Ah, a vacation in Spain… sun, sand and sea. All you need is your swimsuit, a few pairs of shorts and your list of Spanish vacation phrases… right?
Not so fast.
Actually, Spain’s geography, climate and activities vary drastically depending on where you go. Are you sightseeing? Hiking? Attending a festival?
Packing for a Spanish adventure isn’t so cut-and-dry. That’s why we’ve created five different packing lists for five types of trips.
What to consider before packing for Spain
Fashion varies around Spain, but locals often stick to a chic, understated style with muted and neutral colors.
With Catholicism still being prevalent in contemporary culture, clothing cuts and styles are usually fairly conservative. As a tourist, just make sure your shoulders and stomach are covered when entering any churches.
Your destination and type of trip will definitely affect what will be on your packing list. For example, a city break to Barcelona or Madrid might require some stylish evening wear. Whereas for an autumn slog along the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain, you’ll need to swap your high heels for walking boots.
Generally, from June through August you can expect sunshine and hot temperatures across the country.
The shoulder seasons of May and September are great times to visit, because you’ll encounter fewer tourists. The weather is still warm, but you might need a jacket and pair of jeans.
Northern Spain has a cooler climate than the south. Winters can get chilly and rainy. Then there are places like the Canary Islands that stay hot all year round. There are even mountainous areas where you can ski! So be sure to check the weather forecast of your destination before you pack.
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Packing essentials checklist
Your trip is booked, and now you’re left staring at your empty suitcase. Where to begin?
Have a look at this list of essentials to make sure you have the basics covered. Once you’ve packed these items, you can move on to the destination-specific lists.
- T-shirts and shirts
- Shorts and skirts
- Sweater or cardigan
- Swimsuit or swim shorts
- Sunscreen or SPF moisturizer
- After sun
- Shampoo and conditioner (If you have hand luggage liquid limitations, try a solid shampoo bar!)
- Body wash
- Perfume (you can also get solid perfumes)
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- High-quality but relatively affordable camera, such as the Canon EOS 1300D.
- International bank card
What to Pack for Spain: 5 Packing Lists for 5 Spanish Trips
We have the travel essentials down. But now for the specifics.
Whatever your agenda for your Spanish vacation may be, this guide will talk you through the things you’ll need. Regarding clothing, we’ve included links to ASOS, a store that sells items fitting for Spanish holidays at a reasonable price.
1. Beach holiday in Majorca
Many people head to Spain to relax on its idyllic beaches. The Balearic island of Majorca has some of the country’s finest stretches of sand and is a top tourist destination, particularly from June to August.
You can stick to swimsuits, shorts and t-shirts on the beach. But in evenings, you might want something longer to cover up.
Ladies, try loose trousers or maxi dresses to stay cool, covered and stylish.
Guys, go for smart shorts, loose trousers, plain t-shirts or fitted shirts.
Sunscreen and sunglasses! In summer, the sun is brutal.
Instead of a beach towel, consider taking a sarong. It takes up less space in your suitcase and doubles as a beach skirt, dress or scarf if you know how to tie it.
2. City break in Barcelona
Barcelona is another top tourist destination. Characterized by winding streets, sun-dappled squares and the unique architecture of Antoni Gaudí, it’s the perfect place to get lost sightseeing for the day.
With its unrivaled nightlife, you may want to head for some delicious Spanish cuisine and drinks in the Gothic Quarter. Or try some of the bars and night clubs in the city or along the beachfront.
For a comfortable outfit that can transition from day to night, women can wear a long skirt and cropped tee or even a lightweight jumpsuit.
Guys, stay stylish with chinos or chino shorts and a loose shirt.
A zip-up money belt to wear under your clothes, as Barcelona is notorious for pickpockets.
It’s also a good idea to bring a guide book so you don’t miss any of the amazing sights, markets or galleries. The Lonely Planet guide will show you everything you need.
3. Walking the Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage route that stretches 500 miles across North Spain. In 2017, it attracted some 300,000 tourists from all over the world who came to either thru-hike or section hike the trail.
If you’re planning an active walking holiday, you’ll need to pack light, because you’ll be carrying all your own gear the entire time.
Most hikers stay in specialized hiker hostels where people serve them food and drink. Along the way, you’ll also pass through villages with shops and pharmacies, so you probably don’t need to bring cooking utensils or an extensive medical kit.
For a long backpacking trip in Spain, your packing list should include the following:
- Hiking boots (Try the Salomon Quest Prime GTX boots with sturdy ankle support and rainproof material!)
- Hiking socks
- Breathable synthetic t-shirts
- Travel towel
- Rain jacket
- Water bottle
- Blister plasters
- Sleeping bag liner or lightweight sleeping bag (This Sea to Summit bag compresses to the size of a grapefruit!)
Washing powder. You’re best off only taking a couple of t-shirts, one pair of walking trousers and a few pairs of underwear to reduce the weight of your pack. If you’re on the road for three weeks, you’ll need to hand wash your items along the way.
4. Benicàssim Music Festival
One of Spain’s most iconic music festivals, Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (International Festival of Benicàssim) has hosted bands such as The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes.
The festival always takes place in July on the Mediterranean coast, so the weather is hot, hot, hot!
The festival starts in the evenings and goes all night, so remember your bikinis and board shorts for days on the beach.
Want to rock that classic music festival look? Girls, why not go for a graphic tee or vest with some denim shorts to keep cool and stay stylish? Bring sandals or flip flops for the beach but some lace-up canvas trainers for the festival to stop your toes from getting trampled in crowds.
Guys, try rocking a band tee and denim shorts. Or try pairing patterned shorts with a plain t-shirt or vice versa to make your outfit a little more exciting.
A fanny pack is a great purchase for a festival, and you can get some awesome designs like this iridescent one.
They’re small, light and easily accessible. You can keep your phone and money safe while watching bands.
5. Sightseeing in Seville
Seville is a characterful, old town in Andalusia and a huge spot for tourists. Most people go in the summer when the weather’s super hot. So don’t forget a sun hat or cap to protect your skin.
For sightseeing, stick to loose-fitting clothes and light colors to keep cool. Be sure to pack a pair of sturdy shoes so you don’t slip on the city’s characteristic cobblestoned streets.
In the evenings, I recommend heading to a concert, because Seville is home to the famous flamenco! Go for a smart-casual outfit, such as a long skirt or dress shirt.
Maybe you even want to learn the Spanish flamenco! That would require another outfit entirely.
Your camera to take shots of the quaint architecture and picturesque surroundings.
Well, you’re all set for your exciting trip to Spain!
One last tip… Try using travel cubes to organize your bag. Oh, and never, ever forget your toothbrush!
Hanna Greeman is a language lover and global traveler. After graduating in Spanish and Italian from the University of Bristol, she has lived in Colombia, Peru, Italy, Australia and Thailand, and traveled across four continents. When not working as a freelance writer, catch her salsa dancing, reading or seeing live music.
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