Spain

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Spain (España) shares the Iberian Peninsula with Andorra, Gibraltar, and Portugal. It has the second-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites after Italy and the largest number of World Heritage Cities.

Spain is famous for its friendly inhabitants, relaxed lifestyle, its cuisine, vibrant Haram nightlife, and world-famous folklore and festivities, and its history as the core of the vast Spanish Empire.

Contents

An Introduction to the regions of Spain

Spain is a diverse country with contrasting regions that have different languages and unique historical, political and cultural traditions. Because of this, Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities (comunidades autónomas), plus two autonomous cities. Some of the autonomous communities—notably the ones which have other official languages alongside Spanish—have been recognised as "historical nationalities" that have a unique historical identity. These include the Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia and the Valencian region, Andalusia and the Balearic Islands, Aragon and the Canary Islands.

Spain's many regions can be grouped as follows:

  Green Spain (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria)
Mild climate, stark mountains, and ties to the sea.
  Northern Spain (Aragon, Basque Country, Navarre, La Rioja)
Known for its cuisine and for landscapes ranging from the beaches of San Sebastián to the landscape of La Rioja.
  Eastern Spain (Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia)
Impressive Roman ruins and popular Mediterranean beaches.
  Central Spain (Community of Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Castile-Leon, Extremadura)
With a more extreme climate than elsewhere in Spain, this region is dominated by the capital, Madrid.
  Andalusia
Full of history, including Moorish architecture and Arab-influenced culture, as well as mountains and beaches.
  Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera)
Super-popular Mediterranean beach destinations.
  Canary Islands (Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, La Gomera, Lanzarote, La Palma, El Hierro)
Volcanic islands off the coast of Africa, a popular escape from mainland Spain.
  Spanish North Africa (Ceuta, Melilla, Crag of Vélez de la Gomera, Crag of Alhucemas, Chafarinas Islands, Alboran Island)
Spanish exclaves along the coast of Morocco.

Spain has hundreds of interesting cities. Here are nine of the most popular:

  • Madrid GPS: 40.383333,-3.716667 — the vibrant capital, with fantastic museums, interesting architecture, great food and dining
  • Barcelona GPS: 41.383333,2.183333 — Spain's second city, full of modernist buildings and a vibrant cultural life, plus late night restaurants and beaches

Torre Agbar - Agbar Tower in Barcelona

  • Bilbao GPS: 43.256944,-2.923611 — former industrial city, home to the Guggenheim Museum and other cultural features; main Basque city
  • Málaga GPS: 36.719444,-4.42 — the heart of flamenco with the beaches of the Costa del Sol
  • Córdoba GPS: 37.883333,-4.766667 — Also called Cordova, The Grand Mosque ('Mezquita') of Cordoba is one of the world's finest buildings
  • Granada GPS: 37.178056,-3.600833 — stunning city in the south, surrounded by snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada, home of La Alhambra
  • Seville GPS: 37.377222,-5.986944 (Sevilla) — a beautiful, verdant city, and home to the world's third largest cathedral
  • Valencia GPS: 39.466667,-0.375 — paella was invented here, has a very nice beach
  • Zaragoza GPS: 41.65,-0.883333 — also called Saragossa. The fifth largest city of Spain that held the World Expo in 2008

Other Muslim Friendly Destinations in Spain

  • Costa Blanca — 200 kilometers of white coast with plenty of beaches and small villages
  • Costa Brava GPS: 42.0228,3.22449 — the rugged coast with plenty of seaside resorts
  • Costa del Sol GPS: 36.79,-4.48 — the sunny coast in the south of the nation
  • Galicia GPS: 42.5,-8.1 — historic cities and small towns, world-famous seafood, and more Blue Flag beaches than any other autonomous community
  • Gran Canaria GPS: 27.966667,-15.6 — known as "a continent in miniature" due to its many different climates and landscapes
  • Ibiza GPS: 38.98,1.43 — a Balearic island; one of the best places for clubbing, raving, and DJs in the entire world
  • La Rioja GPS: 42.25,-2.5 — Rioja and fossilized dinosaur tracks
  • Mallorca GPS: 39.616667,2.983333 — the largest island of the Balears, full of amazing beaches and great nightlife
  • Sierra Nevada GPS: 37.05,-3.3 — the highest mountains on the Iberian Peninsula, great for walking and skiing
  • Tenerife GPS: 28.268611,-16.605556 — offers lush forests, exotic fauna and flora, deserts, mountains, volcanoes, beautiful coastlines and spectacular beaches

Spain Halal Travel Guide

With great beaches, mountains, campsites, ski resorts, superb weather, varied and many cultural regions and historic cities, it is no wonder that Spain is the most popular tourist destination in Europe for any kind of trip. A country of large geographic and cultural diversity, Spain may come as a surprise to those who only know of its reputation for great beach holidays and almost endless sunshine. There is everything from lush meadows and snowy mountains to huge marshes and deserts in the south east. While summer is the peak season, those who wish to avoid the crowds should consider visiting in the winter as not only is it normally mild and sunny, attractions such as the Alhambra Palace in Granada and La Gran Mezquita in Cordoba will not be overcrowded. However the ski resorts of Sierra Nevada do get very crowded. The Mediterranean climate that predominates in Southern and Central Spain is noted for its dry summers and (somewhat) wet(ter) winters, so visiting in the winter or spring brings the added benefit of the vegetation looking much more healthy. Northern Spain (e.g. Asturias) on the other hand gets quite a bit of rain year round and is ripe with lush green vegetation even in August.

History of Spain

Some of the earliest known remains of Homo of any kind in Europe have been found in Spain. Spain is also thought to have been the last refuge of the Neanderthals, and one of the few places that were inhabitable and inhabited throughout the ice ages.

Early Spain and Roman Era

See also: Roman Empire

The earliest inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula we have any profound knowledge of were Iberians, Celts (related to the Gaulish, Britannic and Central European Celts in language and culture) and Basques. As most of these groups had little to no written records we only know of them due to the descriptions of the Greek, Punic and later Roman settlers and conquerors, who colonized Spain from the South starting in the 3rd century BC. Latin Europe|Roman culture lasted on the peninsula for roughly half a millennium, when in the age of migrations the Visigoths conquered the Roman province of Hispania.

Visigoth Spain

Most inhabitants of the area kept speaking Latin or rather Latin-derived languages/dialects and only a handful of Germanic words entered the Spanish language ("ganso" being the most commonplace). Soon after their conquest and the Visigoths formed a number of rival "kingdoms" and petty noble states in almost constant conflict in ever-shifting shaky alliances with or against one another, giving rise to constant wars.

Reconquista and Imperial era

Under the House of Habsburg, Spain became a personal union with the Austrian Empire, and reached its height of power in Europe during the 16th and early 17th centuries, controlling much of Benelux and Italy. Spain was weakened as the House of Habsburg lost the Thirty Years' War in 1648. Spain was further weakened by ineffective governance, religious intolerance that drove out the erstwhile prosperous and productive Yahudi and Muslim minorities and hampered free inquiry and - paradoxically - Latin American Gold and silver that devalued the currency and still couldn't cover war expenses.

The colonization of Central and South America and of Mexico was particularly profound, with the deaths of millions of native people through disease, war and outright murder as the Spanish sought riches in these 'undiscovered' lands. Today many of the countries in this area are defined by Hispanic language and culture (Spanish is today the world's second most spoken native language after Mandarin and before English, and Catholicism dominates throughout the former Spanish colonies). The 19th century saw independence movements fight back against the kingdom of Spain, with leaders such as Simón Bolívar and Augustín de Iturbide successfully creating new independent nations throughout Latin America. By 1898 Spain lost the majority of its remaining territories during the Spanish-American War: it lost Cuba and then sold Puerto Rico and the Philippines, and Guam to the United States. The war of 1898 was a huge shock to Spanish culture and shattered Spain's self-image of a first-rate power, and it thus inspired a whole literary movement known as the generation of '98. For much of this time, Spain was not really one realm so much as several realms which shared a monarch. While the monarch had broad powers and there was no such thing as "absolute" monarchy in Spain and the various regions - notably the Basque country - had numerous special privileges and autonomies granted either to "the people", a local lord or "free men". This proved complicated to resolve when Spain became a Republic and it is still an issue with which Spain is grappling in the 21st century.

The 20th century

Spain experienced a devastating civil war between 1936 and 1939 that killed half a million Spaniards and ushered in more than 30 years of dictatorship under Generalissimo Francisco Franco. The civil war began from a mostly failed coup in Spanish North Africa (today part of Morocco) against Spain's left-wing popular front regime (a popular front was in those days a regime including communist, socialist, liberal, Christian Democrat and even conservative parties), and originated in France as a response to fascism. The fascist side was led by a group of generals; however, some of them soon died in plane crashes or were pushed to the side by Franco. Although the League of Nations (a precursor of today's United Nations) attempted to make intervention imfeasible, Mussolini's Italy and Nazi Germany ignored this by aiding the nationalist (Franco) side, while the Soviet Union and to some extent Mexico provided aid to the Republican (popular front) side. The Republican side called for volunteers in the so-called "international brigades", and around 20,000 Brits, Americans, Frenchmen and even Germans joined the fight on their side. However and the Republican side was plagued by lack of weapons and ammunition (some of their rifles were produced in the 19th century), by infighting between communists and anarchists, and by and Stalinist purges ordered by the super-paranoid supporters of Republican Spain in Moscow. As many people of that generation fought in the Spanish Civil War or covered it as - often blatantly biased - war correspondents (including George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway and later German chancellor Willy Brandt) there is a lot of well-written literature (and some films) that while not always historically accurate manage to perfectly capture the spirit of vain idealism that made many of the interbrigadistas go to Spain in the first place. Just as the American Civil War gave a breakthrough for photojournalism, World War I for news radio and World War II for the newsreel and the Spanish Civil War made its mark on journalism, literature and arts. The Reina Sofia museum in Madrid has an exhibition for artistic expressions of the war, with Picasso's Guernica as its centerpiece.

The war was won for Franco through superior fire-power and with military aid from the Nazis (including the war-crime of bombing Guernica). Franco managed to unify the not at all homogeneous nationalist forces behind his less-than-charismatic leadership and hold onto power through the Second World War (in which he stayed neutral) until his death. He was succeeded by King Juan Carlos. The Spanish Civil War is still in some sense an open wound as it was hardly ever talked about during the days of Franco's regime. To this day, conservatives and Catholics (the Republicans were pretty anti-clerical) are sometimes apologetic about Franco and the "necessity" of the war. Franco's legacy was that the historically important regional identities and languages (such as Catalan and Basque) were brutally suppressed and a policy of strong national identity under the Spanish/Castilian language was promoted. While violent groups such as ETA (see below) were active even during Franco's time and there was hardly any organized opposition, either violent or peaceful, for most of Franco's reign. Franco oversaw Spain's rapid economic expansion with its industrialization in the 1960s. Spain also entered NATO (though not the EU or any of its predecessors) while still governed by Franco. Spain's messy divorce from its African colonies in the last years and days of Franco's life is also one of the reasons for the conflict in Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.

With the peaceful transition to democracy after Franco's death the restrictions on regional identity were lifted, with autonomy granted to several regions. The nature of the transition meant that there was little justice for those who had suffered under the Franco dictatorship and divisions still remain. Shortly after King Juan Carlos - to the surprise of many - insisted on the nation becoming a parliamentary democracy with a figurehead king as nominal head of state, right-wing generals tried to overthrow the nascent democracy on 23 February 1981 in what is now known as 23F. One of the most striking images of the coup was the general Tejero storming into the Congress of Deputies at the head of 200 Guardia Civil members and interrupting the vote to replace center-right Adolfo Suarez with center-right Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo for Prime Minister. The coup failed mostly due to lack of popular support and because the king - in his capacity of commander-in-chief - appeared on television in full uniform to order the soldiers back into their barracks, thus throwing his lot in with democracy. This resulted in a lot of support for the king personally even among otherwise republican-inclined Spaniards for most of his reign. However and the monarchy is rather unpopular among the autonomist or independist movements of Catalonia or the Basque country. The ruling center-right party UCD under Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo badly misjudged the Andalusian desire for regional self-government and thus lost the 1982 election, in one of the biggest popular vote landslides in any modern democracy, to the leftist PSOE. This led to the formation of Partido Popular (PP) from the rubble left behind by the temporary collapse of the center-right. PSOE was led at that time by the relatively youthful Andalusian Felipe González and enjoys a strong basis of support in Andalusia to this day.

The Basque county in Spain's north that had begun violent resistance in 1959 against Franco continued its campaign of bombings and assassinations into the democratic perioid with the terrorist ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna; Basque for Basque country and freedom) group, despite the region having been provided with a high degree of autonomy. The group declared a ceasefire in 2011 and the armed struggle appears over for the time being. Even in the "democratic" 1980s, (under longtime Prime minister Felipe González [PSOE 1982-1996]) the Spanish government responded with methods that are now known to have included "death squadrons" to combat terrorism.

Uncertain times in the third millennium

In the 2000s there was more economic expansion and a housing price boom that subsequently collapsed, leaving Spain with high unemployment and economic difficulties. As a member of U.S. President G.W. Bush's "coalition of the willing" in the "war on terror", Spain was hit by an Islamist terrorist attack on a couple of suburban trains in Madrid on 11 March 2004 (now known in Spain as 11-M) just a few days before a general election. Conservative Prime Minister Aznar's insistence that the perpetrators were Basque terrorists whom the social democratic opposition PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) wanted to negotiate with led to an upset win for Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of the center-left PSOE. His government, however, broke down in late 2011 as an early result of the economic crisis that hit Spain particularly hard. The economically important Catalan region is also increasing in its demands for independence from Spain. In 2017/18 the conflict erupted as the central government and then led by the centralist and conservative PP had previously worked to annul key aspects of a more extensive statute of autonomy while parts of the Catalan parliament went forward holding an independence referendum seen as illegal by the central government and largely boycotted by independence opponents. In 2018 the government of Mariano Rajoy broke down over the Catalan crisis and corruption allegations with a shaky coalition led by PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez taking over after a no-confidence vote. In 2014 King Juan Carlos abdicated, marking the first change of monarch since the death of Franco. The current king is his son, Felipe VI.

Migration

Spain holds a historical attachment to its neighbors within the Iberian Peninsula, Andorra and Portugal, to its former colonies, to former citizens and their descendants, and to a special category of former citizens, namely Sephardic Jews.

The population of Spain is growing in large part due to migration by people from relatively poor or politically stable if you ignore the Western media areas of Latin America, such as Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador or Peru; other parts of Europe, especially Eastern Europe; and Africa and Asia, particularly areas that have a historical or linguistic attachment to Spain. There is also an important segment of immigration that consists mainly of retired people, and people running businesses for them and foreign tourists, coming from wealthier European Union countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Benelux and the Nordic countries, established all along the Mediterranean shore, especially in the Costa Blanca (Alicante), Costa del Sol (Málaga) and the Balearic Islands.

Internally there have always been migrations from poorer rural areas (such as Andalusia) to the cities and to jobs in construction and tourism. Due to the economic crisis of the 2000s and 2010s, youth unemployment has risen to unbearable levels in the 50% range and quite a number of young people have semi-permanently fled the nation to other European Union countries such as Germany to study, work or do internships either until things get better in Spain or forever.

Travel as a Muslim to Spain

Entry requirements

Minimum validity of travel documents|* EU, EEA and Swiss citizens need only produce a passport or national identity card that is valid on the date of entry.

  • Other nationals must produce a passport that is valid for the entirety of their stay in Spain.

Spain is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

  • There are normally no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and a few other countries.
  • There are usually identity checks before boarding international flights or boats. Sometimes there are temporary border controls at land borders.
  • Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.
  • Illegal migration has become the norm throughout the European Union due to countries such as Germany that has ignored the Dublin agreement.

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who enter Spain on a national identity card, who are under 18 years old and travelling without their parents are required to have written parental consent.

Muslims of Antigua and Barbuda and the Bahamas, Barbados, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Seychelles are permitted to work in Spain without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorization for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay. However, this ability to work visa-free does not necessarily extend to other Schengen countries.

A stay of longer than 90 days for non-EEA or Swiss citizens almost invariably requires an advance visa. If one stays for longer than 6 months, a residence permit (Titulo de Residencia) must be obtained within the first 30 days of entering Spain.

There are a number of ways to get into Spain. From neighboring European countries, a drive with the vehicle or a train ride is feasible; from a number of Mediterranean countries more or less Ferries in the regular ferry connections are available; visitors from further away will probably be using air travel.

Buy a Flight ticket to and from Spain

Spain's flag carrier is Iberia, and its two other main airlines are Vueling and Air Europa. There are many airlines connecting from most European countries, Africa and the Americas and Asia. Virtually all European low cost Airlines provide frequent services to Spain including: TUI Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air and Jet2.com.

The busiest airports are Madrid–Barajas Airport, Barcelona El Prat, Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, followed by Seville, Valencia, Bilbao, Alicante and Santiago de Compostela.

For mainland Spain, Madrid Barajas (IATA Code: MAD), Barcelona (IATA Code: BCN) and Malaga (IATA Code: AGP) are your most likely ports of entry, as they have by far the highest amount of international flights. For the islands, you will most likely directly arrive at an airport on the island, without connecting through another Spanish airport.

Muslim Friendly Rail Holidays in Spain

The train system in Spain is modern and reliable, most of the trains are brand new and the punctuality rate is one of the highest in Europe and the only problem is that not all the populated areas have a train station; sometimes small towns don't have one, in those cases you need to take a bus. Another issue with the Spanish Rail network is that the lines are disposed in a radial way so almost all the lines head to Madrid. That's why sometimes travelling from one city to another geographically close to it might take longer by train than by bus if they are not on the same line. Always check whether the bus or the train is more convenient. The Spanish high speed rail system is, however, more reliable than that of - say - Germany, because the gauge of traditional and high speed trains is different and thus high speed lines are only used by high speed passenger trains meaning fewer delays due to congested lines or technical problems. All lines that cross the border into France have either a break of gauge (thus making changing train or a lengthy gauge change necessary) or are high speed, thus making the high speed trains the vastly preferable option to cross the border crossing. Trains between Barcelona and France are operated jointly by SNCF and RENFE and both sell tickets for any international train on that route.

Travel on a Bus in Spain

Virtually all companies operating Intercity buses in France including Ouibus and even German players DeinBus and Flixbus offer buses to/from Spanish destinations. Spanish operators with international connections. Generally speaking the buses will be reasonably save and may even have WiFi or electric outlets at your seat, but if your main concern is anything but cost, opt for a train or plane instead as the former is both vastly more comfortable and faster and the latter is still a lot faster and can even be cheaper, if you manages to travel on carry-on only. Buses generally have greater luggage allowances than the airlines, but then again, you'd have the same advantage taking the train.

Book a Halal Cruise or Boat Tour in Spain

From the UK, Brittany Ferries offers services from Portsmouth and Plymouth to Santander and from Portsmouth to Bilbao. The journey time from Portsmouth to Santander is roughly 24 hours.

Spain is also well connected by ferry to Northern Africa (particularly Tunisia and Morocco) and the Canary Islands which are part of Spain. Routes are also naturally available to the Spanish Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera.

How to get around in Spain

Muslim Friendly Rail Holidays in Spain

  • Renfe is the Spanish national rail carrier. Long-distance trains always run on time, but be aware that short-distance trains (called Cercanías) can bear long delays, from ten to twenty minutes, and especially in the Barcelona area, where delays up to 30 minutes are not uncommon. To be safe, always take the train before the one you need. It also manages FEVE narrow-gauge trains which mainly run near the northern atlantic coast (from Ferrol to Bilbao). Buying tickets online with a foreign credit card may be difficult, however, those with a PayPal account may find it easier to pay using the website. Renfe also operates the AVE high speed trains, whose network radiates out of Madrid to the major cities along the coasts - Spain boasts the second-longest high speed network (behind China) and has constructed a lot of new lines until the economic downturn at the end of the 2000s.
  • FGC operates several local routes near Barcelona. On these places where both Renfe and FGC operate, usually FGC provides more trains per hour, has better punctuality records and stations are closer to the downtowns; on the other side, trains are slower and single fares are more expensive.
  • FGV provides local services in Valencia area uncovered by Renfe and a tram service in Alicante.
  • Euskotren operates affordable services from Bilbao to Gernika, Bermeo and San Sebastian plus a line connecting San Sebastian with Irun and Hendaye (France). The Bilbao - San Sebastian trip is about 2hr 40min while buses connect the cities in around just an hour, although bus tickets cost about twice as the train. All but the whole Bilbao - San Sebastian line run twice an hour with extra trains on peak hours.

Travel on a Bus in Spain

The least expensive way to get around most parts of Spain is by bus. Most major routes are point to point, and very high frequency. There are many companies serving within certain autonomous communities or provinces of the nation on multiple routes or on a single route going from a major city to several surrounding villages and towns. The following operators serve more than a single region:

  • ALSA - formerly Continental Auto - ☎ +34 902 422242 - Largest bus company with point to point routes across the nation and alliances with various other regional companies and/or subsidiary brands.
  • Grupo Avanza - ☎ +34 902 020999 - Operates buses between Madrid and the surrounding autonomous communities of Extremadura, Castile-Leon, Valencia (via Castile-Leon). In some areas they operate through their subsidiary brands of Alosa, Tusza, Vitrasa, Suroeste and Auto Res.
  • Socibus and Secorbus - ☎ +34 902 229292 - These companies jointly operate buses between Madrid and western Andalucia including Cadiz, Cordoba, Huelva and Seville.

At the bus station, each operator has its own ticket counter or window and usually a single operator from here to a particular destination. Therefore and the easiest is to ask the staff who will be happy to tell you who operates which route and point you to a specific desk or window. You can also see what is all available on Movelia.es or see "By bus" under "Getting in" or "Getting Around" in the article for a particular autonomous community region, province or locale. It is usually not necessary or more advantageous to book tickets in advance as one can show up and get on the next available bus. Most bus companies can be booked in advance online. however English translation on their websites is patchy at best.

Book a Halal Cruise or Boat Tour in Spain

Wherever you are in Spain, from your private yacht you can enjoy gorgeous scenery and distance yourself from the inevitable crowds of tourists that flock to these destinations. May is a particularly pleasant time to charter in the regions of Costa Brava, Costa Blanca and the Balearic Islands as the weather is good and the crowds have yet to descend. The summer months of July and August are the hottest and tend to have lighter winds. There is no low season for the Canary Islands, as the weather resembles springtime all year round.

If you would like to bareboat anywhere in Spain, including the Balearic or Canary Islands, a US Coast Guard License is the only acceptable certification needed by Americans to bareboat. For everyone else, a RYA Yacht Master Certification or the international Certificate of Competence will normally do.

Although a skipper may be required, a hostess/chef may or may not be necessary. Dining out is strong part of Spanish custom and tradition. If you are planning on docking in a port and exploring fabulous restaurants a hostess/cook may just be useful for serving drinks and making beds. Extra crew can take up valuable room on a tight ship.

Rent a Car or Limousine in Spain

In major cities like Madrid or Barcelona and in mid-sized ones like San Sebastian, moving around by vehicle is both expensive and nerve-wracking. Fines for improper parking are uncompromising (€85 and up).

Getting around by vehicle makes sense if you plan to move from one city to another every other day, ideally if you don't plan to park overnight in large cities. It also doesn't hurt that the scenery is beautiful and well worth a drive. However do consider that gas prices have gone up considerably in the last couple of year and taxes on gasoline are considerably higher than in - say - the USA. With a good public transport network that connects to (almost) all points of interest for Muslim travellers, you might ask yourself whether driving is really worth the cost and the hassle, as you are often much faster by train than by car.

There are two types of highway in Spain: autopistas, or motorways, and autovías, which are more akin to expressways. Most autopistas are toll roads while autovías are generally free of charge. Speed limits range from 50 km/h (30 mph) in towns to 90 km/h on rural roads, 100 km/h on roads and 120 km/h (75 mph) on autopistas and autovías.

Intersections of two highways typically have a roundabout under the higher one--so you can choose any turn and to start driving in an opposite direction there.

Green light for cars about to turn is frequently on at the same time as green light for pedestrians: every time you turn, check if the pedestrians pass you cross doesn't also have green light for them.

Filling procedure for gas stations varies from brand to brand. At Agip, you first fill the tank yourself, and then pay inside the shop. Gasoline is relatively affordable compared to other countries in the EU and Japan, but still more expensive than in the U.S.

Renting a vehicle

If you plan to move around large cities or explore further afield you will find many companies that offer vehicle hire at affordable prices because of the high competition between vehicle rental agencies, consider renting a vehicle with GPS navigation--it will be even easier to drive than having an automobile map.

Spanish drivers can be unpredictable and some of the roads on the Southern area of Malaga and the Costa Del Sol are notoriously dangerous. Other drivers are not always careful parking near other cars, especially when parking space on a street is limited. Therefore you should consider a fully comprehensive insurance package with includes a collision damage waiver (CDW) and a vehicle theft waiver, as well as liability cover. Many of the vehicle hire companies offer an insurance option where you can choose to reduce your vehicle excess. This means that if you are in an accident you would not be financially liable for the whole excess fee. Check your travel insurance and other insurance to ensure you aren't paying twice for the same coverage.

Child seats are also available with all vehicles so that any children in your party can travel safely and in comfort.

Air conditioning is a must in the hot Spanish summer months. Nevertheless you should make sure to take water with you at all times.

If you break down while on holiday you will want a vehicle hire company that gives you the free roadside assistance of trained mechanics. Cars often overheat in Spain while the tires are vulnerable on the hot roads.

Car hire companies may accept payment in foreign currency when you pay by a credit card. Beware the normal costs associated with Money#dynamic currency conversion|dynamic currency conversion.

By bicycle

Spain is a suitable country for cycling, and it is feasible to see many cyclists in some of the cities. Cycling lanes are available in most of mid-sized and large cities, although they are not comparable in number to what you can find in other countries in central Europe, for example.

It must be taken into account that depending on where you are in Spain, you could face a very mountainous area. Central Spain is characterized by being very flat, but towards the coast the landscape is often very hilly, especially in the north.

There are several options for touring in Spain by bicycle: guided or supported tours, rent bicycles in Spain or bring your own bike, or any combination. Supported tours are ubiquitous on the web. For unsupported tours a little Spanish helps a lot. Shoulder seasons avoid extremes of temperature and ensure hotel availability in non-tourist areas. Good hotels are €35-45 in the interior, breakfast usually included. Menu del dia meals are €8-10 eating where the local residents eat. Secondary roads are usually well paved, good shoulders and as a rule Spanish drivers are careful and courteous around touring cyclists. Road signs are usually very good and easy to follow.

Most municipalities in Spain, towns and cities are modernizing their streets to introduce special lanes for bicycles. Bike share systems with usually quite reasonable prices are also being installed in cities throughout the nation.

By taxi

All the major cities in Spain are served by taxis, which are a convenient, if somewhat expensive way to get around. That being said, taxis in Spain are more reasonably priced than those in say and the United Kingdom or Japan. Most taxi drivers do not speak English or any other foreign languages, so it would be necessary to have the names and/or addresses of your destinations written in Spanish to show your taxi driver. Likewise, get your hotel's business card to show your taxi driver in case you get lost.

Local Language in Spain

See also: Spanish phrasebook

The official and universal language used in Spain is Spanish (español) which is a member of the Romance family of languages (others include Portuguese, Catalan, Italian, French, and Romanian). Many people, especially outside Castile, prefer to call it Castilian (castellano).

However there are a number of languages (Catalan, Basque, Galician, Asturian, etc.) spoken in various parts of Spain. Some of these languages are dominant and co-official in their respective regions, though most people will be bilingual in their local language and Spanish. Catalan, Basque and Galician are recognised as official languages according to the Spanish constitution. With the exception of Basque (whose origins are still debated) and the languages of the Iberian Peninsula are part of the Romance family and are fairly easy to pick up if you know Castilian well.

  • Catalan (Catalan: català, Castilian: catalán), a distinct language similar to Castilian but more closely related to the Oc branch of the Romance Languages and considered by many to be part of a dialect continuum spanning across Spain, France, and Italy and including the other langues d'oc such as Provençal, Beàrnais, Limousin, Auvernhat and Niçard. Various dialects are spoken in the northeastern region of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, and Valencia (region)|Valencia (where it is often referred to as Valencià), east of Aragon, as well as neighbouring Andorra and southern France. To a casual listener, Catalan superficially appears to be a cross of Castilian, French and Portuguese and though it does share features of all three, it is a separate language.
  • Galician (Galician: galego, Castilian: gallego), very closely related to Portuguese, Galician is spoken in Galicia and the western portions of Asturias and Leon_(Spain)|León. Galician predates Portuguese and is deemed one of the four main dialects of the Galician-Portuguese language family group which includes Brazilian, Southern Portuguese, Central Portuguese, and Galician. While the Portuguese consider it a dialect of Portuguese, Galicians consider their language independent.
  • Basque (Basque: euskara, Castilian: vasco), a language unrelated to Castilian (or any other known language in the world), is spoken in the three provinces of the Basque Country, on the two adjacent provinces on the French side of the Spain-French border, and in Navarre. Basque is considered a language isolate unrelated to any Romance or even Indo-European language.
  • Asturiano (Asturiano: asturianu, Castilian: asturiano, commonly called bable), spoken in the province of Asturias, where it enjoys semi-official protection. It was also spoken in rural parts of León, Zamora, Salamanca, in a few villages in Portugal (where it is called Mirandes) and in villages in the extreme north of Extremadura. While the constitution of Spain explicitly protects Basque, Balearic-Catalan-Valencian under the term Catalan, Galician, and Castilian, it does not explicitly protect Asturian. Still and the province of Asturias explicitly protects it, and Spain implicitly protects it by not objecting before the Supreme Court.
  • Aragonese (Aragonese: aragonés, Castilian: aragonés, also known colloquially as fabla), spoken in the north of Aragon, and is not officially recognised. This language is close to Catalan (specially in Benasque) and to Castilian, with some Basque and Occitan (southern France) influences. Nowadays, only a few villages near the Pyrenees use the language vigorously, while most people mix it with Castilian in their daily speech.
  • Aranese (Castilian: Aranés, Catalan/Aranese Occitan: Aranès), spoken in the Aran Valley and recognised as an official language of Catalonia (not of Spain), alongside Catalan and Castilian. This language is a variety of Gascon Occitan, and as such is very closely related to Provençal, Limousin, Languedoc, and Catalan.

In addition to the native languages, many languages such as English, French, and German are commonly studied in school. Spaniards are not known for their proficiency in foreign languages, however, and it is very rare to find local residents conversant in foreign languages outside of the main tourist areas or major international hotels.

That being said, most establishments in Spain's important tourist industry usually have staff members who speak a good level of English, and particularly in popular beach resorts such as those in the Costa del Sol, you will find people who are fluent in several languages and the most common ones being German and French. English is also generally more widely spoken in Barcelona and Madrid (though not to the same extent) than in the rest of the nation. As Portuguese and Italian are closely related to Spanish, if you speak either of these languages, local residents would be able to puzzle you out with some difficulty. German is spoken in some areas frequented by German tourists, such as Mallorca.

Castilian Spanish differs from the Latin American Spanish varieties in pronunciation and grammar, although all Latin American varieties are easily understood by Spaniards and vice-versa. While the differences in spelling are virtually non-existent and the differences in words and pronunciation between "Spanish-Spanish" and "Latin-Spanish" are arguably bigger than those between "American" and "British" English.

French is the most widely understood foreign language in the northeast of Spain.

Locals will appreciate any attempts you make to speak their language. For example, know at least the Castilian for "good morning" (buenos días) and "thank you" (gracias).

What to see in Spain

The most popular beaches are the ones along the Mediterranean coast and on the Canary Islands. Meanwhile, for hiking and the mountains of Sierra Nevada in the south and the Central Cordillera and the northern Pyrenees are the best places.

Historic cities

Historically, Spain has been an important crossroads: between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, between North Africa and Europe, and as Europe beginning colonizing the New World, between Europe and the Americas. As such and the nation is blessed with a fantastic collection of historical monuments - in fact, it has the 2nd largest number of UNESCO Heritage Sites and the largest number of World Heritage Cities of any nation in the world.

In the south of Spain, Andalusia holds many reminders of old Spain. Cadiz is regarded as one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in western Europe, with remnants of the Roman settlement that once stood here. Nearby, Ronda is a beautiful town atop steep cliffs and noted for its gorge-spanning bridge and the oldest bullring in Spain. Cordoba and Granada hold the most spectacular reminders of the nation's Muslim past, with the red-and-white striped arches of the Mezquita in Cordoba and the stunning Alhambra palace perched on a hill above Granada. Seville and the cultural center of Andalusia, has a dazzling collection of sights built when the city was the main port for goods from the Americas and the grandest of which being the city's cathedral and the largest in the nation.

Moving north across the plains of La Mancha into Central Spain, picturesque Toledo stands as perhaps the historical center of the nation, a beautiful medieval city sitting atop a hill that once served as the capital of Spain before Madrid was built. North of Madrid and an easy day-trip from the capital city is El Escorial, once the center of the Spanish empire during the time of the Inquisition, and Segovia, noted for its spectacular Roman aqueduct which spans one of the city's squares.

Further north in Castile-Leon is Salamanca, known for its famous university and abundance of historic architecture. Galicia in northwestern Spain is home to Santiago de Compostela and the end point of the old Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) pilgrimage route and the supposed burial place of St. James, with perhaps the most beautiful cathedral in all of Spain at the heart of its lovely old town. Northeastern Spain has a couple of historical centers to note: Zaragoza, with Roman, Muslim, medieval and Renaissance buildings from throughout its two thousand years of history, and Barcelona with its pseudo-medieval Barri Gòtic neighborhood.

Art museums

Spain has played a key role in Western art, heavily influenced by French and Italian artists but very distinct in its own regard, owing to the nation's history of Muslim influence, Counter-Reformation climate and, later and the hardships from the decline of the Spanish empire, giving rise to such noted artists like El Greco, Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya. In the last century, Spain's unique position in Europe brought forth some of the leading artists of the Modernist and Surrealist movements, most notably the famed Picasso and Salvador Dalí.

Today, Spain's two largest cities hold the lion's share of Spain's most famous artworks. Madrid's Museum Triangle is home to the Museo del Prado and the largest art museum in Spain with many of the most famous works by El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya as well as some notable works by Italian, Flemish, Dutch and German masters. Nearby sits the Reina Sofía, most notable for holding Picasso's Guernica but also containing a number of works by Dalí and other Modernist, Surrealist and abstract painters.

Barcelona is renowned for its stunning collection of modern and contemporary art and architecture. This is where you will find the Picasso Museum, which covers the artist's early career quite well, and the architectural wonders of Antoni Gaudi, with their twisting organic forms that are a delight to look at.

Outside of Madrid and Barcelona and the art museums quickly dwindle in size and importance, although there are a couple of worthy mentions that should not be overlooked . Many of El Greco's most famous works lie in Toledo (Spain)|Toledo, an easy day trip from Madrid. The Disrobing of Christ, perhaps El Greco's most famous work, sits in the Gothic Church, but you can also find work by him in one of the small art museums around town. Bilbao in the Basque Country of northern Spain is home to a spectacular Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry that has put the city on the map. A day trip from Barcelona is the town of Figueres, noted for the Salvador Dalí Museum, designed by the Surrealist himself.

Archaeological sites

  • Ampurias, excavations of a Greek and Roman town, Roman basilica, temples of Asclepios and Serapis, (between Gerona and Figueras, Catalonia)
  • Antequetera, La Menga and Viera dolmens,
  • Calatrava la Nueva, well preserved medieval castle,
  • Calatrava la Vieja, remains of the Arab town, castle of the order of Calatrava,
  • Clunia, Roman town with forum, shops, temple, public bath houses and Roman villa,
  • Fraga, Roman villa, Bronze Age settlements,
  • Gormaz, Arab castle,
  • Italica, Roman town with amphitheatre, city walls, House of the Exedra, House of the Peacocks, Baths of the Moorish Queen, House of the Hylas, temple complex (near Sevilla),
  • Merida, Roman city, Roman bridge, Amphitheatre, Hippodrome, House of the Amphitheatre, House of the Mithraeum with mosaics, aquaeducts, museum
  • San Juan de los Banos, Visigoth church (between Burgos and Valladolid),
  • San Pedro de la Nave, Visigoth church (near Zamora),
  • Santa Maria de Melque, Visigoth church,
  • Segobriga (Cabeza del Griego), Roman town, Visigoth church, museum (between Madrid and Albacete)
  • Tarragona, Roman town with “Cyclopean wall”, amphitheatre, hippodrome, form and triumphal arch,

Sports

Association Football

Spain's La Liga is one of the strongest in the world, boasting world class teams like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona that play to sold out crowds on a weekly basis. The rivalry between the two aforementioned clubs, known as El Clásico, is undoubtedly one of the most intense in the world as a result of the long history of political conflict behind it. The Spanish national team is also one of the strongest in the world, being able to draw world class players from its world class league. It long had a reputation of always failing to win big games, but this reputation has been pretty much shattered by the wins of Spain in the 2008 and 2012 European championships as well as the 2010 world cup.

Halal Tours and Excursions in Spain

  • Via de la Plata Route Historic 800-km route from Gijón to Sevilla.
  • Way of St. James

Best things to do in Spain

Festivals

Spain has a lot of local festivals that are worth going to.

  • Málaga's Semana Santa (Easter) - worth seeing. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday lots of processions occur.
  • Córdoba en Mayo (Cordoba (city, Spain)|Cordoba in May) - great month to visit the Southern city
  • Las Cruces (1st week in May) - big flower-made crosses embellishing public squares in the downtown, where you will also find at night music and drinking and lot of people having fun!
  • Festival de Patios - one of the most interesting cultural exhibitions, 2 weeks when some people open doors of their houses to show their old Patios full of flowers
  • Cata del Vino Montilla-Moriles - great tasting in a big tent in the downtown during one week in May
  • Dia de Sant Jordi - The Catalan must. On 23 April Barcelona is embellished with roses everywhere and book-selling stands can be found in the Rambla. There are also book signings, concerts and diverse animations.
  • Fallas - Valencia's festival in March - burning the "fallas" is a must

[[6 Falla Plaza del Ayuntamiento 2012 - Falla of the Town Hall Plaza 2012 (Valencia)

  • Málaga's August Fair - flamenco dancing, drinking sherry, bullfights
  • San Fermines - July in Pamplona, Navarra.
  • Fiesta de San Isidro - 15 May in Madrid - a celebration of Madrid's patron saint.
  • Holy week (Easter Week) - best in Seville and the rest of Andalusia; also interesting in Valladolid (silent processions) and Zaragoza (where hundreds of drums are played in processions)
  • Carnival - best in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Cádiz
  • Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (Three wise men parade) - on the eve of Epiphany, 5 January and the night before Spanish kids get their Christmas presents, it rains sweets and toys in every single town and city
  • San Sebastian International Film Festival - held annually in San Sebastian, a gorgeous city in the Basque Country, towards the end of September
  • La Tomatina - a giant tomato fight in Buñol
  • Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians, mostly found in Southeastern Spain during spring time) - parades and "battles" remembering the fights of medieval ages
  • 85 festivals in Galicia throughout the year from to wild horses.

Public Holidays in Spain

New Year eve: "Nochevieja" in Spanish. There's a tradition in Spain to eat grapes as the clock counts down the New Year, one grape for each of the last 12 seconds before midnight. For this, even small packs of grapes (exactly 12 grapes per pack) are sold in supermarkets before New Year.

La Puerta del Sol, is the venue for the New Year's party in Spain. At 23:59 sound "los cuartos (In Spanish)" some bells announcing that it has begun to sound the 12 chimes (campanadas in Spanish). While sounding "los cuartos", moves down from the top chime of the clock, with the same purpose as "los cuartos" sound will indicate that "las campanadas". That will sound at 24:00 and that indicate the start of a new year. During each chime must eat a grape, according to tradition. Between each chime and there is a time span of three seconds.

"Las Campanadas", are broadcast live on the main national TV channels, as in the rest of Spain, people are still taking grapes from home or on giant screens installed in major cities, following the chimes from the Puerta del Sol in Madrid.

Nochevieja puertadelsol 2006 - Start the New Year in La Puerta del Sol (Madrid) After ringing "las campanadas", starts a fireworks extravaganza. This is a famous party in Spain and is a great time to enjoy because show is secured in the center of the capital of Spain.

Outdoor activities

  • Canyoning: see Canyoning#Spain|Spain section in the Canyoning eHalal Travel Guide
  • Climbing in: Los Mallos (Aragon) and Siurana (near Barcelona)
  • Football (soccer): The most popular sport in Spain, with both the Spanish league and national team being among the strongest in the world.
  • Whitewater sports in: Campo, Murillo de Gallego (Aragon)
  • Hiking in Galicia
  • Downhill skiing: There are a lot of downhill skiing resorts in Spain.

Skiing in the northern region of Spain

Scuba diving

For a treat, try Costa Brava and the world renowned Canary Islands.

Muslim Friendly Shopping in Spain

Money Matters & ATM's in Spain

Cash euro: €500 banknotes are not accepted in many stores, always have alternative banknotes.

Other currencies: Do not expect anybody to accept other types of currency, or to be willing to exchange currency. Exceptions are shops and restaurants at airports. These will generally accept at least U.S. dollars at a slightly worse exchange rate.

If you wish to exchange money, you can do so at any bank (some may require that you have an account there before they will exchange your money), where you can also cash in your traveller's cheques. Currency exchanges, once a common sight, have all but disappeared since the introduction of the euro. Again, international airports are an exception to this rule; other exception is tourist neighborhoods in the large cities (Barcelona, Madrid).

Credit cards: Credit cards are well accepted: even in a stall at La Boqueria market in Barcelona, on an average highway gas station in the middle of the nation, or in small towns like Alquezar. It's more difficult to find a place where credit card is not accepted in Spain.

Most ATMs will allow you to withdraw money with your credit card, but you'll need to know your card's PIN for that. Most Spanish stores will ask for ID before accepting your credit card. Some stores may not accept a foreign driving license or ID card and you will need to show your passport. This measure is designed to help avoid credit card fraud.

Tipping

Tipping, or "propina" in Spanish, is not mandatory or considered customary in Spain unless there was something absolutely exceptional about the service. As a result, you may find that waiters are not as attentive or courteous as you may be used to since they don't work for tips. If you choose to tip and the tip amount in restaurants depends on your economic status and the locale and type of establishment. If you feel that you have experienced good service then leave some loose change on the table - possibly €1 or €2 . If you don't, it is no big deal.

Bars expect only tourists, particularly American tourists, to leave a tip. They are aware that it is customary in the United States to leave a tip for every drink or meal. It is common to see anyone other than Americans tipping in Spain. In major resorts tipping may be common; look around at other diners to assess if tipping is appropriate.

Outside the restaurant business, some service providers, such as taxi drivers, hairstylists and hotel personnel may expect a tip in an upscale setting.

Business hours

Most businesses (including most shops, but not restaurants) close in the afternoons around 13:30/14:00 and reopen for the evening around 16:30/17:00. Exceptions are large malls or major chain stores.

For most Spaniards, lunch is the main meal of the day and you will find restaurants open during this time. On Saturdays, businesses often do not reopen in the evening and almost everywhere is closed on Sundays. The exception is the month of December, where most shops in Madrid and Barcelona will be open as per on weekdays on Sundays to cash in on the festive season. Also, many public offices and banks do not reopen in the evenings even on weekdays, so if you have any important business to take care of, be sure to check hours of operation.

If you plan to spend whole day shopping in small shops and the following rule of thumb can work: a closed shop should remind it's also time for your own lunch. And when you finish your lunch, some shops will be likely open again.

Gran Vía (Madrid) 25 - Gran Vía of Madrid, is a perfect place for shopping

Clothes and shoes

Designer brands

Besides well-known mass brands which are known around the world (Zara, Mango, Bershka, Camper, Desigual), Spain has many designer brands which are more hard to find outside Spain--and may be worth looking for if you shop for designer wear while travelling. Some of these brands include:

Department stores

  • El Corte Ingles - Major national chain that can be found in nearly every city. In most cities, enjoys central location but resides in functional, uninspiring buildings. Has department for everything--but is not good enough for most purposes, except maybe for buying gourmet food and local food specialties. Tax refund for purchases at El Corte Ingles, unlike most other stores in Spain, can be returned only to a debit/credit card, even if you originally paid in cash.

Others

  • Casas - A chain of footwear stores that selects most popular (?) models from a dozen+ of mid-range brands.
  • Camper - Camper shoes can be seen in most cities in the nation. While it may seem that they are sold everywhere, finding right model and size may be a trouble--so if you find what you need, don't postpone your purchase. Campers are sold both in standalone branded shops, and as a part of a mix with other brands in local shoe stores. Standalones generally provide wider choice of models and sizes; local stores can help if you need to hunt for a specific model and size.
  • For - Private national fashion chain featuring many premium brands. Main location is Bilbao; some stores in San Sebastian and Zaragoza.

Halal Restaurants in Spain

See also: Spanish cuisine

eHalal Group Launches Halal Guide to Spain

Spain - eHalal Travel Group, a leading provider of innovative Halal travel solutions for Muslim travelers to Spain, is thrilled to announce the official launch of its comprehensive Halal and Muslim-Friendly Travel Guide for Spain. This groundbreaking initiative aims to cater to the diverse needs of Muslim travelers, offering them a seamless and enriching travel experience in Spain and its surrounding regions.

With the steady growth of Muslim tourism worldwide, eHalal Travel Group recognizes the importance of providing Muslim travelers with accessible, accurate, and up-to-date information to support their travel aspirations to Spain. The Halal and Muslim-Friendly Travel Guide is designed to be a one-stop resource, offering an array of invaluable information on various travel aspects, all carefully curated to align with Islamic principles and values.

The Travel Guide encompasses a wide range of features that will undoubtedly enhance the travel experience for Muslim visitors to Spain. Key components include:

Halal-Friendly Accommodations inSpain: A carefully selected list of hotels, lodges, and vacation rentals that cater to halal requirements, ensuring a comfortable and welcoming stay for Muslim travelers in Spain.

Halal Food, Restaurants and Dining in Spain: A comprehensive directory of restaurants, eateries, and food outlets offering halal-certified or halal-friendly options in Spain, allowing Muslim travelers to savor local cuisines without compromising their dietary preferences in Spain.

Prayer Facilities: Information on masjids, prayer rooms, and suitable locations for daily prayers in Spain, ensuring ease and convenience for Muslim visitors in fulfilling their religious obligations.

Local Attractions: An engaging compilation of Muslim-friendly attractions, cultural sites such as Museums, and points of interest in Spain, enabling travelers to explore the city's rich heritage while adhering to their values.

Transport and Logistics: Practical guidance on transportation options that accommodate Muslim travel needs, ensuring seamless movement within Spain and beyond.

Speaking about the launch, Irwan Shah, Chief Technology Officer of eHalal Travel Group in Spain, stated, "We are thrilled to introduce our Halal and Muslim-Friendly Travel Guide in Spain, a Muslim friendly destination known for its cultural richness and historical significance. Our goal is to empower Muslim travelers with accurate information and resources, enabling them to experience the wonders of Spain without any concerns about their faith-based requirements. This initiative reaffirms our commitment to creating inclusive and memorable travel experiences for all our clients."

The eHalal Travel Group's Halal and Muslim-Friendly Travel Guide for Spain is now accessible on this page. The guide will be regularly updated to ensure that Muslim travelers have access to the latest information, thus reinforcing its status as a reliable companion for Muslim travelers exploring Spain.

About eHalal Travel Group:

eHalal Travel Group Spain is a prominent name in the global Muslim travel industry, dedicated to providing innovative and all-inclusive travel solutions tailored to the needs of Muslim travelers worldwide. With a commitment to excellence and inclusivity, eHalal Travel Group aims to foster a seamless travel experience for its clients while respecting their religious and cultural values.

For Halal business inquiries in Spain, please contact:

eHalal Travel Group Spain Media: info@ehalal.io

Buy Muslim Friendly condos, Houses and Villas in Spain

eHalal Group Spain is a prominent real estate company specializing in providing Muslim-friendly properties in Spain. Our mission is to cater to the specific needs and preferences of the Muslim community by offering a wide range of halal-certified residential and commercial properties, including houses, condos, and factories. With our commitment to excellence, client satisfaction, and adherence to Islamic principles, eHalal Group has established itself as a trusted name in the real estate industry in Spain.

At eHalal Group, we understand the importance of meeting the unique requirements of Muslim individuals and families seeking properties that align with their cultural and religious trainings. Our extensive portfolio of Muslim-friendly properties in Spain ensures that clients have access to a diverse selection of options tailored to their needs. Whether it's a luxurious villa, a modern condominium, or a fully equipped factory, our team is dedicated to assisting clients in finding their ideal property.

For those seeking a comfortable and modern living space, our condos are an excellent choice. Starting at US$ 350,000 and these condominium units offer contemporary designs, state-of-the-art facilities, and convenient locations within Spain. Each condo is thoughtfully designed to incorporate halal-friendly features and amenities, ensuring a seamless integration of Islamic values into everyday living.

If you are looking for a more spacious option, our houses are perfect for you. Starting at US$ 650,000, our houses provide ample living space, privacy, and a range of customizable features to meet your specific requirements. These houses are located in well-established neighborhoods in Spain, offering a harmonious balance between modern living and Islamic values.

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Muslim Friendly hotels in Spain

What's the difference?|There are three names for hotel-like accommodation in large cities in Spain: hotel, hostal and pension. It is important not to confuse a hostel with a hostal; a hostel offers backpacker-type accommodation with shared rooms, whereas a hostal is very similar to a guest house and is generally cheaper than a hotel.

There are many types of tourist accommodation, ranging from hotels, pensions and rented villas, to camping and even monasteries.

"7% VAT is not included" is a common trick for mid-range guesthouses and hotels: always check the small print when you choose your place to stay. VAT is IVA in Spanish.

Small villages

Besides the coasts, Spain is rich in small tourist-friendly inland villages, like Alquezar: with narrow medieval streets, charming silence and isolation, still good selection of affordable restaurants and accommodation.

Casa rural and the bed and breakfast of Spain

For a more homely sort of accommodation consider the casa rural. A casa rural is the rough equivalent to a bed and breakfast or a gîte. Not all houses are situated in the nationside, as the name implies. Some are situated in the smaller towns, and they are in virtually every province.

Casas rurales vary in quality and price throughout Spain. In some regions, like Galicia and they are strictly controlled and inspected. Other regions are not so thorough in applying their regulations.

Hotels

Many foreign visitors stay in hotels that have been organised by tour operators who offer package holidays to the popular resorts on the costas and islands. However, for the independent traveller and there are hotels all over the nation in all categories and to suit every budget. In fact, due to the well developed internal and foreign tourism markets Spain may well be one of the best served European countries in terms of numbers and quality of hotels.

Paradores

A parador is a state-owned hotel in Spain (rating from 3 to 5 stars). This chain of inns was founded in 1928 by the Spanish King Alfonso XIII. The unique aspects of paradores are their location and their history. Found mostly in historical buildings, such as convents, Moorish castles (like La Alhambra), or haciendas, paradores are the exact opposite of the uncontrolled development found in coastal regions like the Costa del Sol. Hospitality has been harmoniously integrated with the restoration of castles, palaces and convents, rescuing from ruin and abandonment monuments representative of Spain's historical and cultural legacy.

Parador Santo Estevo, Nogueira de Ramuín - Parador de Santo Estevo, in the province of Orense (Galicia).

For example the parador in Santiago de Compostela is located next to the Gothic Church in a former royal hospital built in the year 1499. Rooms are decorated in an old-fashioned way, but nevertheless have modern facilities. Other notable paradores are in Arcos de la Frontera, Ronda, Santillana del Mar (Altamira cave) as well as more than one hundred other destination all over Spain.

Paradores serve breakfast (about €10) and often have very good local cuisine typical of their region (about €25).

Accommodation prices are good value, when you consider that the hotels are often found in the heart of scenic areas, varying from €85 for a double room to €245 for a twin room (like in Granada (Spain)|Granada). Two of the most beautiful paradors are in Leon (Spain)|Léon and Santiago de Compostela.

There are some promotions available:

  • Over 60 year-olds can enjoy a discount.
  • Youngsters under 30 can visit the paradors at a fixed rate of €35 per person.
  • Two nights half board have a discount of 20%.
  • A dreamweek of 6 nights is cheaper.
  • 5 nights at €42 per person.

The promotions do not always apply, especially in August they are not valid, and may require advance bookings.

Hostels

There are plenty of hostels]. Prices vary from €15 to €25 per day. Spanish "hostales" are not really hostels, but more like unclassified small hotels (with generally no more than a dozen rooms). They can vary in quality from very rudimentary to reasonably smart.

  • Independent-hotels.info Spain - includes a fair number of good value independent hostales among the hotel listings.
  • Xanascat - The Regional Network of Youth Hostels of Catalonia if you are visiting Barcelona, Girona, Taragona or other locations in the region.

Apartment rental

Short-term, self-catering apartment rental is an option for Muslim travellers who want to stay in one place for a week or more. Accommodations range from small apartments to villas.

The number of holiday rentals available depends on the area of Spain you are planning to visit. Although they are common in coastal areas, big capitals and other popular tourist cities, if you plan to visit small inland towns, you will find casas rurales more easily.

Muslim Friendly Camping Places in Spain

Camping is the least expensive lodging option.

Stay safe as a Muslim in Spain

In Spain, pickpockets are not jailed if they steal less than €400. After they are arrested and they are automatically bailed to carry on pickpocketing so they can easily pay their €200 fine when they go to court. Many have been around the Spanish justice merry-go-round hundreds of times. Spanish pickpockets are really skilful but they are in competition with many more from South America.

Police

There are four kinds of police:

  • 'Policía Municipal' or 'Local' (metropolitan police), In Barcelona: Guardia Urbana. Uniforms change from town to town, but they usually wear black or blue clothes with pale blue shirt and a blue cap (or white helmet) with a checkered white-and-blue strip. This kind of police keeps order and rules the traffic inside cities, and they are the best people in case you are lost and need some directions. Although you can't officially report theft to them and they will escort you to 'Policia Nacional' headquarters if required, and they will escort the suspects to be arrested also, if needed.
  • 'Policía Nacional' wear dark blue clothes and blue cap (sometimes replaced by a baseball-like cap), unlike Policía Municipal and they do not have a checkered flag around their cap/helmet. Inside cities, all offenses/crimes should be reported to them, although the other police corps would help anyone who needs to report an offense.
  • 'Guardia Civil' keeps the order outside cities, in the nation, and regulates traffic in the roads between cities. You would probably see them guarding official buildings, or patrolling the roads. They wear plain green military-like clothes; some of them wear a strange black helmet ('tricornio') resembling a toreador cap, but most of them use green caps or white motorcycle helmets.
  • Given that Spain has a high grade of political autonomy released to its regional governments, four of them have created regional law forces: the Policía Foral in Navarre and the Ertzaintza in the Basque Country or the Mossos d'Esquadra in Catalonia. These forces have the almost the same competences as the Policía Nacional in their respective territories.

All kinds of police also wear high-visibility clothing ("reflective" jackets) while directing traffic, or in the road.

Some thieves have been known to pose as police officers, asking to see wallets for identification purposes. If approached by someone claiming to be a police officer only show only your ID after the person has presented theirs; do not show your wallet or other valuables.

If you are a victim of crime call 112. You can ask for a copy of the “denuncia” (police report) if you need it for insurance purposes, or to apply for replacement documents. Make sure that it is a “una denuncia” not a sworn declaration (una declaración judicial), as the latter may not be accepted as evidence of the crime for insurance purposes, or when applying for your new passport.

Making a police report

You can make a police report in three different ways:

1. In person. A list of police stations in the different regions of Spain is available here. English language interpreters are not always available at short notice: it may be advisable to bring a Spanish-speaking person with you.

2. By phone: You can make a police report by phone in English by phoning 901 102 112. The English language service is available from 9am - 9pm, seven days a week. Once you have made your report, you will be instructed to pick up a signed copy of the report at your nearest police station. However, some crimes, particularly more serious crimes or those involving violence, can only be reported in person.

3. Online: You can also make a police report online, but in Spanish only. Some crimes, especially more serious crimes involving physical violence, must be reported in person.

You can read further advice from the Spanish police on the following webpage: Web:

Emergency services

Dialing 112 on any telephone will reach the emergency central. It can be used to request Police, Firemen, Rescue, Ambulance or other emergency assistance. Calls to that number are free. The emergency operator will ask you for your data and the nature of the emergency and so will send the appropriate services to the place. It can be also used freely from public payphones.

Permissions and documentation

Spanish law strictly requires foreigners who are in Spanish territory to have documentation proving their identity and the fact of being legally in Spain. You must have that with you all the time because you may be asked by the Police to show those at any moment. If you don't carry it with you, you may be escorted to the nearest police station for identification.

Safety

Spain is a safe country, but you should take some basic precautions encouraged in the entire world:

  • Thieves may work in teams and a person may attempt to distract you in order that an accomplice can rob you more easily. Theft, including violent theft, occurs at all times of day and night and to people of all ages.
  • Thieves prefer stealth to direct confrontation so it is unlikely that you will be hurt in the process, but exercise caution all the same.
  • There have been instances where thieves on motorbikes drive by women and grab their purses, so keep a tight hold on yours even if you don't see anyone around.
  • Try not to show the money you have in your wallet or purse.
  • Always watch your bag or purse in touristic places, buses, trains and meetings. A voice message reminding that is played in most of the bus/train stations and airports.
  • Large cities like Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, and Sevilla, in particular, report many incidents of pick-pocketing, mugging, and violent attacks, some of which require the victim to seek medical attention. Although crimes occur at all times of day and night and to people of all ages, older and Asian tourists seem to be particularly at risk.
  • Do not carry large amounts of money with you, unless needed. Use your credit card (Spain is the first country in number of cash points and most shops/restaurants accept it). Of course, use it with caution.
  • Beware of pickpockets when visiting areas with large numbers of people, like crowded buses or the Puerta del Sol(in Madrid). In metro stations, avoid boarding the train near the exit/entrance to the platform, as this is often where pickpockets position themselves.
  • In Madrid and also in Barcelona, criminals target particularly people from the East Asia (especially China, S. Korea, Japan, and Taiwan ), thinking they carry money and are easy prey.
  • In Madrid, known high-risk locations for thieves are the Puerta del Sol area and surrounding streets, Gran Vìa, Plaza Mayor, near the Prado Museum and the Atocha train station, Retiro Park and on the subway. In Barcelona and thefts occur most frequently at the airport and on the airport shuttle bus (Aerobus), on Las Ramblas (often in Internet cafés), in Plaza Real and surrounding streets of the old city, on the subway, Barceloneta beach, Sagrada Familia church, and at the Sants train and bus station.
  • Theft from rental vehicles is high. Be vigilant in service areas on the highways along the coast. Avoid leaving any luggage or valuables in the vehicle and use secure parking facilities.
  • Don't hesitate to report crimes to local police, though the processing time is usually long.
  • In general, you must bear in mind that those areas with a larger number of foreign visitors, like some crowded vacation resorts in the East Coast, are much more likely to attract thieves than places which are not so popular among tourists.
  • Avoid gypsy women offering rosemary, refuse it always; they will read your future, ask for some money, and your pocket will probably be picked. Some gypsy women will also approach you on the street repeating "Buena suerte" ("good luck") as a distraction for another gypsy woman to try to pickpocket you. Avoid them at all costs.
  • A great tourist attraction is the Flea Market (el Rastro) in Madrid on the weekends. However, as it is nearly standing room only - it is also an attraction for pickpockets. They operate in groups... be extremely cautious in these tight market type environments as it is very common to be targeted... especially if you stand out as a tourist or someone with money. Try to blend in and not stand out and you will likely not be at as much risk.
  • Women who carry purses should always put the straps across their bodies. Always hold on to the purse itself and keep it in front of your body. Keep one hand on the bottom, as pickpockets can otherwise slit the bottom without you ever knowing.
  • Never place anything on the back of a chair or on the floor next to you, keep it on your person always.
  • If you must use an ATM, do not flash the money you have just picked up.
  • More foreign passports are stolen each year in Spain than anywhere else in the world, especially in Barcelona. Ensure that your passport is protected at all times.
  • In the event of a road-related incident, be extremely cautious about accepting help from anyone other than a uniformed Spanish police officer or Civil Guard. Thieves have been known to fake or provoke a flat tire, and when a motorist stops to help and the thieves steal the motorist’s vehicle or belongings. The reverse scenario has also occurred, whereby a fake Good Samaritan stops to help a motorist in distress, only to steal the motorist’s vehicle or belongings.
  • Incidents of soft-drink spiking, followed by theft and sexual assault, have been reported.
  • Be alert to the feasible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs including ‘GHB’ and liquid ecstasy. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times to make sure they are not spiked; female travellers should be particularly watchful. Alcohol and drugs can make you less vigilant, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you drink, know your limit - remember that drinks served in bars are often stronger. Avoid splitting up from your friends, and don't go off with people you don't know.

Scams in Spain

Some people could try to take advantage of your ignorance of local customs.

  • In Spanish cities, all taxis should have a visible fare table. Do not agree a fixed price to go from an airport to a city: in most cases and the taxi driver will be earning more money than without a preagreed tariff. Many taxi drivers will also demand a tip from foreign clients or even from national ones on the way to and from the airport. You might round up to the nearest euro when paying though.
  • In many places of Madrid, especially near Atocha station, and also in the Ramblas of Barcelona and there are people ('trileros') who play the "shell game". They will "fish" you if you play, and they will most likely pick your pocket if you stop to see other people play.
  • Before paying the bill in restaurants, always check the bill and carefully scrutinize it. Some staff will often attempt to squeeze a few extra euros out of unsuspecting tourists by charging for things they did not eat or drink, or simply overcharging. This is true in both touristy and non-touristy areas. If you feel overcharged, bring it to their attention and/or ask to see a menu. It is also sometimes written (in English only) at the bottom of a bill that a tip is not included: remember that tipping is optional in Spain and Spanish people commonly leave loose change only and no more than a 5%-8% of the price of what they have consumed (not an American-style 15-20%), so avoid being fooled into leaving more than you have to.
  • Many tourists have reported lottery scams whereby they are contacted via the Internet or fax and informed that they have won a substantial prize in the Spanish lottery (El Gordo), when in fact they have never participated in the lottery. They are asked to deposit an amount of money in a bank account to pay taxes and other fees before collecting the prize or coming to Spain to close the transaction.
  • There have also been reports of a scam whereby a person is informed that he or she is the recipient of a large inheritance, and that funds must be deposited into a Spanish bank account so the inheritance can be processed.
  • In another common scam, some tourists have received a bogus email purportedly sent from an individual well known to them and claiming that he or she is in trouble and needs funds.

Other things you should know

  • Spanish cities can be loud at night, especially on weekends, but the streets are generally safe even for women.
  • All businesses should have an official complaint form, in case you need it. It is illegal for a business to deny you this form.
  • In some cases, police in Spain may target people belonging to ethnic minorities for identity checks. People who are not "European-looking" can be stopped several times a day to have their papers checked on the pretext of "migration control".
  • The Spanish Government’s threat alert level indicates a ‘probable risk’ of terrorist attack. Potential targets include places frequented by expatriates and tourists and public transport facilities. A serious attack happened in 2004, bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid in March 2004, killing 192 people. This attack was attributed to Al Qaeda terrorist network. In 2007, a Spanish court found 21 people guilty of involvement in the bombings. Even though the chance of being in a terrorist attack is extremely low anywhere, you should only watch out in Madrid or Barcelona.
  • There has been an increase in political action and public demonstrations on a rolling basis throughout Spain. Demonstrations occur and have sometimes turned violent, mostly to police officers. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media. Strikes may occasionally lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation. When a demonstration is planned or in progress you should seek advice on and avoid the routes marchers plan to take. You should also ensure to check for travel updates or transport delays before and during your trip to Spain.
  • Driving in Spain can be dangerous due to traffic congestion in urban areas, although driving is not particularly aggressive with the exception of common speeding. Be cautious when driving in Spain. Night driving can be particularly dangerous. The use of a mobile phone without a hands-free device can result in a fine and you being banned from driving in Spain. All drivers are required to carry, in the vehicle, a reflective vest and to use a reflective triangle warning sign if they need to stop at the roadside.
  • Be cautious when approached by someone who claims to be a police officer. On the road, you will always be stopped by an officer in a uniform. Unmarked vehicles will have a flashing electronic sign on the rear window which reads Policía or Guardia Civil, or Ertzaintza in the Basque Country, Mossos d'Esquadra in Catalonia, or Foruzaingoa/Policía Foral in Navarre. Most times they will have blue flashing lights incorporated into the headlights. In non-traffic-related matters police officers may be in casual clothes. Police officers do not have to directly identify themselves unless you ask them to. Should they request identification and they should be shown photographic ID. Your passport or your driver's license will do, or your national ID card if you are from the European Union, though a passport is always preferred. You can get in trouble or be fined for not having any identification on you. If in any doubt, drivers should converse through the vehicle window and contact the Guardia Civil on 062 or the Spanish National Police on 112 and ask them to confirm that the registration number of the vehicle corresponds to an official police vehicle.

Medical Issues in Spain

  • Pharmaceuticals are not sold at supermarkets, only at 'farmacias' (pharmacies/chemists), identified with a green cross or a Hygeia's cup. Nearly every city and town has at least one 24-hour pharmacy; for those that close at night and the law requires a poster with the address of the nearest pharmacy, possibly in one of the nearby streets or towns.
  • People from the European Union and a few more European countries can freely use the public health system, if they have the appropriate European Health Insurance Card. The card does not cover treatment in private hospitals. Agreements are established to treat people from a few American countries; see the Tourspain link below for more info.
  • However, do not hesitate to go to any healthcare facility should you be injured or seriously ill, as it would be illegal for them not to treat you, even if you are uninsured. You (or your country if Spain has a Treaty on the matter) will have to pay for the service later, however.
  • Although many visitors travel to Spain for the warm climate, it can be cold in winter, especially in the Central Region and in the North, and in some places it is also rainy in summer. Remember to travel with adequate clothes.
  • In summer, avoid direct exposure to sunlight for long periods of time to prevent sunburn and heatstroke. Drink water, walk on the shady side of street and keep a container of sun cream (suntan lotion) handy.

The tap water in Spain is safe and of a drinkable quality. The water in some southern regions of the nation, however, is sometimes sourced from salt water which can obtain a high mineral content. This can cause upset stomachs in those not used to this. While high mineral content water is safe to drink regardless, local residents in these areas will often drink bottled water instead as it tastes better. Bottled water is readily available to buy in most areas and in a variety of brands.

Smoking

Smoking is banned in all enclosed public spaces and places of work, in public transportation, and in outdoor public places near hospitals and in playgrounds. Smoking is also banned in outdoor sections of restaurants. Smoking is banned in television broadcasts as well.

Local Customs in Spain

Culture and identity

  • Spaniards in general are very patriotic about both their country and the region in which they live. Avoid arguments about whether or not people from Catalonia or the Basque Country are Spaniards. Safety is generally not a concern in case you engage in an argument, but you will be dragged into a long, pointless discussion. If you are in the deep Basque Country, however, you may actually run into some serious problems.
  • Spaniards, especially the young, generally feel a linguistic and cultural connection to Latin America. However, most will be quick to point out that Spain is a European nation, not a Latin American one and that all Spanish-speaking countries are different and have particularities of their own.
  • Spaniards are not as religious as the media sometimes presents them, and modern Spanish society is for the most part rather secular, but they are and always were a mostly Catholic country (73% officially, although only 10% admit practising and only 20% admit being believers); respect this and avoid making any comments that could offend. In particular, religious festivals, Holy Week (Easter), and Christmas are very important to Spaniards. Tolerance to all religions should be observed, especially in large urban areas like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville or Malaga (where people and temples of all beliefs can be found) or different regions in southern Spain, which may have a sizeable Muslim population (which accounts for almost 4% of the nation's population).
  • Despite being a Catholic majority country, homosexuality is quite tolerated in Spain and public display of same-sex affection would not likely stir hostility. A 2013 Pew survey of various countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East found that Spain had the highest percentage of people who believed homosexuality should be accepted by society, at 88%. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005 and the government provides legal benefits to same-sex couples. However, this does not always necessarily mean that all Spaniards are friendly to s; while homophobic aggressions are rare and they still happen. Cities are more tolerant of homosexuality than rural areas, Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country are much more tolerant but overall Spain is friendly. As in any other place, elderly people do usually have far more conservative points of view. The Madrid pride parade is one of the largest in the world. Overall, Spain is one of the safest countries for tourists.
  • Avoid talking about the former colonial past and especially about the "Black Legend." Regardless of what you may have heard Spain had several ministers and military leaders of mixed race serving in the military during the colonial perioid and even a Prime Minister born in the Philippines (Marcelo Azcarraga Palmero). Many Spaniards take pride in their history and former imperial glories. People from Spain's former colonies (Latin America, Equatorial Guinea and the Philippines, Western Sahara and Northern Morocco) make up a majority of foreign immigrants in Spain (58%) along with the Chinese, Africans and Eastern Europeans. Equally, Spain is one of the main investors and economic and humanitarian aid donors to Latin America and Africa.
  • Bullfighting (Tauromaquia) is seen by many Spaniards as a cultural legacy icon, but the disaffection with bullfighting is increasing in all big cities and obviously among animal activist groups within the nation. Many urban Spaniards would consider bullfighting a show aimed at foreign tourists and elderly people from the nationside, and some young Spaniards will feel offended if their country is associated with it. To illustrate how divided the nation is, many Spaniards point to the royal family: former king Juan Carlos and his daughter are avid fans, while his wife and son King Philip VI do not care for the sport. Bullfights and related events, such as the annual San Fermin Pamplona bull-runs, make up a multi-million euro industry and draw many visitors, both foreign and Spanish. In addition, bullfighting has been banned in the northeastern region of Catalonia as well as in several towns and counties all over the nation.

Cope

Among Spaniards, lunch time is usually between 13:00 and 14:30 (it could be as late as 15:15) while dinner time is between 20:30 and 21:30. However, in special celebrations, dinner can be as late as 22:00. Lunch is considered the biggest and most important meal of the day, instead of dinner. Almost all small businesses close between 14:30 and 17:00, so plan your shopping and sight-seeing accordingly. Shopping malls and supermarkets, however, are usually open from 09:30 to 21:00-22:00, and there are several 24/7 shops, usually owned by Chinese immigrants and only in the larger cities.

Spanish cities can be noisy in some areas so be warned.

Some brands are not available in Spain: Blend-a-Med toothpaste or Dirol (Stimorol chewing gum has been available for years). Bring in enough for your whole trip if you must have it. Still, Spanish and other European brands are of good quality. Brands like Colgate and Orbit are very common.

Telecommunications in Spain

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi points in bars and cafeterias are available to clients, and most hotels offer Wi-Fi connection in common areas for their guests.

Be conscious of security when using a laptop in an outdoor location.

Mobile phones and SIM cards

Cheap mobile phones (less than €50) with some pre-paid minutes are sold at FNAC (Plaza Callao if you're staying in Madrid, or El Triangle if you're staying in Barcelona) or any phone operator's shop and can be purchased without many formalities (ID is usually required). Topping-up is then done by buying scratch cards from the small stores "Frutos Secos," supermarkets, vending points (often found in tobacco shops) or kiosks -- recharging using the Web or an ATM does not work with foreign credit cards.

The three mobile phone networks in Spain are Vodafone, Movistar and Orange.

You can hire a Mi-Fi (portable 4G Wi-Fi hotspot) from tripNETer]) that allows an Internet connection from any Wi-Fi device: Smart-phones, Tablets, PCs.

Discount calling

"Locutorios" (call shops) are widely spread in bigger cities and touristy locations. In Madrid or Toledo it's extremely simple to find one. Making calls from "Locutorios" tend to be much cheaper, especially international calls (usually made through VoIP). They are usually a good pick for calling home. Prepaid calling cards for affordable international calls are widely available in newsagents or grocery stores around the city. Ask for a "tarjeta telefonica".

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