Spain and Malaga are 1 hour ahead of England, both in summer and in winter. However, opening hours may differ. Smaller shops and boutiques are open from 9am to 2pm and 5pm to 8pm, and are closed on Sundays. The big chains and shops in the tourist areas are usually open all day until 10 p.m. Lunch is usually served between 1.30 and 3 p.m. and dinner from 8.30 p.m. onwards. Something that is easy to forget is that Spaniards usually take a siesta in the afternoon. Then everything is closed. Public holidays are also important for Spaniards. As Andalusia is one of Spain’s most religious regions, Sundays are days of rest. An open supermarket on a public holiday is hard to find, so you have to plan your shopping carefully.
Currency and money
In Spain you trade in euros. To see the current exchange rate you can use a currency converter like this one. ATMs are as common in Spain as they are in Sweden. You don’t have to go far in the cities to find an ATM. Even in small villages there are usually ATMs. Many restaurants, shops and hotels accept the most common credit cards. But if you visit small bars or some shops, it may be better to carry cash. In some shops you have to buy a certain amount of goods to pay by card. If you are in a restaurant and are satisfied with the service, it is appreciated that you tip 10-15%. However, this is not a requirement but a nice gesture and in tourist areas it is usually expected.
Andalusia was notorious in the 19th century for bandits who ravaged the mountains. Even today there is some crime aimed at drug trafficking on the Costa del Sol.
In Malaga and Marbella there are police stations just for tourists who need to make some kind of police report or need help of various kinds. In Marbella this office is located in the Plaza de lso Naranjos square and in Malaga it is inside the Plaza de la Marina tourist office. In Spanish, the service is called Servicio de Atencion al Turista Extranjero (SATE). If you need emergency police assistance, call 091. If you need an ambulance, the international emergency number 112 is also used in Spain.
The official language is Spanish. Many Spaniards speak reasonably good English, but not all. However, in the many tourist resorts along the coast you can get by in English.
In 1978, the separation of church and state protected the right to freedom of religion. Most Spanish citizens are Roman Catholic. But the country has always respected other religious beliefs and this is reflected in the many non-Catholic religious centres around Spain. Especially in the areas where many foreign populations live or visit more than in other areas. Almost all Christian denominations have their own churches and the more tourists from different countries come, the more churches are visited. Whatever your religion, you can practise it on the Sun Coast.
Passports are a very good way to identify yourself when you travel. It can also be useful to carry a passport when checking in at different hotels. The water in Spain is usually drinkable but not very good. In Spain they have the same electrical outlets as in Sweden, so it’s fine to bring your own electrical items from home. The mobile phone works very well in Spain. However, be careful not to talk on your mobile phone while driving. It is forbidden to drive and talk on the phone in Spain. If you need to use the internet, there are many internet cafés in the tourist resorts on the Costa del Sol. Some restaurants even advertise free wifi when you bring your own laptop.
The Blue Flag
The Blue Flag is an international environmental label for beaches. In order to be awarded the Blue Flag, a beach must meet certain requirements in terms of water quality, environment, safety and services. Each year, an application must be made to obtain the award and a jury approves and carries out inspections at all sites.