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PETS

What are the rules on taking your pets on holiday in Spain?

Deciding whether to take your furry friends with you or what to do with them while you're away on holiday can be difficult. Here's everything you need to know about the rules on travelling with pets in Spain, as well as some alternative options.

What are the rules on taking your pets on holiday in Spain?
What are the rules on taking your pet on holiday in Spain? Photo: Anja-#pray for ukraine# #helping hands# stop the war / Pixabay

The Spanish love to have pets. There are in fact 13 million of them registered in the country and around one-quarter of all Spanish households have one or more.

Ninety-three percent of these are dogs while six percent are cats. The other one percent includes smaller animals in cages.

In fact, there are even more pets in Spain than children under 15. 

But what happens when you go on holiday in Spain, what do you do with your fuzzy companion?

What are the rules on taking them on public transport, to beaches and campsites and what are your options if you can’t take them with you?

Beaches

Dogs are usually not allowed on most beaches in Spain during the summer months, except for specific beaches designated for them.

The rules on the exact dates that dogs can and can’t access certain beaches changes depending on the region of Spain and even the specific beaches. Make sure to research ahead of time, depending on where you’re going. The information can usually be found on the website of the local town council.

For example, in Barcelona dogs are not allowed on the city beaches between May 1st and September 26th. On Puerto de Santa María beach in Cádiz, dogs are not allowed between June 1st and September 30th, while in the Granada province, many beaches don’t allow dogs between July 1st and September 30th.

The website Viajar con Perros is a good resource to find designated dog beaches across the country.

If you are planning a beach holiday, you will need to decide what to do with your dog while you’re sunning yourself on the sand or make sure that your accommodation is not too far from a dog-friendly beach. Perhaps you and your family will need to take it in turns, while someone goes into the countryside with the dog instead.

Leaving them in a swelteringly hot car, tent is of course not an option while you’re out enjoying the beach. If you leave them in a hotel room, you should make sure the air conditioning is on and that you don’t leave them alone for more than a few hours.

READ ALSO: Renting in Spain when you have a pet: What are my rights?

Travelling in Spain with your pet

Of course, the easiest option when travelling around Spain with your pet is to have your own car or rent one. Just make sure that the rental company is aware you will be taking your pets in the car and if they allow it.

Remember, if you are hiring a car, you’ll need to make sure you bring an appropriate pet carrier or crate so that the animal is secure and cannot disturb the driver.

Travelling by car also means that you can stop along the way if your pet feels sick, needs to relieve itself or needs to stop for a drink.

Those who don’t have the option of travelling by car have the option of going by train instead.

Renfe states that on AVE and long-distance (Larga Distancia) trains, you can travel with your pet as long as:

  • It’s a dog, cat, ferret, but not poultry
  • It does not weigh more than 10kg
  • It always travels inside a cage or carrier, with a maximum size of 60x35x35 cm
  • Only one pet per person allowed
  • Your ticket allows travel with a pet

The pet ticket is free if you travel with a Premium ticket, in a Preferential or Grand Class bed or a Grand Comfort Seat. For basic tickets, you can travel with your pet for an additional €20.

Dogs larger than 10kg are not allowed on the AVE long-distance trains, the media distancia (medium distance) or Avant trains. If you have a larger dog, you will most likely need to take the much slower local Cercanías trains or Rodalies in Catalonia instead.

If you’re travelling by long-distance bus, you will need to check the rules of the bus company ahead of time. There’s usually not much space on buses, so this may only be possible with very small pets.

READ ALSO: How can I travel with my pet from Spain to the UK without it going in the hold?

Campsites

Going on a camping holiday is a good option for pet owners, typically offering lots of outdoor space.

Many campsites are pet friendly, even offering facilities such as dog parks for your furry friends too.

Looking on the campsite’s website or phoning them to find out if pets are allowed should be your first point of action.

Be aware, not all campsites will allow all types of pets. For example, some may not permit certain dog breeds or dogs over a particular size.

Pet-friendly hotels

If you’re not planning on camping, finding the right type of accommodation for you and your pooch is essential for a successful holiday with your pet. While not all hotels in Spain are pet-friendly, there are many that are.

Hoteles Mascotas is a good resource, as is Red Canina. You can also check pet-friendly hotels as a search function on popular accommodation such as Booking.com.

What to do with your pet if you can’t take the on holiday with you?

If the location you’re planning on going to won’t allow pets or it would simply be unfair to take them with you because they wouldn’t enjoy it, you’ll have to find pet care options.

Those who have cats may have it a little easier. You can ask a friend or a neighbour to look in on your cat every day to feed them, clean out the litter tray and give them some love.

Dogs on the other hand need a lot more attention and need to be taken on walks at least twice a day. If possible, you can find a friend who is willing to take your dog to their house to look after them while you’re away.

If this isn’t possible, your best bet is to find nearby pet hotels, dog kennels or catteries that will look after your pet. These can cost between €12 and €25, depending on what type of kennel you opt for.

A third option is to get a house/pet sitter who will essentially live in your house for free while you’re away, but in exchange will have to carry out particular tasks for you such as looking after pets and watering your plants.

A few options include Trusted House Sitters, Mind My House and Luxury House Sitting. Sometimes you will have to pay a small membership fee to advertise.

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CHRISTMAS

The cities in Spain with the best Christmas lights

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Spain as many places have already switched on their festive lights. Some Spanish cities go all out, covering their streets with lots of sparkle and magic. Here are some of the best displays to see.

The cities in Spain with the best Christmas lights

Spain puts on a great show during the festive time of year and many of its cities look especially Christmassy covered in twinkly lights and pops of colour. Here are some of the cities to visit if you want to see the best displays. 

Due to the current energy and climate crisis, many cities in Spain have said that they would shorten the number of hours their Christmas lights are switched on for this year, while others have swapped over to LEDs instead. Some of the best cities for Christmas lights, such as Madrid and Vigo have insisted that they will not cut back on decorations, however, and will still look as magical as ever. 

Málaga

The Andalusian city of Málaga is one of the best when it comes to festive atmosphere in Spain, giving a spectacular display of light and colour. The city’s main shopping street – Calle Larios has for the last few years become one of the most famous Christmassy streets in Spain with an incredible show of light and music and decorative elements forming arches over the top of the road.

Over 500 streets around the city are decked in lights and there are also themed video mapping displays shown on the cathedral.

Calle Larios in Málaga is one of the most Christmassy streets in Spain. Photo: Thomas COEX / AFP

Madrid

Being the capital of Spain, it’s not surprising that Madrid is one of the best places to see the Christmas lights. The city uses no less than 7 million LED lights to light up the streets in the centre, as well as some of its most iconic buildings.

Some of the best places to see the lights include Puerta de San Vicente, Puerta De Alcalá and Puerta de Toledo. More than 40,000 12-meter Christmas lights are also strung up every year between Gran Vía and Calle Alcalá. Madrid’s plazas are decked out in Christmas joy too, with not only lights but lots of sparkly trees. The Plaza Mayor is particularly one of the most festive because of its Christmas market. 

Don’t miss one of the city’s most unique Christmas scenes at the Naturaleza Encendida show in the Royal Botanical Gardens. 

Visit the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid for its magical Christmas displays. Photo: Gabriel BOUYS / AFP

Barcelona

Christmas lights in the Catalan capital extend 100km throughout the centre, but you’ll find twinkly displays in all of its neighbourhoods too. One of the most impressive areas is the grand Passeig de Gràcia which is typically covered in sparkling spirals as well as reflective metallic-coloured butterflies, which make them twinkle in the daytime too. Emblematic buildings such as Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and the Hotel Majestic also create fantastic displays with candles. 

Plaza de Catalunya is another spot where lights abound, particularly around El Corte Inglés and down onto La Rambla. Don’t forget to check out the Christmas video mapping on the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau, the city’s UNESCO Modernist old hospital.

Barcelona’s La Rambla transforms into a winter wonderland. Photo: JOSEP LAGO / AFP

Vigo

Vigo may be one of the smallest cities on our list, but it’s definitely big when it comes to Christmas. It’s said that the mayor of the city Abel Caballero loves this time of year and goes all out when it comes to decorations. Vigo dedicates one of the biggest budgets to its Christmas décor and has installed a system for more than 11 million LED lights for this purpose. Think coloured garlands, luminous figures, bright angels and curtains of glitter.

One of the best places to see them is the city’s Porta do Sol, which also hosts Vigo’s huge Christmas tree. In the past, there has been a 10-metre-high Christmas bauble, a giant present between Gran Vía and Urzáiz, a huge snowman and the bright star of Bethlehem in García Borbón and a magical luminous castle on Calle Policarpo Sanz. 

The mayor of Vigo is a big fan of Christmas. Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

Zaragoza

For the past couple of years, Zaragoza has dedicated a budget of some €700,000 to decorate its streets for Christmas to give more colour and Christmas twinkle to its streets. Alfonso I is one of the best streets, where over 100,000 LED lights make a multi-coloured ceiling across the top of the road. There’s also a 22-metre-high tree located on La Plaza de Basilio, decorated with even more glowing lights.

Zaragoza’s Christmas displays don’t disappoint. Photo: Iramonf / Wikimedia Commons

Bilbao

The Basque industrial city of art and design is no exception when it comes to holiday lighting. The city streets are illuminated by around 500,000 LED lights ranging from around 8 metres to 18 metres high. It’s particularly attractive around the Casco Viejo and its Siete Calles.

Look out for statues of Olentzero, the Basque version of Santa Claus, who is a charcoal maker and comes to bring gifts to the children on Christmas eve.

Bilbao’s Christmas lights form a display of pictures. Photo: RAFA RIVAS / AFP

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The largest city in Tenerife is known for its vibrant nightlife, so it’s not surprising that it puts on a good show at Christmas too. Around 140 of its streets and squares are lit in preparation for the season with around 3 million LED lights. 

Typically its decor is made up of 176 arches, 26,334 meters of colourful garlands and 686 Christmas symbols arranged on its lamp posts. One year the city even had a 90-metre-long tunnel made up of cascading coloured lights. 

Kids love looking at the Christmas lights in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Photo: DESIREE MARTIN / AFP

Seville

Like the capital of Andalusia itself, Seville’s lights are both classy and romantic and it’s a special place to enjoy this time of year. It may not have as many lights as nearby Malaga, but what it does do, it does well.

Some of the best places to see them include Plaza de San Francisco, Avenida de la Constitución, Sierpes e Imagen, Tetúan, Laraña, Campana, Plaza del Salvador, Asunción and Alfonso XII. 

Head to Seville to see its elegant Christmas lights. Photo: CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

Valencia

Valencia is another great city to spend the holidays in Spain and puts on a great show with its Christmas lights. One of the most iconic parts of Valencia’s holiday season is the video mapping projected onto its town hall. 

Plaza de la Reina will have three-meter structures that are made to look like almond trees and there will be other festive elements like ice skating rinks and Christmas concerts. 

Head to Valencia this year to see its impressive displays. Photo: Valencia Igor Ferreira / Unsplash
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