We had a wonderful time traveling in Southern Spain, but we also learned something that we want to share with you. We limit our tips to the South, as we haven’t been traveling in the North yet, maybe they stay the same, maybe not. We will update accordingly.
– Although many of them do, do not expect gas station attendant, restaurant attendant, hotel attendant or even souvenir shop attendant to speak English (as Spain is a highly visited country).
– If you travel by car, don’t book hotels in advance if you are not sure that they have a parking, or there is some parking available nearby where you are staying. Some hotels are just a door in the street with no parking, or are tucked away in a backstreet where you actually can’t drive.
– Parking in the cities is always a pain and pay attention of the color of the curb of the sidewalk. Yellow, white or red paint either on the curb stone or on the road itself means no parking. Blue means you may stop but not park. Even though Spaniards are often very creative in their parking, don’t try to compete with their behavior, as seen in the photos under. Best bet for parking are parking houses/garages, but even those may be full. Alternatively find a parking early in the morning.
– Speed signs can be a bit confusing, especially in residential areas where it may lack speed signs at all for longer distances. Try to follow the traffic and not always rely on the GPS (ours showed 90 km/h several places where the actual speed limit was way lower). Pay also attention to the blue speed signs, where the round ones indicate minimum speed and the square ones indicate recommended speed.
– Coming from the country of twisted curves and dark, long and wet tunnels, it was a bit surprising to see all the warning signs for relatively moderate curves and good lit tunnels. In fact it looked like most drivers respected those warnings. Drive safe!
– Road conditions in Southern Spain are from good to very good, although we found some not so good roads of course, but those are far between. Roads in the cities though, can be extremely narrow and not always one way drive either (although hardly wide enough for one car). If you drive a medium sized car or bigger, you might actually get stuck in some places because it’s too narrow.
– If you are doing a road trip and using hotels just to sleep and continuing next morning, try to keep it cheap with 2 or 3 star hotels. Higher ratings adds fast to the price, but doesn’t add much in the rooms them self, but has more convenience around like a pool, exercise rooms, and so on. Not something you normally need if you are just staying for the night.
– Dual carriageways are awesome to get fast from A to B, but if you want to see and experience more of what Spain has to offer, get your car off of them and find some smaller roads. There is a huge amount of gorgeous scenic roads just waiting to be explored. The A397 from the coast and up to Ronda springs to mind as an example in Southern Spain.
– Spain has many hours of daylight even in the winter, so try to spend it wisely. Sunset in January is about 18:00 and sunrise is about 08:30 (and adds about an hour in both ends in March). Try to get out at sunrise and find a place to stay before sunset, thereby you can have a calm evening on a restaurant or walking about in the city and ready for a fresh start next morning.
– If you are traveling in the winter, the temperature may vary vastly. Along the Mediterranean coast the temperature stays mostly the same and you may expect between 15 and 25 °C, but more inland you might experience close to zero in the morning, although quite decent 20 °C during the day. Add some wind and it gets really cold! Make sure to pack some hot or at least windproof clothing if you are going in the coldest time of the year.
What is your experience traveling in Spain?