What NOT to do in Spain

Visiting Spain is always amazing

There are countless examples of what you can do when you visit Spain. It’s a country rich in history, tourism hot spots, wonderful nightlife, and scenery that you can’t replicate anywhere else in the world.

But what about all those unknown things that you SHOULDN’T do when on holiday. We want to enlighten you about some of the social “faux pas” that you need to avoid the next time you visit. By all means, visit the wonders of Spain, rent a private villa, live like a local, and cast your cares away while you holiday here.

But here are the top things you need to avoid when you holiday in Spain.

Eating a Big Dinner

Paella for lunch, not dinner

You may be used to having your biggest meal of the day at dinner time. You might plan on having large paellas or expansive tapas when you eat out at night. But think again. For Spaniards, the biggest meal is lunch. Plan accordingly, and get your Spanish food fix at lunchtimes. There’s a reason that having a siesta is such a huge part of the culture. After such a large meal, you need a rest during the heat of the day to let it settle down.

Don’t expect to be able to order big meals at dinner time. Most restaurants won’t even have that on the menu, and it can be embarrassing to order a large paella and be told that you can’t have it.

Stereotyping the Culture

One country. Many cultures

Spain isn’t all about flamenco and bullfighting. It has a rich history and has many cultures for you to experience and explore. Each region, from the Costa Blanca to the islands of Menorca and Majorca, to the big cities of Barcelona and Madrid have their unique takes and traditions. Learn to adapt to each part of the country you visit. If you loved the food in one area, it might leave you red-faced if you ask for it in another province only to be met with strange looks.

Each culture is unique and fiercely proud of their traditions. Respect that by enjoying what’s on offer in terms of festivals, food, and experiences.

Being In A Rush

If there’s one thing that will instantly set you out as a tourist, it’s your pace. The people here move slower. They like to spend hours at meals. They like to take time to spend with their friends and family. And if you come across as hurried, rushed, or impatient, it will instantly mark you as an outsider.

Learn to linger. Sit and wait. Let yourself relax and experience the change of pace without the rush and stress that you normally. You might actually come to enjoy the newer, relaxed atmosphere that Spain is known for.

Dress Inappropriately

In Australia, it’s common to not wear shoes in public places when you live near the beach. In Brazil, it’s common to wear skimpier clothing in public. Spain has different clothing expectations. Wearing beach gear, such as flip-flops or bikini tops is considered quite rude outside of the beach. Dress in appropriate clothing to avoid the cultural embarrassment of being asked to cover up.

Spain’s culture is still very traditional and religious, a by-product of hundreds of years of deep history. Respect that by dressing in clothing that is modest and appropriate to wear.

Not Learning The Lingo

Learning the language is the best way to make a good impression

If you speak Spanish, that will go a long way no matter where you are. But did you know that Spain has 5 languages? And that’s just the official languages. You’ll come across Basque, Catalan, Occitan and Galician-Portuguese. If you travel somewhere that Spanish isn’t the common language, do yourself a favour by learning some of the common phrases. It will help you with the simple tasks, and it will endear you to the locals. They love a tourist that actually puts effort into communicating with them.  And you’ll be treated better if you can ask for wine or the toilet in their mothertongue.

The same goes for expecting everyone to speak English. Speaking slower and louder will NOT help them understand you, so do yourself a favour and learn a couple of sentences before you go.

Not Keeping Cash

Cash is still king in many places in Spain

In the informal marketplace across Spain, credit cards are worthless. Oh sure, in the big cities, you’ll find many restaurants accept cards, but good luck with the little jambon stall down the street. Keep cash with you to cover all the little expenses that your card can’t cover.

It’s considered rude not to have cash with you if you’re travelling in markets and getting around on public transport. Taxis, buses, and many other forms of transportation expect cash for payment, so don’t leave them exasperated with your attempt to pull out your Visa.

Expect Early Opening

If you find yourself getting frustrated with the late hours, it’s most likely because you expect things to run on your schedule. The Spanish like to open their stores later than other European countries. If you want breakfast at 8 AM, it might be easier to get something to cook in your private villa because many places won’t open until 10.

The same goes for dinners. If you plan on eating at 6 PM, it will be you and a whole bunch of other tourists. Restaurants tend to open around 8 PM at the earliest, so plan to eat your dinners at 8:30-9PM for a chance to eat like the Spaniards. It will be full of culture and atmosphere, so you’ll enjoy it more than the earlier dinners that you’re used to.


Your Spanish experience will be so much greater if you take the time to avoid some of the embarrassments that tourists fall into. Avoid the trap of expecting what you’re used to at home so that you can fully enjoy your experience without feeling like you’re the outsider.