The official language in Spain is Spanish, also known as Castilian. It’s a Romance language deriving from Latin.
However, English is widely spoken mostly on the holiday islands (Canary Islands and Balearic Islands). Being a preferred destination for European travelers, German and Italian is also spoken in the popular beach areas.
Spain is officially known either as Spain or Kingdom of Spain (Reino de España) Apart from the mainland, Spanish territories also include the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and two autonomuos cities – Ceuta and Melilla- in North Africa.
Spain has been a member of the European Union since 1986 and has the ninth largest economy in the world.
Spain is on Central European Time, which means GMT+1. Daylight saving time starts on March 30 and ends on October 26. When DST starts the clocks move ahead and fall back one hour when DST ends.
Counting and numbers
Dates in Spain, as well as in entire Europe, are written with the day first, then the month, then the year. Hence, 20/02/08 is the 20th of February in the year 2008.
With written numbers, commas and decimal points are swapped from what you might be used to in the US. So, twenty Euro and thirty cents is written €20,30 and three thousand five hundred Euro is written €3.500.
Spain uses the Metric system for measurements and Celsius for temperatures.
You can find a conversion tool here.
Electricity and plugs
The power supply in Spain is 220V/50Hz. You might require an adaptor for the round tow-pins sockets used in Spain unless your electronic appliance takes 100-240V. Otherwise, if you live in a country with 110V electricity –like US- make sure to bring an adapter with you. You also might need a transformer to be able to use your electrical appliances. The plugs are also different than the ones in the US, so you will need an adapter.
Make sure to carefully read the information on your electrical appliances –laptop, camera, so on –before you plug them anywhere.
Spain uses the Euro (€). The banknotes are exactly the same all through the Euro area. They come in seven denominations: 5, 10, 20,50, 100, 200 and 500. One face of the coins is common to all countries and the other face shows national symbols of Spain.
Check this conversion rate tool before planning your vacation.
Banks and ATMs
Banking hours in Spain are normally 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM (13:30). You will find ATMs and machines that exchange foreign currency and gives Euro all over Spain. Credit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere with a preference for Visa and MasterCard. Make sure you keep all the receipts for a few months just in case.
Before you leave for Spain, check if you have a withdrawal limit through ATMs (the case of credit cards). And also check the fees associated with withdrawing money in a foreign country.
Using the telephone
The country code for Spain is 34. To call Spain from the U.S., you will first need to dial out of the U.S. and then into Spain – so that is 011 + 34 and then the phone number itself (using the local area code). To call to Spain from another European country, you will dial 00 + 34 and then the local number or just +34 and the local number. To call a Spanish number from within Spain, simply dial the local number as you have it. To call the U.S. from within Spain, dial 00 + 1 and then the area code and telephone number.
Most travelers prefer to use their mobile phones when they travel, which is easy if you just activate the roaming feature. That’s very useful if your mobile carrier is a widely used one and you will be able to get really good deals when using the roaming feature. Spain uses GSM 900/1800 mobile phones, a system which is compatible with the rest of Europe, but not with North America or Japan.
Public phones in Spain use either coins or cards. Telephone cards can be purchased at newsstands, post offices and other locations. For international calls you can buy pre-paid cards from different operators (and is cheaper than using the coins).
Useful telephone numbers
Visa is required for citizens who do not hold the nationality of a EU member state, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.