Here at Totally Spain, we’ve been customising trips for over 16 years and we’re big fans of paper maps, physical guide books and lots of reference reading material. That is why we give all of our clients their own custom documentation pack full of useful information for their trip. But we also love the amazing travel info & advice available from the ever-growing number of handy Apps. Why not check out our favourites and download them before you begin your trip to Spain?
Spain Travel Apps – 20 Handy Tools for Travelling
1 Map Apps
For its blanket coverage of cities, towns and villages, we have to recommend the obvious which is Google Maps. It’s perfect for those moments when you need to get from the hotel to the restaurant or monument without taking out a map – it’s also brilliant when you don’t know the street where the monument is located – you can still tap in the name of the museum and be taken there directly. But for Barcelona and Madrid you have the even better Citymapper (pictured above) that covers all transport options and even tells you how much you need to pay for the bus fare which is great when you don’t think you’ll understand the bus driver in Spanish!
2 Travel Inspiration Apps
We often hit the Pinterest App when we are out and about exploring new parts in Spain. It’s perfect for getting a sense of the landscapes and surroundings and also invaluable for food ideas. If you don’t believe us – just open it up now in the App, tap in Cantabria and you’ll find a treasure trove of inspiring images. Instagram is another great source for wanderlust moments and getting a sense for where you are travelling to also!
3 Currency Apps
Picture the situation – you are in a ceramics workshop and want to purchase Christmas gifts for the family and have them shipped home. The only problem is you can’t for the life of you remember what the exchange rate is from Canadian dollars to Euro. We’ve been using the XE Currency website since it first appeared and find the App really handy when you are on the go. We love that it works offline – just open it every couple of days when you have access to wi-fi to make sure you are getting the latest rate.
4 Food Apps
Now under the TripAdvisor umbrella, we’ve been raving about El Tenedor/The Fork website for years. You can read our blogpost about it here. Pro-tip: It’s a really useful way of finding and booking tables without having to speak Spanish. Unfortunately, the App doesn’t allow for you to select options such as vegetarian, celiac etc, you’ll have to use the website for those special requirements. Of course, Tripadvisor‘s main app is also great for checking out reviews although don’t forget to ask around when you get to Spain as well. You can’t beat a local’s recommendations so do try to check places with the hotel concierge too.
5 Messaging Apps
One of the most popular communication Apps in Spain is WhatsApp. Everybody uses it here. You never hear anybody saying “send me a text” or an SMS. It’s always “send me a WhatsApp”. It’s great for texting, making phone calls, sending voicemails, and sending videos and photos and you can even use it on your desktop as long as your mobile phone is nearby.
6 WiFi Apps
You need wifi to be able to use a lot of the Apps and one handy way to makes sure you’ll be covered is to download the Free WiFi Finder app. Before you set out for the day, make sure you make a mental note or take a photo of the free WiFi points you’ll be passing by. Of course, you may choose to get a plan to cover your wifi usage when in Spain. And there is also the option of getting a mobile wifi device – we’ve covered some of these options in our post here.
7 Ticketing Apps
Paper plane tickets are resigned to history and and printed boarding cards are on the way out also. We love the simplicity of being able to scan our boarding passes when we go past security and always download the airline app before we travel – it’s especially practical when you are flying home and can’t check-in for the return leg until you’ve embarked on your trip. No more looking for printers in the hotel lobby or going into slightly strange internet cafes to print out a boarding card! You’ll also find Apps for Aena which is the company that runs Spain’s airports with lots of information on flights, car parking, dining options and shops at each airport. You might want to check out the Apps for Renfe trains and Alsa buses which can contribute to your paperless journey
8 Weather Apps
El Tiempo is one of the more popular weather Apps in Spain – we like it because it gives a fairly reliable 14-day forecast. The Spanish Met Service, AEMET, also has an App which is great but as you’d expect, it’s in Spanish. That said, there’s enough symbols that you’ll be able to tell whether it’s going to sun, rain or snow.
9 Reading Apps
If you’re travelling for a few weeks and don’t have or want to bring your Kindle, we recommend adding the Kindle App to your phone or tablet and purchasing a few inspiring and practical publications. It’s the lightest way to read guide books and fiction while on the move. Try to research and upload your novels, reference items and guide books a few days before you depart so you can get in the mood before you hit the plane!
Did you know that your Kindle has it’s own email address and that you can email almost any document to your Kindle for access later? Check out how to do it here – it’s very easy and useful. Putting the word ‘CONVERT’ into the subject line of the email will command Kindle to convert your attached document into Kindle format.
10 Museum Apps
We adore some of the Spanish museum Apps although you do need to pay for some Apps such as the Prado one. Others are free, such as The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum App that offers 8 different guided tours of its paintings, although some info is only available in Spanish. Many of the smaller museums are worth checking out on the App Store. We enjoy the Lazaro-Galdiano Museum App (free) that offers a guided tour in English with or without subtitles – always handy for getting around museums discreetly and especially useful for those with visual impairments. We find ourselves downloading the Apps before we go (the night before) so as to absorb some of the information in advance. We also like to look at them after a visit – to remind ourselves of the key pieces and talk about our favourites – a great way to enjoy the works as we unwind after a busy day.
11 Itinerary Planning Apps
No, we’re not about to recommend something that will replace us – but we do think that some itinerary management Apps such as TripIt can be a handy way to store all the small details of every trip before you leave home. As you know, we send a very detailed pack in the mail when our clients book with us, which is great for reading over and getting a sense of the places you are going to be visiting. But those of you who like to travel light might be interested in transferring some of the info into an App such as TripIt. You can add in your flights, the time and location for your tours, museum visits, restaurant bookings, car hire pick-up points and any other elements of your trip. When it’s all punched in, TripIt gives you a great visual of your day as well as holding all those important bits of info. You can upgrade to receive suggestions of the best seats on the plane and other handy titbits that can streamline your trip even more.
12 Translation Apps
Spanish to English is a pretty common translation combination so you’ll find lots of different apps to cater for this market although we have to say that we are fans of Google Translate. It’s perfect for those moments when you are sitting in front of a menu in a language you don’t understand and haven’t a clue what is on offer. All you need to do is hold your phone or tablet over the text you want to translate and up pops the translation! We also like it when we are in the hotel room and haven’t a clue what time breakfast is served at. Rather than phone downstairs and ask, just flash the App in front of the housekeeping information and you’ll get all the info you need. You will need a wifi connection or coverage for it to work. Another App worth downloading if you don’t have it already is Skype which now has a translation service that is handy if you need to communicate with somebody in Spanish.
13 Tourism Office Apps
We love nosing around tourist offices and picking up flyers and brochures but if you don’t enjoy the thought of it or want some advice outside office hours, you should check out the tourism office Apps for the cities you are travelling to. We love the Barcelona Turisme City’s App (pictured above) that lists the Top 20 Sights to See with opening times, photos and detailed info about each place. Most of the major cities’ tourist offices now have Apps – and are well worth downloading before you travel. So what are you waiting for?