Horseback riding in Spain

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Equestrian tours in Spain

 Spain Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide


Overview

From riotous fiestas and sizzling cuisine to world class museums and cutting-edge art galleries, there's a reason shy Spain endures as one of the world's most popular destinations. Like the country's famous tapas, Spain itself is a tempting smorgasbord of bustling cities, scenic countryside and sunny islands, which visitors can nibble away at on repeat trips or consume in one giant feats. Either way, it is one appetizing nation.

In spite of tis myriad attractions, most come to Spain for sun, sand and self-indulgence, flocking to the likes of the Costa del Sol and Costa Brava to while away days on beaches and nights in clubs. An early pioneer of package holidays, Spain's leading resorts have long been geared up for the mass market - from Balearics to the Canary islands - but it's not all sprawling hotel complexes; quaint fishing villages, bijou retreats and secluded beaches abound if you're looking to veer off the tourist trail.

Spain is much more than holidays in the sun, though. Away from the beach there's an extraordinary variety of things to do; from climbing snow-capped peaks in the Pyrenees to hiking the ancient pilgrimage route of St James's way; from diving in the protected Medes Islands to stargazing in Tenerife. Alternatively, you could drop in one of the country's many festivals (think Running of the Bulls, La Tomatina and the Baby Jumping Festival) which are madder than a box of frogs.

And then, there are the cities; Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Seville, Valencia, the list goes on. Each one of these vibrant metropolises has their own distinct flavor; the Dali architecture and sweeping beaches of Barcelona seem a long way from the wide boulevards and soaring skyscrapers of Madrid (though the Catalans wish it was further).

But for all their disparities, these cities are bound by Spain's remarkable history and enviable cultural feats, which are proudly displayed in the country's museums, galleries and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Suffice to say, its popularity shows no sign of waning.

 

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

1

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

 

Passports

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.

Visas

Not required by nationals of EU countries regardless of purpose and/or length of stay; and are 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).

 

Money

Currency

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

MasterCard/ Cirrus and Visa/ Plus are accepted in nearly all ATMs, which are common throughout the country. These credit cards can generally be used outside main towns and cities, although cash is your safest bet. American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. ATMs are widely available.

Traveller's Cheques

Traveler's cheques are disappearing from use fast, and it's far more convenient to travel with credit cards these days. Nevertheless, you can still change them in main bank branches and exchange bureau, and they are accepted in major hotels. It is advisable to bring them in sterling or dollars as there have been increasing reports of Euro cheques being refused..

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri, generally 0830-1400. Some branches open Saturdays too, from October to April.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

April 2018

£1.00=

1.16

$1.00=

0.81


Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

No

Hepatitis A

No

Malaria

No

Rabies

No

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

No

Yellow Fever

No

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. 


Mallorca

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: www.iberia.com). Multiple airlines offer flights to Spain from the UK, including British Airways (www.ba.com), easyJet (www.easyjet.com), and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com). American Airlines (www.aa.com), Delta (www.delta.com), and United (www.united.com) are among the airlines flying direct from the USA.

Flights tend to be the most expensive in summer, from June to September. The cheapest time to travel is from November to December (outside of Christmas season).

Approximate Flight Times

Madrid: from London- 2 hours 20 minutes; New York- 7 hours 15 minutes.

Air passes

To visit Spain on an air pass, the Visit Europe pass by oneworld (www.oneworld.com) allows access to over 200 European destinations. For more choices, the Star Alliance Europe Airpass (www.staralliance.com) serves nearly 300- destinations in more than 40 European countries. Prices are available via their online mileage calculator.

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) (www.aena.es) 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: www.aena.es).

Departure Tax

None.

Getting There by Water

With its coastlines surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, Spain is an excellent destination to explore on water. By boat, it is easy and convenient to travel from Spain to Morocco, France, the Balearic Island, and Canary Islands. Its major ports include Algeciras (www.apba.es), Bilbao (www.bilbaoport.es), Barcelona (www.apb.es), Santander (www.puertosantander.es), and Valencia (www.valenciaport.com).

Brittany Ferries (tel: 0870 366 5333, in the UK; website: www.brittany-ferries.com) 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: www.poportsmouth.com) operates a service from Portsmouth to Bilbao (journey time - 24- 32 hours).



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). For further information and reservations, contact Eurostar (tel: +44 1233 617 575; website: www.eurostar.com).

There are direct trains from France and Portugal to Madrid and Barcelona. Border connections link with the French TGV and the rest of the high-velocity routes in Europe. RENFE (te;: +34 902 320 320; www.renfe.com) operates the Spanish railway network.

Rail Passes

InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 29 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 22 days, 15 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. Reductions are available for travelers under 26. Children under 12 are free when traveling with an adult using an Adult Pass. Supplements are required fro some high-speed services, seat reservations, and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Voyages-sncf.com (tel: +44 844 848 5848, in the UK; www.voyages-sncf.com).

Eurailpass: Offers unlimited train travel in up to 28 countries. Tickets are valid for 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months, three months, five days in 10 days, 10 days in two months, or 15 days in two months. The Global Pass allows travel across all participating countries. The Regional Pass lets you travel in two bordering countries. The One Country Pass offers travel on one of 27 countries.

Adult passes are valid for first-class travel, while youth passes (under 26) are valid for second-class travel. Children under 12 are free when traveling with an adult using an Adult Pass. The passes cannot be sold to EU citizens or residents. Available from Eurail (www.eurail.com).

Getting There by Road

Road conditions in Spain are generally good, but beware of steep and narrow mountain roads. The country is mapped out with well-connected roads, making cities and towns easily accessible by car.

The major driving routes into Spain cut through French and Portuguese borders. The N-1 links the French border to Madrid (via Burgos and Irun) and the N-11 to Barcelona (via Zaragoza). From Portugal, the southern route via the coast, E1 (A49), passes through Seville, Huelva and Faro; while the norther route E90 (A6) links Badajoz with Lisbon.

Eurolines international coach services (www.eurolines.com) has several bus routes that serve major cities in Spain, with connections to destinations across Europe.

 

Climate

Spain's climate varies from temperate in the north to dry and hot in the south. As it is a big country with carrying terrain and altitudes, climate can be extremely distinctive from one corner to another. Overall, the coastal regions in the South and Eastern parts of Spain are excellent to visit all year round thanks to the Mediterranean climate (mild temperatures and long days). Northern Spain generally experiences colder temperatures than South, while central Spain stays hot and dry due to its location on a plateau.

The best time to visit depends on the region and type of travel experience you're seeking. For a beach vacation, the best months for guaranteed sunshine are June to August. Naturally, these are also the busiest months for tourism along the coast and on the Spanish island, so be prepared for high prices and crowds. If you're looking to escape the crowds, head inland to cities like Seville, Madrid, and Granada where temperatures are sizzling but streets are empty.

The shoulder season for travel in Spain is usually late spring and autumn: from April to end of May and October to November. These are when tourist destinations are least crowded and weather is still pleasant. January to February is the best time to ski, as snow is ample and the sun is shining. Especially in the Sierra Nevada, the sun can be quite overwhelming even in the snow- come prepared with snow goggles and sunscreen.

Required Clothing

From June to August on the coastal areas, casual beach wear like flip flops, vests, loose fitting clothing, and shorts will suffice. It can get unbearably hot in the city, so be prepared to brave the weather with plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen.

In between high and low season (April-May; October-November) climate can be unpredictable in certain parts of the country- be sure to pack your umbrella, raincoat, and a light jacket for the night.

 

Contacts

Spanish Embassy in the UK

39 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8HW, UK
Tel: (020) 7235 5555.
Website: http://spain.embassyhomepage.com/
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0930-1400

Spanish Consulate in the UK

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

Embassy and Consulate of the Kingdom of Spain in the USA

2375 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA
Tel: (202) 452 0100.
Website: http://www.spainemb.org 
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1700.

British Embassy in Spain

Paseo de la Castella, 259D, Madrid, 28046
Tel: +34 917 146 300.
Website: www.ukinspain.fco.gov.uk
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0830-1600 (phone line); Mon-Fri 0830-1330 (consulate)

 

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