Spectacularly rugged mountain ranges, fascinating volcanic landscapes, desert plains, undulating countryside, beautiful beaches and cities erupting with art and architecture, are some of the many things that draw travellers to Spain and Portugal. Both lands are also buzzing bastions of food and wine, with Spain’s San Sebastian asserting itself as a mecca of world-leading food and restaurants. Spain is also home to some of the most extraordinary Islamic architecture in the world, not to mention a showcase for surreal, medieval and Moorish architecture.   

When to Visit

The best time to travel through Spain and Portugal is spring and autumn, from April to June and September to October when the weather is the best. Summer can get very hot, especially in inland cities and the coastal areas very crowded. 

Highlights

MADRID Buzzing plazas, mighty boulevards and neighbourhoods brimming with character and charm, Madrid is Spain's political and culinary capital. Art and food lovers rejoice – this city will charm you with its gusto and friendliness.

BARCELONA One of the most dynamic and cosmopolitan cities in the world, Barcelona sizzles all year round and is always on the cutting edge of architecture, art, food, fashion, style, and music.

ANDALUCIA Flamenco dancers, caped matadors and ghostly shells of ruined castles. It’s all here, but also wind down and take a walking tour in the Tejeda National Park, through the fertile Cajula valley.

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO One of the most ancient walking routes in the world, from Leon to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Magical.

SAGRES PENINSULA In Portugal’s most southerly Atlantic corner is a pristine region of golden beaches and dramatic coastlines with imposing cliffs, flower meadows and tree-lined paths, making it a seaside paradise for walkers.

BEIRA In the heart of Portugal is the charming region of Beira – where there are more shepherds than tourists. Mountains, gorges, fields of wildflowers and turquoise lakes lure explorers on foot.

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Useful Information

Getting Around

Most of Spain and Portugal is well covered by both bus and rail networks and for journeys between major towns there's often little to choose between them in cost or speed. On shorter or less obvious routes buses tend to be quicker and will also normally take you closer to your destination. Add to this an efficent air travel network and theres no excuse for not travelling to all parts of the countries if thats the type of holiday or visit you have in mind. 

Language

Spanish (Spain); Portuguese (Portugal)

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor.

Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Spain and Portugal.

Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. Australians travelling to Spain or Portugal should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. For further information please visit the Smartraveller website,  www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Spain or www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Portugal

Electricity

Electrical Plug Type: European

Voltage: 220-240 volts. As both 110-120 and 220-240 volt systems can be used, always check the voltage of your socket before plugging in appliances.

Modem Type: USA 

Communications

Country Code for Spain: +34
Country Code for Portugal: +351

Visa Global Assist: 900 948 966

Emergency Services: 112. The emergency services have Spanish speaking staff in Spain and Portuguese speaking staff in Portugal. In some tourist areas service is also provided in English, French and German. 

Shopping

The opening hours for most shops in Spain are from 9:30am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm, Monday to Saturday. From 2pm to 5pm shops are closed for the famous Spanish "siesta". On Saturdays many small shops are only open to 2pm. Major shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets stay open without a break from 10am to 9pm or in some cases until 10pm.

In Portugal shops traditionally open Monday to Friday between 9am and 10am and close at 7pm. Shopping centres are usually open longer - until midnight every day of the week. If you're looking for tradtitional Portuguese products, it's best to visit small towns or historical neighbourhoods.

Tipping

Tipping is customary but not generally considered mandatory and depends on the quality of the service received. In restaurants the amount of the tip, if any, depends mainly on the economic status of the customer and on the kind of locale, higher percentages being expected in upscale restaurants. In bars and small restaurants, youc an leave as a tip the small change left in the plate after paying a bill. Outside the restaurant business, some service providers, such as taxi drivers  and hotel personnel may expect a tipping in an upscale setting. 

Visas

For the most up to date information regarding visas for Australian passport holders to Vietnam, visit www.dfat.gov.au/visas/

Customs

Physical contact during a conversation with a Spaniard is a typical way of communicating and is not considered an invasion of personal space. When in Spain, expect to have meals later than you may do at home. Lunch is normally at 2pm with dinner at around 9pm or 10pm. Food is very important in Spain and often a topic of conversation. When greeting someone, it is customary to give one a kiss on the cheek.

In Portugal, the family is considered a person's foundation and comes before all other relationships, including business and social. It is a culture that respects hierarchy and authority. This is especially prevalent in the north of the country. Although Portugal has become less formal, polite terms of address are still used and people with education are addressed formally.