There's no real culture of bargaining in Andalucía. You're generally expected to pay the displayed price.
Dangers & Annoyances
Most visitors to Andalucía never feel remotely threatened, but a sufficient number have unpleasant experiences to warrant an alert. Be careful, but don't be paranoid.
- The main thing to be wary of is petty theft (which may of course not seem so petty if your passport, cash, travellers cheques, credit card and camera go missing). Keep a close eye on your bag(s) in busy public areas, especially parks, plazas and bus/train stations.
- Beware of extreme heat and always carry water when hiking in the high summer (July and August).
Government Travel Advice
The following government websites offer travel-advisory services and information for travellers:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (www.smartraveller.gov.au) Australia.
Global Affairs Canada (www.voyage.gc.ca)
Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères (www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/conseils-aux-voyageurs) France.
Auswärtiges Amt, Länder und Reiseinformationen (www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/) Germany.
Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale (www.viaggiaresicuri.mae.aci.it) Italy.
Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken (www.rijksoverheid.nl/ministeries/ministerie-van-buitenlandse-zaken#ref-minbuza.nl) Netherlands.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (www.safetravel.govt.nz) New Zealand.
Foreign & Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) UK.
Department of State (www.travel.state.gov) US.
At museums, never hesitate to ask if there are discounts for students, young people, children, families or seniors.
Senior cards Reduced prices for people over 60, 63 or 65 (depending on the place) at various museums and attractions (sometimes restricted to EU citizens) and occasionally on transport.
Student cards Discounts (usually half the normal fee) for students. You will need some kind of identification (eg an International Student Identity Card; www.isic.org) to prove student status. Not accepted everywhere.
Youth cards Travel, sights and youth-hostel discounts with the European Youth Card (www.euro26.org), known as the Carnet Joven in Spain.
Emergency & Important Numbers
Telephone numbers in Spain don’t use area codes; simply dial the nine-digit number.
|International access code||00|
Entry & Exit Formalities
Immigration and customs checks usually involve a minimum of fuss, although there are exceptions. Spanish customs look for contraband duty-free products designed for illegal resale in Spain, in particular from people arriving from Morocco. Expect long delays at this border, especially in summer.
Duty-free allowances for travellers entering Spain from outside the EU include 2L of wine (or 1L of wine and 1L of spirits), and 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
There are no restrictions on the import of duty-paid items into Spain from other EU countries for personal use. You can buy VAT-free articles at airport shops when travelling between EU countries.
Generally not required for stays of up to 90 days, and not required for members of EU or Schengen countries; some nationalities need a Schengen-zone visa.
Spain is one of 26 member countries of the Schengen Agreement, under which 22 EU countries (all but Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK) plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland have abolished checks at common borders. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are all legally obliged to become a part of the Schengen Area in the near future.
The visa situation for entering Spain is as follows:
- For citizens or residents of EU and Schengen countries, no visa is required.
- For citizens or residents of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand and the USA, no visa is required for tourist visits of up to 90 days.
- For other countries, check with a Spanish embassy or consulate.
- To work or study in Spain a special visa may be required; contact a Spanish embassy or consulate before travel.
- Remember that Gibraltar is not part of Schengen and if you do not have permission to enter the UK, you may not enter Gibraltar.
- Greetings Spaniards almost always greet friends and strangers alike with a kiss on each cheek, although two males only do this if they’re close friends. It is customary to say ‘Hola, buenos días’ or ‘Hola, buenas tardes’ (in the afternoon or evening) when meeting someone or when entering a shop or bar, and ‘Hasta luego’ when leaving.
- Eating and drinking Spanish waiters won’t expect you to thank them every time they bring you something, but they may expect you to keep your cutlery between courses in more casual bars and restaurants.
- Visiting churches It is considered disrespectful to visit churches for the purposes of tourism during Mass and other worship services.
- Escalators Always stand on the right to let people pass.
Spain is one of the most progressive countries in the world for LGBTIQ travellers. Openly gay people have been able to serve in the Spanish military since 1979, antidiscrimination laws were introduced in the 1990s, and in 2005 Spain became the third country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.
Andalucía’s liveliest gay scene is in Torremolinos, closely followed by the scenes in Málaga, Seville and Granada, but there are gay- and lesbian-friendly bars and clubs in all major cities. Some cities produce special leaflets and maps advertising gay-specific sights. Ask at tourist-information offices.
Websites such as www.travelgayeurope.com and www.patroc.com have helpful listings of gay and gay-friendly accommodation, bars, clubs, beaches, cruising areas, health clubs and associations. Patroc has special sections for the cities of Seville and Granada.
The Federación Andaluza Arco Iris is an organisation based in Málaga that campaigns for equal opportunities for LGBTIQ people.
A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a good idea. Travel agents will be able to make recommendations. Check the small print: some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’, which can include scuba diving, motorcycling or even trekking. Strongly consider a policy that covers you for the worst possible scenario, such as an accident requiring an ambulance or emergency flight home. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments to doctors or hospitals directly, rather than your having to pay on the spot and claim later. The former option is generally preferable, as it doesn’t leave you out of pocket. If you have to claim later, make sure you keep all documentation.
Buy travel insurance as early as possible. If you buy it in the week before you leave home, you may find, for example, that you are not covered for delays to your trip caused by strikes.
Paying for your airline ticket with a credit card often provides limited travel-accident insurance, and you may be able to reclaim payment if the operator doesn’t deliver.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online any time – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
Nearly all hotels in Andalucía offer free wi-fi, and signal strength has improved in recent years. Many cafes also offer free wi-fi, as do airports, libraries and other public buildings.
Internet cafes exist but are no longer as ubiquitous as they used to be. They generally charge between €1 and €1.50 per hour.
- Spain has some of Europe's more liberal laws on marijuana, but note that the drug is legal for personal use only – which means very small amounts. Public consumption of any drug is illegal. It would be very unwise to smoke cannabis in hotel rooms or guesthouses. Travellers entering Spain from Morocco, especially with a vehicle, should be prepared for intensive drug searches.
- Spain’s drink-driving laws are relatively strict: the blood-alcohol limit is 0.05%, or 0.01% for new drivers.
- Under the Spanish constitution, anyone who is arrested must be informed immediately, in a manner understandable to them, of their rights and the grounds for the arrest. Arrested people are entitled to the assistance of a lawyer (and, where required, an interpreter) during police inquiries or judicial investigations. For many foreign nationals, including British citizens, the police are also obliged to inform an arrested person’s consulate immediately. Arrested people may not be compelled to make a statement. Within 72 hours of arrest, the person must be brought before a judge or released.
Spain has three main types of police:
Policía Nacional (National Police; 091) Covers cities and bigger towns, sometimes forming special squads dealing with drugs, terrorism and the like. A further contingent is to be found in bunker-like police stations called comisarías.
Policía Local (Local Police; 092) Also known as Policía Municipal; is controlled by city and town halls and deals mainly with minor matters such as parking, traffic and by-laws. Officers wear blue-and-white uniforms.
Guardia Civil (Civil Guard; 062) The responsibilities of the green-uniformed Guardia Civil include roads, the countryside, villages and international borders.
If you need to go to the police (for example, if you’re the victim of petty theft), any of these services will do, but your best bets are the Policía Nacional or Policía Local.
Michelin’s 1:400,000 Andalucía (No 578) is excellent for overall planning and touring. It’s widely available in and outside Andalucía; look for it at petrol stations and bookshops.
Maps provided by tourist offices are often adequate for finding your way around cities and towns. For something more comprehensive, most cities are covered by one of the Spanish series such as Telstar, Escudo de Oro, Alpina or Everest, all with street indexes; they’re available in bookshops. Be sure to check the publication dates.
Local availability of maps is patchy, so it’s a good idea to try to obtain them in advance. Stanfords (www.stanfords.co.uk) has a good range of Spain maps and you can order them online.
If you’re going to do any walking in Andalucía you should arm yourself with the best possible maps, especially as trail markings can be patchy.
Spain’s Centro Nacional de Información Geográfica (CNIG; www.cnig.es), the publishing arm of the Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN), produces a useful Mapa Guía series of national and natural parks, mostly at 1:25,000. The CNIG also covers Andalucía in its 1:50,000 Mapa Topográfico Nacional maps, most of which are up to date. Andalucia's eight provinces can be studied separately in the mapas provinciales series (1:200,000). CNIG maps may be labelled CNIG, IGN or both.
The CNIG website lists where you can buy CNIG maps (click on ‘Puntas de Venta’) or you can buy online. There are sales offices in Seville, Granada, Málaga, Almería and Jaén.
Good commercially published series, all usually accompanied by guide booklets, come from Editorial Alpina (www.editorialalpina.com), Editorial Penibética (www.penibetica.com) and Britain’s Discovery Walking Guides (www.dwgwalking.co.uk).
The Junta de Andalucía (www.juntadeandalucia.es), Andalucía’s regional government, also publishes a range of Andalucía maps, including a Mapa Guía series of natural and national parks. These have been published recently and are widely available, although they're perhaps better for vehicle touring than for walking, with a scale of 1:75,000. The covers are predominantly green, as opposed to the CNIG Mapas Guías that are mainly red or pink. Other Junta maps include 1:10,000 and 1:20,000 maps covering the whole of Andalucía – they're good maps, but there are few sales outlets for them.
Newspapers UK and some other European newspapers are sold at kiosks wherever large numbers of expats and tourists are found. The centre-left El País (www.elpais.es) is Spain’s biggest-selling newspaper. Every sizeable Andalucian city has at least one daily paper of its own.
Radio For radio stations El País publishes province-by-province wavelength guides in its Cartelera (What’s On) section. Among the several stations of Radio Nacional de España (RNE), RNE3 plays a variety of pop and rock, and Radio Clásica is classical.
ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shops.
Many credit and debit cards can be used for withdrawing money from cajeros automáticos (ATMs) that display the relevant symbols, such as Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus etc. There's usually a withdrawal charge of around 1.5% to 2%.
Most banks and building societies will exchange major foreign currencies and offer the best rates. Ask about commissions and take your passport.
Credit & Debit Cards
You can generally get by very well in Andalucía with a credit or debit card enabling you to make purchases and withdraw euros from ATMs.
Not every establishment accepts payment by card, but most do. You should be able to make payments by card in midrange and top-end accommodation and restaurants, and larger shops, but you cannot depend on this elsewhere. When you pay by card, you may occasionally be asked for ID such as your passport. Don’t forget to memorise your PIN, as you may have to key it in as you pay, and keep a note of phone numbers to call for reporting a lost or stolen card.
American Express (Amex) cards are much less widely accepted than Visa and MasterCard.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
- Restaurants A service charge is usually included in the bill, but most people leave some small change if they’re satisfied – 5% is usually plenty.
- Hotels Tip porters around €1.
- Taxis Tipping isn't necessary, but a little rounding up won’t go amiss.
Opening hours in Andalucía have local and seasonal variations. Gibraltar businesses don't take a siesta: restaurants usually open 8am to 8pm and shops 10am to 6pm; most shops close after lunch on Saturday and reopen Monday.
Banks 8.30am–2pm Monday to Friday, 9am–1pm Saturday
Night-time bars and clubs 10pm–4am
Post offices 8.30am–8.30pm Monday to Friday, 9am–1.30pm Saturday
Restaurants 1pm–4pm and 8pm–midnight
Shops 9am–1.30pm and 5pm–9pm Monday to Saturday
Supermarkets 9am–9pm Monday to Saturday
Stamps are sold at estancos (tobacconist shops with ‘Tabacos’ in yellow letters on a maroon background) as well as at oficinas de correos (post offices; www.correos.es). Mail to or from other Western European countries normally arrives within a week; to or from North America within 10 days; and to or from Australia and New Zealand within two weeks.
Everywhere in Spain has 14 official holidays a year – some are holidays nationwide, some only in one village. The list of holidays in each place may change from year to year. If a holiday date falls on a weekend, sometimes the holiday is moved to the Monday or replaced with another at a different time. If a holiday falls on the second day following a weekend, many Spaniards take the intervening day off, too, a practice known as making a puente (bridge).
The two main periods when Spaniards go on holiday are Semana Santa (Holy Week, leading up to Easter Sunday) and the six weeks from mid-July to the end of August. At these times accommodation in resorts can be scarce and transport heavily booked.
There are usually nine official national holidays:
Año Nuevo (New Year’s Day) 1 January
Viernes Santo (Good Friday) 19 April 2019, 10 April 2020
Fiesta del Trabajo (Labour Day) 1 May
La Asunción (Feast of the Assumption) 15 August
Fiesta Nacional de España (National Day) 12 October
Todos los Santos (All Saints’ Day) 1 November
Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day) 6 December
La Inmaculada Concepción (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) 8 December
Navidad (Christmas) 25 December
In addition, regional governments normally set three holidays, and local councils a further two. The three regional holidays in Andalucía are usually the following:
Epifanía (Epiphany) or Día de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings’ Day) 6 January
Día de Andalucía (Andalucía Day) 28 February
Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday) Easter
The following are often selected as holidays by local councils:
Corpus Christi Around two months after Easter
Día de San Juan Bautista (Feast of St John the Baptist, King Juan Carlos II’s saint’s day) 24 June
Día de Santiago Apóstol (Feast of St James the Apostle, Spain’s patron saint) 25 July
- Smoking Banned inside all bars and restaurants in Spain, although many people still smoke in the outdoor seating areas. Most hotels don't allow smoking in any of their rooms.
Taxes & Refunds
In Spain, value-added tax (VAT) is known as IVA (ee-ba; impuesto sobre el valor añadido). Visitors are entitled to a refund of the 21% IVA on purchases costing more than €90.16 from any shop, if they are taking them out of the EU within three months. Ask the shop for a cash-back (or similar) refund form showing the price and IVA paid for each item, and identifying the vendor and purchaser. Present the refund form to the customs booth for IVA refunds at the airport, port or border when you leave the EU.
Local SIM cards can be used in European/Australian phones. Other phones must be set to roaming to work – be wary of roaming charges, although these should no longer apply if you have an EU phone. Calling from your computer using an internet-based service such as Skype or from your mobile phone using Whatsapp is generally the cheapest option.
Local SIM cards widely available and can be used in European and Australian mobile phones. Not compatible with many North American or Japanese systems.
Spain uses GSM 900/1800, which is compatible with the rest of Europe and Australia but not with the North American system – unless you have a GSM/GPRS-compatible phone (some AT&T and T-Mobile cell phones may work) – or the system used in Japan. From those countries, you will need to travel with a tri-band or quadric-band phone.
You can buy SIM cards and prepaid time in Spain for your mobile phone, provided you own a GSM, dual- or tri-band cellular phone. This only works if your national phone hasn’t been code-blocked; check before leaving home.
All the Spanish mobile-phone companies (Telefónica's MoviStar, Orange and Vodafone) offer prepagado (prepaid) accounts for mobiles. The SIM card costs from €10, to which you add some prepaid phone time. Phone outlets are scattered across the country. You can then top up in their shops or by buying cards in outlets, such as estancos (tobacconists) and newspaper kiosks.
There is now EU-wide roaming, so call and data plans for mobile phones from any EU country should be valid throughout Spain without any extra roaming charges. If you're from elsewhere, check with your provider for information on roaming charges.
Phone Codes & Useful Numbers
Spain has no telephone area codes. Every phone number has nine digits and for any call within Spain you just dial all those nine digits. The first digit of all Spanish fixed-phone numbers is 9. Numbers beginning with 6, 7 or 8 are mobile-phone numbers. Phone numbers in Gibraltar have eight digits.
Calls to Spanish numbers starting with 900 are free. Numbers starting with 901 to 906 are pay-per-minute numbers and charges vary. For a rundown on these numbers, visit www.andalucia.com/travel/telephone/numbers.htm.
Some useful numbers:
International access code 00
Spain's country code 34
Cut-rate prepaid phonecards can be good value for international calls. They can be bought from estancos, small grocery stores, locutorios (private call centres) and news-stands in the main cities and tourist resorts. If possible, try to compare rates. Many of the private operators offer better deals than those offered by Telefónica. Locutorios that specialise in cut-rate overseas calls have popped up all over the place in bigger cities.
- Mainland Spain is on GMT/UTC plus one hour during winter, and GMT/UTC plus two hours during the country’s daylight-saving period, which runs from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
- Most Western European countries have the same time as Spain year-round, the major exceptions being Britain, Ireland and Portugal. Add one hour to these three countries’ times to get Spanish time.
- Spanish time is normally US eastern time plus six hours, and US Pacific time plus nine hours.
- In the Australian winter subtract eight hours from Sydney time to get Spanish time; in the summer subtract 10 hours (the difference is nine hours for a few weeks in March).
- Morocco is on GMT/UTC year-round, so it's two hours behind Spain during Spanish daylight-saving time, and one hour behind at other times of the year.
- Public toilets are almost nonexistent; the exceptions are some tourist offices, large tourist-oriented beaches (eg Torremolinos) and all bus and train stations.
- It’s OK to use the toilet at bars and cafes, but you’re usually expected to order something.
- It’s worth carrying some toilet paper with you, as many toilets lack it.
All cities and many smaller towns and villages in Andalucía have at least one oficina de turismo (tourist office). Staff are generally knowledgeable and increasingly well versed in foreign languages; they can help with everything from town maps and guided tours to opening hours for major sights and, sometimes, bus timetables. Offices are usually well stocked with printed material. Opening hours vary widely (and seasonally).
Tourist offices in Andalucía may be operated by the local town hall, by local district organisations, by the government of whichever province you’re in or by the Junta de Andalucía (regional government). There may also be more than one tourist office in larger cities: in general, regional tourist offices offer information on the city and the wider region, while municipal offices deal just with the city and immediate surrounds. The Junta de Andalucía’s Consejería de Medio Ambiente (environmental department) also has visitor centres located in many environmentally protected areas (parques naturales and so on). Many present interesting displays on local flora and fauna and carry information on hiking routes.
Many tourist offices have Bluetooth information points that allow you to download town maps, guided tours and event listings directly to your mobile phone.
Travel With Children
Andalucía's facilities, climate and attractions are ideal for families. The region's culture revolves around the (extended) family, and children are welcomed at all but the most formal restaurants, as well as at bars and most hotels. To get the most of what's on offer, plan ahead.
Best Regions for Kids
- Málaga Province
Parents may balk, but the theme parks around Torremolinos and Benalmádena on the Costa del Sol have undeniable appeal for children, while beaches with shallow waters and boat rides should have the whole family smiling.
- Almería Province
And now for something completely different: the Wild West shoot-'em-up shows in desert film locations are bound to knock kids' socks off (not literally, you understand…).
Seville has great leafy parks, boat trips and an amusement park on the former Expo site.
- Cádiz Province & Gibraltar
Older kids will love the kite- and windsurfing in Tarifa, which is one of the major destinations for the sport in Europe. You can also hop on a ferry to Morocco for the day.
Andalucía for Kids
The Andalucian basics – beaches and fabulous climate – are pretty good raw ingredients for starters. Add to this water sports, museums, parks, boat rides and loads of ice cream and it becomes serious spoil-them-rotten time. Note that the majority of theme parks and entertainment for children are in Málaga province, especially along the Costa del Sol.
Away from the coast, you may not find so many dedicated kids' attractions, but every town will have at least one good-sized children’s playground. Public spaces, such as town and village plazas, also morph into informal play spaces, with children kicking a ball, riding bikes and playing while parents enjoy a drink and tapas in one of the surrounding terrace bars. Many Andalucian towns also have municipal swimming pools – ideal in summer.
Eating & Drinking
Whole families, often including several generations, sitting around a restaurant or bar table eating and chatting is a fundamental element of the lifestyle here, and it's rare to find a restaurant where children are not welcome. Even if restaurants do not advertise children’s menus (and few do), they will normally be willing to prepare a small portion for your child or suggest a suitable tapa or two.
High chairs in restaurants are increasingly common but by no means universal, and nappy-changing facilities are rare.
It's perhaps not the healthiest of snacks, but you can’t go wrong with ordering your child a churro (or two). These thick, tubular doughnuts are irresistible to children – and to children at heart.
Discerning young diners may like to ease themselves into Andalucian cuisine by tasting various tapas; this will allow them to sample new flavours gradually and on a small scale. Tortilla de patatas (potato omelette), albóndigas (meatballs) and, of course, chips (or French fries) are a good bet. You can also find kebabs or shwarmas in places with a large North African population – essentially a hot chicken wrap, kebabs are tasty (and messy) enough to be a big hit with most youngsters.
You can generally find freshly squeezed orange juice in most bars. Other popular choices for children are Cola Cao and Nesquik, chocolate drinks served hot or cold with milk.
Children pay two-thirds of the fare on the high-speed AVE train, but full price on most buses and ferries. There are generally discounts for admission to sights, and those under four generally get in free.
Tivoli World, Arroyo de la Miel As well as various rides and slides, there are daily dance, musical and children’s events.
Isla Mágica, Seville Plenty of rides, including a roller coaster, plus pirate shows, bird-of-prey displays and more.
Oasys Mini Hollywood, Desierto de Tabernas Wild West shows, stagecoaches, can-can dancers and a zoo at this former film set for westerns.
Aventura Amazonia, Marbella Adventure theme park with ziplines.
- Museo Lara, Ronda Vast private museum; includes exhibitions on witchcraft and torture instruments that kids with an interest in the macabre will doubtless enjoy!
- Parque de las Ciencias, Granada Interactive displays and exhibitions at Granada’s popular science park.
- Casa Museo de Mijas, Mijas Folk-themed museum with models, artefacts and a donkey made from esparto grass.
- Museo del Bandolero, Ronda Dedicated to the local bandits, with lots of photos, exhibits and weapons, plus a gift shop.
- Museo del Baile Flamenco, Seville Includes daily flamenco performances at the family-friendly time of 7pm.
Caves, Caverns & Castles
Cueva de Nerja, Nerja Full of spooky stalactites and stalagmites.
St Michael’s Cave, Gibraltar A huge natural grotto with a lake and atmospheric auditorium.
Gruta de las Maravillas, Aracena, Huelva Explore 12 caverns here, including stunning underground pools.
Centro de Interpretación Cuevas de Guadix, Guadix Cave museum re-creating typical cave life for a family.
Cueva de la Pileta, Benaoján, Ronda Fascinating, uncommercial caves with narrow, low walkways, lakes and cave paintings.
- Bioparc, Fuengirola Refreshingly animal-friendly and enclosure-free zoo in the centre of the town.
- Selwo Aventura, Estepona Wild-animal park with an African theme and animals including rhinos, giraffes, hippos and cheetahs.
- Dolphin-watching, Gibraltar The strait of Gibraltar is home to several species of dolphin. Whales can occasionally be spotted, too.
- Parque Ornitológico Loro-Sexi, Almuñécar Tropical-bird aviary full of parrots, peacocks, macaws, cockatoos and toucans.
- Mariposario de Benalmádena, Benalmádena A butterfly park with several reptiles, including iguanas and a giant tortoise.
- Centro de Fauna Silvestre Collado del Almendral, Cazorla Kids can take a mini train on a 5km ride around a 1-sq-km enclosure and see wild boar, mouflon, ibex and deer, as well as rescued birds recovering in cages.
Other Sights & Activities
Fairs & fiestas Annual fairs are held in every Andalucian town and village and always include a funfair with rides for kids.
Rowing boats Rent a rowing boat to paddle along the moat at Seville’s Plaza de España or a four-wheel bike to explore the park further.
Windsurfing & kiteboarding Older children can take courses in both sports at Tarifa on the Cádiz coast.
Trip to Morocco Take a speedy ferry from Tarifa to Tangier for the day.
This is an easygoing, child-friendly destination with little advance planning necessary.
When To Go
July and August can be very busy with Spanish families, as well as foreign tourists, in the main tourist resorts, and some hotels are block-booked by tour companies. May, June, September and October are good times to travel with young children: the weather's still warm enough for paddling in the sea but hasn't yet reached serious sizzle. The theme parks and attractions are also not too crowded – aside from the Easter holidays, that is.
Most hotels and even hostales (budget hotels) will be able to provide an extra bed or cot for a child or baby. However, always check and reserve in advance as there will be a limited number available. You will sometimes be charged a supplement for this. When selecting a hotel, check whether it has a kids club, activities geared to youngsters and/or babysitting facilities.
You can buy baby formula in powder or liquid form, as well as sterilising solutions such as Milton, at farmacias (pharmacies). Disposable nappies are widely available at supermarkets and farmacias.
Feature: Late Nights
Local children stay up late and at fiesta time it's commonplace to see even tiny kids toddling the streets at 2am. Visiting children will invariably warm to this idea but can't always cope with it quite so readily.
Feature: Before You Go
- You can hire car seats for infants and children from most car-rental firms, but you should always book them in advance.
- No particular health precautions are necessary. Sun protection is essential but can be purchased locally.
- Plan which activities, theme parks, museums and leisure pursuits you want to opt for – and, more importantly, can afford – early on in the holiday.
- English books can be hard to find, so if your child enjoys reading or you have a bedtime-story routine, be sure to bring a couple of books from home.
Travellers With Disabilities
Accessibility in Andalucía is improving as new buildings (including hotels) meet regulations requiring them to have wheelchair access. Many midrange and top-end hotels are now adapting rooms and creating better access for wheelchair users; accessibility is poorer at some budget accommodation options.
If you call a taxi and ask for a ‘eurotaxi’, you should be sent one adapted for wheelchair users.
International organisations can usually offer advice (sometimes including Andalucía-specific info):
Accessible Travel & Leisure Claims to be the biggest UK travel agent specialising in travel for people with a disability, and encourages independent travel.
Mobility International Advises travellers with disabilities on mobility issues and runs an educational exchange program.
Women travellers in Spain will rarely experience harassment, although you may find yourself subjected to stares, catcalls and comments from time to time. Skimpy clothes are the norm in many coastal resorts, but people tend to dress more modestly elsewhere. Some women travellers have reported feeling more comfortable at the front of public transport. Remember the word for help (socorro) in case you need to use it.
Each province’s national police headquarters has a special Servicio de Atención a la Mujer (SAM; literally 'Service of Attention to Women'). The national Comisión para la Investigación de Malos Tratos a Mujeres maintains an emergency line for victims of physical abuse anywhere in Spain. In Andalucía the Instituto Andaluz de la Mujer also offers help.
Weights & Measures
Weights & Measures Spain uses the metric system.