Spain has many international airports, including Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Granada, Malaga, Alicante, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca, and Ibiza. A departure tax applies when flying out of Spain, but this is normally included in the price of your ticket at purchase. The standard tourist visa issued by Spanish consulates is the Schengen visa, valid for up to 90 days. A Schengen visa issued by one Schengen country is generally valid for travel in all other Schengen countries. Spain is one of 15 member countries of the Schengen Convention, an agreement whereby all EU (European Union) member countries (except the UK and Ireland) plus Iceland and Norway abolished checks at internal borders in 2000. Nationals of many countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA, do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days in Spain. Some of these nationalities (including Australians and Canadians) may be subject to restrictions in other Schengen countries and should check with consulates of all Schengen countries they plan to visit. Those nationals needing a visa must apply in person at the consulate in their country of residence. Issue of the visa does not guarantee entry. The import and export of local currency is unlimited, but amounts exceeding A^EUR6010.12 per person per journey must be declared.
Domestic flights are run by IBERIA (IB), Spanair and Air Europa.
Scheduled flights connect all main towns as well as to the Balearic and Canary Islands and enclaves in North Africa. Air taxis are available at most airports. Reservations should be made well in advance.
The Euro is now the official currency of 12 EU member states (including Spain). Euro (A^EUR) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of A^EUR500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of A^EUR2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.
Money can be changed in any bank, and at most travel agencies, major hotels and airports. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at better hotels and restaurants (also for long-distance train tickets). Be careful with your money and cards as tourists are a major target of theft. Hundreds of thousands of credit cards go missing in Spain each year.
UTC / GMT (+1 hour) Daylight savings time goes into effect in Spain from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in September.
Banks are open Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 2 pm and Saturday from 9:30 am to 1 pm. Most offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 or 5:30 pm. (The long-running practice of early closings in summer seems to be fading into the past.) There are no set rules for the opening of bars and taverns, which close late. Major stores are open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 am to 8 pm. Small business hours are variable: opening from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm, siesta time and then resume 4:30 to 8 pm.
The national emergency number is tel. 006 throughout Spain, (Basque country is tel. 088.)
IDD is available as are GSM 900 / 1800 networks. Roaming agreements exist with all major networks. Coverage is good throughout most of the country. There is a variety of Internet cafes in most urban areas. Aside from post offices, fax services are generally available at 4- and 5-star hotels, especially those catering for the business and conference traveller. Local newspapers published in English include the Costa Blanca News, Majorca Daily Bulletin and the English-language edition of Sur (weekly). There are reasonably efficient international postal services to all countries. Airmail within Europe usually takes around 5 days. Poste Restante facilities are available at main post offices.
Most hotels have 220 volts AC (50 cycles). Some older places have 110 or 125 volts AC. Always check at your hotel desk before plugging in any electrical appliance.
The official language in Spain is Castilian (or Castellano). Although Spanish is spoken in every province of Spain, after years of being outlawed during the Franco dictatorship, Catalan has returned to Barcelona and Catalonia. This language and its derivatives are also spoken in the Valencia area and in the Balearic Islands, including Majorca. The Basque language is spoken in the northeast Basque region. The Gallego language, which sounds very much like Portuguese, is heard in Galicia (the northwest). English is spoken in most hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Franco is gone so you can no longer be arrested for wearing next to nothing, however, it is considered extremely rude to go about bare-chested except at the beach or at poolside. When visiting churches or cathedrals, cover as much skin as possible. Casual dress is appropriate for most occasions, formal dress where the establishment dictates or for important functions.
There are regular bus services to Spain from all major centres in Europe, including Lisbon, London and Paris. Bus service in Spain is extensive, low priced, and comfortable for short distances but it's not really the best option for long hauls. Bus terminals in Spain usually take the form of a cafe, a bar, the street in front of a hotel, or simply a spot at an intersection. Spain has a comprehensive network of rail lines including the fast TALGO and the newer, faster AVE trains, which reduced rail time between Madrid and Seville to only 2 1/2 hours. A rental car offers the greatest flexibility while touring. Many of North America's largest car-rental companies, including Avis, Budget, and Hertz, are represented throughout Spain. Be sure to ask exactly what is included with the quoted rate.
The national emergency number is tel. 006 throughout Spain (Basque country is tel. 088).
The quality of health care in Spain is good, particularly in the large urban centers where the quality can be as high as anywhere in the world . A private sector also exists to treat those who choose to use it. Travelers can easily get needed medical services and hospital care. Check for reciprocal health care agreements with your home country and be sure to carry adequate health insurance. The law requires drugstores to operate on a rotating system of hours so that there's always a drugstore open somewhere. To find an open pharmacy outside normal business hours, check the list of stores posted on the door of any drugstore. If you take prescription drugs on a regular basis, you should ask your doctor in your home country for the generic name of the medicine as brands vary from country to country.