If you’re looking for fun in the sun, gorgeous beaches, warm waters, tasty food, vibrant festivals, and super cities, Spain is the place to be. Located on the Iberian Peninsula of Europe and divided into 17 different autonomous regions, Spain is a wonderful country to visit. It gets some of the hottest temperatures and longest periods of sunshine of any European nation, making it a prime spot for summer trips.
Some visitors to Spain choose to go to a big city like Valencia, Barcelona, or Madrid and see amazing palaces, cathedrals, and galleries. Others prefer to head to the coast and the various islands of Spain for waterfront fun. You can also explore the country’s rural regions, finding castles and quaint villages hidden among the countryside. Either way, you’ll need to take some money along. Here’s all you need to know about currency in Spain.
Official Currency in Spain
In Spain, the official currency is the euro. In the past, Spain’s currency was the peseta, but the country switched over to the euro in 2002. The euro is used in various nations all over Europe, including Spain’s neighbors of Portugal and France. Its symbol is € and it can also be identified by the code EUR.
One euro is made up of 100 cents, which are called centimos in Spanish. Spanish people also tend to refer to a single euro as a ‘pavo’, which translates to ‘turkey’ in English. The value of the euro is usually a little higher than the US dollar, but it can change greatly over time, so it’s always important to take a look at the latest conversion rates.
Coins and Notes in Spain
While traveling around Spain, you may see all or some of the following euro coins:
All of these coins are circular, which can make them hard to differentiate between at first. However, you can use the size and the color of the coins to tell them apart quite easily. The euro coins can be divided into three categories. The first category is the small value copper coins (1c, 2c, and 5c). Next, there are the medium value coins, which are gold in color (10c, 20c, and 50c). Finally, there are the high value coins (€1 and €2), which feature a dual-color system.
As for the notes, you’ll find these forms of paper money being used in Spain:
- €5 (grey)
- €10 (red)
- €20 (blue)
- €50 (orange)
- €100 (green)
- €200 (yellow)
- €500 (purple)
As shown in brackets, each note has its own color, so it’s very easy to tell them apart with just a quick glance once you know the colors. The larger value notes are also bigger in size, so a €10 note is bigger than a €5 note, for example. The notes also feature numerical values printed upon them for easy viewing.
Using Credit Cards in Spain
Cards like Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted all around Spain, and many restaurants, hotels, shops, and bars will take card payments. Compared to several other European countries, Spain is quite a card-friendly place, and you’ll find a lot of ATMs all around the country in towns and cities.
There are, however, going to be some places that don’t take cards and some instances where you’ll need to pay with cash. If you’re shopping at a market, for example, most of the vendors aren’t going to have card machines. This is why it’s important to buy euros before you go or withdraw some from an ATM so you always have at least a little cash.
Using US Dollars or Other Currencies in Spain
The euro is the only currency you can use in Spain. There may be a few hotels that would allow payments in other currencies in a big city like Madrid, but 99.9% of the time, euros are going to be your only option when spending money in Spain.
Tips for Currency in Spain
Be sure to read through these tips to have the best experience with money in Spain.
- ATMs often give you better exchange rates than the exchange offices in places like airports and hotels.
- Remember, however, that your bank will often charge you a fee every single time you use an ATM. It makes sense, therefore, to withdraw large amounts in one go rather than making lots of little withdrawals over the course of your trip.
- Try to keep some notes and coins on your person at all times. Notes will be useful for paying in shops and bars that don’t take cards, and the coins can be very helpful to have around for things like tolls, public transport, or paying for parking.
- Stay safe with your money and valuables when traveling in big cities as pickpockets are rife in certain areas of Madrid, Barcelona, and a few other places in Spain. It’s a safe country in general, but pickpockets do exist and will always see tourists as easy prey.
- Shop around and compare exchange rates at multiple locations before buying any euros. Some places will have much better rates than others, giving you a lot more cash and value.
- If you want to visit a neighboring country like Portugal or France during your trip, you can safely use your euros in these places too, so you don’t need to worry about getting any other currencies.
- A lot of shops and bars in Spain will have notices near the cash registers to tell customers whether or not they accept cards and if they have any specific rules or restrictions in place, so look out for these notices each time you enter a new establishment.