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Spain Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Spain

If you're looking for unique souvenirs, there are plenty of artisan markets in Madrid and Andalucía. A myriad of handicraft, porcelain figures and accessories are sold in these markets. They are often set up during festive season like before Christmas.

Spanish leather goods, particularly those from Andalucía, combine excellent craftsmanship with high-quality design. Catalonian textiles are internationally famous and there are mills throughout the region. Fine rugs and carpets are made in Cáceres, Granada and Murcia. The numerous excellent sherries, wines and spirits produced in Andalucía make good souvenirs to take home, as do bottles of Spain's excellent olive oil. Fine, handcrafted wooden furniture is one of the outstanding products of Valencia, which holds an annual international furniture fair. Alicante is an important centre for toy manufacturing.

Spanish fashion is taking the world by storm these days, but even in globally renowned stores like Zara you find plenty of clothing lines that don't make it beyond the border. The best cities for shopping are Madrid and Barcelona, but all provincial capitals have a decent range of retail outlets. Prices have risen in recent years but are still cheaper than in much of northern Europe.

Every town in Spain has its own market halls where you can buy fresh produce direct from growers, and many have a rastro (flea market); Madrid's characterful el Rastro on Sundays is particularly famous.

Shopping Note

For non-EU visitors it is possible to get a tax refund on purchases made in Spain. The items must be exported back to your country of origin (hotels and restaurants, for example are not eligible) and each individual bill must be over €90.15. Show your passport, ask the vendor for a VAT (IVA) refund form and submit it at the airport upon your departure. VAT in Spain is 21%.

Shopping hours

Mon-Sat 1000-1400 and 1700-2000. Supermarkets and department stores tend to open 0930-2100/2200, and may open on Sundays in large cities.

Nightlife in Spain

Spaniards often start the evening with el paseo - a leisurely stroll through the city's streets. A café terrace is an excellent vantage point to observe this tradition. The atmosphere is especially vibrant at fiesta time. They then continue the night with a tapeo, moving between tapas bars, drinking and snacking. Tapas culture is especially rich in Madrid and Andalusia, while San Sebastian and Bilbao are famed for the more sophisticated version – pintxos

Then it's time for copas or cubatas - mixed drinks in bars, pubs, or nightclubs. Trendy nightlife can be found in the major cities like Barcelona and Madrid, and in coastal resorts like Ibiza or Marbella, but even small villages will have somewhere where you can dance till dawn.

For a taste of something local, head out to the flamenco tablaos for a spectacle. The best places to see a flamenco spectacle are in Andalucía, specifically Sevilla, where veteran dancers take to the stage and stomp their feet to atmospheric tunes in authentic caves.

If you're seeking something mellower, jazz bars in Barcelona, Madrid and Granada are well worth a visit. In summer, music concerts are filled to the brim with partygoers and music performances go well into the early hours – popular ones include Sonar Festival and Primavera Sound Festival, to name but a few. Rave parties are aplenty on Ibiza too, where the fun continues until the sun comes up.

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