8 Tips For Visiting Spain Like A Local Versus A Tourist

What are the first tings on your must-do-this or must-go-here bucket list for your Spain excursion? Stay out late bar hopping, drink sangria and dance the night away? Let your skin soak in some of that hot Spanish sun in Costa Brava? Check out everything Madrid has to offer for all your shopping desires?

Whatever your answer may be, there are a few things you want to keep in mind if you’re looking for a true, authentic Spain experience.

1. Eat All the Tapas, Everywhere

Tapas aren’t actually appetizers, despite popular belief. Locals know they’re little dishes designed to be consumed at different bars and restaurants throughout the night. So, if you want to dine like the locals on a weekend night, try a tapa here and a tapa there (but not until after 10PM, when the locals start heading out for some fun); they’ll keep you going into the wee morning hours as you join in on some of the best nightlife you can find anywhere in the world!

2. Skip the Sangria

While you’re out living the life, please skip out on the sangria! Spain might be practically synonymous with the fruity drink, but, believe it or not, it’s not a local favorite. In fact, there isn’t a traditional recipe for the drink at all. Sangria has been talked up as a tourist attraction, so you’ll easily find renditions of it practically everywhere you go, but don’t fall for the trap! Instead, see what the locals are drinking and order some of those.

3. Sleep with the Locals (Not Like That!)

When you’re done with the night, feel free to sleep during the day! The siesta is still very much alive in Spain, which means naps are once again going to be your new best friend! The locals tend to take siesta around lunch time, when it’s common to go home for a large lunch followed by a short nap to recover before heading back to work. Shops and restaurants will often close around this time, too, so don’t feel bad about plopping down on the couch with a pillow and blanket to see what all the hype is about!

4. Dance, but Not Flamenco-Style

While you’re out partying with the locals, don’t go looking for any flamenco dancing! You will likely be able to find some, but the traditional style dance is usually left for special occasions in modern times. Instead, watch the way to local moves and try to follow suit, or bust out some of your own moves and see how that gets everyone moving to the beat!

5. Remember that Bull Fighting Is… Meh.

Another “tradition” that isn’t actually a thing anymore is bull fighting. You can still find the sport being practiced in south Spain, but in general the locals aren’t fans. It’s actually been banned in much of the country! If you’re looking for a sport to cheer for, look for a local soccer game instead.

6. Learn More Than Just Spanish

Spanish, or Castilian, is Spain’s national language, but there are actually three well-known regional languages in the country. So, if you’re really looking to fit in with the locals and not stand out as a tourist, it really helps to know their language, literally. If you have time to pick up some basic phrases, check out Catalan, Galician and Basque as well. That will definitely impress them!

7. Stay in a Villa

Nothing screams tourist more than taking a cab back to your hotel. If you want an authentic Spain experience, you definitely need to stay in a private villa. Spain has gorgeous villas sprinkled all over the country in ideal locations that make navigation simple, usually even by foot! You’ll have access to everything you need and won’t feel like an outsider trying to make their way in uncharted territory.

8. Talk to the Locals!

Finally, if you really don’t want to look like a tourist then talk to the locals and do what they do! Tourist guides are going to send you to all the hyped-up tourist locations, right? Avoid that by asking for legitimate suggestions. The locals know all the best places to shop, dine and sight-see so don’t be afraid to break out some Spanish (or Catalan, Galician or Basque!) to see what they suggest.