Spain is a country with a colorful and vibrant culture. Home to iconic architecture, stunning beaches, delicious food, and traditions that date back many years, it’s an ideal place for any foreigner to visit. But before you arrive, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re well-versed in Spanish etiquette.

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The Spaniards are known for being proud people. From their dress sense to their food, their standards tend to be high, so this is definitely not the country where you want to make a faux pas!

Keep reading to find out what 10 etiquette tips you should know before going to Spain.

10 Try To Learn A Little Spanish

It’s true that in some parts of Spain, English is widely spoken. In the touristy areas, you can get away without knowing any Spanish. But no matter where you are in the country, the locals will respect you more if you make an effort to speak the local language.

While Spanish will come in handy in many parts of the country, it’s not the only principal language. Fodors explains that you will come across Catalan, Euskera, and Gallego throughout the country, as well as regional dialects. You don’t have to be fluent in any of these languages—just knowing a few basic words is a polite courtesy.

9 Avoid Criticism And Insensitive Comments

The Spanish people are known for being very proud. The image of the patriotic and feisty bullfighter may be a stereotype, but Spaniards usually are quite proud. Because of this, you probably won’t be able to get away with making a joke out of their country or culture. It’s also a good idea not to criticize them in any way.

There are some topics that you should avoid bringing up in Spain for this reason, according to Cultural Atlas. These include the Catholic church and Catalan independence.

8 You Can Be Late For Some Things But Not For Others

Every culture has a different attitude toward being late. While in the United States it’s considered extremely rude to arrive anywhere too late, in Mexico it’s basically expected. But in Spain, the lines are a little more blurred. It’s okay to be late for some things but not for others.

According to eDiplomat, being late by half an hour is common in the south of the country. In the north, you should only be late by 15 minutes. This is where social meetings are concerned. There are some things you should not be late for, such as a bullfight.

7 Always Dress To Impress

Generally speaking, the Spanish have higher dress standards than many other countries. Appearance and how they are perceived tends to be quite important to them, so you’ll never catch them looking scruffy. As a rule of thumb, always aim to dress elegantly in Spain, even if you’re going somewhere casual.

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In Spain, dressing elegantly means dressing conservatively and modestly. It’s important to be able to put a nice outfit together without relying on flashy elements to draw attention to yourself. Of course, this is only if you want to fit in with the locals.

6 It’s Better To Avoid Physical Contact

Spanish people are friendly, but they like to maintain their own physical space. This means that if you don’t know someone well, it’s better to avoid physical contact. This can make them feel uncomfortable and they might not know how to react.

Play it safe and keep greetings to a simple handshake until you know someone better. When women know each other, they tend to embrace and kiss each other on the cheek. The only time it’s okay to touch a stranger in conversation is if they touch you first.

5 Men Are Expected To Pick Up The Bill

This might be bad news for men who were hoping to go on a few dates in Spain! You’ll mostly find that men are expected to pick up the bill in straight relationships. This is regardless of how much the bill is, how much each person had, and who invited whom out.

As far as dining goes, eating dinner in a restaurant or bar alone is not really done. While you can get away with eating by yourself for lunch, you might get a few funny looks if you’re dining in a restaurant alone at dinner time.

4 Dinner Is Eaten Later

Speaking of dinner, you might have to spend some time getting used to the standard meal times in Spain. Typically, meals are served later than they’d be in places like the United States or the United Kingdom. For example, dinner is usually eaten between 9 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Lunch is normally between 2 and 4 p.m.

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While some restaurants in really touristy areas may be open from 6 p.m. for dinner, you won’t find locals eating at that time. Instead, anybody eating dinner at 6 p.m. is almost guaranteed to be a foreigner.

3 Try Not To Waste Food

When you are dining with locals, it can be really rude to waste food by leaving it on your plate. If you feel full, it’s better to refuse the serving altogether than to accept it and then leave it. If you’re still hungry but not enough for another serving, remember that bread is often eaten as a side in Spain in order to mop up the remnants of the plate.

This is different from some Asian cultures where it’s actually polite to leave food on your plate. In Spain, leaving food doesn’t imply that the host has fed you enough. It’s just a waste.

2 Don’t Be Alarmed If Someone Interrupts You

Spanish people are stereotypically portrayed as being quite passionate. While this isn’t true of every Spaniard, we can certainly see where the cliché comes from! Like the Italians, the Spanish are known for being passionate and sometimes get carried away during the conversation. Don’t be surprised if someone interrupts you while you’re talking.

This can be extremely rude in countries like the United States. But in countries like Spain typically, people will tend to interject and it’s mostly acceptable. The best thing to do is speak up when you want to get your point across.

1 Things May Close Down During The Day—Don’t Be Annoyed

The last etiquette tip to remember before going to Spain is that shops and restaurants may close down in the middle of the day, only to reopen later in the afternoon. This timetable can seem odd to foreigners, but that’s just how it’s done in Western Europe.

The major cities throughout the country tend to cater to the tourists, but if you’re anywhere a little more regional, expect everything to be closed between 2 and 5 p.m. It’s pretty easy to adapt, though! Return to your room for a nap in the afternoon before heading out for dinner later.

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