From its luscious beaches to remarkable monuments such as Sagrada Família and the Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain is a universally popular holiday resort for families and friends to visit.

Popular for Brits

Around 12 million British nationals visit Spain each year, which can be accessed by either airplane, train, ferry or car from the United Kingdom.

By plane

Travelling by airplane from Birmingham to Madrid should take around five hours, on average, while taking the train can result in a 10-hour journey if you leave in the morning. Leaving the UK by train in the evening will require a second day of travel.


Taking the ferry to Spain will again see you spend roughly a day travelling, at least between Portsmouth and Bilbao, but that is without the addition of any other transport to further locations.


Driving from London to Madrid, meanwhile, will take around 17 hours, which will increase to roughly 20 hours if you are driving further south to Cordoba, for example.

Time zone

Spain is one hour ahead of British Summer Time and two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

If you are unsure as how to manage your diabetes in Spain, you should discuss this with your diabetes team prior to arriving.


Spain is incredibly warm during the summer, with average temperatures of around 22°C lasting throughout June and September.

Considerable heat can lead to enhanced insulin absorption and it is critical for insulin takers to check blood sugar levels scrupulously.

You could consider reducing dosages, especially before periods of physical activity, if you are worried about hypoglycemia.


The currency in Spain is the Euro, although many restaurants, hotels and shops will accept credit and debit cards for certain purchases. ATMs are also scattered frequently across all major Spanish cities.


There are no mandatory vaccinations required to enter Spain, however rabies is present in bats in Spain, so it is advised for those planning activities in remote areas that put them at risk for bat bites to receive a rabies vaccine.

Have you got your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

Spain is amongst the European countries that allow you to receive state healthcare either at a reduced cost or sometimes for free when on a temporary stay. It will cover you for medical treatment until you return to the UK.

The Spanish health authority will determine if the treatment you require is considered necessary and which cannot wait until your return to the UK.

It is best to apply for an EHIC card directly through the NHS. Your card will usually arrive within seven days if you have applied through the NHS, but it is best to apply two weeks in advance to allow for any delays.

Ensuring access to medication

Medication is available in Spain, but payment is required from a pharmacy, for which the Spanish translation is Farmacia”

However, possessing an EHIC card allows you to receive treatment at a lesser cost and this money can be recouped when you get back into the UK. Blood and urine testing kits are available from any pharmacy in Spain.

The emergency services telephone number in Spain is 112


Note which syringes are available in Spain, with U-100, U-80 and U-40 syringes the most commonly used

The vast majority of insulin in the UK is U-100 insulin. If you need to take a different strength of insulin , say in an emergency, it’s important that you use the correct device and syringes for that insulin.

For example, you would use a U-40 syringe for U-40 insulin. You will need to work with a doctor getting the right dose if you’re using a different form of insulin.

Diabetes associations

It is important to note any of the diabetes associations in the country, or countries, that you are travelling to.

There are two diabetic associations in Spain that can be contacted for information prior to your stay. The addresses of these associations are:

  • Sociedad Espanola de Diabetes (a member of the International Diabetes Federation since 2000),
    Eugenio Salazar 23 Entreplanta B,
    28002 Madrid,
    Tel: +34-91-4013342
    Email: [email protected]
  • Federación de Diabéticos Españoles (a member of the IDF since 2013),
    C/ de la Habara 35 posterior,
    Centro Civico “La Avanzada”,
    ES-28945 Fuenlabrada – Madrid,
    Tel: +34-91-6908840
    Email: [email protected]


  • How is blood glucose measured in Spain? Blood glucose levels are measured in mg/dl
  • What language is spoken in Spain? Spanish, although many locals will have a basic grasp of English, especially those that work in a customer service environment.
  • Will I need an international driving license when driving in Spain? No
  • If I want to hire a vehicle during my visit, will I face any form of discrimination? No
  • What sugar free drinks are available in Spain? Most diet soft drinks, such as Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi and mineral water

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.