It’s true that Spain is part of Europe, but when it comes to customs and etiquette it’s a world away and to avoid any cultural mishaps, read our tips and advice;
Don’t talk bull – Not the metaphorical type of bull you understand, but the real hot topic: bullfighting! The ancient ‘sport’ has caused controversy for years and is now banned in some parts of Spain. The Canary Islands banned bullfighting in 1991 and the Catalonia region in northern Spain (including Barcelona) has also banned it. It remains a hot topic amongst Spaniards; much like the fox hunting debate in the UK.
Keep the beachwear for the beach – It’s illegal in Barcelona to wander the streets in just a bikini or, guys included, just swim shorts. It’s also against the law to be bare chested and, rather unsurprisingly, totally naked! Keep the beachwear, well, for the beach. And if going ‘au naturel’ is your thing, you’ll be pleased to know that Barcelona alone has 14 ‘official’ nudist beaches. Which brings me on to the next point…
Don’t gawk at the nudists – Did you know that pubic nudity isn’t against the law in Spain (except Barcelona, see above)? It’s not advisable though to let it all hang out at every opportunity – better to hit a designated naturist beach, of which there are hundreds across Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. And if going naked in public isn’t your thing, keep an eye out for the signs so you don’t accidentally stumble onto the wrong beach!
Don’t leave your passport at reception – Before travelling, take a photocopy of your passport and store it digitally for easy accessibility. Although hotels have a duty legally to record your passport details, it’s not recommended to leave your passport at the reception desk for any length of time, as sometimes passports have a nasty habit of taking a wander!
Don’t forget your EHIC – When was the last time you checked the expiry date on your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)? And if you don’t have one – apply now! The card is totally FREE and entitles European residents access to local healthcare within Spain at the same prices as locals would pay.
Don’t ignore the red flag – Much of the Spanish coast, and particularly the island coasts, have strong waves and undercurrents. It goes without saying that airbeds and the like should be kept for the pool and not taken into the sea. The Spanish beaches use the ‘flag’ system to indicate the current safety status and the red flag denotes that no swimming is permitted at that time. And watch out for pesky jellyfish that pop up every so often on Spanish beaches – and FYI, urinating on a jellyfish sting is an urban myth!
Don’t forget your travel insurance – Pretty tedious subject I know, but if you need to make use of it, you’ll be pleased you spent 10 minutes sorting out adequate travel insurance. Especially if your Spanish adventure doesn’t go smoothly. Catalonian authorities have started to charge careless skiiers, hikers and climbers to be rescued, which is one bill you won’t want to pay!