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Spain travel tips

These tips are for first time travelers to Spain. Many seem obvious, but one is always surprised at questions new travelers ask in the Trip Advisor forums. One has to do some homework if one's trip will be one of pleasure and have less stress.

1. Buy a book about travel to Spain. Read it and decide what parts of Spain interest you and which cities you want to visit.

2. Get an idea of the geography of Spain. This is a good article from Wikipedia:

Be aware that Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe (after France) and one of the most mountainous (after Switzerland). The central meseta is a highland plateau and Madrid is on this meseta. Be aware of distances between cities. Google Maps or the Via Michelin website can tell you what these distances are.

3. The best time to travel in Spain is spring and fall because that is when good weather occurs. The months of April, May, June, September, and October are very good for travel. Summer is quite hot, especially in inland cities like Seville, Cordoba, and Madrid. The months of July and August are very crowded in resorts along the Mediterranean, so early reservations for hotels are required for these areas.

If one want to visit cities in northern Spain near the Atlantic, such as San Sebastian, Oviedo, and Santiago de Compostela and the rest of Galicia, the months of July and August are the best. Barcelona, the Costa Brava, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands are best from May to September.

The Costa del Sol and Almeria are the best places to visit during winter because they are the warmest. The Costa del Sol has balmy weather during summer. Almeria hardly gets any rain during the year. Nights in Granada are always cool because it is high up in the mountains. The central plateau gets weather extremes during summer and winter.

There are many weather sites that will give one the average temperatures by month for every city in Spain. It is best to check them before making travel plans. Be careful of traveling during winter, especially if you are driving. Many mountain passes get closed and having chains is very important to have in a car.

It makes no sense to travel to places like Leon, Burgos, Vitoria, Pamplona, and Logroño during winter. They get very cold and have much snow and ice. Not all of Spain is sunny all year long. Check the weather for each place you want to visit before making travel plans. The following site will give one average temperatures by month for each city.

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4. During fall, many resorts in the north of Spain and along the Mediterranean have many of their stores and restaurants closed for the season. This may happen in the middle of September. This never happens in the Costa del Sol, which is always open because there are many northern Europeans who migrate during this time and spend winter in the area.

It is also a fallacy that most stores and restaurants close up during summer in big cities. Madrid is a city of 5 million and most stores and restaurants are open all year long.

5. Madrid is in the geographic center of Spain. King Felipe II chose Madrid to be the capital of Spain for this very reason.

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