17 Top Spain Packing List Items + What to Wear & NOT to bring (2018)

Updated on August 8, 2018 by Lyric Fergusson

What should I bring on my Spain trip?

Spain is a wondrous mix of the old and new. To help navigate this great country, I put this packing checklist together.

At the end you’ll also see a section on what to wear in Spain as well as a list of items NOT to bring and other FAQs.

Spaniards have style and taste — and that goes for every aspect of their lives. To fit in, make sure you pack accordingly, and don’t forget your appetite, endurance, and appreciation of life’s simple pleasures.


1) Passport Pouch
Pickpockets are common in Spain, especially if you plan on heading to Madrid, Barcelona, or anywhere with large crowds. A quality passport pouch makes it next to impossible to become a target. This one by Zero Grid is our favorite. It’s sturdy yet inexpensive, RFID safe, can easily fit your cell, cash, ATM cards, and passport without feeling too bulky. To be extra vigilant, wear this pouch tucked under your shirt (like my hubby does) and you won’t encounter a problem.
View on Amazon.com ➜

2) Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger
This external battery pack is a fantastic way to keep an easy device-charge on hand at all times. It uses the USB cord that most devices come with to transfer charge, and is roughly the size of a tube of lipstick! This makes it easy to carry around with you for those times when your device needs to be charged but you don’t want to go back to your room to wait for it to charge via an outlet. This small but powerful charger is a must-have.
View on Amazon.com ➜

3) Spain Power adapter
Spain’s electrical outlets call for 220V, 50 Hz — and type F prongs (with the rounded tip). This is different than the U.S., so bring along a power adapter that will work with your devices. If you’re visiting other countries, I highly recommend you get an international power adapter (like the one pictured) that works in practically every country. This one also comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee!
View on Amazon.com ➜

4) Gorgeous Outfit: Women’s & Men’s
A night out in Spain is the perfect excuse to wear a killer outfit. I love this jumpsuit because it looks great on almost all body types and it doesn’t wrinkle easily when packed in your suitcase. You can wear it to dinner and head out dancing without needing to change. I love the open back design, and the price is unbeatable.
View on Amazon.com ➜

5) Jet Lag relief
Don’t let jet lag weigh you down and stop you from enjoying those first few days of your trip. This homeopathic, natural jet lag preventative and relief supplement works wonders. If you take it according to the instructions, it can really help speed up the recovery process from traveling, and you’ll arrive feeling refreshed and ready to explore Spain and its wonders.
View on Amazon.com ➜

6) Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Through some recent bad experiences where I had my credit card number stolen while staying at an Airbnb in Paris I’ve learned that a VPN is essential for any travel.

A good VPN (like NordVPN) gives you added layer of security so that you can keep all your sensitive data such as passwords, credit cards and even your identity from being hacked. I’ve learned that whenever you go on someone else’s WiFi whether it’s at a cafe, airport, Airbnb, or hotel, you’re potentially putting your data at risk. With a VPN, you can protect any device with the push of a button.
View NordVPN.com Options ➜


7) Pashmina Shawl/Scarf
A scarf will help you two-fold in Spain: for any seasonal changes, where an extra layer is called for, and when you need to cover a up in the historic churches or other religious sites you’ll be visiting. Pack a lighter one for the warmer months and heavier one for the rest of the year. This is a great opportunity to accessorize, as well, so take advantage of Spain’s tendency to be fashion-forward and dress up your whole outfit with a nice-looking scarf!
View on Amazon.com ➜

8) Hanging toiletry bag
The only way to properly describe this toiletry bag is “SEXY”. Honestly, I have never had a love affair with a bag quite like I do with this one by Vetelli! They say it’s for men, but honestly (as a woman) I don’t care. We all need certain toiletries from home while traveling, and keeping them clean, organized, and spill-free during the ride can save a lot of trouble and hassle— and I have never found such a quality bag so inexpensive. Plus it makes organization and re-packing a breeze.
View on Amazon.com ➜

9) Deodorant Wipes: Women’s & Men’s
Deodorant wipes are fantastic because Spain is hot and if you’re planning any full day trips you are inevitably going to get sweaty and stinky. Instead of stressing on whether your body odor is too much, just carry along a few of these little puppies. You can bust one out when you are in the bathroom and with one quick wipe, you will feel refreshed and stink-free. I love this brands because they smell amazing and are full of essential oils and other non-toxic ingredients.
View on Amazon.com ➜

10) Travel Insurance for Spain
Travel Insurance is so important when heading overseas, and World Nomads is our top choice. Yes, they will cover your costs if your luggage gets lost or stolen, or if cancellations to your flights occur… But perhaps most importantly, they will front a medical bill if by chance you end up needing to see a doctor for an accident or injury. We simply don’t travel without it.
View their plans at WorldNomads.com ➜

11) Packing cubes
It may seem that adding something like packing organizers will just add bulk to your suitcase or bag, but it’s actually just the opposite. They actually tend to do a great job compacting items and keeping them organized so that it’s much easier to find exactly what you’re looking for. These packing cubes are ideal because they are reusable, washable, and come in varying sizes (and fun colors!).
View on Amazon.com ➜
packing-cubes

12) Comfortable flats
Footwear is definitely noticed in this country — and flip flops are not acceptable beyond the beach. Additionally, you will find that driving in sandals is actually illegal, so keep that in mind if you plan to rent or drive a car while in Spain. Given the amount of walking you’ll be doing on a daily basis, a solid pair of comfortable flats, both stylish and supportive, will be a helpful addition to your wardrobe here.
View on Amazon.com ➜

13) Stylish Backpack
In Spain, fashion matters. And yet, you are probably going to be leaving your hotel early and spending a lot of time walking, visiting museums, taking buses, trains and many other modes of public transportation. A stylish (yet extremely inexpensive) backpack like this one by VBiger Vintage is key because it fits all the essentials, has a comfortable ergonomic design for those long days, and it’s fashionable enough that you won’t feel like a tourist.
View on Amazon.com ➜

14) Activated charcoal
Spain is known for remarkable food and delicious wines — and trust me, it will not disappoint! This said, we highly recommend bringing activated charcoal just in case you end up with a bout of food poisoning or traveler’s diarrhea. These activated charcoal tablets quickly absorb any toxins that may be in your system and can help remedy your upset stomach quickly and easily with no harmful side effects. In our experience, you will be back on your feet within a few hours, rather than spending days of your vacation in bed recovering.

Pro Tip: Be sure to eat at high-turnover restaurants and avoid pre-made sandwiches – especially those that might have been sitting around for days or without proper refrigeration.
View on Amazon.com ➜

charcoal-tablets-for-dysentery

15) Quick-dry towel
This item is a true travel staple item for a reason: you never know what your accommodations will be like in some circumstances, and you never know when you’ll need a compact, quick-dry towel while you’re traveling in Spain. Even if you know you’re staying in a place that will provide adequate, clean towels, it’s still wise to have a packable version.
View on Amazon.com ➜

16) Water bottle with built-in filter
Water quality is tough to predict in many parts of Europe – Spain tends to have good water in most areas, but in other towns it’s not wise to drink the tap water. Bringing a water bottle with you is a good idea regardless, but bringing a bottle with a built-in filter means you’ll always have control over whether the water you’re drinking is safe for consumption.
View on Amazon.com ➜

17) Solid shampoo
When flying to Spain you’ll have to carefully measure amounts of liquids and cram them all into appropriate quart-sized bags for security checkpoints if you’re carrying them onto the plane. Any product that can cut down on the liquids you have to pack is a great choice, and this solid shampoo by Lush is no exception. If you’re skeptical of solid shampoo, this one won’t let you down – it works just as well as the liquid variety.
View on Amazon.com ➜

 

Other packing list items to consider bringing to Spain


What to wear in Spain


From fiestas to the flamenco, Pablo Picasso, and Antoni Gaudí, Spain is a vibrant country with a lot to offer. Whether you are visiting the major cities like Barcelona or Madrid or planning a coastal getaway in Andalusia or the Canary Islands, you will find that Spaniards have a great sense of fashion.

Bring clothes that are well fitted in muted colors. Dress on the conservative side and choose versatile outfits that can be worn in museums and churches during the day and then to restaurants, concerts, and dancing at night.

What should WOMEN wear in Spain? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).














Women in Spain have a great sense of style, with a smart casual look that is on the conservative side. Start by packing footwear which is comfortable and can easily be worn for many hours such as fashion sneakers. Many local women wear ankle boots from fall to early spring and wedge heels during the summer evenings. Skinny jeans are very popular in any season and the trendy wide leg plants look great in spring and summer. On top, bring camis to pair with long sweaters, cardigans, or a nice blouse. During the warmer months add some style to your outfits by packing jumpsuits and long maxi dresses. For outside, pack a light hooded jacket and retro band shades. Lastly, boho earrings make great accessories for any outfit along with leather band bracelets.

What should MEN wear in Spain? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).














Up your style when visiting Spain. Start with a pair of comfortable shoes to wear in the day and leather wingtip shoes in the evening. Pants are worn in every season even when it is hot outside so pack a few pairs such as skinny fit jeans and/or tapered trousers. A nifty leather money belt protects you from pickpocketers by being able to store your cash inside the belt. On top, choose short sleeve dress shirts and polos for warmer months and oxford long sleeves and cardigans for the cooler months. Bring clothes that are well fitted and in muted colors without graphics. Outside wear a light hooded jacket with sunglasses. If it is cold pack beanie hat and scarf. Bring an RFID minimalist wallet for your credit cards and pack it in a rucksack for day exploring.

There’s a prevailing myth that the weather in Spain is perfect all year round. While many parts of the country enjoy wonderful weather much of the time, every part of Spain endures some rougher weather and seasonal changes. The golden rule is to do some research on the specific region you’ll be visiting, but the guidelines below should be more than enough for most travelers.

SPRING – March, April, May: Spring in Spain is lovely, and a hot time for tourism. When winter finally lets go, the air warms and the weather stays mild, so sun is plentiful. In certain parts of Spain it’s not uncommon to have a few days that are warm enough for beach time, but don’t plan on spending all of your time sunbathing in a bikini.

Most of Spain enjoys breezes and temps comfortable enough to dine outside without a jacket, but remember that rain is not uncommon in spring.

Pack a good rain jacket and a windproof travel umbrella so that you’ll be prepared should you be caught in a rainshower. A layering shawl is ideal to protect you from the chill of cooler evenings. Temperatures average between 55°F and 65°F (13°C to 18°C) with earlier months being the coldest.

SUMMER – June, July, August, part of September: This season brings heat to the whole country, though the northern areas are much milder than the southern regions. Rain can still be expected, especially in the north, so bring a rain jacket and a good umbrella!

Pack light layers to ward off occasional breezes and to protect your skin from the sun, but expect to tolerate some higher heat, too. A sunhat, sunglasses, and beachwear (swimsuit, swimsuit cover up, flip flops) are definitely appropriate – just keep beachwear at the beach and the pool. Summer is kind of a shoulder-season to the two primary spring and fall tourist seasons, but you can expect to still see a lot of tourists. Temperatures average between 70°F and 85°F (21°C to 29°C).

FALL – September, October, November: A magical and mild time in Spain, the fall brings some crispness to the air and the changing of the leaves. When packing for a fall trip, be sure to include a light jacket and a scarf or shawl – you’ll want to have something to ward off the evening chills that can also keep you cozy on colder days.

Crowds are prevalent since the weather is so nice (this is a high-season, after all), so you’ll encounter throngs of eager visitors at attractions.

Sometimes winter tends to sneak in a bit early, so it’s a good idea to check local weather forecasts right before you go, and to pack accordingly. Temperatures average between 55°F and 70°F (13°C to 21°C) with later months in the colder ranges.

WINTER – December, January, February, part of March: Winters in Spain tend to be drier than other places in Europe, and are fairly mild with regard to weather. Obviously this is the coldest season of the year, so pack accordingly, and don’t forget to bring layering items that can be mixed and matched so that you can avoid bringing too much clothing!

You may only need a fleece or a mid-weight jacket if you’re used to the cold, but if you come from a place where cold is uncommon you may want to opt for a heavier coat and a hat and gloves. Certainly if you’re planning to ski or take part in other snow sports while on your trip, you’ll need to pack appropriate gear. Temperatures average between 45°F and 50°F (7°C to 10°C).

How to dress correctly for the activity – (Click to expand)

Religious Sites – Catholicism has been very prominent in Spain for hundreds of years and as a result, beautiful churches and cathedrals can be found throughout the country. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is known as one of the greatest works of architecture and Seville Cathedral is the largest gothic cathedral in the world. As these are religious sites, it is important to pay attention to the dress code and wear outfits that are more on the conservative side. Both men and women need to have their shoulders covered. If you do choose to wear shorts (though not recommended), ensure that it goes below the knee. Anything that exposes cleavage, the midriff or back should be avoided. Just keep in mind that locals normally save shorts for the beach so pants are always a better option along with shoes instead of sandals.

Gourmet Food – From Spanish tapas to the coastal seafood, charcuterie, and roasts, the cuisine in Spain is packed with flavor. Spain is a gourmet food destination with some restaurants even gaining a Michelin star (many of which are located in San Sebastian). El Celler de Can Roc, Akelarre, and Arzak are some of the top rated and have three Michelin stars. Whether you are at a fine dining restaurant or out for a night of tapas, take a smart casual approach to how you dress. For casual restaurants, men can wear dark fitted jeans with a t-shirt and blazer and for fancier restaurants, go with trousers and a dress shirt. For footwear, choose a nice pair of leather shoes. Women can wear maxi or cocktail dresses with a pair of wedge heels. For colder months, wear ankle boots, with black skinny pants, a blouse and nice sweater. Makeup and jewelry are also common for a night out.

Beaches – From powder sand beaches to crystal clear waters, Spain has plenty of beaches for a relaxing holiday. Costa Brava, Gran Canaria, Majorca, and Costa Del Sol are just some parts of Spain offering fantastic beaches. Finally, these are places where you can dress in shorts! Getting to the beach though, you will want to blend in with locals so wear a flowing dress overtop or shorts and a tank. For women, bikinis are the most popular choice. Men tend to wear swim shorts that go above the knee and are more fitted. Watch out for pickpocketing though as beachgoers are a prime target. Do not take any valuables with you and by bringing an RFID wallet to throw in a bag with many pockets. It’s also a good idea to bring a microfibre towel that is lightweight for packing and quickly dries.

Football (Soccer) – Football is the most popular sport in Spain where it’s practically considered a religion and some of the worlds best clubs like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona compete. If you are already a fan of the game, wear your favorite teams’ jersey. If you want to go the extra mile, throw on some face paint! If you just want to experience Spanish football, pick a side and dress in their colors. It’s easiest if you pick the home team to avoid unwanted comments from passionate fans. Jeans are the most popular choice for bottom wear and don’t forget to bring a pair of sunglasses.

What NOT to bring to Spain:


1) 🚫 DON’T TAKE flip flops with the intention of wearing them anywhere other than the beach: You’ll be among a fashion forward crowd in Spain, so it’s best to dress the part. Blending in and being respectful will require a step up in the wardrobe, and that includes keeping those flip flops strictly at the beach.

3) 🚫 DON’T BRING valuables: Crime can be a problem in the touristy parts of Spain’s major cities, and even in some smaller cities and towns. Leave valuables at home or locked in a safe at your accommodations – you really won’t need them anyway. When carrying money and passport, it’s also best to use a Passport Pouch.

5) 🚫 DON’T PACK so much that you don’t have space for souvenirs: Spain has some magnificent shopping, and you’ll definitely want to bring home some items that you purchase. Whether it’s an extra bottle of wine or some bottles of Spain’s incredible olive oil, you’ll want some room to spare in your checked luggage.

2) 🚫 DON’T BRING a hairdryer: Even with an adaptor, some of your more powerful appliances won’t do so well with the electrical conversion. It’s best to leave your hair dryer at home. Many accommodations will provide one. Otherwise just take advantage of the arid climate and air-dry your hair.

4) 🚫 DON’T TAKE books – opt for a Kindle: Books take up a lot of space and weight, but a Kindle will allow you to read without the extra load. If you must have print books, you can look up spots along the way (like cafes and hostels) to swap out an old book for a new one — meaning less to carry.

6) 🚫 DON’T PACK immodest clothing: Spain is fashion-forward, but it’s also a pace where most people are fairly religious or at least conservative with their clothing. You may see some people wearing shorts but it’s uncommon, and you certainly won’t see short shorts or other revealing clothing anywhere but the beach.

What clothing should I NOT wear in Spain? – (Click to expand)

The people of Spain have a great sense of fashion. To not stand out as a tourist, dress on the conservative side and never wear shorts or sandals unless you are going to the beach. Avoid baggy clothing, sweatpants, sweatshirts, work out clothing, graphic tees, bright colors, baseball caps, and sneakers. You will be doing plenty of exploring around Spain, so do not bring any shoes that are uncomfortable for walking. Women should also avoid tops with plunging necklines, crop tops, short dresses, and shorts. Lastly, never wear an opposing teams jersey in a city.

FAQs about traveling in Spain


What is the weather like in Spain?

Spain has hot summers and cool, dry winters, so plan your trip and your outfits accordingly. Spain’s high seasons for tourism are in the spring and fall, but really, there isn’t much of a “bad” time to visit. Southern Spain can get too unbearably hot for some, while Northern Spain is considerably cooler. One thing to note is that many residents of Spain take their vacations in the month of August and so quite a few shops and restaurants may be closed during the heat of that month.

What kinds of transportation are available in Spain?

Taxis are common in the major cities of Spain. If you want to venture out on your own, make sure you’re comfortable with manual transmissions, as that’s what you’ll find in most rental cars, and remember the strict Spanish laws regarding footwear while driving! You can find bicycle-sharing systems in cities like Barcelona. But overall, walking is a pleasant and efficient way to see the cities.

Is a visa required to visit Spain?

For American citizens, a visa is not required for stays under 90 days. However, your passport needs to be valid for at least three months beyond your planned departure date.

How much of a time difference can I expect?

Depending on where you are in Spain, you’ll be Western European Time or Central European Time — five or six hours ahead, respectively, of east coast time in the U.S.

Is it safe to drink the water in Spain?

The water is safe to drink in the urban areas of Spain and some

more developed towns. If you get more remote, you may want to bring bottled water with you, or simply carry a refillable water bottle with a built-in filter so that you don’t have to worry about the quality of the water wherever you go!

How is the healthcare?

Healthcare in the country is very high-quality, and pretty easy to access. It is important, however, to make sure you check with your insurance regarding coverage or add a supplemental policy to cover the time you’ll be traveling in Spain.

What’s the food like?

Spain is well known for tapas, or small plates. They are shareable and delectable, from patatas bravas (potatoes) to omelets to croquettes. You’ll likely have heard of Paella as well – a rice and seafood dish that is simple but delicious. Paella is local to the Valencia region and can be widely found there, but it’s not quite as common in other regions. Fret not – there are many other amazing dishes to look forward to! The country is also known for its Jamón ibérico, or aged ham, which is a delicacy everyone should try at least once. Dinner is much later than Americans are used to – these lighter tapas meals often start after 9 pm.

What are typical accommodations like in Spain?

You have a range of options to choose from in Spain — from five star resorts to boutique hotels to budget hostels. One option to keep in mind is home-sharing platforms like Airbnb. You can find great deals in the center of the action, and they’re often much easier on your budget.

What kinds of things are there to do?

Depending on your interests, you have endless options in Spain.

Whether you want to go full-tourist and check out the The Sagrada Familia or spend the afternoon with a chilled bottle of cava and a plate of aged manchego cheese, make sure that you slow down and enjoy.

There are beaches to relax on, gardens to roam and churches to see, streets to walk and shops to explore. Grab your Lonely Planet Guidebook and enjoy the journey.

Do shops really close for siesta?

Depending on where you are, the community may or may not take advantage of the afternoon
siesta. In the major cities, you’ll find that things continue to operate more or less as normal. There’s even
been debate over changing the working hours for Spaniards — ending the day at 6 pm rather than 7 pm, effectively eliminating the practice. However, in the smaller towns it’s more common for businesses to shut down from about 2 pm to 5 pm, and you should plan accordingly.

Can I get dinner at 7 pm, or do I really have to wait until the Spanish eat at 9 pm?

Yes, you can typically still find some places to eat at “regular” dinner times, but they will be fairly empty (aside from those catering specifically to tourists).

However, some restaurants do modify their opening times and won’t open until later (8 or 9 pm). So if you have your heart set on a spot, it’s best to check ahead of time. And if you want to see how the city really lives, wait a couple more hours – snack on some Jamón and wine while you’re waiting!

What are the electrical outlets?

Plugs are type F with the standard voltage around 220 V and 50 Hz frequency, so bring a Spain power adapter – it’s essential if you plan to charge anything while you’re there.
 

Follow us for more tips and inspiration


 

Like us on Facebook here:

You may also like these other packing lists…





 


 


Author: Katie Malloy

Katie Malloy, a freelance content creator, recently returned to the U.S. after living in Luang Prabang, Laos, where she was marketing manager for a social enterprise. She spent her free time watching life along the Mekong River and seeing the region. A lifelong traveler, she looks forward to knocking her final continent, Antarctica, off the list one day. Katie is happy to be home in North Carolina, but she does miss the sights and sounds of Southeast Asia, even the 4 a.m. wake-up call of Buddhist monks drumming at the nearby temple.

Top