Spain is welcoming visitors back en masse this summer now that restrictions at the border have significantly eased. Whether you've planned your vacation around must-see cultural attractions in cities like Madrid or Barcelona, or aim to relax on beaches and in coastal resorts, you'll find that some things are different in 2022.
If you're visiting Spain this summer, here are six questions to ask yourself before you go.
First things first... do you know the latest entry rules?
If not, don't worry - you'll find them here. Spain has relaxed its entry policies at the border just as summer travel gets underway but proof of vaccination is still generally required from visitors outside of the EU.
Have you packed a face mask?
Face masks are still required on public transport in Spain and in train and metro stations, as well as on flights and in airports. If you're caught without one, you could be refused access or issued with a fine. With coronavirus case numbers rising, the government decided this week to extend the use of face masks on public transport throughout the summer.
Have you booked your museum ticket in advance?
Spain is bursting with cultural attractions and as visitor numbers pick up in summer 2022, it's a good idea to plan your visit to the country's top museums by booking your ticket in advance. Don't even think of showing up to major attractions like La Sagrada Familia and expect to get in without a ticket. Most entry slots are usually booked up at least a day or two prior.
Are you up-to-date on dress code and alcohol policies?
This month, beachfront restaurants in the popular tourist resort of Playa de Palma in Mallorca, introduced a strict dress code policy that refuses access to customers who are shirtless, or wearing sleeveless tops, bathing suits, football jerseys, flips flops. It also extends to those wearing fancy dress costumes, novelty hats, glasses or wigs.
The dress code is supposed to crack down on drunken and disruptive behaviour from tourists and stag (bachelor) parties, according to business owners. So far 11 restaurants are enforcing the dress code and will display QR codes at their entrances for people to check what they can and cannot wear before entering.
"What we’re trying to communicate, in some way, is the idea that to enter here you should go shower or change outfits," Juan Miguel Ferrer, the CEO of Palma Beach Club told the Guardian. "You’re not going to come here in beach clothes or come straight from drinking in the streets," he said, explaining that drunken tourism had become an "unfortunate reality" that has worsened since the pandemic.
The move is part of a wider push to push back on antisocial and intoxicated tourist behaviour in the Balearic Islands. The islands, made up of Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca, and Formentera, have recently introduced limits on the number of drinks an individual can have in an all-inclusive deal, as well as prohibiting bar crawls, and restricting the promotion and sale of alcohol in certain tourist areas— including Magaluf, El Arenal, and the West End of Sant Antoni in Ibiza— among other measures.
Other beach policies to note in Spain
Tourists should also be mindful that in Barcelona and across the island of Mallorca, people are banned from wearing beachwear beyond the beach. Anyone caught flouting the rules could be fined up to €300. For men, walking around the streets topless is prohibited in certain parts of Spain.
Spain's beaches are now smoke-free after a nationwide beach smoking ban was issued last year. There are dedicated smoking areas in some beaches but fines of up to €2,000 could be issued to people who break the smoking ban.
Will airline strike action impact your travels?
Cabin staff for budget carrier easyJet are set to go on strike in Spain in July in a dispute over job cuts and low pay. If an agreement between union staff and airline bosses is not reached in the meantime, three phases for industrial action are scheduled in July including between July 1 and 3, between July 15 and 17, and between July 29 and 31. The strike will impact Barcelona's El Prat airport, Málaga Airport, and Palma de Mallorca Airport.
Similarly, cabin staff for Ryanair in Spain have also voted to take strike action this summer. Workers for the low-cost airline have scheduled industrial action for June 24, 25, 26 and 30, as well as July 1 and 2. It will affect all airports in Spain where Ryanair has bases including Alicante, Barcelona, Girona, Ibiza, Madrid, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, and Santiago de Compostela.
EasyJet said that all passengers who are affected will be rebooked on alternative departures within 24 hours and is informing customers of changes to schedules. Meanwhile, Ryanair has not cancelled any flights out of Spain as the first day of industrial action gets underway today.
It says it plans to operate 100% of its flights during the six-day strike as part of the minimum services decree brought in by the government to allow a certain number of flights to take off during strikes. However, according to unions, if Ryanair operates all of its flights during industrial action it essentially voids the right to strike. It remains to be seen what will happen but Ryanair has said if some flights are cancelled, it will inform passengers and offer alternative solutions.
Have you prepared for heatwaves?
Spain recorded record-breaking temperatures in May and June in destinations such as Seville, Valencia, and Madrid. Now Spanish meteorologists are predicting that July and August will be hotter than usual this year. Already firefighters have battled one of the earliest wildfires on record, in the Sierra de la Culebra mountain range in Castile and León, declaring it a catastrophe zone after a fire destroyed 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of woodland during a record-breaking heatwave last week.
Officials are urging visitors to stay cool when the mercury rises by keeping hydrated and avoiding the sun between the hottest parts of the day. There are plenty of places to cool down on the coast and a landlocked city like Madrid, visitors can escape the heat in the tree-lined El Retiro Park or at one of the city's outdoor pools including the popular Centro Deportivo Municipal Peñuelas park. In Barcelona, Parc de Ciutadella or Montjuïc (otherwise known as the "green lungs of the city") offer plenty of shade and a respite from the heat. People are also asked to check wildfire alerts through local news if planning to camp in forest and woodland areas.