatment is available for all nationalities. You just need to show your passport. In some medical cases, if you are European, you might be able to receive free treatment – all you need is to show proof of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) obtained in their country of origin.

In case of an emergency, call the Spanish emergency services at 112. This number should be dialled when you urgently require medical assistance or in case of fire or crime. You can dial the number from any public telephone booth, which is easily available in most Spanish cities and towns. However, keep in mind that the Spanish emergency services staff may not speak English, although some do. It is therefore useful to learn basics of the language like numbers and commonly used phrases. In such scenarios, try to be patient and speak as clearly as possible. Alternatively, look for help on the streets or in nearby shops.

Other numbers that you should take note of in case of emergency are:
• Ambulance service – 061
• Fire service – 080
• Police – 091
• Duty pharmacies – 010
If you are in dire need to get to the hospital, ask for a ride from people on the streets. Note that by law Spanish, it is obligatory for taxi drivers to transport medical emergencies to hospital when asked to do so. Any driver can also convert his vehicle into an ambulance in case of emergency. To do so, switch on the hazard lights of your vehicle and wave a white piece of cloth from the window to signal urgency. Misuse of this system will result in a heavy fine.

Food and Drink

Food in Spain is generally safe to eat. Most restaurants and bars adhere to a certain standard of hygiene. For those with sensitive stomachs, try to avoid street food, such as churros, kebabs and jacket potatoes. These are usually sold in small street-side stores especially in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona. Other foods to look out for include seafood that might not be fresh and sandwiches and omelettes that might have been left out for too long. Tapas bars may sometimes serve foods that have been kept overnight, so be careful what you eat.

Foods sold in local markets are generally fresh and affordable. If you’re extremely careful about what you eat, these are the best places to look for clean and fresh produce. Tap water in Spain is safe to drink but some complain that tap water in Ibiza can be quite salty. Bottled and mineral water are easily available throughout the country and can be found in supermarkets and grocery stores.

Other Risks

In mid-summer temperatures can reach over 40°C and heat-related risks are high. Be sure to drink plenty of water, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, wear strong sunscreen and cover your skin with a hat and loose clothing. If partaking in hiking, cycling or other outdoor activities avoid the midday hours and limit exercise to early mornings or late evenings.

The national police have set up a telephone hotline for tourists to use in non-emergencies. Those who wish to report a crime such as theft or lost property should call 902 102 112; callers can speak German, English, French or Italian. On islands such as Ibiza be aware that alcohol and drugs are prevalent. Stay hydrated when consuming alcohol and be aware that spirit measurements are generous. Taking drugs is illegal and drug dealing is dealt with very severely by the local police and courts. 

In Mallorca in late summer waves of jellyfish can make an appearance, and while these are not deadly, they can give a very painful sting. 


The recent holiday history of this beautiful little Balearic playground is very much a tale of two islands: the anglicised Majorca (famously mispronounced with a hard j) and the original Spanish Mallorca. 

Unspoiled gems
Away from the coast, particularly in the beautiful Tramuntana hills, the island has always been unspoiled. The capital, Palma, has developed into one of Spain's most beguiling and fashionable small cities. The package resorts still remain but their excesses have been curbed and the island is once again famous for its beautiful people and celebrated for its style.

Getting There

Getting There by Air

The national airline is IBERIA (IB) (website:

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Barcelona is 2 hours; to Madrid is 2 hours 20 minutes and to Málaga is 2 hours 45 minutes. From New York to Madrid is 8 hours 35 minutes.

Main Airports

Madrid (MAD) (Barajas) is 13km (8 miles) northeast of the city. To/from the airport: Bus and underground services depart to the city regularly. Taxi service is available. Facilities: Restaurants and bars, bank, several car hire offices, hotel reservation and tourist information desks, and outgoing duty-free shop.

Barcelona (BCN) (el Prat) is 3km (2 miles) southwest of the city. To/from the airport: Bus and rail services to the city depart regularly. Taxi service to the city is available (journey time - 30 minutes). Facilities: A bank, restaurant, bar, several car hire companies, hotel reservation and tourist information desks and duty-free shops.

Alicante (ALC) (Altet) is 12km (7 miles) southwest of the city. To/from the airport: Bus service runs to the city regularly. A taxi service is available to the city. There is a taxi connection between Alicante and Valencia Airport. Facilities: Duty-free shop, bank, bureau de change, car hire, tourist information and restaurant.

Málaga (AGP) is 10km (6 miles) southwest of the city. To/from the airport: Buses run regularly throughout the day. A train service runs regularly also. A taxi service to the city is available. Facilities: Duty-free shop, bank/bureau de change, restaurant and car hire.

Mallorca  Palma de Mallorca (PMI) ( is 8km (5 miles) southeast of the city. To/from the airport: Buses to Palma run regularly (journey time 20 to 30 minutes). Taxis are available. Facilities: Duty-free shop, bank/bureau de change, bars, cafes, VIP lounges, car hire, tourist information and post office.

Spain boasts over 30 international airports, run by AENA (Aeropuertos Espanoles y Navegación Aérea) (website:

Departure Tax


Getting There by Water

Main ports: Barcelona (website:, Cadiz (website:, Santander (website:, Valencia (website: and Vigo (website:

Brittany Ferries (tel: 0870 366 5333, in the UK; website: operates a service to Santander (on the north coast) from Plymouth (journey time - 18 hours). P&O European Ferries (tel: 0870 520 2020, in the UK; website: operates a service from Portsmouth to Bilbao (journey time - 35 hours).

Mallorca:   Main Ports: Palma and Alcúdia.
Trasmediterranea (, Baleària Eurolínies Marítimes ( and Iscomar ( operate vehicle ferries between Palma and Barcelona, Valencia, Ibiza and Menorca. Iscomar also operate between Alcúdia and Ciutadella (Menorca). Cruise ships also moor at Palma.

Getting There by Rail

The quickest route by train from the UK is through the Channel Tunnel with connections from Paris to Spain. Eurostar operates direct high-speed trains from London (St Pancras International) to Paris (Gare du Nord) and to Brussels (Midi/Zuid). It takes 2 hours 15 minutes from London to Paris (via Lille) and 1 hour 51 minutes to Brussels. For further information and reservations, contact Eurostar (tel: 0870 518 6186, in the UK or +44 1233 617 575, outside the UK; website:; or Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064, in the UK; website:

There are direct trains between Madrid-Paris and Madrid-Lisbon, as well as Barcelona-Paris, Barcelona- Zürich or Milan, Barcelona-Montpelier and Barcelona-Geneva. These services are called Estrella, Talgo or Train-Hotel. On other international services to and from Spain, a change of train is necessary. However, work on the AVE (high-velocity train) route between Madrid and Barcelona is expected to be completed in December 2007, after which the French border connection is expected to be fully operational in 2010 and it will be possible to connect with the French TGV (high-velocity route) and the rest of the high-velocity routes in Europe. Motorail services run between Paris and Madrid. For more information, contact the Spanish Rail service (tel: (020) 7725 7063; website:

Rail Passes

InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 30 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 22 days, one month, five days in 10 days or 10 days in 22 days across all countries. The One-Country Pass offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month in any of the countries except Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064, in the UK; website:

Eurailpass:  Options include a comprehensive Global Pass with practically unlimited travel in 18 European countries, the more limited Select Pass and Regional pass, or the single-country National Pass. For more details, contact The Eurail Group (website:

Getting There by Road

The main route from the UK is via France. The main motorways to Spain from France are via Bordeaux or Toulouse to Bilbao (northern Spain) and via Marseille or Toulouse to Barcelona (eastern Spain).

(tel: 08705 143 219, in the UK; website: runs regular coach services to Spain. Passes: Travellers can book a 15- or 30-day pass.


For information on travel to and within the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, see the respective sections.



Spain's climate varies from temperate in the north to dry and hot in the south. The best months are from April to October, although July and August can be excessively hot throughout the country except the coastal regions. Madrid is best in late spring or autumn. The central plateau can be bitterly cold in winter.

Required Clothing

Light- to mediumweights and rainwear, according to the season.



Spanish Embassy in the UK

39 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8SB, UK
Tel: (020) 7235 5555.

Spanish Consulate in the UK

20 Draycott Place, London SW3 2RZ, UK
Tel: (020) 7589 8989
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0915-1400 (visa information by appointment only).

Spanish National Tourist Office in the UK

64 North Row, London, W1K 7DE, United Kingdom
Tel: (020) (020) 7317 2011.

Embassy and Consulate of the Kingdom of Spain in the USA

2375 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA
Tel: (202) 452 0100 or 728 2330 (consulate).
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1700.

Spanish Tourist Office in the USA

60 East 42nd Street, Suite 5300 (53rd Floor), New York City, NY 10165-0039, United States
Tel: (212) 265 8822 (visits by appointment only).

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