This Spain solo travel guide was written by Laura Bronner, the creator of The Spain Travel Guru, a blog dedicated to sharing all of the discoveries (and some of the mistakes) she made along the camino.
Spain is a country I have long dreamed of visiting. It’s a country with so many cultures, history, and amazing food, three things that always drive my desire to travel somewhere new.
I wanted to eat tapas in Madrid, and see the historical sites of Seville and the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona. I also wanted to test the Spanish that I had learned while living in Mexico and see how different the language really was (it was quite different!).
In the last few years of living in Europe, I have visited Spain four times and overall have spent several months here traveling both solo and with friends along the way.
🙋 Is Spain good for solo travel?
ABSOLUTELY! Spain is an excellent destination for solo travelers. The country boasts a rich history, vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and delectable cuisine, providing an array of experiences.
The transportation system is efficient and spans the entire country, making it easy for solo travelers to navigate between cities and regions.
Spain’s extensive network of hostels and other accommodations cater to Spain solo travel, offering opportunities to meet fellow adventurers.
While Spanish is the primary language, English is commonly understood in most urban and tourist areas, making communication easier.
The Spanish people are generally warm and welcoming to visitors, which adds to the country’s solo travel-friendliness.
As with any destination, it’s essential to keep safety in mind, but Spain solo travel is considered relatively safe.
Additionally, Spain is also great if you are traveling solo in your 40s+. It really caters to all ages!
💃 Spain solo travel experiences
Spain has many different cultures & languages
Spain has 17 different autonomous communities and many more regions within those autonomous communities that all make up the country.
Within those communities, there are different languages spoken. In addition to Spanish, there is Basque, Catalan, Valencian, Galician, and Aranese.
You can imagine my surprise the first time I sat down at a restaurant in Catalonia, thinking that I could speak Spanish and wondering why the heck I didn’t understand a single thing on the menu! It was in Catalan (thankfully, they had a Spanish and an English menu).
There is so much to discover in Spain and as you visit each of the different regions, you’ll feel a little bit like you are visiting a completely different country.
Public transportation is fantastic
Whether you want to get from one side of Madrid to the other or from one side of the country to the other, the public transportation network in Spain is clean, efficient, safe, and relatively affordable (compared to other networks around Europe).
I grew up in New York, so while I did have access to public transportation as a kid, it was inefficient, dirty, and not always the safest option for a young woman traveling on her own. It’s so different in Spain.
I have taken the metro in Madrid late at night and even bright and early in the morning. I have used the high-speed rail network from Madrid to Alicante and Valencia back to Madrid.
When there isn’t a train available between cities or neighborhoods, there are always buses to pick up the slack.
Whether you ride with Alsa up north or Avanza down south, there are many affordable options to take you around the country without needing to rent a car or hop on an airplane.
Don’t try eating during siesta
Siesta is real, my friends. Finding a good meal from 3 pm to 7:30 pm is a struggle, even in big cities like Barcelona and Madrid.
After lunch service, all of the restaurants and bars close for a little break. The open places tend to cater to tourists or are budget-style place that is always open; therefore, the food isn’t the best.
You are out of luck if you are used to having dinner early. Dinner service at most places doesn’t start until at least 7:30 pm, and it’s not uncommon to see areas that don’t reopen until 8 or 8:30 pm.
Change your eating times and enjoy the slow pace of siesta time by visiting a park, taking a nap, or wandering the beautiful Spanish streets (or going to the grocery store and buying snacks).
On my first trip to Madrid a few years ago, I planned a whole tapas bar crawl that excited me. But I didn’t check the opening times. They’re bars, I thought, they’ll be open all day!
They were not open all day. I only managed to visit one of the bars on my tapas crawl, and by 6 pm, I was so hungry I had to buy a sandwich from the supermarket.
Pickpocketing and petty theft are common
One of the main things that I had heard both from friends who have traveled to Spain in the past as well as friends who live in different parts of Spain is that you need to be vigilant about your stuff.
This is especially true in tourist centers like La Rambla in Barcelona or around Plaza Mayor in Madrid. But it can happen anywhere.
One of my friends was sitting at the park in Valencia, and without even realizing it, someone had walked past and picked up her purse with her wallet inside it.
When I’m traveling in Spain, I always make sure that I’m only carrying a small amount of cash and that it’s tucked inside my bag.
I always use a bag that has a zipper and goes across my body like a messenger-style back so that it can’t be taken off my shoulder.
The Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Backpack boasts a thoughtful anti-theft design, including features like lockable zippers, slash-resistant body and straps, and RFID blocking pockets for credit cards and passports.
Experiencing Spanish festivals
Every city, town, and small village around Spain has a patron saint. This patron saint has a feast day at the same time every year. And on this feast day, there’s a party. A big party. The party usually lasts several days.
I arrived in Valencia on March 1st, just in time for the first Mascletà of the Fallas Festival. They have it every day at 2pm from the first of March until the festival ends on March 19th.
It’s essentially 10 minutes of explosives being detonated. It’s so loud it reverberates in your chest. The ground shakes, the air fills with smoke, and your ears will ring for hours after. It’s invigorating and I was addicted.
The Fallas festival ends when they set alight the fallas or wooden sculpltures that have been intricating made and decorated by each of the different neighborhoods in Valencia. The bonfire and subsequent street fire last well into the early hours of the morning.
I’ve also enjoyed the San Bernabé festival in Marbella which was less about blowing things up and more about beautiful women in traditional dresses, lots of dancing in the streets, and plenty of drinking beer in the streets, too.
Spain has the best beaches in Europe
Ok, I haven’t been to every country in Europe that has beaches, but I’ve been to a lot of them and the ones in Spain are better.
There is so much coastline in Spain, so many beaches, so many cities on the sea, and so many islands with even more incredible beaches; it’s impossible not to find one you love.
There are big beach cities like Malaga, Valencia, and Barcelona and of course, the epic islands like Ibiza and Tenerife. Still, there are also small wonderful towns like Villajoyosa and Torremolinos that are worth exploring.
My first experience of the beaches in Spain was a trip to Cabo de Gata Natural Park, a beautiful protected area east of Almería.
The beaches here are so beautiful that they film movies and TV shows like Indiana Jones and Game of Thrones.
My personal favorite was Playa de los Muertos, where I enjoyed a relaxing lunch and swam in little rock pools before climbing back up a ton of stairs to the bus. It’s worth the workout for the soft golden sand and turquoise waters.
Racism is a huge problem in Spain
Spain has recently made headlines for calling a Real Madrid player from Brazil a monkey. Fans shouted in the stands to him, and it became so overwhelmingly loud that they referees stopped the game.
This isn’t my first time hearing about racism and xenophobia in Spain. As a white woman with dark hair who speaks Spanish, I am often mistaken for a Spanish woman upon first meeting.
I have spoken to market vendors and strangers on the street (Spain solo travel as a woman attracts a lot of people who want to chat).
Throughout my different conversations, I have heard many people speak negatively about immigration, the changes in society in Spain, the color of people’s skin, and judgements on people’s sexual orientation.
While this is a global problem, and as someone from the US, I have had the misfortune of hearing this rhetoric many times before, I was shocked to hear it so much and so often on my trips to Spain.
I can’t wait to go back!
One visit wasn’t enough. After my first trip to Spain, I was already plotting a return trip just a few months later. Now with four trips under my belt, I’m planning to spend the entire summer living in different parts of the country.
I know there are more beaches to discover, and more food to eat (pinxos in Basque! More paella in Valencia!).
I’ll even be hiking one of the world’s most famous pilgrimages, the Camino de Santiago, along the Camino del Norte trail through the Basque Country.
Spain is an enormous country with so much to explore, I plan to revisit again and again until maybe one day I just stay.
✨ Spain solo travel tips
Understand the Spanish schedule
Spain operates on a different timetable compared to many other countries. Lunch, the largest meal of the day, typically happens around 2-4 PM, and dinner is usually served after 9 PM.
Many small businesses and shops may close in the afternoon for siesta, a traditional rest period, although this is less common in major cities. Plan your meals and shopping to align with these times.
Learn basic Spanish phrases
While many people in Spain, especially in larger cities and tourist areas, can speak English, it’s appreciated if you learn a few basic Spanish phrases.
Simple greetings, numbers, and phrases like “please,” “thank you,” and “I need help” can make your interactions smoother and more enjoyable.
Explore more than just the big cities
Spain has a wealth of history and culture beyond Madrid and Barcelona. Be sure to explore other regions like the southern region of Andalusia, home to cities like Seville and Granada, or northern regions such as the Basque Country and Galicia.
Each region has its unique customs, cuisine, and attractions.
Use public transportation
Spain has an excellent public transportation system. High-speed trains connect major cities, and local metro and bus services are efficient and reasonably priced.
Taxis and rideshares are also widely available. Consider purchasing a tourist transportation card for unlimited travel within a certain period.
Don’t miss tapas!
Eating tapas, or small dishes shared among a group, is a quintessential Spanish experience. It’s also a great way to try a variety of Spanish dishes in one meal. When in coastal regions, be sure to sample the fresh seafood.
Be aware of pickpockets
As in any major tourist destination, pickpocketing can be a problem, especially in crowded areas and on public transportation. Be cautious, use common sense, and keep your belongings secure and close to you.
Dress modestly when visiting religious sites
If you plan to visit Spain’s beautiful churches, cathedrals, or other religious sites, be respectful and dress modestly. That usually means covering your shoulders and knees.
Best time to visit Spain
Spain’s climate varies greatly from north to south and from season to season. Summers in the south can be very hot, while winters in the north can be quite cold. Check the weather for the regions you’re visiting and pack accordingly.
Experience local festivals
Spain is famous for its numerous local festivals, such as the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, La Tomatina in Buñol, or the April Fair in Seville.
Research local festivities happening during your visit and consider participating to experience Spanish culture at its most vibrant.
Respect the siesta
Although the traditional afternoon siesta is less commonly observed in large cities, in smaller towns and rural areas, it is still a significant part of the day.
Many shops will close, and streets can be surprisingly quiet. Embrace this cultural quirk, plan your day accordingly, and perhaps even adopt the siesta habit during your visit!
Change how you travel and see the world by going deep into the culture. Come and travel with me!
🛑 Safety tips for solo travel to Spain
Stay aware of your surroundings
Especially in crowded places, it’s important to be aware of who and what is around you. Pickpocketing can be an issue in popular tourist destinations, so keep your belongings secure and close to you.
Use reliable transportation
Spain has excellent public transportation systems, which are generally safe and reliable. However, be cautious about accepting rides from unofficial or unmarked vehicles. Use licensed taxis or trusted ride-sharing apps.
Share your itinerary
Let someone know your travel plans, including where you’ll be staying and when you expect to return. Regularly check in with friends or family so they know you’re safe.
Avoid walking alone at night
While Spain is generally safe, walking alone at night in unfamiliar areas can be risky. Stick to well-lit, populated areas, or take a taxi to your destination.
Respect local customs and laws
Understanding and respecting local customs is a part of being a responsible traveler. It also minimizes the risk of causing offense or finding yourself in trouble with local authorities.
Drink moderately (and awarely)
Alcohol can impair your judgment and make you more vulnerable. If you choose to drink, do so responsibly, and never leave your drink unattended.
Secure your valuables
Use the safe provided by your hotel for valuable items. When out exploring, consider using a money belt or a theft-resistant bag to protect your belongings.
Purchase travel insurance
Ensure you have adequate travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost luggage, and other potential travel issues.
Having insurance gives you peace of mind and ensures you can get the help you need in case of an emergency.
Keep a copy of your passport
Having a copy of your passport, either digital or physical, is essential in case your passport is lost or stolen. It will expedite the process of getting a replacement at your local embassy or consulate.
⁉️ FAQ: Spain solo travel
Where is the best place for solo female travel in Spain?
One of the best places for solo female travel in Spain is Barcelona. This vibrant and cosmopolitan city offers a rich cultural experience, beautiful architecture, delicious food, and friendly locals.
The city is known for being safe and having an efficient public transportation system, making it easy to navigate on your own.
Additionally, there are plenty of activities and sights to see, such as Gaudí’s famous buildings, the Gothic Quarter, Park Güell, and La Boqueria Market.
Just remember to practice common-sense safety precautions, like not walking alone at night in unfamiliar areas and keeping an eye on your belongings.
What is the best city in Spain for singles?
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is an excellent choice for singles. The city has a lively atmosphere, diverse population, and an abundance of social activities that make it easy to meet new people.
Madrid offers a vibrant nightlife scene with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants that cater to a wide range of tastes. Additionally, the city boasts many cultural attractions, such as museums, galleries, and historic sites, providing plenty of opportunities for engaging experiences during the day.
Don’t forget to explore popular neighborhoods like Malasaña, La Latina, and Chueca, which are known for their trendy vibes and social scenes.
Can you visit Spain without speaking Spanish?
Yes, you can visit Spain without speaking Spanish. While knowing the language can enhance your experience, it’s not a requirement for enjoying your trip.
In popular tourist destinations like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and Valencia, many locals speak English, especially those working in the tourism and hospitality industries. You’ll find that most hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions have English-speaking staff members.
However, it’s always a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in Spanish, such as greetings, thank you, and how to ask for directions. This will not only help you navigate your way around more easily but also show respect and appreciation for the local culture.
Carrying a Spanish-English dictionary or using a translation app on your phone can also be helpful when communicating with locals who may not speak English.
Ultimately, a positive attitude, patience, and a willingness to use non-verbal communication when needed will go a long way in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable trip.
🇪🇸 Spain Travel Planning
✈️ What’s the best platform for booking flights to Spain?
Kiwi.com is one of the most trusted sites to book cheap flights to Spain. They compare all prices for all airlines! Also try WayAway if you want to get cashback for every booking.
🏥 Is travel insurance mandatory in Spain?
YES! You need to get into the habit of buying travel insurance, not just for Spain. SafetyWing, is my digital nomad/remote worker insurance, while I use Ekta Traveling for short trips (from $0.99 per day).
🚗💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Spain?
ABSOLUTELY! Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com for the best car rental deals in Spain. Remember to book online prior to arrival and don’t do it in person as cars run out fast!
📞 Personalized itineraries and moving to Spain services
Whatever you need for Spain, I can help you with that! Get in touch using the contact page in this website and our team will get back to you as soon as possible.