Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Travel Spain Holidays – Trip and Vacation Guide

Travel Spain Holidays –  Trip and Vacation Guide

Travel Spain Holidays Advisor includes valuable travel preparation tips plus info on theme holidays: adventure, family adventure, bird watching, walking, fishing, horse riding, snorkelling, diving, mountaineering, super romantic vacations, special events … In other words not just another vacation experience,  but THE travel Spain holidays experience of a lifetime.

Spain-Flamenco-Dancer

Spain-Flamenco-Dancer

Spain as you never thought of it before: imagine a country where you can wander through the mighty hallways of ancient castles, listen to the chanting of monks in old monasteries, stroll along vast fjords and explore small fisherman’s villages where you will be welcomed with the fresh harvest of the last nights catch.  A country where you can run with the bulls, and fiestas and festivals are always in season. Where you can find your tropical islands, hidden hill towns and Roman cities and where mountains have snow way past Spring…

Spain can cater to all your travel needs, whether you are a daredevil and thrill seeker or whether you prefer a calm, tropical and leisurely beach vacation. As you can see links are provided to bring you directly to the place of your choice.

And maybe deep down inside you want to get away from it all and find a little piece of heaven for yourself and your family, a place where you can go to for some much needed rest and recreation now and then. Or maybe you are looking for a more permanent residence in the Mediterranean, be it to retire to or make a clean break and start all over with a new life in this Land of costa’s and sierra’s, where little places of paradise are scattered all over the blue and green landscape, waiting for you to be discovered.

Please subscribe to my newsletter, Travel Spain Holidays Advisor. It tells you each month about the new information that I have added to the site and it reveals some nice little traveller tidbits as well …

 

Family Adventures

Family Adventures Vacations In The Unspoiled Spanish Countryside

Whether you want to live your family adventures travel meandering over the semi-tropical southern flank of the Sierra Nevada, where you can explore the ancient Moorish traditions that are still upheld by the local villages or taking a short break in the rugged and isolated region of Asturias in the green lung of the Mediterranean, Spain has many places of interest for family adventures.

Canyoning in Spain

Canyoning in Spain

A few examples:

0 Canyoning in the Pyrenees

0 ULM in Cuenca

0 Trek the Picos de Europa

0 Tramuntana in Mallorca

0 Surf in Basque Country

0 Dive the Canary Islands

Pueblos Blancos

Pueblos Blancos

0 Guadix caves

0 Pueblos Blancos

Canyoning in the Pyrenees

The Sierra de Guara, is a region placed around 80 Km. south of the Spanish Pyrenees mountain range, in the province of Huesca. This place has a great variety of geological formations. The difficulty of access and the rough trails allows the “Parque de los Cañones y Sierra de Guara” to preserve the richness of its fauna and flora.

Inhabited and abandoned several times, the Sierra de Guara has human traces from the last glaciations. This human presence shows itself through the existence of cave paintings, dolmens, Roman and Arabic bridges where you can still find useful terraces, vestiges of a type of agriculture which used to work a little plot of land.

You will undoubtedly be attracted to the permanent contrast between natures majestic creativity and its harmonious races of humanity, especially the one held by the magnificent landscape with its wonderful fragrances of rosemary and thyme. In short ideal for your family adventures.

You will be introduced to the magic within this “Sierra”, where more than 70 canyons arise over a range of 20 Km. Due to this fact the Sierra has been placed  as the European reference for the practice of canyoning at all levels. All levels meaning you can come here as a first timer with your young children as well as a seasoned expert.

ULM in Cuenca (Villalba de la Sierra)

Talking about serious family adventures: two of Spains best and most prudent experts in ULM, both winners of the Spanish league can acquaint you with this aerial transportation mode that lingers between sport and a certain way of life.

In total security and without any vertigo you fly with an average speed of 70 km/hour with a delta wing and a small engine (all of aeronautical quality), and you feel just like a bird does: wind in your hair, total visibility all around you.

You can admire the vastness of the fields below, follow the whimsical course of a river and taste the silence as the pilot cuts the engine for the relaxing descent to the landing zone.

The ULM’s are up to modern standards and equipped with all the necessary security measures. They are constructed by the French firm Cosmos, which is the most prestigious ULM construction company in the world, just to make sure that your family adventures don’t turn into family disaster.



Trek the Picos de Europa

Picos De Europa was the first national park in Spain and contains some of the finest mountain scenery and walking on the Peninsula. The high, jagged limestone peaks are interspersed with green valleys, where a traditional way of life lives on.

Located south of the Bay of Biscay and swept by its humid winds, the valleys of the Picos de Europa teem with trippers in summer. Crowds are slimmer in the upland reaches, but there’s no question that this is the place to trek.

Of its three massifs, you’ll find the Macizo Occidental and Macizo Central the most exhilarating. Stretch your legs with demanding day walks, or take on a challenging circuit such as a four-day route from the base of the cabin lift at Fuente Di or a nine-day trip starting and finishing at Lago de la Ercina.

Unmissable highlights include the seven-and-a-half-mile Garganta del Cares gorge and the Vega de Liordes valley, hemmed in by sawtooth peaks. Refugios (mountain huts) are well spaced. Otherwise, drop down to find accommodations in the villages sprinkling the valley bottoms.

Tramuntana in Mallorca

When you think of Mallorca the first things that come to your mind are overcrowded beaches and drunken tourists, not much in the field of family adventures I can hear you think.

But the north western part of this largest of the Balearic Islands is covered by the Sierra de Tramuntana with heights of 1445 m ( Puig  Major) and 1349 m (Massanella).

One can travel on foot on ancient pathways, along the coast then up and through the backbone of this beautiful island. Scenery aside, there are ancient towns and villages to explore along with monasteries .

You say you are more of rugged rock climber, well If you are prepared to take your time, the small roads on the East of the island will lead you to one of the most beautiful rock climbing spots in Europe.

The routes here offer all kinds of difficulty, from easy rock climbing to really hard routes.

Beware though: during the summer it can be too hot for rock climbing and the recommended periods are during the autumn and spring.

Surfing

Spain has 4,964 km of coastline so there is no shortage of good places to surf. Since this is a family adventures activity I don’t know very much about I am going to direct you to a specialist site on this subject:   Family adventures Wannasurf

And for the still adventurous ( hé this is a page about family adventures isn’t it?) but maybe a little bit more at ease here are two activities that can be done with much less effort 😉

Guadix Caves

Thousands of years ago people were drawing fish and deer on the walls of caves in the South of Spain. Traces of these early caveman are still being found. However even today more than 30.000 people are living underground in Andalucía. That is not because they missed the civilization but rather a deliberate choice on the part of these “modern” caveman.

They prefer their subterranean homes to the coldness of today’s concrete housing blocks. Family adventures walking in a cave district may be walking inadvertently on someone’s rooftop.

Most of these caves are equipped with all the amenities of a modern home anyway. One can find modern caveman in the valleys of the rivers Andarax en Almazora in de province of Almería, but the greatest number of them can be found in  and around Guadix in the province of Granada.

There are houses, bars, discotheques, shops and churches all partially or totally underground… now how is that for family adventures?

People who live in these houses praise in the first place the silence of their homes, the isolation of noise is perfect. A constant room temperature of around 18° C ,be it winter or summer is another benefit.

Ancient Caves

The exploration of cave can be another part of family adventures. Many caves are open to the public and in some places there are speleological expeditions for the more expert adventurers

On the border of the provinces Málaga and Granada remains were found of a Neanderthaler man, probably dating from 85.000 years ago…Near Maro, in the province Málaga you can find the Cueva ( Spanish for cave)de Nerja, a series of subterranean spaces with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. They were opened to the public in 1960 and are illuminated.

Adventurers who want to visit the La Pileta cave however must find their own way over mile long galleries with the only light coming from an oil lamp. The walls are ornated with many mysterious symbols and the famous painting of a pregnant black mare indicating there once was a sort of fertility cult going on.

This cave was found in 1905 by a local farmer José Bullón Lobato. His family today still owns the land on which the cave is situated.

Pueblos Blancos

Of all the people who visit the province of Málaga only a few venture out more than a couple of miles away from the beaches. And that is a shame because Málaga, like the rest of Spain has much more to offer than beaches alone.

For instance take the Pueblos Blancos, large agricultural villages with white plastered houses. They are found in the lower part of Andalucía.

There is even an official Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos. Don’t be mislead by the pueblos on the Atlantic coast. They need tourism for their survival and are by no means representative for the real thing.

A few miles away from the coastal line things change because the effects of tourism are no longer there. Even so that it is very hard to find accommodation unless you are a real backpacker…

Regular tourists will have to find accommodation in  Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera or maybe Olvera.

The best route for family adventures to explore the Pueblos Blancos runs from Ronda to Algeciras. On it you will find mostly small villages; 1000 – 2500 habitants, the village of Alpandeire only counts about 200. A lot of the people moved to the big cities: Madrid, Barcelona or the coastal regions.

The king of the Pueblos Blancos is Olvera with its Moorish tower and Christian basilica. The streets are clean, albeit a bit sombre. The local fiesta exceeds everything in the surroundings: in the second half of august all the stalls, fair attractions and bars stay open until 5 o’clock in the morning for 5 days in a row…

Those are only a handful of examples of family adventures possible in the beautiful country that is Spain: fishing, charter fishing, hiking, biking, hot air ballooning, canoeing, kayaking, golf, horseback riding, houseboat rental, hunting, rafting, white water rafting, scuba diving, snorkelling, skiing, snowmobiling and so many more outdoor activities wait for you to live, enjoy and explore.

Travel Tips

Travel Tips: The Moment To Start Your Journey Is Finally There.

These travel tips make sure nothing can disturb your pleasure. Nothing will but bad travel preparations. Fortunately you are not alone in this and the checklist below will be your useful guide. In a glance you will see what you have packed and what still to do.

Of course they sell T-shirts on the French Riviera and yeah, they have ski glasses in the mountains of Vermont, but that is not really the point. Unnecessary expenditure is the last thing you want your vacation to start with.

Use the checklist and have a good and safe trip. The checklist can be used for any vacation, by car, by boat or by plane. Since there are no two persons or families alike I left some spots open so you can add your personal and special items.

Travel Tips: During The Trip

  • snacks for underway
  • pillows and blankets for the children
  • water ( to drink or refresh)
  • games
  • roadmaps/travel guide
  • paper handkerchiefs, toilet paper
  • address, phone number and directions to your destination

Travel Tips: Wardrobe

  • underwear
  • socks
  • trousers ( both formal and travel)
  • short(s)
  • T-shirts
  • dresses, blouses, skirts
  • sweaters
  • overcoat
  • raincoat
  • sportswear
  • hat or sun cap
  • gloves, shawl, warm hat
  • ski equipment
  • swimming wear
  • evening wear
  • shoes, sandals, boots, slippers and other footwear
  • pyjamas

Travel Tips: Never keep your ski’s together during the journey, mix them visibly with the ski’s of your partner, this will discourage potential thieves. 

Travel Tips: Bathroom

  • day- and night crème
  • cosmetics
  • sanitary towels
  • cotton buds
  • soap
  • bath and shower gel
  • toothbrush, toothpaste
  • shampoo
  • body milk
  • sun protection
  • comb
  • deodorant
  • nail file
  • shaving gear
  • after shave

Travel Tips: Make sure there is something belonging to every traveller in every suitcase. That way if any of the suitcases ever get lost under way you still have a little something for everyone at hand.

Travel Tips: Travel Pharmacy

  •   motion sickness
  •   painkillers
  •   first aid kit
  •   insect repellent
  •   tweezers
  •   cotton buds
  •   lip balm
  •   something for the common cold
  •   your regular medication

Travel Tips: Make sure you have a prescription from your doctor with the dosage you need for any medication that you take. First of all you can get a replacement that way and secondly some countries won’t let you import some medicine unless you can prove you really, medically need them.

Travel Tips: Travel

  •   foreign money
  •   travellers cheques
  •   tickets ( don’t forget to confirm your flight back)
  •   reservations for hotel, rental car etc
  •   ID card ( EU) or passport and visa
  •   children’s ID card
  •   drivers license
  •   bank cards, credit cards, cheques
  •   useful phone numbers
  •   travel assistance phone numbers

Travel Tips: Never keep all your money or travellers cheques in one place. In the event of loss or theft you could lose it all in one go! Make copies of all important documents and keep them separate. That way you still have some proof of identity in the event of loss or theft of the original documents.

Travel Tips: Miscellaneous

  •   contact lenses
  •   rucksack
  •   beach towels
  •   photo, video
  •   mobile phone
  •   adapter for electrical appliances
  •   dictionary
  •   pocket knife
  •   sowing kit

Don’t forget:

  • put the address of your travel agency on your luggage labels. Just another way to avoid unwelcome guests at your home
  • give your holiday address to parents or friends
  • ask someone to water the plants
  • ask someone to get your mail
  • get a timer that will switch some lights on in the house from time to time just to mislead potential thieves
  • get someone to look after your pets
  • cut the gas, electricity and water but make sure the freezer and the alarm are still working

In case of damage or theft:

  • make sure you get a statement from the local police. If there is a hotel involved have the management prepare a statement as well.
  • If an airline lost or damaged your luggage ask them for the necessary paperwork
  • Keep any and all proof of things you had to buy to replace the lost or damaged property ( tickets, invoices, etc…)Don’t just throw those away.

    If you travel by car it is wise of course to have it checked by your dealer before you leave. It would be a shame if you got into car trouble because there is too little oil in the carter or a used tire. Check also if you got all necessary papers for the car: an incomplete set isn’t going to improve the mood of a policeman. As always don’t tempt faith and keep your luggage in a locked boot out of sight of thieves.

    With all these travel preparations in order I know you will have good and a safe trip.

Airline and Airport Tips

Airline and Airport Tips For Travellers

The world of airports and airlines can sometimes be a confusing and intimidating world. This guide will make you a lot more confident when dealing with them.

Airport Spain

Airport Spain

Hand luggage

It is best to transport valuables ( money, jewellery) and important documents in the hand luggage. Most carriers allow only one piece of hand luggage per person. This must fit in the luggage compartment in the plane. Except for that you are usually allowed a handbag, your tax free shopping, camera, umbrella, overcoat etc.. as well. Most airlinecarriers are not very strict about this hand luggage policy though.

Identification

For security reasons as well as in case of loss you should label every suitcase with your name. On top of that it is best to provide an extra label on the inside of the suitcase with your name and address.

Forbidden objects

Your luggage can not contain explosive, flammable of corrosive products. This includes: matches, aerosol cans, gas containers, bleach, batteries, etc…Are also not allowed : airbags (!), barometers and thermometers with mercury.

Fragile

Make sure that any fragile items are well secured and that bottles containing fluids are separately packed and sealed in a plastic bag.

Weight (no not yours, of the luggage, silly)

Every carrier has limitations for the amount of luggage that you can carry (number of suitcases, weight, dimensions). It is best to consult your travel agent or the airline company. If you have excess luggage you can be charged an extra fee. You might want to consider to send large or very heavy luggage as air freight. Contact your airline company for details.

Passports and visa

Check that your passports are valid for the entire duration of the trip. Most countries demand that they be valid for an extra six months. The airline company can not allow you to board if these documents are not ok. If you need a visa make sure that you make the necessary arrangements on time, it can take up to a couple of weeks to get your visa. Don’t forget that children should have identity papers as well.

Documents

Make copies of all important documents and keep them separate. That way you still have some proof of identity in the event of loss or theft of the original documents. Some extra passport photographs can come in handy as well.

Medical

Some countries demand proof of inoculation or vaccination. Talk to your travel agent about this. It can be a good idea to have insect repellent, preservatives, sterile needles etc,… ask your physician.

If you have an ailment and are not sure if you can travel by air ask your doctor for his advise. Maybe the airline company must be informed so they can provide extra measures for your safety.

Pregnant passengers are not allowed to travel after the 36th week of pregnancy. After the 28th week they must provide a medical affidavit.

Make sure you have a sufficient amount of your medication(s). Bring a copy of your prescriptions and carry medication and prescriptions always in your hand luggage.

Plane Travel

Plane Travel: The Moment To Start Your Plane Journey Is Finally There.

Exercise is good for plane travel preparations

If you are going on a plane trip that will last more than just a few hours there are some things you need to remember: first of all we all know that it is very difficult to get a good sleep on an airplane, unless you are one of the fortunate people that always travel business class or first class. Plane travel at its best.

For the rest of us mortals here is a good tip: just before the trip starts go to your local gym and have an extra good workout. Or go for a run for a couple of miles. In other words make sure you are quite exhausted before your trip starts.That way once you are in the plane you will find it easier to fall asleep and get some rest. If nothing else helps some sleep medication can do the trick. Talk to your physician to get the medication that is just right for you.

Plenty of fluids

The ventilation system in modern planes makes the air very dry. This is one of the most annoying things in plane travel. Not only does this affect your skin (make sure you have a good moisturiser with you) but your entire body as well. Drinking ample amounts of fluids will keep your levels up. Alcohol is a definite no no since it will dehydrate your body even faster en coffee is no good either. Plenty of fruit juices or just plain water is fine. Since the service on some foreign carriers is not always up to speed it is best to have your own supply of water with you in your hand luggage. That way you can drink whenever you want.

There is another reason to drink plenty of fluids: if your body is fully hydrated it can make the necessary mucus to keep the mucous membranes of the oral cavity and the nose moist. And this is important as these mucous membranes play a vital and important part in fighting of possible viral or bacterial intruders. As you are all cramped very closely together in a enclosed environment in an airplane, infections are easily passed along. So better to drink an extra glass if you are sitting next to a sneezing and sniffling passenger.

Exercise on board?

Sure, ever since it became clear that sitting in that chair over longer periods of time can cause deep vein trouble most companies offer advise to their passengers on on board exercise. It is good to get up every hour or so and walk around for a bit and even in your chair you can do some exercises to keep the blood flowing. The on board literature will inform you on this and some companies try to make plane travel better endurable by offering in flight video programmes on this subject. Make sure you follow their recommendations.

Bedtime?

If you change time zones or travel over several time zones it is best to adapt as soon as possible to the time zone you are currently in. That means you don’t go to bed after you arrive in the middle of the day in your new time zone.

On the contrary: best is again to go do some light exercise, take a shower and continue to live the day until it is really time to go to bed. You will find that it is much easier to adapt to the new time zone. Plane travel a la carte.


So plenty of sleep is the cure for jetlag. And remember not to drink alcohol or coffee three to four hours before going to bed. These are stimulants that will keep you awake!

Short naps in between are a good idea as well but keep them short, no longer than 45 minutes, otherwise you will sleep to deep and become dozy.

And if you travel really really far you can try to adjust your rhythm even before you leave. Get to bed earlier and get up earlier (about one hour difference a day) if you travel east.

It takes the body around 1 day per hour difference to adjust to the new time zone!!

Air travel to Spain

If you live in Europe getting to Spain via air travel is so easy. There are a large number of permanent air connections from all major European cities and operated by large companies as Iberia, KLM, British Ariways, Lufthansa, etc…

Save $10 Instantly on Last Minute Airfares and get Additional $15 off using Coupon

Air Travel to Spain

Air Travel to Spain


On top of that you have the travel industry whose charter flights can take the travellers to the major Spanish airports. If you are interested in a cheap flight  or cheap airfare  to Spain; there are a number of search engines who do just that.

Travelling via air travel  to Spain coming from the USA is a breeze as well. There are regularly scheduled flights daily from New York ( Newark and JFK), Miami, Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare and Philadelphia to Málaga, Madrid or Barcelona

From Madrid or Barcelona you can connect to any major city in Spain. All major European carriers have connecting flights from Europe to numerous destinations in Spain. Fares vary a great deal. In order to find the best fares, contact a travel agency or the airlines . Or you can just as easy use the specialised search engines.

But there is really no need to look any further than Málaga, Madrid or Barcelona, if it is your first trip to Spain each and every one of those three cities have enough in them to provide you with a great vacation and a great stay.

Click here to search for Cheap Flights

Walking and Hiking In Spain

Some of the finest walking routes can be found in Spain, follow Caesar’s legions in their quest for Spain’s Silver or choose trekking along routes in Andalucía, the Pyrenees or Catalunya.

walking in spain

Walking in Spain

  • ROUTES IN ANDALUCÍA

    Escape from the pressures of modern life, slow down and step back in history. Witness how the culture of Europe and Africa melted together in Andalucía.

    If you like nature walks in countryside filled with deer and wild boar your best starting point is the town of Arcos de la Frontera, one of the Pueblos Blancos only 90 minutes by car or bus south from Seville.

    Arcos sits along a ridgeline above the impressive cliff, Peña Nueva, overlooking the winding Guadelete River and its broad valley. It is a typical defensive hill village with cobbled streets leading up to a castle which was built in the fifteenth century on Moorish foundations.

    Walking the area you will find it abounds in Roe and Red Deer, ancient oak trees, wild rhododendrons, strawberry trees and cascading streams.

  • SILVER ROUTE

    The Romans came to Spain not for pleasure but to get the silver out of the Sierra de Gata located in the north of the province of Extremadura. They left behind roads, aqueducts, temples and bridges.

    This unspoiled province is the least populated of all of Spain’s provinces and therefore the wildlife is plentiful and nature still in its most pristine form.

    Ideal hiking grounds are everywhere. More than 27 routes are marked out in the region. It has granite mountains and lush, peaceful valleys with plenty of olive trees and fruit trees.

    The Iglesia del Buen Varón in Hoyos with its baroque retable is simply a must to visit, without forgetting the villages like San Martín de Trevejo, Gata, Torrecilla de los Ángeles, Cilleros, Robledillo, Hernán Pérez, Villasbuenas de Gata…

    More info on walking routes in Extremadura: http://www.turismoextremadura.com/ingles/senderos/home.html

  • ROUTES IN CATALUNYA

    Here are some examples of walking routes in Catalunya. A good starting point is the city of Barcelona. All routes are easily accessible from there.There is a great variety to choose from so novices as well as experienced walkers can find something to their liking. You can have an easy walking route which takes about 2 hours to complete as well as a more serious trekking experience of 8 or 9 hours!

  • Cadí – Moixeró National Park
  • Parc Natural del Montseny
  • Prades
  • Capafonts

Some tips and tricks
Blisters: to avoid blisters you can wear nylons under your socks. This way there is much less friction and less friction means less risk for blisters. Other people swear by the use of Vaseline for the same reason: less friction

Mosquito’s: make sure your clothes are light in colour, insects are attracted to dark colours like black or dark blue, because they feel camouflaged by these colours.

Blisters II: once you do have blisters on your feet a good way to get some relief is to take a sticking plaster and fold it double with the sticking parts toward each other. Put this doubled tape on the blister and put another sticking tape across it. This way the pressure is of the blister.

Plan a route

As always a good preparation is everything. You need to consider length and duration of the walking route, places of special interest and of course the participants.

Everyone will agree that a too long or lengthy walking route is not pleasant, but the same thing applies to a walking route that is too short. Consider also that miles and miles on a sandy dusty road is not good for the moral of a walking group either.

Places of special interest: for instance ridges where the stunning views will be appreciated by the participants or the visit of caves.

Timing

The following scheme is a good help to estimate the duration of a walk in mountainous area’s:

  • horizontal movement: 4000 meters per hour
  • vertical movement up: 300 meters per hour
  • vertical movement down: 400 meters per hour
  • every hour and a halve a break is scheduled of about 15 minutes
  • Navigation

    Purpose of navigating is to arrive at a certain chosen point via a chosen route. In order to accomplish that several things must be considered: your present position, your target position and the walking route to follow.

    Navigational aids are the compass, the GPS ( Global Positioning System), the stars, a watch and other navigational aids.Compass, stars and GPS are well known and documented but here are some of the alternative navigational aids:

    • Watch

      A watch is a fairly easy way to get your direction: there are only two conditions: the watch must show the correct time ( Yes I know how this sounds, but as you will see an incorrect time can mean a lot of difference in course), and the sun must be shining.

      Take the watch, hold it nice and flat and point the little indicator ( hour indicator) straight at the sun. Now take the exact middle point between the little indicator and the “12” on the dial ( 11 in the summer due to Daylight Saving Time). This middle point gives you the direction of the SOUTH.

      Attention: this is the way you do it in the northern hemisphere, if you are in the southern hemisphere you point the “12” at the sun and take the exact middle between the “12” and the little indicator. This middle point gives you the direction of the NORTH.I don’t have to tell you you need an analog watch for this exercise 🙂

    • Sun

      East and west is easily found if you take a stick of minimum 75 cm ( 30 inches) and put it upright in the ground. Mark the place where the shadow of the stick stops. Now wait about half an hour and mark the place where the shadow stops again. The imaginary line between the two points runs from east to west.ATTENTION: this method does not work early in the morning or late in the afternoon since at those times the position of sun is too much in the east or west.

      A little word of warning about GPS

      It is a bad idea to rely solely on a GPS. First of all a GPS only gives you your present position but it cannot plot a route between two points, you’ll still need a good walking map for that and work out the best walking route from it.

      Another consideration is what happens if the batteries run flat, or you accidentally drop it and it breaks? If you don’t have the necessary skills to navigate on your own you might get into a lot of trouble…

      This being said a GPS is a great additional tool for those walking routes where there are not much markings to set out the walking trail.

City Trip Madrid

Great city trip Madrid: the region of Madrid, situated in the middle of the Peninsula, is also its economic, financial and service centre. This is the region where the capital of the country is located: a cosmopolitan and modern city with a rich historical legacy and a social dynamism that lends a particular appeal to its cultural, touristic and leisure opportunities.

For a good choice of hotels in Madrid with discount prices, visit this website on hotels, apartments and Villas In Madrid for more information.

Unforgettable places with unique appeal can be found in Madrid, such as the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, considered one of the eight wonders of the world; the Aranjuez Royal Residence, inspiration for the famous concert of the same name and which was declared a World Heritage Cultural Landscape by UNESCO, and Alcalá de Henares, a renaissance town declared a World Heritage Site.

In addition, the excellent location of the capital makes it possible to visit universally renowned cities such as Ávila, Segovia, and Toledo, all less than one hour away. In addition to these tourist attractions, Madrid is equipped with quite a modern infrastructure for transport, communications, accommodation and services, which has turned the city into an important international business and conference centre. 

  • Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial The huge granite rectangular edifice, topped with four spiral towers, is a forbidding sight in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial about 30 miles (50km) northwest of Madrid. The monastery/church/palace complex was built by Philip II as a memorial to his father, Charles V, and contains some of El Greco’s and Hieronymus Bosch’s artworks. A vaulted library contains a priceless collection of more than 60,000 ancient books. The monastery itself houses a wealth of paintings and tapestries, and the mausoleum beneath the church’s altar serves as a burial place for Spanish kings.

  • Aranjuez Royal Residence

    The Royal Palace of Aranjuez, located on the side of the Tajo River, was built in 1561 by King Philip II as a royal summer residence. The palace was rebuilt by the Bourbon King Fernando VI in the 18th century after it was destroyed by fire. To the east lies the Parterre Garden, and to the north the Island Garden (located on an island). Further to the east lies the late 18th century Prince Garden with the smaller palace of Casa del Labrador. The town of Aranjuez, next to the palace, has several historical monuments as well. 

    Aranjuez Royal Residence


  • Alcalá de Henares

    The city of Alcalá de Henares, where Miguel de Cervantes was born (1547) and lived for many years, was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in December 1998, because it was the first university city in the world, planned to be a university city. It was founded by Cardinal Cisneros en 1499.

    Alcalá de Henares is situated about 30 km from Madrid.



Alcalá de Henares
For a good choice of hotels in Madrid with discount prices, visit this website on hotels, apartments and Villas In Madrid for more information.

Ski Vacation In Spain

Spend a winter vacation in the Sierra Nevada, where Europe’s most southern ski venue is located. Less than 35 km away from Granada and only two hours drive form the coast lies Solynieve. (Sun and snow in Spanish).

ski vacation in spain

Ski vacation in Spain

For a good choice of hotels in the Sierra Nevada with discount prices, visit this website on hotels, apartments and Villas In the Sierra Nevada  for more information.

Here the 1997 world championships alpine skiing were held. On an altitude of about 2100 meters one can find a sufficient quantity of snow from the beginning of December right trough the end of march/beginning of may.

From the top of the ski lift on the Veleta mountain (3398 m)one can see the Mediterranean Sea and on a clear day one can even spot the distant shores of North-Africa. But that Is not why most winter vacation tourists come here.

They come for the total length of the slopes which is 48 km, and the 18 ski lifts that can bring hem to any “blue”, “red” or “black” piste.Langlaufen over the Sierra Nevada mountains is possible in most winters.Solynieve is located above the tree line and surrounding countryside is open and panoramic with occasional small lagoons.

There is one big difference between the winter vacation place Solynieve and most other ski resorts: it lies on a very short distance from other touristic attractions all of which are easily accessible and are not “spoiled” by winter conditions. Granada is very close and a visit to the Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens makes a nice alternative.

The proximity of the Mediterranean Sea makes it possible to go skiing, sailing and swimming all in the same day! And another important point: it is only about two hours driving away from Málaga Airport: a beautiful drive through exquisite mountainous landscape and without any of the traffic jams that can ruin a short ski break in the other European ski resorts…



SkiWinter Vacation

For a good choice of hotels in the Sierra Nevada with discount prices, visit this website on hotels, apartments and Villas In the Sierra Nevada  for more information.

Barcelona City Trip

These days Barcelona is named together with Paris, London and Berlin as being one of Europe’s great cities. It is no mystery that so many travel agents spend a lot of attention to it and that a city trip to this trendy and fancy city is much appreciated.

Sacrada Familla

Sacrada Familla

For a good choice of hotels in Barcelona with discount prices, visit this website on hotels, apartments and Villas In Barcelona for more information.

 

Vitality is its middle name, it has a pleasant Mediterranean climate and is thoroughly saturated with culture, art of living and joy of living.

Barcelona is THE city of modernism, a very special kind of art nouveau which is been treasured here. One can access the old and new city of Barcelona walking distance from its biggest boulevard: La Rambla. Barcelona is a surprise.

It is very easy to get your bearings in Barcelona: just imagine that the city is a piece of paper. In the middle of it you draw a circle, that is the Plaça de Catalunya and a perpendicular line to the bottom is La Rambla. 

All the way down you draw a horizontal: that is the waterfront: old docks have been remodelled into cosy marinas, beaches and an Olympic yacht-basin. Remember this little drawing, we will use it often.

Barcelona ‘s Classics

  • La Rambla

    La Rambla is the main artery of the city, 1.5 km long and bordered with ancient trees providing cool shadow in the summertime. La Rambla is the biggest meeting place of Barcelona and in the summertime you can rent one of the hundreds of chairs and watch the street performers, buskers, musicians, artists, painters and the never ending parade of people walking over the big boulevard.

    Barcelona Map



    La Rambla is so popular that two new words originated from it: ramblejar and ramblista. The first is a verb which means walking on La Rambla and the second is the person doing the walking: if you are one day soon walking on La Rambla, you will be a ramblista too!

    La Rambla used to be the bed of a river coming from the mountains and flowing towards the sea. When the city expanded towards the north it was reclaimed. Today is has been paved according to a design by Miro: a wavy and flowing pattern.

    At one end, the end near the sea, there is the statue of Columbus on a 50 m high iron column. He points to … the wrong side. The intention of the architect was to show the people the direction of the New World, but for some reason they lost their sense of direction and poor Columbus is now pointing towards Malaga!



    Columbus

    At the other end of La Rambla you will find Plaça de Catalunya: the most important traffic intersection. If you ever get lost in Barcelona: just ask for Plaça Catalunya and from this central point you can take a cab, a bus or the metro or even go on foot in any direction. Many of Barcelona ‘s hotels are situated here and the neighbouring streets and boulevards make one great shopping centre. 

  • Barri Gotic

    Remember our little mental drawing we made earlier? On both sides of the Rambla you can now draw two more strips: in a couple of hundred meters lie enough points of interest, musea and monuments to keep you busy for the best part of an entire week!

    The Barri Gotic or the Gothic district is a maze of small and worn-out alleys situated on the left side of La Rambla. It was built on the foundations of a Roman city: Barcino. Some of the old walls that are 2300 years old(!) are still standing and were incorporated in the present situation. The cathedral is the centre of the district and the monastery is supposedly the coolest place in Barcelona, with its lush gardens. The construction of the cathedral started in 1298, its towers dating from the 14th and 15th century.

    In the Barri Gotic you can find plenty of palaces and musea and historic buildings. Best thing to do is to buy a decent guide book to help you explore the early history.

    Barcelona Cathedral



  • El Eixample

    Back to our mental map: starting from Plaça de Catalunya and on the right coming from La Rambla, the checkerboard design of El Eixample ( the extension) is starting to emerge.

    In the middle of the 19th century the rich bourgeoisie wanted to create a new district with a new pattern of geometric blocks: an example of progressive urbanisation.



    El Eixample is art nouveau at its best. The entire district is an architectural  surprise. There is a city walk you absolutely must do: starting at the Plaça de Catalunya and ending at the Plaça de la Universitat. (You can get a map at any the tourists offices of which there are plenty in Barcelona.)

    There are literally hundreds of interesting modernistic buildings on this route from architects as Gaudí, Montaner en Josep Puig I Cadalfach. To be absolutely fair to all: there are also plenty of magnificent and often very expensive shops on the route. Window shopping here is great, buying even better…

    As it is unthinkable to visit Paris and not the Eiffel tower, it is evenly unthinkable to leave Barcelona without having a walk on the Eixample route and discover the more than 2000 listed and protected buildings in modernistic style.

La Pedrera

Sagrada Familia
For a good choice of hotels in Barcelona with discount prices, visit this website on hotels, apartments and Villas In Barcelona for more information.

Living in Spain

Living in Spain: Legally any foreigner can stay in Spain up to 90 days as a tourist. If you wish to stay longer then 90 days you would have to apply for a “permanencia”, however you can only get one per year. When you want to be living in Spain for 6 months or longer per year  you should apply for a “residencia”.

If you are a non EU citizen and you wish to apply for a “residencia” you should apply for a “visado de residencia” from the Spanish consulate in your country. This will be your first step towards living in Spain.

European Union citizens living in Spain

Even European Union citizens need to obtain Spanish documentation when they reside or do business in Spain, especially that relating to Spanish Social Security medical care, for retired EU citizens and for all those working in Spain.

Under European Union regulations, Spain can no longer call this document a “permit” for EU citizens, but a foreigner’s card is still necessary. Non-EU citizens must apply for a permit and they face stricter requirements, such as obtaining a special residence visa from the Spanish Consulate in their home country even before they apply for residence and work permits in Spain.

An EU citizen who intends living in Spain as a retiree should obtain EU form E-121 before he comes to Spain . This form entitles persons who are paid up in the Social Security system of their home country to obtain medical care from the Spanish Social Security system.

These “E” for “European” forms are readily available in all EU countries. You must obtain it, however, in your home country before you come to Spain.

EU citizens who are not entitled to receive pensions as a result of working in their home countries will have to show that they receive regular income from some other source. They will also be required to obtain medical insurance from a company operating in Spain.All in all Spain does not make it very difficult for EU citizens to start living in Spain

Non-European Union citizens living in Spain

First step in order to be to living in Spain is go to the Spanish consulate in your home country. Being from a non-EU country, you will need to obtain the visado de residencia, a visa you must present when you apply for a residence permit after you have arrived in Spain.

The visa can only be obtained from the Spanish Consulate in your home country before you leave for Spain.

There are, in fact, seven different types of visa, depending on whether you are a retired pensioner living in Spain, an investor, an executive of a multinational company, or carrying out a cultural or sporting activity while living in Spain. Make sure you request the right one for your circumstances.

A second step on your way to living in Spain is to go to your bank and make sure they understand exactly how your money is to be sent to you. Make absolutely sure they know a corresponding bank in the area of Spain where you will be living.

Transfers of money can take weeks when not properly handled.There are bank branches which simply do not understand international transactions. There are others that do not have corresponding banks in your home country.

You will need to establish that the bank you choose in Spain has a working relationship with your bank at home and can readily receive funds from them.

Transfers have been known to get stuck in a main office in Madrid and not reach their destination until weeks, even months later, after heated telephone calls and faxes.Once you have a bank account in Spain, you can deposit your foreign cheques, or make direct transfers, and then write euro cheques for payments on your new property, or rent, making money matters much easier.

Holding a Spanish bank account will work in your favour when you apply for your visa at the consulate in your country. It is not, however, strictly necessary.

For non-EU persons, this application for the visa is your first legal step towards acquiring residency in Spain. It gives the Spanish authorities a chance to examine your financial situation before they decide whether you will make a useful resident. Once you have the visa, you are practically assured of obtaining the residence permit.

Information sheets issued by Spanish consulates in various countries will show how much income you need in order to get this visa.

The Spanish consulate in Washington, DC, requires US citizens to show an income of at least $10,000 a year per person if they wish to retire in Spain. An American wishing to start a business or invest in Spain has to demonstrate capital of about $100,000.

If you have this income, you are all right. If you haven’t, do not assume that you will be denied the visa. Many other details also come into the picture. You may have capital which is not at the moment producing income, for example, or your income may not start until some future date.

The consular officials will judge each case on its merits. But they do want to be sure that you have sufficient means to support yourself in Spain. If you intend to start a business, for example, you will need to show that you are bringing into Spain enough money to do so, unless you are from an EU country.

From YOU & THE LAW IN SPAIN,published by Santana Books.For details contact Santana on: www.santanabooks.com or email them on [email protected]

The Best Way To Buying Property In Spain

The best way to buying property in Spain is to use a professional real estate company. There are many good companies in Spain selling property, but you have to make sure you have a really good one, as many people want to grab a piece of the action in this hot market.

the best way to buying property in spain

the best way to buying property in spain

Buying Property In Spain :There are 3.8 million second homes in Spain (almost two million belonging to foreigners). In the next five years, between 800,000 and 1,700,000 European families are expected to settle their second home in Spain, according to WTO. (world tourism org)

A short guide to the best way to buying property in Spain :

as stated first get yourself a good real estate agent.

All reputable agents are licensed which means they should have a current API or GIPE number, although from year 2001 this is not necessary. All properties should be registered in the Registro de Propiedad, here you can obtain full details of the owner, debts or judgements against the property, mortgages and the exact size and description of the property. Unless notarised power of attorney has been given to a third party, only the person(s) named on the Escritura (deeds) has the right to sell the property).

The second step in the best way to buying property in Spain is to get yourself a good lawyer, who will check for any encumbrances, debts, mortgages, etc. He or she should inform you of their fees. Customary is 1% of the purchase price of the property. Do not try to do this yourself, as it will only lead to disappointment or even worse: financial disaster.

When you have found the property you want, a contract will be drawn up by your agent and you should pay a 10% deposit. The contract then needs to be signed by both parties. There should be a completion date on this contract and on this date the final payment should be made in front of a Spanish Notary. The property is now yours and the title deed (Escritura Publica) needs to be registered in the Land Registry Office.

the best way to buying property in Spain : Choosing a Property in Spain

Firstly, think about the reasons that made you decide buying a property in Spain. It could be that you are a keen investor and you look upon Spain real estate as the ideal investment opportunity, gaining momentum and value as time goes by whilst in the mean time earning you some rental income.

Or you could be Buying Property In Spain looking for that dream house in the sun to live in now or to retire in later on in life. Or is it a hideaway you are looking for away from the daily hassles and the demanding and stressful way of life you have been torturing yourself with lately…?

Decide how much you want to spend on your buying property in Spain: write your wish list!

Do you want to be Buying Property In Spain near a golf course, overlooking the sea, within walking distance of a busy town or would you prefer to live in one of the pretty inland villages? Do you need a swimming pool? Will it have to be private or can you settle for an communal swimming pool in an urbanisation?

In fact, golf is considered the best appeal for foreign home seekers and implies a bigger added value. For instance, Costa del Sol has more than seventy golf courses, almost twice as much as the second region in number of golf courses (Catalonia). 

It is also a perfect complement for “sun and beach tourism” since demand for playing golf is higher during the periods from February to May and from September to November. So consider this when Buying Property In Spain

But as always: look before you leap.

Seek and take professional advice.

If Buying Property In Spain for your own occupation, ask yourself whether you’d be comfortable in the area. A remote farmhouse might sound idyllic, but is it in reality?

If Buying Property In Spain for an investment, that is, to let out to holidaymakers, make sure the property is in a place where people want to stay. If you want easy access fro your guests, best to choose a resort near one of the Spanish airports, served by the “low cost” airlines, such as Alicante, Malaga, Palma De Mallorca.

If you are not going to be there, who will manage the property, that is, take care of the changeovers, keys, that sort of thing? Thus research the property management side of things too.

the best way to buying property in Spain : Financing Your Purchase

Mortgages

New Spanish homes often come with a mortgage and up to 50% of the purchase price can be raised in this way. Basically, the mortgage will be secured on the Spanish property; your income will be taken into account and you need a P60 or if self employed, your certified accounts.

Both Interest-Only and Repayment mortgages are available in Spain although the majority of Spanish mortgages offer a variable as opposed to fixed interest rate.

With some Spanish Lenders offering products with very low interest rates , there are some excellent deals available and many banks will now lend up to 70% of the purchase price. Which makes Buying Property In Spain a real good opportunity.

A variety of lenders will lend on Spanish properties, both new and resales; up to 70% LTV (Loan to Value) is possible. If buying for holiday letting, some lenders will take into account the projected net rental income.

It’s quite possible to re-mortgage your existing property at home, providing enough equity available and you meet lenders requirements. If you do this, then the charge is against your home property and not the Spanish home; effectively you then become a cash buyer.

Equity Release

For older people, perhaps consider releasing some equity from your home, in this case there would be no monthly payments to make, but you need to consider the interest and charges as well as the outcome.

Paying in full in cash is another option but not one that’s readily available to everyone! If you are planning to make a part or full cash payment for your Buying Property In Spain then do not delay when arranging the necessary transfer of monies.

Daily fluctuations in the exchange rate can have a dramatic impact on the price of your property. For example a property purchased in January 2003 for 150,000 Euros would have equated to £97,000 Stirling but the same property would have cost £109,000 Stirling five months later as the Euro had strengthened against the British pound.

The same is true for the Euro-Dollar exchange rates.

Do consider using the services of specialist currency dealers when transferring any substantial funds overseas for your Buying Property In Spain. They should not charge for their service plus they are likely to offer a more favourable exchange rate than a bank.

If you plan to make a series of staged payments over subsequent months, you can agree a fixed exchange rate thereby making it easier to budget for future payments.

THE INFORMATION GIVEN HERE IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR TAKING PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISOR.

the best way to buying property in Spain : Safe Property Transfers

If you are buying property in Spain, you may not be aware that your only foolproof title is the final registration in the official Spanish Property Registry, and that all taxes must be paid in order to obtain this.

If your seller does not hold such a title, an escritura pública, something may be wrong with your purchase. It is the first thing you ask to see. You can also check this public title deed at the Spanish Property Registry to make sure that no mortgages are outstanding.

A mortgage or a legal lien against the property is inscribed as marginal notes against the title.

Too many property purchasers have discovered too late that a mortgage was outstanding against their new property or that a Spanish court had placed a lien against it for some other unpaid debt. That could turn your Buying Property In Spain dream into a nightmare

An unscrupulous seller can fail to mention an unpaid mortgage or a lien, and then disappear with the full purchase price. As the mortgage attaches to the property itself, this can leave the buyer facing the payments under threat of losing the property.

When you are buying property in Spain, you also want to see the latest paid-up receipt for the seller’s annual property tax, the IBI receipt.

As of 1999, the seller must also present a certificate showing that his fees are paid up at the Community of Property Owners, or listing the exact amount of his debt. You should read the Statutes, the regulations, of the Community where you are purchasing.

And you should use a Spanish lawyer when you buy in Spain. A lawyer should charge you around one per cent of the price for advising in any Spanish real estate transaction.

the best way to buying property in Spain : Costs Of Buying

On top of the purchase price you should allow another 10% on top for transfer fees. These charges should be divided between buyer and vendor as follows:

Buyer Pays:  Transfer Tax or IVA (VAT) 6% on resale and 7% on new property Registration fees to change the deed to your name € 120,-to € 300,- Notary charges for the first and any further copies of the title deed, which is on a sliding scale. Average on a property of € 360.000,- is € 360,-.

If there is a mortgage on the property, you will need an extra deed and this will incur an extra charge.

Vendor Pays:  Plus Valia Tax – A municipal tax based on the official increase in the value of the property since the last transfer. The town hall will assess the value.

Agent Fees Annual Costs  Make sure you receive copies of all the bills, as they should have been paid up to date. The Real estate tax or IBI (Impuesto Sobre Bienes Inmuebles), Rubbish Collection (Basura), Community charges, etc should be checked by your lawyer, as any debts are attached to the property rather than the person.

As a non resident you are liable for 2 annual property taxes, but this is a very complex issue and therefore we recommend you to use a fiscal adviser.

the best way to buying property in Spain : Fees and Taxes

With regards to the additional fees and taxes payable, the simplest way to budget for these is to assume that the combined total of these costs will be approximately 10% of the purchase price.

Once you find your dream Spanish property, you need to pay a Reservation Fee to secure it at the agreed price and remove it from the market.

Typically this will be around 3,000 Euros and you can pay with a credit card. For properties situated within a “Community”, each owner is required to pay a “community fee” – this is your contribution to the upkeep of the communal pool(s), lift(s), landscaped gardens, 24 hours security, lighting system, etc.

This figure will vary in accordance with property size and location and obviously only becomes payable once the development has been finished and you have finally completed on your purchase.

Normally, you will be expected to pay 30% of the purchase price within the following 4 to 6 weeks. You then enter into what is commonly referred to as a “Personal Private Contract”.

This document clarifies all details of the sale including the allocation of costs for fees / taxes payable by the buyer and seller. It represents a preliminary and binding commitment on the part of both parties.

If you buy a “re-sale” property, i.e. one which is currently / previously owned by another, you do not pay IVA or Stamp Duty. Instead you pay a Property Transfer Tax (ITP), currently set at 7% in Andalusia.

Lawyer’s fees are around 1% of the purchase price plus they are entitled to levy small additional charges, e.g. should you wish them to act as your Power of Attorney at the signing of the Title Deeds (the “Escritura”) before the Notary at the time of Completion.

Your Lawyer will take care of any complicated legal and fiscal issues, will carry out a full search on your property to make sure there are no claims or debts lodged against it, will liaise with your Seller, receive and transfer each payment, ensure documents are properly drawn up and executed plus he will organise your NIE (tax identification number).

Once the Escritura has been signed, it must be registered with the Spanish Property Registry whereupon it is stamped, formally recognised as a public document and the original returned to the Notary. Again, your lawyer will take care of this for you. Once this is done and finished your Buying Property In Spain dream will have become a reality !

Invest in Spanish property

Investment Pointers

Is the Costa del Sol a good place to invest in property? The answer has to be a resounding Yes!

The massive upgrading in facilities, services, infrastructure and aesthetic appeal of the area has had a positive effect on property values. Since December 1995 the average price of a Spanish home on the Costa del Sol has risen by a yearly accrued rate of just over 17%.

Invest in Spain

Invest in Spain

 

Extensive research completed over the past few months has found that a new property now sells at a price over 5 times higher than figures achieved in 1995. Why invest in Spanish property?

A recent report released by the Spanish Press Agency stated that  property prices rose by over 23% in Andalusia. Why invest in Spanish property ?

Yes – you should have bought four or five years ago but hindsight is a wonderful thing! Reports demonstrating how (some) properties increased in value by over 35% per annum are reliable however do not fear, you haven’t missed the boat since property prices continue to rise albeit at a more sensible, controlled rate.

It is still safe to assume an annual growth pattern of at least 15% on well presented properties in popular locations. Why invest in Spanish property ?

A shortage of available building land between the sea and the mountains means that land prices on the Costa del Sol must rise with further population growth an invest in Spanish property is still a valid option. The introduction of the Euro has enhanced Spain’s position as the number one choice for overseas property purchasers, through ease of payments. In fact, the introduction of the Euro further highlighted the “strong value” of Spanish properties when compared to properties for sale in other European countries.

The Costa del Sol boasts the fastest growing population in Europe. Currently standing at 2.5 million, this figure is expected to rise to 6.5 million quickly.

Do you need even more reasons to invest in Spanish property ? Well here goes:

over 50% of purchasers are Investors of some kind with many seeking “buy to let” properties. In addition to seasonal tourists or holidaymakers, Spain currently occupies the second position globally for residential tourism after the United States.

The huge choice of championship golf courses is another major advantage for those owners who want the luxury of knowing they can choose to successfully let their Spanish property.

A staggering 2.5 million golfers visit the Costa del Sol each year; enthusiasts pay several hundred pounds a week in the “quieter” winter months to rent a well furnished and equipped property, one with easy access to golf courses and local facilities.

Unlike most other places, the Costa del Sol does not close down and go to sleep for the winter! Invest in Spanish property and you will get year round returns.

With the general trend towards quality in all aspects of consumer purchasing, the Costa del Sol really does satisfy and in many cases, exceed customer expectations.

It is worlds apart from those dreary, high rise, concrete jungles or pure “package holiday only” resort areas

Investing in Spanish Property

Whilst many still have useful disposable income, recent reports highlighting the risks associated with over reliance on pension plans, the volatility of the stock market and other traditional savings schemes have encouraged people to consider alternative methods of realising returns on investment including longer term financial planning initiatives.

Investing in “traditional bricks and mortar” has always been and will continue to be a safe and popular option. Indeed property purchase has been referred to as the “new pension plan.” This is especially true if you invest in Spanish property.

Investment in overseas property has become increasingly popular over the last decade. It is no longer considered a novel, high risk, logistical nightmare.

Also the benefits associated with owning a property overseas have multiplied. Traditionally a property abroad was viewed as a quaint little luxury only enjoyed by the select few.

Today, investing in an overseas property is considered a real opportunity for realising useful, ongoing income, significant capital gain and the chance to enjoy regular, inexpensive, relaxing breaks without having to take lengthy time off work.

An increasing number of Europeans are taking early retirement and relocating permanently to Spain, particularly the Costa del Sol.

Indeed several Developers, having recognised this upward trend in foreign nationals seeking the perfect retirement home, now proudly promote the alterations they have made to the design of their new properties and “urbanisations” to satisfy the demands of the “early retiree”.

So, you finally achieve your dream and buy your Spanish property – now what do you do?

Well, the great thing about the Costa del Sol is the choices are endless. You are now the proud owner of an asset that should increase in value over the coming years.

Depending on your personal circumstances, you may decide to live in it for a few weeks or months each year or perhaps it’s the perfect base for entertaining friends and family.

Once you discover how much rent can be achieved, especially during the busy summer months, you may find 2 or 3 months rental income more than covers a significant chunk of your annual expenditure.

Or you may decide to let it to golfers in the quieter winter months. Perhaps you just want to sit back and watch it grow in value. Some Investors cash in and re-invest their profits in a larger property or a second investment opportunity.

The “Buy to Let” Overseas Investment

What makes a good Investment Property? Location, Location, Location!…………. Yes, that now familiar expression also applies abroad!

Buying “off plan” is likely to afford an excellent return on investment since, by the time construction has finished, perhaps two years later; your asset could have increased in value by 30% or more.

Ideally you should reserve your property as soon as the building plans are released; buying in the early phase of pre-construction will allow you to secure a property that will increase in value each time another phase of the Project is released for sale.

Be prepared to make a decision, act fast and you could snare a real bargain!

If you’re looking for a property that is ready to let immediately then you could purchase a “re-sale”. Sometimes you can find one which includes all the fixtures and furnishings.

Re-sales will be more expensive however, unlike new build, the seller may often negotiate on the price for a quick sale.   

Your Money in Spain

Money Matters

Your money in Spain: the most important message here is that yes, you can take out all the money you have brought into Spain and more, if you have made money by selling a property or by investing.
There are forms to fill out, taxes to pay and delays, but you can do it. If you invest in the Spanish stock-market as a non-resident, you will not even be taxed on your profits in Spain.

When you sell your property you can change the Euros to the currency you want and sent it to your home account without any restrictions. You will have to pay 35% capital gain tax.

If you want to buy property and obtain a loan from abroad, you can do this without any restrictions up to € 1.500.000,-. The only condition is that the lender is not based in a tax-haven according to the Spanish government list.

Transactions through banks are completely free up to € 600,-. Anything above this amount must be declared by filling in a form at the bank. This only takes a minute.

Both residents and non-residents may open accounts at Spanish banks. They are distinguished from each other as different regulations apply to transfers for the resident and the non-resident.

If you are a resident, 25% of your interest earnings are withheld and paid to the Spanish taxman in your name, just the same as for the Spaniards. The interest on your account is only 0,1% of the average balance and the bank charges are one of the highest in Europe.

It is recommended to check what the charges are, so as not to get any surprises. When you get your pension send to your Spanish account, make sure they do not charge you exchange commission for this as this is against European Union Banking regulations.

The easiest way to invest your money in Spain, is by putting it on deposit with your bank. The interest paid depends on the amount invested and the time the deposit is held by the bank.

There are more intricate systems of investing money, for example by opening an offshore company and buying properties through that company. For this it is recommended to seek expert advise.