When the euro finally came into proper use as notes and coins back on 1st January 1999, Spain was among the countries that was ready to adopt it. It joined with a fixed conversion with its old currency the peseta. For a period of three years prior to this point Spain used its old currency alongside the euro, to give Spaniards a chance to get used to it. The dual circulation period then ended on 1st January 1999 when the new currency came into proper use.
The euro coins and notes are the same throughout all the member countries. The only difference is that the obverse side of each coin has a design relevant to the issuing country. The coins are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents (sometimes you will hear these referred to as euro cents, but not very often). There are also two other coins which are the one and two euro coins.
In terms of the banknotes you will see seven of these. They range from the €5 note, through the €10, €20, €50, €100 and €500 notes.
Spain has now been using the euro since 1999. While some people would have preferred to continue with the old peseta it was not to be, and the new currency is not really new anymore. Spain was able to adopt the new currency right at the start because it was able to meet all the stringent rules and regulations that are put in place for a country in the EU to start using the currency. It has been through some tough economic times in recent years as a result of being in the EU; some say it has struggled more because of its status in the European Union than it would otherwise have done. But although there were fears the single currency could collapse as a result, it is still there and still being used and traded in Spain among other countries.
Millions of people go on holiday to Spain every year. It has much to offer to the holidaymaker – great beaches, lots of sun and lots to do. Now Spain uses the euro it doesn’t have to be difficult to get hold of the currency either.
All you need to do is to find a bureau de change that offers the euro at a preferential exchange rate. They all charge different rates and some charge commission on top while others build it into the price. Shop around to make sure you get the best deal on euros you possibly can.
It is easy to get hold of more once you are in Spain as well. There are plenty of cash points in cities and towns, as well as all areas that cater for tourists. You can also use bureaux de change but do avoid street vendors. Not only are they illegal but they could end up with you losing your money or being scammed in some way. Don’t be tempted. Make sure you are prepared at the weekends though because few of the bureaux de change are open on a Sunday. If they do open it will only be for a few short hours, so make sure you have cash and cards to tide you over.
Use any online currency converter or an app on your smart phone designed to give you the latest conversion rate. This is not the rate you will be charged if you go to a bureaux de change or a bank; it does however give you a ballpark figure of what your own currency is worth when up against the euro. You can then use this to look for the best rate you can find when using these services.
If you should need consular advice while you are on holiday in Spain it is wise to visit the official British embassy website at https://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-embassy-madrid. This page contains more information on the various locations of embassies in the country, as well as contact information if you need it.
For the most part Spain is a safe place to travel to. The British government website gives regularly updated advice about travelling to Spain and whether it is safe to do so or not. However, with millions of people from Britain choosing Spain as their holiday destination every year, it is easy to see how popular it is. Remember that most people enjoy a holiday with no issues at all, although it is always good to check the current situation.
The most commonly occurring problem is that of petty theft. Make sure you don’t make it easy for anyone who is looking to pick pockets or bags. Keep hold of your bag if you have one and make sure it is properly closed whenever you have it on you. If you carry a wallet or purse, don’t keep all your money in it. A lot of people have taken the smart advice to make sure they separate out their cash and keep some in different places. This means even if you do get robbed they are unlikely to take everything you have.
Furthermore if you have your passport on your person, make sure you don’t keep it with all your other valuables. It is a good idea to use a money belt to keep this and other cash and cards in, to provide an even safer place to keep those euros and other items.
Most people have heard of the Costa del Sol, which is one of the hotspots (if you will forgive the pun!) for those visiting Spain each year. The area includes such destinations as Malaga, Marbella, Fuengirola and Puerto Banus. Torremolinos is also situated here, and these areas alone draw in the crowds reliably every year. If you want guaranteed sunshine, great beaches and the chance to enjoy some bars and clubs late into the evening as well, the Costa del Sol provides it all.
However Spain does have a lot more to offer than this. Indeed some people aren’t keen on visiting this area and wonder whether the country has other destinations that are better for their needs. The answer to this question is a definite yes.
As far as major cities are concerned, Madrid is the number one destination to try out. This is of course the Spanish capital and it provides an experience that reaches into many areas of interest. For example there are historic signs here from the Renaissance period as well as earlier times. Feel free to spend some of your euros sampling the food and drink served in many restaurants and cafes in the city, giving you the chance to enjoy some local dishes.
Elsewhere there is Barcelona, Seville and Valencia among others. Seville is in the south of the country and has a sparkling Old Town with character that cannot be denied. Look out for the Alcazar palace complex among other sights; this joins two other locations in the city that have been granted UNESCO World Heritage Status.
Meanwhile Barcelona is further along the south eastern coastline and offers a Gothic Quarter to get lost exploring in. Don’t miss the Sagrada Familia, a church designed long ago by Antoni Gaudi. Work began in 1882 and unbelievably is still continuing today! You can also visit Park Guell which was also designed by Gaudi. Look out for the mosaics which are truly stunning.
Valencia actually isn’t far from Barcelona and it also has its own UNESCO site – this time in the shape of the Silk Exchange market. You can also enjoy the likes of the oceanographic park and the marvellous exterior of the Valencia Cathedral.
Don’t assume that Spain is all about cities and beaches though. Its rural areas are also well worth exploring. It is possible to hire a villa or other similar property and enjoy a week or so cycling or walking around the countryside, getting away from the madding crowds. From Catalonia to Andalucia, there are lots of options to choose from here.
Spain certainly has a lot to offer its many millions of tourists. There must be a reason why so many people keep on coming back, and many of them return to the same place each year. If you want to make your euros go as far as possible, explore all the possibilities for a Spanish holiday before you go and choose the ideal trip for your needs. Spain may not be as cheap as it used to be, mostly because of the price of the euro, but it still offers much to recommend it. Which part of the country will you visit this year?