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ySpanish Culture

While in Spain, be prepared for late lunches and dinners and late evenings out on the town. We've found that taking a siesta in the afternoons helps in getting adjusted to the Spanish schedule.

Do's and Don'ts

Don't be surprised at how rapidly people speak. We found our Spanish skills are severely tested on many occasions. And don't forget to lisp your z's and internal c's. (For example, Ibiza is pronounced Ee-BEETH-a).

Don't complain about cigarette smoke in bars—be aware you'll either be laughed at or shown the door. And don't expect to find "No Smoking" sections in restaurants, either. There is no such thing in Spain. Spaniards often tell us that people who complain about such things are "afraid of life".

Do carry some small change—you'll need it to use the public bathrooms.

Don't wear shorts in churches; wear them only on beaches and at beach resorts.

Women may be the object of unwanted attention more than in Northern Europe, particularly if they're traveling alone or visiting Andalusia or the southern Mediterranean coast. The Best response is no response at all—any attention given is likely to be misinterpreted.

Do try to see the fastest ball game in the world, pelota (jai alai), played mainly in Bilbao and Guernica.

Do be aware that the penalties for drug possession are severe, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences.


Tipping is a great tradition in Spain. While practically all establishments currently include a surcharge for service it is still common to leave something of a tip. This custom, common in bars and restaurants, has extended to hotel porters, theatre ushers and taxi drivers, though in none of these cases is it obligatory nor will anyone recriminate a client for not tipping.


Smoking is commonplace amongst men and women in Spain, and do not expect to find many non-smoking areas designated in bars and restaurants. Smoking is also common in fast food restaurants, shops and malls.

You probably won't get a polite answer if you ask someone to stop smoking a cigarette for whatever reason.

For smokers, this will not be a problem, but non-smokers may find this uncomfortable. Cigarettes and cigars are reasonably cheap, and at the moment average about 2€ per packet.

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