Over the last 20 years of travel in Europe, we’ve made some packing mistakes. It happens even to the most professional travelers. Now that we live in Europe, though, we definitely feel like we have more packing wins than mistakes.
In this travel blog post, we share our top tips on packing for Spain, whether your itinerary takes you to cities, villages, or the Spanish islands. These packing tips for Spain will help travelers plan a city break or a more lengthy itinerary.
My ultimate goal is to provide a Spain holiday checklist, that covers clothing and other travel essentials, for you to have a hassle-free Spanish holiday.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Spain Packing List And Buying Guide
We go through loads of detail on what to wear in Spain and what to pack in every season. But, if you are short on time, check out some of our favorite packing tips here.
|🇪🇸 What To Pack For Spain||☀️ Spain In Summer/Spring||🌨 Spain In Winter/Fall|
|🧳 Carry-on Luggage||ROAM Personalized Luggage; Knack expandable backpack; Chester Spinner Luggage; PAKT Tote Bag (more for men)||Knack Compression Packing Cubes (to save space)|
|👜 Crossbody Bag||Kate Spade Crossbody Bags For Women (leather)||Sherpani Crossbody Bag (cotton and canvas)|
|👜 Anti-theft Purse||TravelOn Anti-Theft Bucket Bag (lightweight material)||TravelOn Anti-Theft Heritage Tote Bag (cotton, canvas, and swede)|
|🥿 Comfortable Shoes For Women||allbirds ballet flats; Birkenstocks; Strappy flat sandals|
|👚 Wool Travel Clothing For Women||Wool& summer dresses, wool short sleeve tees and tanks||Wool& winter dresses; Wool& wool cardigans; twill dress shirts|
|👕 Wool Travel Clothing For Men||Wool & Prince short sleeve tees, henleys, linen dress shirts||Wool & Prince long sleeve henleys, dress shirts|
|🔌 Travel Adapter||Universal Adapter|
|🔋 Power Pack For Charging||Anker Power Packs (for charging on the go)|
|🌂 Windproof Umbrella||Windproof Travel Umbrella|
|💧Filtered Water Bottle||Brita Filtered Water Bottle|
|💶 Money Belt or Passport Belt||RFID Blocking Stash Neck Wallet|
|👒 Hat For Women||Foldable Sun Hat|
|🧢 Hat For Men||Packable Hat|
Packing List For Spain – Top Things To Consider
There is no way to write a short travel blog post on packing for a trip to Europe. There are different recommendations we make for different travelers depending on some of the following circumstances.
- Think about the time of year of your visit. What people wear in Spain in winter is totally different than in summer.
- Whether you will travel carry on or will check your bag.
- How much walking you will do during your trip.
- What kind of activities are you planning and what destinations will you be visiting? Are you planning outdoor activities, solely food and wine travel? Will you be traveling to mainland Spain or to one of the Spanish islands?
- Lastly, how many items from Spain are you going to bring back home.
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Carry-On Versus Checked Baggage
Oh boy, I could spend thousands of words talking about this very issue. The most important thing when traveling in Europe is to pack as light as you can.
During our early trips to Europe, we made so many packing mistakes. On our first trip to Ireland, our two suitcases were so big they couldn’t fit in our uncle’s car. During my first trip to Italy, my suitcase was so big and heavy I couldn’t get it on and off trains.
Packing For Spain Carry On Only
Now, I only travel with a carry-on-sized bag that I can carry, roll, and lift wherever I need to without any help.
Occasionally I do check my travel bag, but mostly that is because I am carrying toiletries that are not travel-sized. Sometimes it is because I am returning home with wine, honey, or olive oil (all things that could happen in Spain).
All that said, I use this same bag whether I am traveling for a weekend or a month. I’ve used this bag for summer trips and winter trips and for business trips where I am packing a blazer. I simply make it work. The only exception?
For short weekend trips, I actually pack my Knack backpack. It holds my laptop, electronics, and enough clothing for a weekend away.
Which Carry On-Sized Bag Is Best For Traveling In Spain
In this packing blog post, I will share some pro tips on how to travel with a smaller bag. As a frame of reference, we spent over 3 weeks traveling in Southern Spain in the fall, with some colder weather.
For a trip like this, we could get away with our Chester Hard Sided Luggage, in the photo above.
We stayed almost exclusively in hotels but booked an apartment with a washing machine in the middle to wash clothes.
We’ve been testing out how to travel with hard-sided spinner luggage in Europe. This is probably the most common type of suitcase used by locals living in Spain.
Another thing to consider when packing light is that although it might take some time, almost everything you need can be purchased in Spain.
If you are on a short trip, you might not want to waste time shopping, but consider it an adventure. Shopping in a pharmacia or grocery store in Spain is one of the best ways to learn about the local culture!
Check out the complete line of spinner suitcases at Chester Travels now. Use the discount code “TravelForFood10” to save 10% off of all luggage and sets. Click here.
See related posts here:
If you want something a little more secure for carrying through the day, check out this post on the best anti-theft travel bags for Europe.
If you are looking for a stylish carry-on bag for a city break, check out this post on The Best Carry On Weekender Bag.
If you need more tips on how to pack light, check out this post on how to travel Europe with carry on only, and it’s possible in Spain!
Recommended Luggage For Spain
- Chester Travels Hard-Sided Luggage – in a variety of sizes and colors, lightweight and easy to maneuver, even on cobblestone streets; light enough to carry up and down steps; options for larger luggage as well as carry on size >> Learn more here & use code TravelForFood10 to save 10%
- Knack expandable backpacks – in several sizes, can get us through a 4-5 day trip in Spain >> See the Knack bag here
- Pakt One Tote Bag – great for a long weekend >> See the Pakt One here
- Knack Packing Cubes – help with organization and compression during winter travel in Spain >> Learn more here
How To Book Hotels In Spain
Pack For A Weekend In Spain
Here’s our other option for a short trip in Spain, or really a long weekend everywhere. I fell in love with my Knack Expandable Bag the first time I used it for a long weekend in San Sebastian even in the winter with kind of awful weather.
I brought my laptop an extra pair of shoes, and everything all in this one compact bag. It fits under the seat in front of you on an airplane, and easily fits between my legs on a train in Spain. It’s lightweight, roomy on the inside, and easy to carry.
Check out the Knack Expandable Backpack Here.
If you do need to pack a lot but want to ensure carry-on only try using packing to organize your gear or compression bags to save space in your luggage.
We use the packing cubes from Knack Bags. They start out small and unzip to expand depending on how much you need to fit.
I use one for electronics and cords and another for undergarments and socks. They are so easy to use particularly when packing a smaller bag where space is important.
Check out the packing cubes from Knack Bags.
Recommended Travel Purses For Spain
- Kate Spade Crossbody Bag – Great for day or night, slim, lightweight, holds the essentials
- Sherpani Crossbody Bag – A little more durable and heavyweight and perfect when traveling in Spain in the winter or fall
- Travelon Anti-Theft Bucket Bag, which is a little more lightweight for the summer and the Travelon Heritage Anti-Theft Bag, which is made of cotton, canvas, and swede and stands up to the weather in Spain in the winter.
Weather In Spain
Also, be sure to check the weather for the towns you are visiting in the days before leaving. Although Andalusia in the south can be warm to hot all year long, the weather elsewhere in Spain can surprise you.
In Girona in the winter, we start our days below freezing and the temperatures warm during the day. In San Sebastian, during the winter it can be rainy and cold or warm and sunny. It’s important to be prepared for anything and everything.
What To Wear In Spain In The Summer
If you are looking to spend a month in Spain, summer in Spain is a perfect time. It’s the ideal time for strappy sandals, shorts, and sundresses. Spain in summer is intense.
Almost everywhere in Spain it’s hot and humid or hot and dry. Hotels may or may not have air conditioning. Restaurants often don’t have air con. Be prepared to eat most of your meals outside.
Here is my list of what to pack for Spain in the summer:
- One pair of strappy black sandals
- One sleeveless dress, one flowy pair of pants, one pair of shorts, one pair of capris, and one pair of black linen pants
- Seven tops, a mixture of sleeveless and 3/4 length
- Bright colored scarf
- One black sweater, just in case
What To Wear In Spain In The Spring And Fall
We adjust the summer wardrobe to fit the temperatures in Spain in the Spring and Fall.
Depending on the destination in Spain, we will add a pair of jeans and a lightweight jacket or puffy vest. We will ditch the shorts. Normally, we both will add a pair of casual walking sneakers.
It’s important to think about layers because the temperature can change drastically from the morning to midday.
Traveling to Portugal? Check out our Portugal Packing List.
What To Wear In Spain In The Winter
The weather in Spain will differ depending on where you are, in the south or the north. Most of the days it was cold and rainy.
If heading to the north of Spain, or for where we lived for three years in Girona, a winter coat is important as is a heavier scarf and maybe even gloves. We go with layers and wear a lot of wool travel clothing.
See our recommendations on the best merino wool travel clothing for Europe.
Travel Packing Checklist For Spain
Regardless of the season, there are some items that you should consider packing when traveling in Spain or in Europe, generally. Some of these recommendations may seem somewhat obvious to seasoned travelers.
But for travelers who are not as accustomed to traveling to Europe, these recommendations might not seem so obvious. Feel free to skim some of these recommendations if you’ve traveled to Europe quite a bit in the past.
This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions about traveling in Spain, or anywhere in the world, particularly from Americans. I will speak to this from an American perspective.
I recommend bringing one ATM card and two credit cards. Keep one credit card in your hotel safe, or hidden in a suitcase just in case your bag is stolen while out during the day.
For an extra layer of protection, take photos of your cards (both sides) and keep them with your passport images.
Contact Your Bank Before Leaving
Don’t forget to call your bank and you credit card companies before leaving. This is important for two reasons. One, let them know that you are traveling to Spain and the dates of your trip.
This lets the bank know that it is you using your card overseas so they will not turn your credit card off for suspicious behavior.
The second reason to call your bank and credit card companies is to confirm whether your bank charges Foreign Transaction Fees. These fees can be 2-3% of every purchase you make, and can really add up. Some credit cards have these fees and some do not.
Obviously, try to use a credit card that doesn’t charge these fees. We’ve had the most luck with Chase, although we also have a Citibank card that doesn’t charge Foreign Transaction Fees.
Using An ATM In Spain
As for accessing money, the easiest and best way to access cash when traveling to Spain is to use the local ATM machines to withdraw Euros. There is no need to convert Dollars to Euros at your bank before leaving home.
There is no need to convert at the airport in the US or on arrival in Spain. Generally, the exchange rates and fees are way worse than simply withdrawing money at an ATM.
The same rule goes for ATMs and credit cards. See whether your ATM card will charge a Foreign Transaction Fee for accessing cash. We’ve used Charles Schwab and Capital One in the past to avoid these fees.
When in Spain, avoid ATM machines that are inside or attached to a convenience store or souvenir shop. This is particularly common in Barcelona and Madrid. Instead, look for major Spanish banks, like BBVA, Caixa Bank, and Santander.
Another tip to limit fees is to withdraw larger amounts at one time. If you withdraw €300 or €500 at a time it avoids transactional fees.
Money Belt or Passport Belt
A lot of people put a money belt or passport belt on their list of things to bring to Spain. We have not traveled in Europe with a money belt or passport belt since some of our earliest trips to Europe.
For the most part, there is no reason to carry your passport with you during the day. It’s safest at your hotel or apartment rental.
As for money, unless carrying a purse, it is best to keep your money in your front pocket where it is most safe. Essentially, you will want to take the same precautions you would in any big city, like San Francisco or Miami. If you keep your eyes open and your wits about you, you should be fine.
All that said, if you would feel more secure using a money belt, we recommend this neck wallet. It includes an RFID blocker, which means that your credit cards are more secure. It also has room for a smartphone to keep it secure as well.
Check out our list of recommended anti-theft bags for men and women.
Aviator Wallets are made in Germany. The company’s goal is to provide, the “ultimate Slim Wallet”. Aviator Wallets are available in a variety of materials including aluminum, carbon fiber, titanium, and wood. Each wallet is adjustable to hold from 1-20 cards.
A handy cash clip is built onto the back of the wallet allowing for easy use. Lastly, a convenient coin holder is tucked inside the wallet.
Depending on the style of Aviator Wallet, they come in a variety of colors ranging from black and silver to red and Electric Lime. Pricing for Aviation Wallets ranges from $75 to $165. Aviator Wallets ships to the US and throughout the world.
You can buy direct from Aviation Wallet here.
A lot of people pack a travel umbrella, which can be a small addition to keep you dry in rainy weather. We like to take risks here. We each have a rain jacket and many of the hotels we stay at have umbrellas to loan out. But, this is definitely not common.
If traveling to Spain in the spring or fall it’s probably worth it to travel with an umbrella just in case. This is more of a requirement when traveling in Central or Northern Spain than along the Southern Coast, where rain is not as common. Check out this Windproof Travel Umbrella.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t forget your sunglasses. In many areas of Spain there is sun 330 or more days a year, so you are more likely to experience sun in Spain than rain.
You can buy sunglasses cheaply in Spain as well if you forget. I don’t recommend packing expensive, designer sunglasses when traveling, though, because you might end up breaking them or losing them during your trip.
Filtered Water Bottle
We’ve never had problems drinking tap water in Spain from a health perspective, but just like in the US, it can taste a little strange. We try not to buy loads of plastic water bottles when traveling, although I recognize it will happen.
To reduce your use of plastic, I recommend bringing a Brita filtered water bottle so you can fill up your bottle from the tap in your hotel or apartment rental and carry it with you through the day.
Spanish restaurants generally do not serve tap water. Instead, you will end up ordering a bottle of still or sparkling water at restaurants for about €2 depending on the size. It’s worth it. Stay hydrated, particularly when traveling in Spain in the summer. Still water is agua sin gas and sparkling water is agua con gas.
Things To Take On A Spain Trip – Technology
When it comes to technology, there are a few things to take into consideration when visiting Spain. Sometimes people are concerned about flashing fancy smartphones or having big cameras when traveling. This is not as much of an issue in Spain anymore because everyone and their grandmother has a smartphone.
That said, I had my purse stolen in Spain, in our hometown, when I became too comfortable with my surroundings. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings.
Extra Memory Cards
We uploads photos and videos we take on our Smartphone to Dropbox daily and automatically. But, we also both have big memory cards in our Smartphones and on our cameras.
Either upgrade the size of your memory card or pick up an extra before leaving home. You don’t want to miss out on amazing Spain holiday photos because you’ve run out of space. This 125GB memory card will mean you will never run out of space for your photos.
Spain Packing Pro Tip:
When traveling with a digital camera, delete all old photos off of your memory card before leaving home. Then click “reformat” in your function settings.
This will clear the memory completely on your memory card leaving it completely empty for new photos. If you don’t occasionally reformat your memory cards, they continue to hold a lot of old data, which takes up space.
Other Technology To Pack For Spain
In addition to a camera or smartphone there are a handful of tech items that you should add to your list of things to take on holiday to Spain:
- iPad or Laptop or MacBook: We always travel with our Macbooks, but that’s because we work while traveling. There are some great laptops for travel, but if heading out on an actual vacation an iPad or Kindle Fire might work well.
- Power Pack: We always travel with at least one portable battery to top up our smartphones during long days of sightseeing in Spain. We also carry our charging cords with us during the day because there are often cafes or restaurants where we can top up along the way. We’ve had a few power packs from Anker that have worked well. Some rental cars in Spain also have USB chargers in the car, which is convenient.
- Travel Adapter: A proper travel adapter will help you charge all of your devices while traveling. I recommend taking multiple converters on a trip. We generally carry at least four on each trip, two for our laptops and two for our phones, so we can charge most of our devices at one time. This is important when you have long days and might not have a ton of time to charge up back at the hotel. A Universal Adapter is the best value because it can be used in Europe, the UK, and Asia.
Passport Requirements For Spain
If you are traveling from within the E.U., a National Identification Card is sufficient to enter Spain. For the rest of us, a passport is required. Most countries require at least six months of validity on your passport to enter a country. For example, if your trip begins on January 1, be sure that your passport doesn’t expire until after July 1.
Some people recommend that you carry a physical, printed photocopy of your passport in case your bag is stolen or lost.
We used to carry several copies, one in each of our bags. With today’s technology, though, we no longer carry printed copies of our passports with us in Europe.
Instead, when we receive a new passport, we scan a copy or take a picture of our passport identification information and store it in the cloud.
This includes having it saved locally on each of our cell phones and laptops, as well as having it stored in Dropbox or Google Drive. Or, email a copy of it to yourself at an email address you can access when traveling, i.e. Gmail.
Schengen Rules For Spain
If you are American, be aware of the rules for Schengen. There are few geographical distinctions here. Spain is part of Europe, part of the European Union, and part of what is known as the Schengen Zone.
Other countries, like Ireland, are part of Europe and the European Union, but are not part of the Schengen Zone. It can get complicated.
In the end, this means that Americans (as well as travelers from other countries, including people from Canada, Australian, and New Zealand) can travel within the Schengen Zone (and Spain) for no more than 90 days within 180 days.
This is a complicated and comprehensive travel topic, but just be aware of the Schengen Visa rules for traveling in Spain and throughout Europe.
One of the most important things to pack for Spain is any prescription medication that you must travel with.
First, pack your medication in your carry-on bag, not in your checked luggage, in case your luggage is lost.
Second, try to bring any prescription medication in the original bottle that shows your name and details. We’ve never been stopped and questioned about medication in Spain, but you never know. This is better than bringing random pills in a pill organizer.
As for other basic medication, I always travel with ibuprofen, Alka Seltzer, and other just-in-case items. It is pretty easy to purchase anything you need at a Spanish pharmacy if needed.
In Spain, basic items like this are almost always purchased at a pharmacy rather than at a grocery store. Pharmacies are generally open Monday through Saturday and some close in the afternoon.
In larger cities and towns, there is normally a pharmacy or two open on Sunday, but they may be harder to find. For this reason, I like to carry the basics with me in case I need them at night or on a Sunday.
What To Not Take To Spain
There are a handful of items that continue to be placed on many European travel packing lists. For Spain, though, some of these items are just not needed.
In today’s society, traveler’s checks are no longer needed. In fact, they can be a real pain to use because you need to go to a bank (when the banks are open) to exchange them.
I have a strong memory of waiting in line at a bank in Barcelona, sweating, just to exchange traveler’s checks years ago. Follow our tips on how to access money in Spain, above.
Since moving to Spain, I rarely use the fabulous pair of bright red heels I bought while living in Bangkok. We walk everywhere, which means that, at least for me, heels are impractical.
Add to that the existence of cobblestone streets, slippery stones, and lots of medieval staircases, and heels can be a big problem. In Europe, remember, it’s function over fashion. A great pair of ballet flats or even low wedges are probably better.
Most Spanish hotels will have a hairdryer, even if it is not of the best quality. Packing a hairdryer takes up space. It requires an adapter.
A lot of times hotel bathrooms in Spain don’t have an outlet for an appliance like this. If you are renting an apartment in Spain, particularly from Airbnb or Booking.com, check their list of amenities to see if they have a hairdryer.
Baseball Cap or Visor
As much as it is becoming more common to see many Europeans wearing sneakers and even shorts, a baseball cap, particularly one with a US team just screams American.
The one exception is that because of its marketing might, a NY Yankees cap is seen on the heads of teenagers around the world. If you want to protect your face from the sun, perhaps purchase this foldable sunhat for women or this packable hat for men and women.
FAQs – Travelers Guide To What To Wear In Spain
Situated along the Mediterranean Sea and just off the coast of Africa makes summers in Spain hot. In the southern part of Spain, in cities like Seville and Malaga, temperatures can reach into the 90s. Rain is rare and the sun is quite strong.
Spain is a big winter holiday destination as the southern part of the country stays relatively warm. However, in northern Spanish regions like Catalonia and the Basque Country, it can get cold. Temperatures can drop to freeze and in higher altitudes, snow will fall.
While most consider Italians to be the most fashionable the Spanish are not far behind. You’ll see many fashionable Spanish strutting around Madrid and Barcelona. That said, for the most part, people in Spain dress for the weather and for the occasion.