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Guide to Medical Tourism in Spain – Facts, Trends, News, Services, Research, Business and Updates by Dr Prem

Guide to Medical Tourism in Spain

Spain sees a rush of thousands of medical tourists every year, going in for Spanish healthcare centers, spas and hospitals. Every year, this number multiplies and soon it is expected to hit an astounding figure of somewhere around 200000 annual medical tourists in the country, which is why we have mentioned Spain in our medical tourism book.

This medical tourism guide will educate you about the following:

Guide to Medical Tourism in Spain – Facts, Trends, News, Services, Research, Business and Updates by Dr Prem


Language Spanish
Time Zone CET(UTC+4) summer CEST(UTC+2)
Dialing Code +34
Electricity 220V-50Hz
Major Cities Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla
Currency Euro
Clothing Light-to medium weights and rainwear, according to the


Health Related

Mortality Rate 8.72 deaths/ 1,000 population
Life Expectancy 79.0M /85.2F
Patient: Physician Ratio 300:1
Hospitals JCI accredited 18
Recommended    Vaccinations Influenza, Measles
Other Infections Trichinellosis, Anthrax, Q fever, Mediterranean spotted

fever, Tick-borne relapsing fever, Rabies, Scorpion stings,

Black widow spider bites


Tourism Related

Population 46,704,314 Reliability of Police Services 26/140
Global Competitiveness 4.60/7 Physician Density 8/140
Tourism Competitiveness 5.3/7 Hospital Beds 58/140
GDP/Capita $30,557 Quality of Air Transport Infrastructure 17/140
Safety and Security 5.7/7 International  Air  Transport  Network 28/140
Health and Hygiene 6.1/7 Quality of Roads 13/140
Air Transport Infrastructure 5.3/7 Hotel Rooms 10/140
Tourism Infrastructure 5.9/7 Tourism Openness 59/140
Cultural Infrastructure 6.6/7 Attitude  of  Population  Towards Foreign Visitors 57/140
Visa Requirements 40/140

Spain, officially the ‘Kingdom of Spain’ and a member of European Union, is a wonderful European destination that offers a lot more than bull fighting and Sangria. One of the unique features of Spain is the number of kingdoms present together to make up a complete nation. Along with the differences in region, there is diversity in culture and art that make it a favored destination of many tourists from all over the world.


aerial view with Puerto de la Cruz, in background Teide volcano, Tenerife island, Spain

Located on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain is the largest among the three sovereign nations present. The total area of land area covered under Spain is 505,992 square kilometer. Officially known as the Kingdom of Spain, it touches Portugal, Morocco, France, Andorra, and Gibraltar from their borders. There are five mountain ranges in all that cross the country and two islands present are, Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea and Canary Islands lying in the Atlantic Ocean.


Spain became the global empire in the early modern period and one of the first countries to colonize the new world. It left a wonderful legacy of 500 million people who have Spanish as a first language making it the second most spoken language in the world. Spanish is the official language, recognized in the constitution as Castilian, of Spain. Not only is Spanish but the country recognizes Basque, Catalan, Galician and Occitan as regional languages.


Young women dance flamenco on Plaza de Espana during famous Feria festival

The total population of Spain, as per 2013 estimates, is 46,704,314 and the people are quite fun loving by nature, with a laid-back kind of attitude. Apparently, they seem to be serious in nature, but after conversing for a while, they appear to be very friendly and helpful.


Spain celebrates a variety of different events symbolizing their diverse culture. Bull fighting is the most popular event held in Madrid in May and hundreds of thousands of visitors from Spain and all over the world throng to watch it. One can find multiple influences of Iberian, Latin, Roman Catholicism and Moorish Islam present in their culture.

People are also excessively in love with music and dance. Spain is famous world over for summer music festival named Sonar and Benicàssim. Sonar is a three-day electronic and advanced music festival that features the top up and coming pop and techno acts, whereas the latter one features alternative rock and dance acts.


Calo des Moro, Mallorca. Spain. One of the most beautiful beaches in Mallorca.

Spain is blessed with generous amount of sunshine and has very diverse climates depending on different locations within the country. With the variation in latitudes, the climate changes from north to the south, while the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean influence the east and west regions. The weather condition in Spain is very different from the rest of the Europe and this is due to its position and natural land mass.

Healthcare System

Spain was ranked seventh on the World Health Organization’s international comparative list of the world’s best health systems. The report also claimed that the Spanish people ranked second in Europe for the quality of healthcare they receive.

The Spanish healthcare system is a combination of both public and private involvement. The public sector provides free or cost effective healthcare to those who contribute to the Spanish social security. Spain has more than 750 hospitals served by 450,000 doctors and nurses. Spanish Ministry of Health recognizes and supervises all of the hospitals in currently functioning in Spain.

Spain’s resilient economy has also helped to boost their healthcare system by creating leading medical facilities with qualified physicians providing healthcare to their citizens and foreign patients.

Quality of Healthcare

Smiling female doctor or nurse comforting an elderly woman patient in a bed reaching out to hold her hand during ward rounds at a hospital

There are varieties of healthcare organizations in Spain, both private and government owned that have specialized departments catering exclusively for medical tourists. International patients can avail the services of English speaking doctors and medical staff that have to meet stringent requirements and undergo various tough procedures to practice medicine in Spain.

To ensure patients and medical tourists to get the high quality healthcare in the country, Spain boasts 24 medical facilities accredited by the JCI and Fundacion Avedis Donabedian (FAD), an accreditation partner of JCI. Due to the high standard of hospitals, the country is included in our medical tourism book.

Medical tourism growth in Spain

The growth of health tourism in Spain has been at 20% both in patient volume and revenue. The sector contributed 500 million euros to the Spanish economy in the year 2015.

Health tourists from European countries make up the largest group of health visitors to Spain. 63% are from Germany, 19% from France, 5% from UK, 5% from Italy, 4% from Austria, 3% from Sweden and 1% from other countries. Tourists who spent the most amount of money on spa trips belonged to South America and Nordic countries who spent 2,281 euros and 1,367 euros with average stays of 11 days and 12 days respectively.

Even though the Spanish government has not yet actively marketed medical tourism in Spain, yet it has the potential to attract medical travelers from across the world. With the high quality of Spanish healthcare system, cutting-edge equipment and medical facilities that offer cost effective services, there is a gradually increase in number of medical travelers mainly from Europe, Middle East and North Africa who are discovering the benefits seeking healthcare in this popular European country.

Spain offers varied treatments to visiting foreign patients. However, popular medical treatments sought in Spain include cosmetic surgery, dentistry, eye surgery, obesity surgery and orthopedic surgery to name a few. The Spanish medical tourism sector contributes about 500 million Euros annually to the state exchequer.

Government backed medical tourism – Spaincares


The sector is in its nascent stage of development, and there is a long way to go. The path to the future seems enormously promising, judged by the heavy medical tourist response at the Spanish visa offices.The fact that Spain has already established itself as a very popular holiday destination has helped its medical tourism domain to strengthen its ground and emerge as a leading global medical tourism destination as well. With better medical tourism marketing, the country can reach out to source markets other than Europe.

In 2014, together with other interested proponents, the Spanish Government signed a collaboration agreement to make the country one of the prime global leaders offering top quality medical facilities and treatments. It stands under the brand name of Spaincares, which is a strategic consortium of the leading Spanish tourism companies and healthcare providers.

Top healthcare facilities in Spain

The Quironsalud Spanish Medical Care is the leading group of hospitals in Spain and has accreditations of OHSAS 18001, ISO 50001, ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and JCI. The Quironsalud Proton Therapy Center was launched in 2019. The Quironsalud Madrid University Hospital is JCI accredited and conducts almost 300,000 OPDs and surgeries every year.

The Hospital Universitari Sagrat Cor is equipped with advanced technology and attends to the requirement of 400,000 patients every year.

Why Spain? (Medical programs and specialties)

Lifeless model heart massage, medical students

Spain has been the choice for international medical tourists for being a leading medical tourism destination. The basic factors backing up its popularity are:

  • The sunny climate and its Mediterranean beauty coupled with scenic landscapes, museums and art galleries and its growing medical infrastructure of top quality.
  • The Spanish healthcare system is highly advanced and at the same time way cheaper when compared to other health care clinics in the US and other advanced countries.
  • Short time queuing has also been a deciding factor in making Spain a favorite choice. Unlike many other countries, here you don’t waste much of your time in making appointments. Business and meaningful service rule over formal bureaucracy.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO) ranking, Spain enjoys the distinguished status of having the 7th best health care system in the world.
  • Spanish doctors receive a rigorous training for at least 7 years before they receive their degree. Specializations like that needed to be an efficient surgeon would require further studies and training before they are certified as licensed.
  • Supporting nurses and staff have the requisite training and sufficient experience to attend and successfully treat the patients. They are adequately qualified to discharge their professional duties.
  • There is an abundance of quality health care clinics in Spain – both private and state owned. They have specialized departments dedicated exclusively to the requirements of medical tourists.

The popularity (Costs, travels and recuperation)

Spanish clinics have a valid reason to be popular among the global medical tourists. Let us explore the advantages of taking a medical trip to Spain.

  • The country is easily accessible and a number of inexpensive Airlines operate their flights to different Spanish cities.
  • Affordable medical treatment in Spain has furthered its popularity. When compared to other countries in Europe and the US, the cost savings range from 30 % – 70 % in this country.
  • Excellent climate, a healthy ambience and dietary conditions help in quick recovery of the patients.
  • The cost of living is quite low while paradoxically the standard of living and the quality of health are quite high.
  • Scope for a wide range of medical treatments.
  • Professionals communicate in fluent English and there are efficient interpretation services available.

There is no need to have a special medical visa. Medical tourists can have a tourist visa alone to meet their health care objectives in Spain. However, they need to have a valid passport and a bonafide visa. Tourists from Iceland, Norway and Switzerland do not need a visa to enter Spain.Tourists from the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore,Albania, Mexico and Venezuela also do not require a visa if their stay is within 90 days’ limit. It is however always advisable to contact the Spanish embassy or consulate to get an update about visa formalities.

Post-procedure care and rejuvenation

Two Women at Mud Spa in spain

Healing is beyond medical treatments. Spain caters to health and wellness tourism providing holistic recuperation via wellness and spa treatments. Such as beer spas, thermal springs, mud baths, meditation retreats, silent hikes, and wellness programs involving animals.

Clinics and hospitals in Spain are located in exotic locations, away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. The serene atmosphere of these wellness centers/hospitals/clinics offer patients the ambiance for recovering in body, mind and soul. Medical tourists can enjoy the nutritious Spanish Mediterranean diet and cuisine. Medical tourism marketing can focus on these aspects to attract holistic wellness seekers.

Post-covid medical tourism business in Spain

Covid-19 has affected businesses all over the world, including the medical tourism business. Spain was hard hit by the pandemic, but now is gradually opening up. The country will allow all travelers to visit, including patients. People from 10 non-EU countries – Australia, Israel, China, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the UK.

All patients and travelers must show digital proof of their vaccination, negative Covid-19 test or any proof recovery from the virus. Vaccines that are acceptable are those approved by the European Medicines Agency namely Pfizer, Astrazeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Visitors from Britain number the highest in Spain and Brits can visit without proof of vaccination or negative Covid-19 test. They have to check the rules about quarantine etc for return to Britain.

Spain’s tourism fair FITUR 2021 in the month of May included FITUR Health which would promote the growing health and medical tourism sector. Spain has ramped up its wellness tourism business by promoting activities such as aromatherapy, yoga, meditation as well as open-air activities. Tenerife was focused on as an upcoming health destination along with Valencia profiling its water therapy.

Health Tourism in Canary Islands

Young female therapist smiling at her patient during the hydrotherapy procedure in a spa salon

Spain is famous for its aesthetic, preventive and relaxation treatments and Canary Islands is Europe’s number 2 destination for wellness treatments and 5th in the world, according to Global Wellness Tourism Economy report. The same report placed the Spanish cities Barcelona in 3rd and Madrid in the 5th for wellness experiences. According to Bloomberg, Spain has a great capacity to develop in the wellness tourism sector, as it is the healthiest country globally having the highest rate of life expectancy.

15,000 million euros was the profit which was generated by thalassotherapy centers and spas in Spain between the period 2010 to 2015. During this time, there were approx 150 million stays overnight by foreign tourists with average stays of 11.6 days and 1,155 euros.

Spain can easily become the number one health and medical tourism destinations if there is sustained effort by the government and private sector.

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