Travel apps are useful, whether you’re going on a city break, a round trip or relaxing on the beach in Spain. Here are some of the coolest and most indispensable, and several of them can also be used when traveling in other countries.
Updated 23 April 2020
Digital maps that can also be used offline
Familiar Google Maps are useful in Spain for finding your way to the hotel or monument. You can download an area from Google Maps to use offline – but from limited areas.
If, like me, you don’t have a sense of direction, the weakness of Google Maps is that it doesn’t show you in which direction you’re facing on the map. Therefore, I have practiced several times walking in the wrong direction or in circles with Google Maps in hand.
CityMaps2Go is brilliant for those of us who can get lost in a lift, because it shows which direction you’re facing on the map. You can download an unlimited number of city maps to use when you’re offline, and the GPS works here too. On your way to the monument, for example, you can pinpoint places along the way – like your hotel – so you can find your way back. When you’re offline, you can also search for a place, like a museum or restaurant, and the app will show you where it is and how far it is. In addition, you can make lists of ex museums and restaurants with pins on the map and read tips on attractions, tapas bars and restaurants.
Travel guides to the Spanish regions and cities
Triposo has guides to the Spanish regions and over 100 Spanish cities, including Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Seville. It’s recommended if you don’t want to lug around a pile of travel guides or you want a supplement to your favourite guide book. Triposo gives you information about the regions and the history and culture of each city, as well as an overview of national parks, tips for attractions, festivals, restaurants and bars, and practical information. Download your travel guide with map and use it when you’re offline.
You can also book hotel rooms on the app when you’re online, but you won’t always find the cheapest price.
Guide to the Spanish beaches
Guía de playas is the beach guide that is a must for all beach lovers. If you’re heading out of the city towards the coast or on a road trip and need a dip, you can be guided to the nearest beaches. In Guiá de playas you will find photos and information about over 3400 beaches in Spain, maps and the services they offer. You can save your favourites in the app, and there’s also an advanced search function if you’re looking for a beach with a diving area, a disabled beach or a nudist beach, for example.
Guía de playas
Thousands of Spanish restaurants in one place
Guía Repsol is Spain’s answer to the Michelin Guide, and with it on your mobile you can find your way to lots of gastronomic experiences in Spain. The Guía Repsol awards suns to the restaurants, and the scale goes from one to three suns. In the description of each restaurant, you can see how many suns it has been awarded and read the jury’s reasoning. However, the descriptions are only available in Spanish, but if you don’t know the language, you can use the suns and the price level listed as a guide. Guia Repsol has maps and built-in GPS to show you restaurants near you, and you can also search for specific restaurants, cities and areas. If you understand Spanish, you can also benefit from the app’s travel guides.
Get tips from other travellers
With the popular TripAdvisor at your fingertips, you have access to millions of reviews of attractions, restaurants, bars, cafés and hotels across Spain from other travellers. You can ask questions to other users and even review the places you visit and upload pictures of them. In particular, users’ photos from hotels can be useful, as in some cases there may be a gap between the hotels’ advertising photos and what the hotel room looks like in reality.
You can also use TripAdvisor to book flights, hotels and get sightseeing tips, but I don’t think it’s optimal for that. It works best as a complement to other guides and search engines. I mostly use the app to check reviews of hotels and restaurants if I have doubts about the quality of the place.
What is the weather forecast for Spain?
Need to fish your swimsuit or raincoat out of your suitcase? Get the answer with the Eltiempo.es+ app, whether you’re in Barcelona, Murcia, the Balearic Islands or Santander. There are countless weather apps, but in Spain Eltiempo.es+ is the most popular and most reliable. The app gives you weather forecasts across Spain for the next 14 days.
Translate in a hurry
Famous Google Translate is equally notorious for its, at times, highly creative translations, but when you’re in Spain and you don’t understand the language, the app can be an indispensable travel partner. In addition to typing a text that it can translate to and from Spanish, you can also take pictures of a Spanish text that Google then translates into English. It’s handy when you don’t understand the menu or an important sign.
If you need help with a conversation, the app can translate for you on the go. This is useful when you need to ask for directions, for example. The app can also simultaneously translate when you’re offline.
Spanish lessons for the whole family
¿Hablas español? Spaniards are generally not very good at English, so knowing a little Spanish will go a long way when you’re shopping in the market, eating tapas at a bar full of Spaniards, or asking for directions in a small village far from the alpha road.
With the Duolingo app, you can learn elementary Spanish phrases and sentences. The teaching is done in easy-to-understand English in short thematic lessons, and you learn simple phrases and basic grammar. As you complete the various tasks, you earn bonus points that you can use to buy additional tasks in the bonus shop.
Duolingo is structured in a playful, game-like way and is therefore also suitable for school-age children. You can also set up a club so that Spanish lessons can be a shared family activity on your trip.
Send a personalised postcard
Why buy standard postcards of the Alhambra or La Sagrada Familia and look for a post box when you can make your own and send it on your phone? On the Postcard, you can upload photos from your photo album, Facebook and Instagram, then edit the size, format and frame. Then you choose the font and colour, enter a greeting, write the recipient’s name and address, pay with your credit card and the postcard arrives in the recipient’s mailbox a few days later.
It costs DKK 19 to send a postcard in A5 format and DKK 29 in A4. You can choose up to five recipients per postcard. If you send many postcards, you can get a discount.
Take a tour of Spanish museum apps
More and more Spanish museums – both large and small – are creating apps with information about the museum, the works and special exhibitions, and some also offer guided tours. Search the App Store or Google Play for the museums you’re interested in. Some are free and others cost money. Also note that some apps are only available in Spanish.
Among Madrid’s museums, Museo Lázaro Galdiano offers a really good app with guided tours in English with and without subtitles. As well as a guide, the Prado Museum also has an app about its 14 main works and Photo Prado, where you can make postcards with photos of works from the museum. The Thyssen-Bornemisza app has eight guided tours. However, some of the information is only available in Spanish.
For example, download the app the night before a museum visit so you can absorb the information in advance. They’re also great to have after you’ve been to a museum, so you can revisit the works and talk about them if you’re travelling together.
Get up close to the works of art
On my trips to Spain, I spend hours looking at art, and I love Google’s Arts & Culture app. It’s great to be able to sit in a café or hotel after a museum visit and get closer to a work of art than any museum allows their visitors. I can, for example, choose a section of El Greco’s “Plan of Toledo” and study the neat brushstrokes that have shaped Toledo’s buildings and El Greco’s use of colour combinations in the work.
A search on Spain returns over 14000 images, including works by major Spanish artists such as. Velásquez, Picasso, Miró, Dalí and Goya. You can select one work or all works by an artist, view them in chronological order and see how the artist’s style has evolved over time. The app also gives you information about the artists, works and styles.
You can get under the skin of works from several Spanish museums with which Google collaborates. As well as searching for specific artists and museums, you can also search for themes such as historical events – for example, the Spanish Civil War – as well as specific art styles and materials.
Let go of calculus
If, like me, you are not a math whiz, you may be familiar with the following situation. You’re in a Spanish shop and have collected a pile of goods, and now you’re struggling to convert the total price from euros to Danish kroner. With XE Currency, you always have a reliable exchange rate converter at hand, so you don’t have to do the math. The app can also be used when you are offline. Just remember to open it every few days when you have access to WiFi, so you have an up-to-date course.
Read articles and watch videos on the go
Pocket is a great companion on the plane, bus or train journey, and when you’re lazing in a sun lounger on the beach. The app lets you save articles and videos to read when you’re offline. I find a lot of inspiration for my travels online, so I often have lots of articles and blog posts bookmarked on my computer that I want to read while travelling. I save them and read them on Pocket when I’m on a plane, in a café or at the hotel.
Organise your trip
In TripIt, you can upload all your travel documents, from flight tickets and hotel reservations to admission tickets, restaurant reservations, car rentals and train tickets, and have them all in one place.
If you register your email address, your travel documents are sent directly to TripIt, which records which airport you’re landing at, where you’re staying and what you’re visiting, and then generates an itinerary for you.
If you’re travelling together, you can share the itinerary on TripIt.
If you buy the Pro version, you can also get notifications about flight delays, seats on the flight and register award points.
The app is also great if you’re a business traveller, because you can also collect all your receipts in it.