When traveling to Spain in April, bring a coat, snickers and umbrella. It was raining for several days in Barcelona, one day in Granada, and literally pouring for a day I was in Leon. It was rather cool, temperatures were in mid-60’s, but it was windy because of the mountains.
In Spain taxis can be an inexpensive way of getting around especially if you are traveling as a group of three or more. They charge you for the mileage and the fee for getting your luggage in and out. In Seville, a taxi ride from the airport to our hotel (Hotel Alfonso XIII) cost us 26 euros, and 8 euros to the train station Santa Justa from the hotel, from Santiago de Compostela bus station to cathedral it was cheaper than a bus – just 3 euros, 14 euros from city center to the airport in Granada, and 5-6 euros from the hotel (Hilton Barcelona) to the train station Sants in Barcelona, 20-38 euros (you will pay 38 euros in rush hour and 20 euros at night) in Madrid from airport Barajas to the hotel (Westin Palace). The Westin Palace hotel was offering pre-reserved taxi to the airport for 41 euros.
Madrid has metro network that is inexpensive and can bring you from one end of the city to the other for 50 cents. City center is much smaller than it looks on the map and you can easily walk from one place to the other. A walk from the Atocha station to the Palacio Real will take about 20 minutes and on the way you will see half of the places you wanted to visit.
If you are planning on traveling from Madrid into the country, I recommend renting a car, it will save you a lot of time. Car rental in Spain is easy to do through Avis and National both of which have more competitive rates than others and multiple locations throughout the country. Make your reservations on the internet to get better rates. Bring with you an international driver’s permit to avoid problems. Also if you get into an accident if you have an international driver’s permit, they won’t have to take your passport. The signs are international, and directions on the roads are easy to follow. Instead of north or south, the signs say "Madrid", "Cordoba", "A Coruna" and you know if you are going in the right direction. You do need some basic knowledge of Spanish, since even though Michelin Motoring Atlas is very good, it doesn’t give you maps of smaller cities and towns. Before I went I have been studying Spanish for three months using audiotapes that I got from the local library and it turned out to be enough to get by. Sometimes when we were asking for directions, people would tell us to follow their car and get us to the road we were looking for.
In Madrid our concierge gave us an "El Corte Ingles" map of the city which is great because it has pictures of sight seeing places in the city and it proved to be extremely helpful. El Corte Ingles is a network of stores in Spain and Portugal that are open from 10am to 10pm daily (closed Sunday) and besides clothes, perfumes and electronics have a large supermarket in the basement. To check locations in each city go to www.elcorteingles.es.
There are some places where you can get drinking water from a fountain just like in Italy, but make sure that it is drinking water. It should say "aqua potable". If it says "aqua no potable", don’t drink from that fountain.