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Spain Cracks Down On Tourists: 4 Controversial Rules You Need To Know

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Spain is a beautiful and culturally rich destination, and tourists are generally warmly welcomed with open arms, but there are some new rules you need to know and follow!

While the vast majority of tourists are well-behaved, there are exceptions to that. And sadly Spain has a growing problem with tourists behaving badly.

That’s why Spain has cracked down on tourists with these 4 controversial rules.

Woman in Barcelona, Spain

No Smoking On Spanish Beaches

Smokers beware because as part of what is an EU-wide clampdown on smoking in public places, smoking is no longer permitted on a huge number of Spanish beaches.  

Spain is aiming to be smoke-free by 2025.

This spring 10 more beaches across mainland Spain have implemented a smoking ban. This includes beaches in Barcelona.  

No smoking notice for tourists on Amadores beach, Gran Canaria.

50 beaches on the Balearic islands have also gone full steam ahead with a ban after successful trials last year.  

And if you can’t resist the urge to light up? 

Then you could be stung with a fine of up to 2,000 euros ($2,163), so it’s not worth taking the risk.  

Spain has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and it is the country with the most Blue Flag beaches too.  

View-of-Cala-dHort-beach-with-sunbeds-and-umbrellas-and-beautiful-azure-blue-sea-water-Ibiza-island-Spain

There is nowhere I'd rather soak up the sun, and the clean beaches are a huge part of that.

This smoking ban should help to keep them that way.  

A Ban On Late Night Swimming  

Benidorm on the Costa Blanca is one of the most popular tourist resorts in Spain and attracted 2.7 million visitors last year.  

The boardwalk in Benidorm, Spain

But for the safety of tourists behaving badly, this year tourists could be fined between 750-1,200 euros ($820-1297) for swimming in the sea or entering the beach between the hours of midnight and 7 am.  

Officially, this is to enable beach cleaning.  

But in reality, it is to prevent tourists who have had one or two too many drinks from drowning when there isn’t a lifeguard on duty, as well as to stop amorous couples indulging in after-hours activities on the sand.

Benidorm beach resort town shot at night from one of its sandy beaches

It’s likely that other beach resorts will follow suit, particularly in areas like Benidorm, where drunk tourists are prevalent. 

You’ll see signs on the beach that will let you know about these and any other rules.  

Book Accommodation Before You Travel  

All non-EU nationals, including American citizens entering Spain, will need to show proof of accommodation when entering the country. 

There’s no guarantee that you’ll be asked this at immigration.

But if you are and you haven’t booked your hotel yet, then you could be hit with a painful fine of up to 8,000 euros ($8652). 

solo female traveler walking across a footbridge in valencia spain on a sunny day

You’re not off the hook if you’re staying with friends or family members, either. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to ask your hosts to send you a carta de invitation (invitation card), which you can show at immigration in lieu of a booking confirmation.  

The Spanish authorities will be clamping down on these rules in 2024, so to avoid the eye-watering fine it’s worth making sure you have all the correct documentation easily accessible before you travel.  

Wi-Fi can be patchy in many Spanish airports, so I tend to print my documents to be on the safe side.  

Keep Your Clothes On  

Finally one of the things that makes Barcelona so unique is that you can enjoy a culturally rich city break, but the city also has an incredible beach.

It’s my favorite place to experience the best of both sides of Spain.  

people n the beach in barcelona

However don’t let that fool you into thinking you can wear your beachwear in the city!  

Barcelona and several other Spanish hotspots have introduced fines of up to 500 euros ($540) to anyone who goes shirtless or wears a bikini top outside of the beach area.  

It is illegal for men to walk around bare-chested or for women to only wear bikini tops anywhere in Barcelona except on the beach or on the streets very close to the beach.

This falls under the country’s civic behavior laws.  

Where this line is drawn is very vague, so to be on the safe side, I recommend throwing on a cover-up whenever you leave the seashore.  

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