tourist in spain

How to stand out as a tourist in Spain

When traveling, it is common for tourists to want to “fit in” like the locals at their destination country. Before embarking on our travels, we study up on the destination country by familiarizing ourselves with the proper clothing attire, learning a few words of the language, finding out about popular dishes, and highlighting the most famous sightseeing spots in our guidebook. However, no matter how much we learn on google, pin on Pinterest, or ask questions to others who have traveled to the country, it is inevitable that we will stand out as a tourist once we have arrived. After living in Spain for a year and a half, I have accepted the fact that I am still “an Americana living in Spain”. I am guilty of making each and every one of these mistakes and have been called out by the locals (my friends and family). With that said, I feel I am an expert on “How to Stand out as a Tourist in Spain”. 

1. Speak English.

Sure, some spaniards speak a little bit of English. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, speak English all around town. Be sure to speak very quickly and throw in a lot of slang.

2. Wear (long) shorts.

Most Spanish women opt for a dress or skirt as opposed to shorts. However, many young spaniards who wear shorts make sure part of their booty is also exposed. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, be sure your shorts are long enough to cover your bum. Cargo shorts are even better.

3. Take pictures of everything.

The beautiful door. The old lamppost on the street. The tiny alleyways. The guy playing the violin in the plaza. The price of wine in the supermarket. The stairs outside of the cathedral. The colorful vegetables at the market. The kids playing soccer on the street. Oh yea, and of course, take a lot of selfies! If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, have your camera ready for everything!

tourist in spain

4. Exit the bus from the front door.

Bus rules: there is no line getting on the bus. Enter through the front. Exit through the side or back doors. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, go against traffic and exit through the front door.

tourist in spain

5. When driving, wait until the light turns green before proceeding forward.

Red lights are somewhat of a suggestion in Spain. Well, in Valencia at least. Most Valencians anticipate the green light, proceeding forward once they notice the pedestrians are cleared out of the way, a second or two before the light changes. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, wait until the light turns green and you hear the guy behind you honking, before you step on the gas.

6. Say “thank you” all the time.

Spaniards may not come across as very polite, but rather I see them as unassumingly very generous. Spanish people are surprised to be thanked for something they wouldn’t think twice about doing. Saying thank you for services provided or when being served during a meal, may come across silly to them. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, say “gracias” a lot. Saying “por favor” all the time helps too.

7. Sunbathe while having lunch. In the summer.

Sure, spaniards like to sit in the sun, but usually only seek out the sun during the winter and fall. Otherwise, they prefer to protect their skin in the shade. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, be sure to choose the sunniest table on the terrace, roll up your sleeves, kick off your shoes, turn you chair towards the sun, and get a nice tan while enjoying lunch. Bonus points: keep a cool beer or glass of white wine near-by. Then, take a selfie.

tourist in spain

8. Say “gras-ias” instead of “grath-ias”.

It’s all in the accent. But, it is a dead giveaway. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, speak South American Spanish like you learned in high school.

9. Go to a sporting event drunk.

Sporting events in Spain are for enjoying the game. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, organize a tailgate or pre-party event and be sure to show up drunk to a fútbol match. Then, order more drinks at the stadium.

10. Order paella for dinner.

Paella is for lunch. And usually on the weekends or part of a lunch “menu”. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, order paella for dinner. And please, pronounce it is “pie-el-a”.

tourist in spain

11. Drink coffee all throughout the day. Or, just go to Starbucks.

Coffee in Spain is generally enjoyed after a meal. And in a very small mug. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, ask for it in a large to-go cup from Starbucks and walk around the city with a coffee in-hand. Bonus points, walk into a local “cafetería” and order a mocha.

tourist in spain

12. Wear flip-flops.

Spaniards wear sandals. And only in spring and summer. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, wear flip flops. All year-round. With your jeans.

13. Wear yoga pants. Or any work-out clothes outside of the gym.

Spaniards don’t leave the house, or the gym, in their workout clothes. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, wear your yoga pants around town.

tourist in spain

14. Don’t weigh your fruits and vegetables before going to the cash register.

In Spain, most markets require that you weigh your produce prior to checking out. If you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, bring your items to the cash register without weighing them. For bonus points, select your produce with barehands instead of with the plastic gloves that are provided.

15. Wear your beach attire as you walk around the city.

Sure, the beach is close, but if you want to stand out as a tourist in Spain, make sure your bikini straps or board shorts are worn all day after you’ve been at the beach. While showing off your new swimwear, show off that awesome sunburn too! And don’t forget your floaties.

tourist in spain


And there you have it… How to stand out as a tourist in Spain! Good luck and happy travels!

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  • Reply Om Trips Blog August 24, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Definitely a must read article! Love your sense of humour!

    • Reply jennison September 27, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Thank you so much! xoxo

  • Reply Danuta/boliviainmyeyes August 24, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Good one and so true! I would have a problem with most of these points but my South American accent I’ve learnt in Bolivia will be a big give away:)

    • Reply jennison September 27, 2016 at 9:34 am

      Yes! That is how I felt when I first moved here. I grew up in California and when I arrived I was shocked how different the Spanish language was from what I had learned. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Reply Elena November 4, 2016 at 10:02 am

    I agree almost everything, but not all the spanish people are unpolite. We say «thanks» and «please» as you too.

    • Reply jennison November 4, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Elena, thanks for reading! Yes, absolutely, I think we are agreeing 😉 I think my point is that Spanish people are actually SO polite that they offer help, etc. without expecting a thank you. I notice that my Spanish family is often humbled or even embarrassed when I thank them for something that they were simply gracious in offering 🙂 I love that so much about Spanish people.

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