Helpful Notes for Visitors to Spain and the Islands
Festivals & Events
The Spanish love their fiestas, festivos and puentes. Every region and every
village has it's own Saint's Day festival, which usually lasts a week. It's always
good to join in the local festivities, but be aware that hotels, restaurants
and bars will all be busier at this time and shops may be closed. Have a look
at our Festivals & Events
for some of the most important festivals and cultural and sporting events. Or
for an as-comprehensive-as-we-can-make-it guide to national holidays and local
events, look at our public holidays
Little Hotels doesn't arrange flights. However it is very easy to book flights
on the internet at the same time as you book your hotel. We have a list of flights
and airlines (including links to the airlines' websites) on our Flights
The ferries to Santander and Bilbao are ideal for travellers to northern Spain,
especially if you want to take your own car. We have links to the ferry companies'
websites on our Ferries
Little Hotels is partnered with BCO to provide our clients with very competitive
rates on car hire. You can book directly by going to our Car
- If you’re coming from driving in Britain or Ireland, you will find that it is perfectly easy to adapt to driving on the right. You should take extra care when you start out in the morning though, or on minor roads where you're not getting a cue from other traffic.
- Remember to take care about driving on the left when you get home. Because it seems more familiar, it might be the time when you are more likely to make a mistake.
- Most of our own heart-in-the-mouth moments have arisen through misunderstanding junction layouts. They take more time to adapt to than just driving on the other side.
- It may sometimes seem that speed limits are optional in Spain, but the police
won't see it that way if they stop you. Obey them, and you won't be worrying
about the next radar trap. Note also that the speed limit on motorways and dual carriageways was recently reduced to 110 km/h.
- In some areas, both drivers and pedestrians seem to have a laissez-faire attitude to pedestrian crossings. Take care, especially if you are the pedestrian.
- In contrast to pedestrian crossings, Spanish drivers obey the headlight law in tunnels rigorously. You must turn on your headlights in a tunnel, even a short one.
- It is compulsory to carry ID on you at all times. That means either a national ID card, if you come from one of the countries that have such things, or a passport if you don't. (A photocopy of your passport will do.)
- You also need your driving licence and car documents whenever you are driving.
- Spain operates on 220v 50Hz, just like the rest of Europe, but different from North America. If you are coming from a country that uses 110v, check if your appliances are dual voltage before using them. Some have a switch. Others, like battery chargers for camcorders, may be automatic.
- Spanish plugs are different from the UK, North America and some European countries. You can buy adaptors at the airport. Usually they are labelled "Southern Europe" or something similar.
- The plug in the bathroom of a Spanish hotel may look like a British shaver plug but it is actually slightly different. Make sure you have an adaptor that will take your shaver plug as well.
- British mobile phones and those from most other countries will work in Spain, as long as you have "roaming"activated on your account. Check with your phone service provider before you leave.
- "Roaming" is still relatively expensive, although the cost is coming
down. It will probably work out at about 50-70p per minute, and that includes
receiving calls as well as making them.
- Mobile phone coverage in Spain is excellent, all the more so because your "roaming" phone will automatically switch between networks if it encounters a weak signal.
- There are several minority languages spoken in Spain: Catalan in Cataluña, Valencia and the Balearics, Euskera in the Basque Country and Gallego in Galicia. Of course everyone speaks Castilian Spanish but you will hear the other languages occasionally, and see them on signs.
- Many place names have a "Spanish " version and a local version so beware of this on road signs, maps and even our own website. You'll quickly come to recognise certain patterns in the variations; Alcoy and Alcoi are the same place for instance, so are Guernica and Gernika, and San and Sant both mean Saint something.
- Just to throw a spanner in the works, a few places in the Basque Country have two totally different names, so that San Sebastian is also known as Donostia, for example.
- The Spanish currency is now the Euro, so that makes life dead easy for visitors from other countries in the Eurozone.
- Generally you can get cash from a hole-in-the-wall ("Cajero Automatico") with your British or other credit or debit card. Make sure you know what your card company will charge you for using the service. It's very convenient, and it's usually (but not always) quite cheap as long as you take out a reasonable amount in one transaction.
- Of course, you can also use your credit card in hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. The exchange rate is usually as good as you will find anywhere.
- If you take travellers cheques in sterling or dollars, cash them at a bank to get the best exchange rate. If you have Euro travellers cheques, you should get the full face-value wherever you cash them.
- VAT is known as "IVA" in Spain. Little Hotels always make sure it is absolutely clear whether prices are "including VAT" or "plus VAT". When we confirm availability, we make sure that the price we quote is fully inclusive. For hotels and restaurants the rate of VAT is just 10%.
- IVA doesn't apply in the Canaries, but there is a 7% tax that is much the same thing.
In Spain, the concept of tipping is as it should be: a recognition of special service, and not an obligation. 5% would be good in a restaurant, and a few small coins from your change in a bar.
- Many of the hotels on Little Hotels are completely non-smoking. Others limit
smoking to certain areas and provide the option of "smoking" or "no
smoking" rooms. Just a few hotels place no limitations on smoking.
- The law in Spain requires all bars and restaurants under 100m2 to make it clear whether smoking is permitted or not. Restaurants over 100m2 must provide a separate area for smokers.
- The Spanish health system is excellent (we've inadvertently carried out some consumer testing on a couple of occasions!).
- If you need treatment, ask at your hotel for the nearest doctor, clinic or hospital. If it's urgent, ask anyone.
- EU citizens are entitled to the same rights as a Spanish citizen as long
as they are carrying a EHIC. British visitors should get one from
their post office before they travel. For peace of mind, there is no substitute
for good travel insurance. Keep the documents near to hand, just in case.
The Spanish "Menu"
The word "menu" can cause a bit of confusion for English-speakers in
Spain. The Spanish equivalent of the an English menu is "la carta". "Menu" is
short for "menu del día", a restricted-choice full lunch that
comes at an astonishingly good price: think 9 to 12 euros for a meal that includes
bread, salad, starter, main course, desert, wine and coffee.
Good weather is the key to a good holiday for most people. A link on each hotel
page will give you an idea of what to expect. Also, look at our weather
to compare the weather in different areas, summer and winter.
Sun & Water
- The media continually bombard us about the hazards of sunburn so there's nothing more that we can add.
- Dehydration can creep up on you in hot places, so we suggest you always carry a bottle of water with you and take frequent sips.
- Tap water is generally safe to drink, but the taste varies from excellent (most places) to awful (parts of Mallorca).
Travelling with Small Children
For parents travelling with young children we discovered Kids-Away
, that offers a convenient service to ease the parent's load. No need to worry about excess baggage charges, or packing two weeks supply of nappies and milk products: they can do it all for you. The company is aimed at parents with children from 0 to 7 years and the objective is to allow parents to pre-order their kid's holiday requirements prior to departure and have them delivered direct to their destination.
They don’t just provide the basics, but the aim is to be a one-stop shop for all children's travel and holiday requirements. They have products for all times of year: SMA to sunglasses, Calpol to car seats, and they only sell products which are truly travel-friendly.
We strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance for your holiday. If you take more than one holiday per year, you'll find that you get much better value from an annual policy, which should also provide some cover for travelling in your home country. Shop around, because prices vary considerably; we think the insurance available from our own website
is good value, and it's underwritten by one of the largest insurance companies in the world.