If you read our blog, you know that one of our motos is that you don’t need a travel buddy to make the most of visiting a new place and Spain is no exception. Just like traveling to any other country, traveling solo in Spain may sound intimidating at first but in the end, it’s always an incredibly rewarding experience. That being said, there are certain things you need to know before visiting Spain alone and in this article, we’ll do our best to prepare you for every aspect of your journey, including useful solo travel tips, transportation and accommodation recommendations, great activities for solo travelers, useful apps you can use, and much more.
A few things about Spain
Traveling solo in Spain isn’t difficult; the country’s infrastructure is superb (like most other countries in Europe), the weather is warm throughout the year, and Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world, meaning you can easily meet a lot of other solo travelers.
The official language in Spain is Castellano, the purest form of Spanish but many provinces have their own local languages, such as Catalan and Aranese (Catalonia), Basque (Basque Country), Asturleonese (Asturias and northwestern Castille and Leon), Valencian (Valencia), Aragonese (Aragon), and Galician, (Galicia).
But don’t feel intimidated by all these different languages; most of them are to a distinct intelligible with Spanish and because of the increased number of tourists and retirees who choose to spend their last years in Spain, English is widely spoken in the most popular tourist destinations. However, if you want to get off the beaten track in Spain, knowing some Spanish is recommended.
As for the people, Spaniards are very laid-back and approachable. Everything in Spain moves relatively slow (at least for European standards). Between 2 AM and 5 PM, most shops aren’t open because it’s siesta time and if there’s one thing Spanish people love more than a late dinner, it’s a long lunch.
If you’re traveling around the coastline, keep in mind that topless sunbathing is allowed on most beaches and there are also many nudist beaches. Just don’t forget to cover up when going to shops and supermarkets because many of them don’t allow people wearing swimsuits to come in.
If you’re looking to learn some more things about Spain, check out our list of interesting facts about Spain and if you’re looking for some things to add to your Spain bucket list, check out our list of things you can only do in Spain.
If you’re traveling on a budget, public transport is your best friend. Generally, the cheapest way of traveling between cities in Spain is by bus. If this is your plan, you can use our Busbud discount code to save on all bus journeys in Spain. Another alternative is train travel but train tickets can get expensive (especially on long distances) unless you have a pre-booked pass (mind these are not cheap to get but if you travel frequently across the country, you might make it worth your money).
If you’re in a rush, you can also travel between cities via a flight. From my experience, the two cheapest airlines with local flights around the country are Iberia and Ryanair.
However, keeping in mind that you’d be traveling alone, these transportation methods can make you feel lonely, especially if you’re covering a long distance. But what kind of guide to traveling solo in Spain this would be if we don’t have an exciting alternative? It’s Bla Bla Car. I know the name sounds silly but this app is widely used in Spain and with it, you can find drivers in your area traveling to the place you’re going to.
This way, you can travel for cheap, meet locals, practice your Spanish, and learn a lot about local culture along the way. To get an idea of the prices, a journey from Madrid to Barcelona costs around 40 euros. Having the distance in mind, this price is slightly higher than the price of gas you’d pay for the journey if you rented a car.
Last but not least, if you like getting off the beaten track and driving alone, then renting a car in Spain is a great option. Spain has no shortage of scenic roads and renting a car is quite cheap, even more if you use Auto Europe to compare the deals from all local vendors before booking. If you need some inspiration choosing where to go, also check out:
As a rule of thumb, when traveling solo in Spain, hostels are a great place to meet people and likely, like-minded solo travelers. However, from my personal experience, most hostels are hit-or-miss. A lot of travelers who stay in hostels keep it to themselves but it might help if you browse for reviews and find hostels that organize parties and other activities for their guests where you can mingle with other travelers.
If you’re looking to stay in hostels, you can use our discount code for HostelWorld to find the best hostels in Spain.
And if you don’t like hostels, you can always use Booking (our booking.com discount code can get you up to 15% off on all properties in Spain). And last but not least, as a solo traveler, you should also consider Airbnb; people renting apartments are always more likely to give you some good recommendations on non-touristy places to visit, local restaurants, and much more. You can use this special offer to get $50 off your first booking
Join online travel groups
If you’re traveling alone and don’t know anyone in Spain, you can still get some helpful tips about things to do, places to visit, etc. in Facebook groups or travel forums.
You can always find some reviews on Tripadvisor and Google Reviews but if you’re looking for more in-depth advice from people who traveled and experienced Spain, I suggest you join some active groups on Facebook, such as Expats in Spain, American expats in Spain, Travel Spain, or you can also check out Meetup communities in different cities in Spain.
Please note that these are the most active groups with more than 50 posts per day at the time of writing this article. However, just to be sure, make a quick search on Facebook before joining any groups and see how many posts per day are published there to get an idea of how active the group members are.
If you’re an African/colored person, traveling to Spain and have heard some things about racism, make sure to check out our comprehensive article about racism in Spain.
One of the most intimidating aspects of traveling solo in Spain is probably lunchtime. Going to a restaurant and eating alone is something that makes most people uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are platforms like Eatwith that allow solo travelers to meet other solo travelers over lunch or dinner. The platform covers a lot of different experiences from fine dining options to rooftop dinner and cooking classes. And if that’s not enough, you can always join some of the many group food tours in Spain.
Spanish people are in general friendlier than people in most other European countries. They are more expressive and much louder than what you might be used to, so if you’re feeling intimidated by it, don’t be, it’s normal.
When you’re interacting with locals, don’t be surprised if people get a bit touchy; it’s a part of local culture. People may touch your hand or arm when emphasizing a point and kissing on the cheek is a common way of greeting people. So, if that happens, it doesn’t have to mean that people have any hidden intentions, they’re just expressive like that.
That being said, just because people are friendly, doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down with strangers. You should always be cautious around people you don’t know and one good way to do that is by…
Avoiding unwanted attention
First of all, anyone who approaches you on the street and especially near touristy areas should be treated with suspicion because most pickpockets and petty criminals operate in these areas. Always keep that in mind.
Moreover, Spain is a cosmopolitan and multicultural country but it’s still a country with a sternly Catholic legacy and conservative in some regards. One of the things Spanish people are conservative towards are overly revealing outfits. If you’re in a coastal town near the beach, avoid walking around in your swimsuit. Not only do locals not appreciate this but also this can single you out as a tourist and make you a potential target of pickpockets.
If you’re a girl traveling solo in Spain, you shouldn’t have too hard of a time but we still have a few more tips on how to avoid unwanted attention. In Spain, it’s not very common to see a girl eating in a restaurant alone and this might mean that guys will try to approach you. Some might also think that because you’re foreign, you might be more open to hooking up with them. If you want to avoid this when dining alone, just put your jacket at the seat opposite of you (just don’t forget to take your valuables out first).
As we mentioned, Spain is generally safe but if you’re traveling solo in Spain, we have a few tips that you can practice to stay safe.
- Always travel light– it’s much easier to take care of your things, especially when using public transport or traveling to a different city every other day. This is one of the main aspects of a successful solo trip.
- No matter what, always have an accessible offline map on your device. A couple of good choices are Spain Topo Maps and Mapedy.
- This one might be a cliché but when you’re out in a bar alone, always keep an eye on your drink and don’t accept drinks from strangers.
- Spain might be a developed country but pickpockets are not uncommon. Never forget this, especially when you’re in a crowded touristy neighborhood in a big city.
- Don’t keep all of your credit cards and all of your cash in the same wallet. That way, even if you get robbed (which again is not very likely), you won’t be left with nothing.
- Every city has its own rough areas. Do your best to find out which those areas are before you visit, and try to avoid them or at least be extra careful when there.
- In case of an emergency, save the number 112. This is the equivalent of 911 in the US.
Pickpockets and thieves in Spain
We briefly mentioned this aspect of solo travel in Spain in our previous paragraphs but I feel I should cover a few more things. Also, we mentioned that you should always travel light, especially when traveling solo. Nothing screams “I’m a tourist with a lot of valuables” to pickpockets like a vibrantly dressed person carrying two or three huge suitcases. So, packing light doesn’t only make you more mobile when moving around but it also protects you from unwanted attention and makes you less vulnerable to pickpockets.
Another thing you should keep in mind is to avoid carrying a handbag or if you are, to at least spread your valuables to multiple places. Handbags always attract the attention of pickpockets. So, when you’re in a crowded place, always keep your handbag close to you and keep your eyes open.
Nightlife safety in Spain
When traveling solo in Spain, there are always certain risks associated with nightlife because when you’re alone, there’s no one to watch your back. That’s why it’s probably not the best idea to be wandering around alone in the night, especially if you’re a girl.
Date rape drugs and sexual assaults are not very common but just like any other place on Earth, it still happens. Also, be careful about drink spiking and sharing information about where you’re staying with strangers. Most Spanish people are very friendly but as a solo traveler, you should never let your guard down.
And last but not least, if you do decide to go out and party, you should figure out your transportation. Spanish people like partying until the early morning hours and public transportation options during this time of the night are scarce leaving taxis as the only method of transportation most of the time.
However, there are a lot of unlicensed taxis that are looking to rip off tourists looking for a ride. If you’re getting a taxi by yourself (which is not ideal), keep an eye on the taxi certificate that should be clearly displayed on the car and on the driver’s license that most authorized drivers have on display in their car.
But if you want to stay on the safe side, you can always just book Uber or Cabify but to do this, make sure you have access to an internet connection at all times. The best way to do that is to have a Spanish SIM card.
Build an itinerary and have a plan
Even though it doesn’t look very big on the map, Spain is a big country, especially when you take into consideration the number of places that are worth visiting. But trying to see everything can be overwhelming. You probably can’t even cover all of Spain’s UNESCO Heritage Sites in one trip (there are 48 of them). That’s why it’s probably a good idea to break your trip into several different visits and travel slow. If you need help planning your Spain itinerary, you can check out our Southern Spain itinerary or our Northern Spain itinerary.
And if you need help figuring out what are the best destinations in Spain for solo travelers, we have a few suggestions for you below.
Best destinations in Spain to meet other solo travelers
If you’re looking for places where you will be able to meet other solo travelers, Spain’s biggest cities are always a good choice. Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and Bilbao are all great cities filled with interesting things to see and do, a lot of group tours and activities for solo travelers, and a lot of hostels that throw parties and organize activities where you can meet and hang out with other solo travelers.
In addition to these, a few other smaller cities that are good destinations for solo travelers are Benidorm (the backpacking hub of Spain) and Granada (a small town with 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that attracts a lot of international travelers).
Solo travel destinations in Spain for finding/reinventing yourself
If you’re looking for a life-changing solo travel experience, on the other hand, Spain also has a lot of amazing options to offer. The first one that comes to mind is el Camino de Santiago, arguably the most famous pilgrimage walk in Europe and one of the most famous ones in the world.
The journey follows the footsteps of St. James, it’s ideal for traveling alone and lasts between 30 and 35 days and it includes walking between 23 and 27 kilometers (14 to 16 miles). The trek features some of Spain’s most beautiful and pristine landscapes where you can have some alone time, reconnect with nature, and/or try to find or reinvent yourself.
Another great solo travel destination in Spain is Ibiza. With a rich history of hippie tradition, Ibiza is the place where hedonism and spirituality meet. Sure, most people visit Ibiza with a group of friends, but more and more people nowadays choose Ibiza for their solo trip to Spain. Let’s not forget that in addition to the parties and the hedonism, Ibiza is also home to some of the most beautiful sunsets and lush nature in the whole country.
Solo travel destinations in Spain for getting away from it all
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about remote destinations in Spain where you can get away from everything are the lighthouses of Galicia. During Medieval times, the popular belief was that the world ended around Finisterre (the western coast of Spain) and a handful of imposing lighthouses were built to help wandering sailors find their way back home.
And if you’re looking for lesser-known parts of Spain (and if you’re a literature fanatic), you will surely like the Don Quixote Route. The route passes through the heart of Spain and covers some relatively unfrequented and not-so-popular places (Toledo is an exception).
Another great hidden gem where you can get away from it all is the Irati Forest in northern Navarre. The forest is located in the western Pyrenees and stretches across 17,300 h (62,000 ks) of lush nature. It’s one of the best camping destinations in Spain and it’s a perfect pick for solo travelers looking to reconnect with nature.
Speaking of reconnecting with nature, another great place for solo travelers looking to get off the beaten track is the National Park of Picos de Europa. In addition to being a national park, Picos de Europa is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The park is so big that it stretches across three autonomous regions (Asturias, Cantabria, and Leon) and is a must for all nature lovers, campers, climbers, mountain bikers, and canoe enthusiasts.
And if you truly want to get away from it all, there aren’t many better places than Lanzarote. Lanzarote, a.k.a. the Black Island is located just off the northern coast of Africa and is a place that many people forget is a part of Spain. Lanzarote is the northernmost and easternmost of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the best places to visit in Spain for adventure lovers.
Don’t miss the small towns
In this post, we did mention a few destinations for your solo trip to Spain but the truth is Spain has so many beautiful small towns that it’s difficult to mention all of them in one post. Sure, the big cities like Madrid and Barcelona have some of the most famous tourist attractions in Spain but every small town in Spain is special in its own way and if you have more time to spend in time, I suggest you discover as many small towns as possible.
Did you ever visit Spain? How does the idea of traveling solo in Spain sounds to you? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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