Spain Health Care and Vaccinations
Comprehensive travel insurance is advised for all other nationals, although basic health insurance is not essential. If suddenly ill or involved in an accident during a visit to Spain, free or reduced-cost necessary treatment is available for all nationalities. You just need to show your passport. In some medical cases, if you are European, you might be able to receive free treatment – all you need is to show proof of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) obtained in their country of origin.
In case of an emergency, call the Spanish emergency services at 112. This number should be dialled when you urgently require medical assistance or in case of fire or crime. You can dial the number from any public telephone booth, which is easily available in most Spanish cities and towns. However, keep in mind that the Spanish emergency services staff may not speak English, although some do. It is therefore useful to learn basics of the language like numbers and commonly used phrases. In such scenarios, try to be patient and speak as clearly as possible. Alternatively, look for help on the streets or in nearby shops.
Other numbers that you should take note of in case of emergency are:
• Ambulance service – 061
• Fire service – 080
• Police – 091
• Duty pharmacies – 010
If you are in dire need to get to the hospital, ask for a ride from people on the streets. Note that by law Spanish, it is obligatory for taxi drivers to transport medical emergencies to hospital when asked to do so. Any driver can also convert his vehicle into an ambulance in case of emergency. To do so, switch on the hazard lights of your vehicle and wave a white piece of cloth from the window to signal urgency. Misuse of this system will result in a heavy fine.
Food in Spain is generally safe to eat. Most restaurants and bars adhere to a certain standard of hygiene. For those with sensitive stomachs, try to avoid street food, such as churros, kebabs and jacket potatoes. These are usually sold in small street-side stores especially in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona. Other foods to look out for include seafood that might not be fresh and sandwiches and omelettes that might have been left out for too long. Tapas bars may sometimes serve foods that have been kept overnight, so be careful what you eat.
Foods sold in local markets are generally fresh and affordable. If you’re extremely careful about what you eat, these are the best places to look for clean and fresh produce. Tap water in Spain is safe to drink but some complain that tap water in Ibiza can be quite salty and has an unpleasant taste so it is generally recommended to drink bottled water. Tap water is suitable for washing, brushing teeth, etc. Bottled and mineral water are easily available throughout the country and can be found in supermarkets and grocery stores.
In mid-summer temperatures can reach over 40°C and heat-related risks are high. Be sure to drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, wear strong sunscreen and cover your skin with a hat and loose clothing. If partaking in hiking, cycling or other outdoor activities avoid the midday hours and limit exercise to early mornings or late evenings.
The national police have set up a telephone hotline for tourists to use in non-emergencies. Those who wish to report a crime such as theft or lost property should call 902 102 112; callers can speak German, English, French or Italian. On islands such as Ibiza be aware that alcohol and drugs are prevalent. Stay hydrated when consuming alcohol and be aware that spirit measurements are generous. Taking drugs is illegal and drug dealing is dealt with very severely by the local police and courts. Every year accidents happen in resorts with holidaymakers falling from hotel balconies, often when under the influence of alcohol. Take care on hotel balconies at all times and avoid excessive drinking.
In Mallorca in late summer waves of jellyfish can make an appearance, and while these are not deadly, they can give a very painful sting.