For retirees dreaming of exploring Spain, the country offers an opportunity as inviting as its sunny coastlines. Spain is the first country in the European Union to offer retirees and certain senior citizens access to subsidized vacations. The offer covers basic travel costs, including transportation, meals, and accommodations. This initiative is part of Spain’s Institute for Seniors and Social Services (IMSERSO) tourism program, which promotes “social tourism.” The program aims to improve the health of seniors, keep them active and engaged, and foster intergenerational solidarity. 

The IMSERSO Tourism Program

The IMSERSO tourism program is designed to make travel accessible and affordable for seniors. This means giving discounted trips during the “shoulder season” from October through June. For the 2023-2024 season, the Spanish government made 886,269 places available, a vast increase over the previous year. This increase highlights the program’s popularity and success.

Eligibility includes being a legal resident of Spain. There are also various ways for expat retirees to gain residency, such as applying for a non-working residence visa or making a significant real estate investment. Participants in the program must meet one of several criteria. These include being a retiree receiving a pension from the Spanish Social Security system or being of a certain age and receiving benefits from the same system.

Applying for the Program

First-time applicants or new retirees can easily apply for the program through IMSERSO’s website or by mailing their application to the specified address in Madrid. The application window for each travel season typically opens in June, and those accepted into the program receive detailed information on how to request their ideal discounted trips. Once the booking window opens in October, the official program travel site,, becomes the gateway to fascinating vacation choices.

Exploring Spain

The program’s itineraries cover some of Spain’s most beloved regions, such as Valencia, Catalonia, and Andalusia. Travelers get to enjoy the flamenco rhythms of Granada, the beaches of Castellón, and the districts of Barcelona. Nature lovers can venture through Asturias and the Pyrenees mountains in Aragon. Longer trips can take retirees to the sunny shores of the Canary and Balearic Islands.

Aside from the IMSERSO program, Spain’s appreciation for its senior residents extends to various aspects of daily life. Seniors enjoy discounts at museums, tourist sites, and public transit, with the age for these benefits generally set at 65, although it can vary by institution. This inclusivity further enhances the experience for retirees exploring Spain.