The dominant religion is Roman Catholic, which accounts for 99% of the population.
Castilian Spanish is the official language, spoken by 74% of the population. A further 17% speak Catalan (a Romance language and now spoken mainly in Valencia). 7% speak Galician (also a Romance language and mainly spoken in the north), and 2% speak Basque. English isn't as widely spoken as many travellers seem to expect, you should be able to find English-speakers in the main cities and tourist areas.
Area (sq. km):
504,782 square meters
GMT +1 ( GMT +2 from 29 March to 26 Sept)
The Mediterranean climatic region extends from the Andalusian Plain along the southern and eastern coasts up to the Pyrenees, on the seaward side of the mountain ranges that parallel the coast. Total rainfall in this region is lower than in the rest of Spain, and it is concentrated in the late autumn-winter period. Generally, rainfall is slight, often insufficient, irregular, and unreliable. Temperatures in the Mediterranean region usually are higher in both summer and winter, and diurnal temperature changes are more limited than those of the continental region. Temperatures in July and August average 22° to 27°C on the coast and 29° to 31°C farther inland, with low humidity. The Mediterranean region is marked by Leveche winds - hot, dry, easterly or south easterly air currents that originate over North Africa. These winds, which sometimes carry fine dust, are most common in spring. A cooler easterly wind, the Levante, funnels between the Sistema Penibetico and the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.
The ideal months to visit Spain are May, June and September (plus April and October in the south). The Spanish (and the rest of Europe) go on holidays in July and August, so most places are packed and costs are high. Temperatures can reach up to 45 degrees celcius in parts of Andalucía at this time of year.
Barcelona Airport is located 12km (8 miles) southwest of Barcelona If you take a taxi from the airport to the city centre, the approximate fare is around €16 - €20. A cheaper option is to take the RENFE train along the Mataro Line to Placa Catalunya, cost for this 20 minute journey is €2.20. There is an Aerobus (A1) service to Plaça de Catalunya, departing from in front of all terminals. Bus no.105 departs from Terminals B and C, to El Prat; bus no.106 also departs from Terminals B and C. Madrid Barajas Airport is located 13km (8 miles) northeast of Madrid. The Madrid Metro Train Line connects the airport with Madrid’s city centre station Nuevos Ministerios in the heart of Madrid’s financial district (journey time of 12 minutes). The Barajas metro (line number 8) provides a fast route into central Madrid for €1.50 , via Mar de Cristal; the metro also provides links to stations on the Spanish railway network. Taxis are available from the airport (journey time is 20-30 minutes); passengers should make sure that the meter is turned on at the beginning of the journey. Passengers are advised not to accept any offers of taxis made inside the terminal building. Taxi ranks are situated in front of the Arrivals areas of all terminals and should cost around €20.
The international dialling code for Spain is +34. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider, however charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly.
The electricity supply is standard throughout Europe, at 220 volts, and appliances requiring 240 volts will all work normally. Most European countries use plugs with two round pins. A set of adaptor plugs is recommended.
It's a good idea to reset your stomach-clock when travelling in Spain because lunch, eaten between 1.30 and 4pm, is usually the main meal of the day. The evening meal is lighter and is served between 10 and 11pm. Spanish food has a fantastic reputation, and tapas is probably the best know of all Spanish style foods (Seville is a tapas paradise). Paella, gazpacho, jamÃ³n serrano (mountain cured ham) and chorizo may be familiar to most travellers, but Spanish cuisine goes well beyond these, with a smorgasbord of rich stews, soups, beans, seafood and meats, all of which have been influential in Latin American cooking. Donâ€™t forget to also try Andalusian fried fish, small cuttlefish with broad beans, yellow potatoes, 'tocinillo de cielo' (pudding made with egg yolks and syrup).
Getting around within Spain is best done by bus or train; however, the bus network gives you better coverage and more mile for your dollar/Euro than the rail system. The only time you might seriously consider flying within Spain is to get out to the islands. We use a mix of private and public vehicles to cover longer distances and foot for the day walks.
If you look in the right places, you can find some very attractive and reasonably priced handicrafts. Spain is known for its pottery, textiles and clothes and leather. In Granada there is some nice wood-worked boxes, chess-sets and tables available.
Visa: Visas are currently not required for Australian, New Zealand, US, Canadian or UK/EU passport holders wishing to visit Spain.
Driving Over Lemons-Chris Stewart A Parrot In The Pepper Tree-Chris Stewart The Sun Also Rises-Ernest Hemingway Spanish Lessons-Derek Lambert South From Granada-Gerald Brenan