Last updated 2022, May 27th: There are many reasons why Spain is an amazing country: Colorful festivals, blue flag beaches, a vibrant nightlife, and world-renowned cuisine, which is more than tapas.
Famous holiday destinations in Spain include Barcelona and Sevilla, the canary islands, or popular beaches like Costa del Sol or Costa Blanca. Digital nomad-friendly hotspots are Barcelona, Valencia, Tenerife, and Gran Canaria.
🇪🇸 Entry requirements for Spain
- Visa: Valid Schengen visa.
- Insurance: Travel health insurance that matches the Schengen requirements. Your insurance policy needs a minimum amount of 30,000 Euros of emergency cover.
- For vaccinated travelers: A valid EU Digital COVID certificate or a valid recovery certificate. If coming from a third country or you were vaccinated in a third country, bring your vaccination card, for example, the CDC card from the United States.
- For unvaccinated travelers: Negative PCR-covid test within 72 hours before boarding, or rapid antigen test within 48 hours before boarding.
- Digital form: You need to fill out the health form before entering Spain and make sure you receive the QR code or use the application Spain Travel Health -SpTH- app.
- Optional: You can prepare your travel with the VeriFly App, and upload your vaccination card and passport details there.
🌱 Travel health insurance for Spain
Genki Explorer is a travel health insurance with worldwide cover. Monthly payment plans, and easy signup in less than 1 minute.
- Additional note: Covid-related entry regulations are lifted on April 5th, 2022. Please check your airline, train, or bus company for additional required documents.
🏡 How to find a place
- Airbnb & Flatio: Airbnb has way more listings than Flatio, however, I would still compare prices on different platforms. You might be shocked to find that monthly rents in the centers, for example, in Madrid or Barcelona, can be between 1,500 Euros (lucky) or up to 3,000 Euros when booking last-minute.
- Hotels: In times when Airbnb and co. are not as fun to book anymore, due to the high fees platform charges, the dynamic pricing models most hosts now use, and the overall host-focused business model to gain as much profit as possible, it is worth the time to check on hotels on agoda, booking, or google.
✈️ How to get to Spain
- Plane: Madrid offers a great international connecting hub to the Americas, in any event, you want to continue to for example Mexico. Also, Barcelona is a good destination when coming from abroad.
🚌 Public transport
- Taxi: Available in all parts of the country, and base fares start at 1.33 Euro in Seville, and 4 Euro in Valencia. Every additional km is between 0.59 Euro (Bilbao) and 1.47 Euro (Malaga). You can pay taxis with cash or card.
- Uber: Uber is affordable in Spain but not available in every corner of the country. Check Cabify, and Bolt. Please note that you need different apps for different cities. Uber and Cabify are the most common.
- Bus: Buses are widely available in Spain's cities and connect suburban areas, towns, and airports. Buses are often near train stations.
- Metro: Some cities have metro, for example Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Bilbao, Malaga, or Granada.
- Tram & subway: Historic trams rumbling through ancient towns, for example in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville or Alicante.
🏘 Where to stay
- Barcelona: Great neighborhoods in Barcelona are Gràcia, and El Born. Listings here.
- Valencia: Choose between Algirós (student neighborhood), Ruzafa (trendy), or Ciutat Vella (city center).
- Madrid: Best neighborhoods are Chamberí, Chamartín and Retiro.
- Seville: Check out districts of Alfalfa, and Macarena.
- Canary islands: Gran Canaria, and Tenerife
- Balearic islands: Mallorca, and Ibiza
🧑🏻💻 Where to work from
- Barcelona: Coworking space El Pati en la vila in Gràcia, and Espai Born in El Born.
- Valencia: Cowork Ruzafa in Ruzafa, or Garage Coworking in the center.
- Madrid: The Shed in Salamanca, Modo Coworking SOHO in Retiro, and the MUN Coworking near Retiro.
- Seville: Arcadia Coworking, Inmobalia Zona Macarena, and La Burbuja Honei Coworking.
- Canary islands: The House, and Coworking Canary Islands
- Barcelona: Sabio Infante in Gràcia, and Lulus in El Born.
- Valencia: ArtsySana and Bluebell Coffee Roasters in Ruzafa. List of 50+ laptop-friendly coffee shops in Valencia here.
- Madrid: Nomade Café, find 50+ laptop-friendly coffee shops here.
- Seville: Check out this list here.
- Canary islands: The Couple, Roka Cafe, and Bioloco Las Palmas.
🚊 How to travel around Spain
- Train: Spain offers high-speed trains with more than 300km/h, and wifi on board. Try out traveling apps for short travels like Renfe Ticket, Cercanías, or Alsa, Avanza, and Hife for long-distance traveling. Additionally, check out my favorite site Rome2Rio
- Bus: To travel intercity, check out Alsa and Flixbus.
- Plane: The Balearic and the Canary islands are connected to mainland Europe via plane and ferry.
🎖Must see in Spain
- Barcelona: Sagrada Familia, the Gothic Quarter, Casa Milà, Picasso Museu, the Palace of Catalan Music, Parc Güell, Casa Batlló, and the neighborhood around La Rambla. On the weekend visit Bogatell beach or La Barceloneta fishing village.
- Madrid: When in Spain's capital, visit the Plaza Mayor, Parque del Retiro, Museo Nacional de Prado, Palacio Real, Puerta del Sol and the clock tower. Get delicious churros with chocolate, and stroll through the historic Mercado de San Miguel and the antique market of El Rastro.
- Bilbao: Guggenheim Museum. You can reach Bilbao by bus (5 hours) or plane (1 hour) from Madrid and many other places in Spain.
- Santiago: Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. You can reach Santiago de Compostela by train from Madrid (4 hours), and plane (3.5 hours). But also from many other parts of the country. You can also connect Santiago de Compostela from Porto in Portugal by bus (3.5 hours) or train (4.5 hours).
- Cordoba: Patios. On the way between Madrid and Seville, you can stop at the beautiful little town of Cordoba.
- Granada: Alhambra.
- Ronda: El Tajo Gorge.
💡Good to know
- Internet: The average internet speed for fixed broadband in Spain is 136 Mbps download and 106 Mbps upload speed.
- Sim cards: Stable SIM coverage with Vodafone, which has the best coverage in Spain. Its 4G/LTE network covers 96.5% of the country.
- Safety: Spain is a very safe country and ranks 36 on the World Peace Index. Neighboring country Portugal ranks 13 and France ranks 47
- Digital nomad community: Some rising stars in Spain, interesting hotspots for digital nomads are Tenerife, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, and Valencia. The Canary island of Gran Canaria ranks 6th top destination for Europe on Nomdlist. Check out the area's Facebook groups, and meetup.com for events, meetups, and workshops.
- Cost of living: In Madrid, and Barcelona you can estimate to spend around 1,000 Euro in rent for an apartment in the city, if you do a lot of research in advance. For the last-minute search, you will probably pay around 1,500 - 2,000 Euros per month, if you want to stay in the center area.
- Coastal towns: Valencia ranks 16th on Nomadlist, followed by Barcelona (28th), also check out Sitges and Tossa del Mar, two smaller beach towns close to Barcelona.
- Islands: Ranking 6th on Nomadlist as a top destination for digital nomads in Europe, you will find a thriving and vivid digital nomad community for example in Gran Canaria, but also in Tenerife, and the Balearic islands of Mallorca, or Ibiza.
- Coffee culture: Check out the rising specialty coffee scenes in Madrid, or in Barcelona
🚧 What to avoid
- Eating early: This one is for me. I am an early bird, and after a long fast of around 18 hours, I start the day with a late breakfast at around 12 pm. If you have local friends, they will probably have lunch between 1 pm and 3:30 pm. That said, dinner time - for me would be around 6 pm, whereas Spanish love to eat late, meaning not before 9 pm.
- False patriotism: Don't get into the discussion of the conflict between Spain and Catalan. Barcelona, the capital of the Catalan province, is not only the melting pot for digital nomads but also the center of a national conflict between Catalans, who voted for independence from Spain in 2017, which was neglected by the Spanish government.
- False labels: Don't call a Catalan a Spanish and the other way around. Don't do it. Read the point above. And just don't do it. Don't be involved. Be like... Switzerland.
- Narrow yourself to one spot: Spain is a fairly big country. Besides the mainland, there are the Canary Islands and the Baleares.
- Don't judge the bullfights: Catalonia and the Canary Islands banned this blood sport. However, it is still popular in other regions and provinces. If you want to avoid it, stick to Catalonia and the Canaries.
- Being on time: The pace of Spain might feel slower than the pace of life in Northern Europe. Hate it or love it. There are pros and cons. However, the siesta is a thing, and shops will be closed. Take a nap, and enjoy the slow pace of life. Oh, and don't expect your local friends or colleagues to be on time. Punctuality needs a big stretch in Spain.
- Costs for rental homes: Research in Facebook groups and on Airbnb, and you will be offered a tiny bedroom with a shared bathroom in a shared apartment for just €1,500/month in cities like Madrid or Barcelona. Plus, one-month deposit upfront, no contract. Sure, it is cheap when coming from California's Bay Area. However, gentrification is a huge challenge for cities like Madrid and Barcelona, and you will face similar problems in Lisbon, Budapest, or Berlin.
- No heating: Have you ever been to Spain in winter? 15 degrees in northern Europe might feel ok with central heating, but 15 degrees without central heating in an old apartment complex feels really arctic. Ensure your accommodation comes with AC in summer and a heater in winter.
🚴🏻♀️ How to stay healthy
- Hiking the Camino de Santiago: Just across the border to France, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port marks one of the famous starting points to hike the famous pilgrim route that ends in Camino de Santiago. But, before getting excited, you still have around 700 km to walk. Map out your individual route according to your fitness and comfort level and tick this trail from your bucket list.
- Hiking around Madrid: Just an hour's drive from the capital, you find the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range and the Peñalara circular route. The trail is about 14 km long, takes about 4 hours, and is categorized as an intermediate-level hike. Another trail close to Madrid is the La Pedriza trail, which is 12 km long and takes about 3 hours.
- Kitesurfing in Tarifa: The coast around Tarifa is known for its strong winds and waves, and it marks the perfect kitesurfing spot. Come between April and October, to enjoy kitesurfing in a warm Mediterranean climate.
- Worth checking out: Canyoning in Sierra de Guara, hiking Mount Aneto, rock climbing in Barcelona, horse riding in Menorca.
- Water quality: In general, you can drink tap water in Spain.
- Air quality: The air quality in Spain is generally good.
⚓️ Long stay
If you intend to stay longer in Spain, check out the following possibilities.
Digital nomad visa
- Digital nomad visa: This type of visa is for you if you do not hold an EU or an EAA-area passport, and you want to stay in Spain for 1 year. The digital nomad visa can not be used to apply for a permanent residency.
- Green card: This type of residency is for EU and EEA citizens (plus Switzerland), which allows them to stay in Spain longer than 3 months and live and work in Spain legally.
- Non-lucrative visa: This type of long-stay visa is for non-EU and non-EEA citizens, who want to live in Spain more than 3 months and up to 1 year. One important requirement you need to check is 26,000 Euro in your bank account or split in 2 accounts.