For members


13 mistakes tourists in Spain are bound to make

If you're planning a holiday in Spain, there are a few faux pas you should be aware of. These are some of the most common mistakes tourists make when visiting Spain.

Parc Guell, Barcelona
Tourists in Spain. Photo: Danor Aharon / Pixabay

Eating too early 
Spaniards have very specific meal times and if you try to eat too early, you’ll find that many places are not serving yet or are not even open. The Spanish don’t eat lunch until at least 2pm and don’t even think about finding a restaurant for dinner before 8pm, as it won’t be open. Most locals will eat dinner even later than this. 

Ordering paella for dinner
In Spain, paella is a lunch dish and should not be ordered in the evening. Typically the main meal of the day is eaten at lunchtime, while smaller and lighter meals such as tapas are eaten in the evening. 
Not knowing that different regions have different languages
Whatever region you’re visiting, you’ll want to be aware of what the local language is – hint: it’s not always Spanish. There are actually five official languages in Spain including Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician and Aranese. However, there are also other languages spoken, such as Valencian in the Valencia region, which has similarities with Catalan. 
Walking around with no shirt on 
In countries such as the UK and Australia, when it gets hot, the shirts come off (typically for men), everywhere from public parks to the streets and even supermarkets. In Spain, this is a no-no. Going shirtless is only for the beach and is actually considered illegal in some places. You may be refused entry if you try to shop half-naked. 
Falling for tourist traps
This applies particularly to eating and drinking around famous tourist sites. You’ll find that if you don’t stray far enough, normal meals will be almost double the price and half the quality, you may also find that you’re charged for the most expensive bottle of wine possible, even if you had wanted the house wine.
Not buying tickets in advance
Some of the most popular tourist attractions can get incredibly busy and be booked up days, if not weeks (and sometimes months) in advance. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Spain is the second most visited country in the world with 83 million visitors in 2019, this means that you definitely need to buy tickets well in advance for sites such as Granada’s Alhambra and Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia.


Going shopping after lunch
Hoping to fit in a spot of shopping after lunch? Forget it, shops in most places in Spain close between 2pm and 5pm. There may be exceptions in the centres of big cities and tourist souvenir stores will often stay open. 
Trying to do errands on a Sunday
Sunday is a strict rest day in Spain. Everything closes, from shops and supermarkets to banks and post offices. Make sure you’re not trying to send a postcard or exchange money on a Sunday as it will be a waste of time. Tourist attractions and museums will generally stay open. 
Unlike in countries such as the US, wait staff in Spain are paid a salary, so it’s not necessary to tip 15-20 percent on top of your meal. If the restaurant is particularly nice or you feel you had exceptional service, you can tip 10 percent, but otherwise just leaving your change is perfectly acceptable. 
Ordering sangria 
You know someone is a tourist in Spain when they order a sangria. This fruity wine-based concoction is rarely consumed by local Spaniards. They will instead order a tinto de verano – wine mixed with a fizzy lemonade-like drink or just a wine on its own. 
Expecting locals will always speak English 
Many tourists will come to Spain expecting to not have to speak much Spanish at all and assume that locals will speak English. While many Spaniards working in hospitality do speak basic English, if you head away from the tourist centres, try to do anything out of the ordinary or visit more rural areas, you’ll find that it’s not that great. Maybe try learning some basic Spanish to help you get by. 
Being too careless with your belongings 
Unfortunately, pickpockets are common in Spain’s most popular tourist cities, including Barcelona, Madrid and Seville. Don’t make the mistake of putting your phone in your back pocket or leaving your camera on the table while you eat as you’ll find it won’t be there for long. 
Thinking that tapas is a cheap meal 
Many tourists assume that tapas is a cheap meal, however the reality is that going out for tapas can get pretty expensive – particularly if there are only two of you. Each small plate typically ranges in price from €4 – €10, depending on where you are in Spain, but it can go up to €12 – €15 in nicer restaurants. Ordering just 4 different dishes for the table can soon rack up. You’ll also find that sometimes you don’t want a huge plate of jamón (ham) just for the two of you, but are unable to order less. 

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For members


EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023 but what does this mean for travellers?

The EU has announced that its Covid travel certificate will be extended until 2023. Claudia Delpero looks at what this mean if you have a trip planned this year.

EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023 but what does this mean for travellers?

Cleaning up the phone and thinking of getting rid of that Covid app? Just wait a minute. 

The European Union has decided to extend the use of EU Covid certificates by one year, until June 30th 2023. 

The European Commission first made the proposal in February as the virus, and the Omicron variant in particular, was continuing to spread in Europe. At that point it was “not possible to determine the impact of a possible increase in infections in the second half of 2022 or of the emergence of new variants,” the Commission said. 

Now tourism is taking off again, while Covid cases are on the rise in several European countries.

So the EU has taken action to ensure that travellers can continue using the so-called ‘digital green certificates’ in case new restrictions are put in place after their initial deadline of June 30th, 2022. 

What is the EU ‘digital green certificate’?

If you have travelled within the EU in the last year, you have probably already used it.

On 1st July 2021, EU countries started to introduce the ‘digital green certificate’, a Covid pass designed by the European Commission to facilitate travel between EU member states following months of restrictions.

It can be issued to EU citizens and residents who have been vaccinated against Covid, have tested negative or have recovered from the virus, as a proof of their health status. 

Although it’s called a certificate, it isn’t a separate document, it’s just a way of recognising all EU countries’ national health pass schemes.

It consists of a QR code displayed on a device or printed.

So if you live in an EU country, the QR code issued when you were vaccinated or tested can be scanned and recognised by all other EU countries – you can show the code either on a paper certificate or on your country’s health pass app eg TousAntiCovid if you’re in France or the green pass in Italy. 

Codes are recognised in all EU 27 member states, as well as in 40 non-EU countries that have joined the scheme, including the UK – full list here.

What does the extension of certificates mean? 

In practice, the legal extension of the EU Covid pass does not mean much if EU countries do not impose any restrictions.

It’s important to point out that each country within the EU decides on its own rules for entry – requiring proof of vaccination, negative tests etc so you should check with your country of destination.

All the EU certificate does is provide an easy way for countries to recognise each others’ certificates.

At present travel within the EU is fairly relaxed, with most countries only requiring negative tests for unvaccinated people, but the certificate will become more relevant again if countries impose new measures to curb the spread of the virus. 

According to the latest data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, countries such as France, Portugal and parts of Italy and Austria are in the red again. 

The EU legislation on the certificate neither prescribes nor prohibits such measures, but makes sure that all certificate holders are treated in the same way in any participating country. 

The EU certificate can also be used for access to venues such as bars and restaurants if countries decided to re-impose health or vaccines passes on a domestic basis.

So nothing changes?

In fact, the legislation introduces some changes to the current certificates. These include the clarification that passes issued after vaccination should reflect all doses administered, regardless of the member state where the inoculation occurred. This followed complaints of certificates indicating an incorrect number of vaccine doses when these were received in different countries.

In addition, new rules allow the possibility to issue a certificate of recovery following an antigen test and extend the range of uthorised antigen tests to qualify for the green pass. 

To support the development and study of vaccines against Covid, it will also be possible to issue vaccination certificates to people participating in clinical trials.

At the insistence of the European Parliament, the Commission will have to publish an assessment of the situation by December 31st 2022 and propose to repeal or maintain the certificate accordingly. So, while it is extended for a year, the certificate could be discontinued earlier if it will no longer be consider necessary. 

The European parliament rapporteur, Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, said: “The lack of coordination from EU governments on travel brought chaos and disruption to the lives of millions of Europeans that simply wanted to move freely and safely throughout the EU.

“We sincerely hope that the worst of the pandemic is far behind us and we do not want Covid certificates in place a day longer than necessary.”

Vaccination requirements for the certificate

An EU certificate can be issued to a person vaccinated with any type of vaccine, but many countries accept only EMA-approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Valneva and Janssen) – if you have been vaccinated with another vaccine, you should check the rules on the country you are travelling to.  

Certificates remain valid for 9 months (270) days following a complete vaccination cycle – so if you had your vaccine more than nine months ago you will need a booster in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

There is no requirement for a second booster, so if you have had a booster you remain ‘fully vaccinated’ even if your booster was administered more than 9 months ago. 

As of 1st March 2022, EU countries had issued almost 1.2 billion EU Covid certificates, of which 1.15 billion following vaccination, 511 million as a result of tests and 55 million after recovery from the virus. 

France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Austria are the countries that have issued the largest number of EU Covid certificates.