What is considered rude in Spain
Written by Nadia
Spain is an awesome country, but like every other country, a few things are considered rude, and you want to avoid them when you travel there.
There are many unwritten social rules that I have learned the hard way, so you do not need to.
What are do’s and don’ts in Spain? Follow this guide and you will certainly have a better experience traveling around this beautiful country.
What is rude for Spanish people?
Tipping with US dollar
It is very insulting, and no one will appreciate your tip. Learn more about tipping etiquette in Spain.
Being too loud in public places
If you see a place where people tend to be quiet, do the same. Although there are many cafes and restaurants here and there in Spain where people are enormously loud, it is not always a good idea to be noisy at dining, especially on working days. Watch the restaurant’s atmosphere — if it is quiet, then you should be quiet also.
Sending food back in the restaurant
The rule of “customer is always right” is not working in Europe the way you might expect, and if you really want to, you may say, “Hi, the food is delicious, but do you think you could put it under the grill for another 10 minutes?”
Being fussy about punctuality
In Spain, it is considered rude to arrive on time. If it is your friend’s party, that will be probable okay. If not, you should always arrive half an hour later than you have been told. It is accepted as the social norm. If you turn up on time for a dinner party at someone’s house, it will be seen as you being rather pushy.
Helpful tip That does not apply to any formal appointment in Spain.
Being serious about “tomorrow” word
In Spain, there is that epic tradition of telling tomorrow (“mañana”), a polite form of saying goodbye or something vague about plans, without any certain responsibility.
What do Spaniards mean by saying “Let’s meet tomorrow” or “Let’s do it tomorrow” or whatever they say about tomorrow? It’s just a typical method of ending the conversation without any obligation. It can happen or not, and nobody will be offended. It is not rude to say “tomorrow” without doing what you promised, and it’s rude to expect the other.
Asking about someone’s work and salary straight away
It’s not appropriate to begin the conversation with questions about work and money here in Spain. Just follow the relaxed and natural flow of dialogue and be cool.
Rude gestures in Spain
All the rude gestures you use in your country are usually just as hostile in Spain. However, there is one more gesture that has a negative side.
You might have used the Rock & roll gesture at rock concerts, extending your index finger and pinkie while the other fingers are curled up.
In Spain, it means the sign of the horns (husband of a cheater), which is an insult.
Although it might be seen as appreciation in some Asian countries, it never does that in Spain. It’s just rude.
Generalizing on Spain
Don’t generalize about Spain because each region has its particularities, and it’s not traditional to dance flamenco or go to watch bullfights. Also, many Spanish are very sensitive about their regional customs and languages (there are other spoken languages in Spain, e.g., Catalan, Valencian, Basque, etc.)
What are do’s and don’ts in Spain?
These are odd and sometimes rude things that can avoid doing in Spain. Let’s begin with the food and dining etiquette because a lot of life in Spain revolves around it.
Do not eat early
Don’t go for lunch before 1 p.m. and for dinner before 8 p.m. Even if you arrive at the restaurant at 8 p.m., it could be a bit early. The Spanish eat late, so be aware of that when planning your meals in Spain.
Do not eat a light lunch
When you’re going to lunch — eat up! As I mentioned before, the Spanish eat late, and they don’t want to go to bed with a full stomach. They usually have lighter food for dinner, like tapas, salads, and seafood dishes. Consequently, lunch is going to be the heaviest meal of the day in Spain, and that’s where you’re going to find things like paella, pasta, and other heavier foods that we normally associate with dinner.
Do not eat paella for dinner
Spanish people eat dinner pretty late, usually at 8:30 p.m., and paella is considered too heavy to eat that before the night. If you find a place that serves paella for dinner, it’s probably geared towards tourists, and it’s not going to be a good paella.
Do not eat paella with the fork
You should always eat paella with a spoon, but it is okay if you’re using a fork. It will never be rude to the Spanish, and most of them just don’t care much about travelers not knowing the traditions.
Do not expect an American-style breakfast
Spanish people do not eat what many of us consider breakfast food, and it will be a toast with olive oil and crushed tomatoes or a toast with butter and marmalade in the morning. And some coffee. So don’t expect to find a breakfast spot where you can eat up with bacon and eggs, pancakes, etc. If you do find it, you’re lucky then.
Do not expect fast service in Spanish restaurants
Eating in Spain is an event. First, you have a drink. Then you have some bread, olives, and jamón (the Spanish ham). Then you have some wine. Then you have your main course. Then you have some coffee, desserts, and you continue to chat, etc.
Do not think you have to tip in Spain
The most popular traveler’s question—is it rude not to tip in Spain? No, it’s not rude.
Tipping is not expected in Spain. Did you like your meal at the restaurant? Now you can leave some extra to show how much you appreciated the service. Or you may not. Not a big deal, absolutely!
Do ask for a check in the restaurant
Nobody is going to bring you a check in a Spanish restaurant unless you ask for it. You can sit around for many hours, and you’re still not going to receive the check. So, ask for it, and that is absolutely normal here.
What should I avoid in Spain?
You should also avoid doing these things, but don’t follow these rules strictly and literally. Each person is a world unto themselves, and there are many exceptions to the rules.
- Avoid saying “thank you” and “please” constantly.
The tone of voice is essential in Spain. You may talk with a portion of respect, and that is how you show your gratitude to the people you’re talking to.
- Don’t go shopping, run any errands between 2 p.m and 5 p.m.
It will not work, you will find that everything is closed except for supermarkets.
- Don’t give two kisses, starting on the wrong side.
If you’re the person who gives two kisses, you need to start from the left side.
- Don’t ignore the meal times.
You can have dinner at 6 p.m., but if you want to make plans with local people or go to a restaurant, it will not work well.
- Don’t just eat and leave right away.
If you have time, the after-dinner conversation may last for many hours.
- Don’t take it seriously or take it to heart when they call you handsome or pretty in the shop (“guapo”/”guapa”). It’s very common in Spain when they say that.
- Don’t pronounce English words as they are really pronounced.
The Spanish always try to Spanishize everything. If you ask for a WiFi password in the cafe, they may not understand you because you have to say “wee-fee” instead of English or American pronunciation.
So now that you know a little bit about what is considered rude in Spain, what do you think? Were there any surprises for you? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’re traveling to Spain, keep this list of do’s and don’ts with you.
7 replies on “What is considered rude in Spain”
I am an older USA university professor who will be retiring in Valencia by August 2023, single, (well divorce) and I am looking for a house minimum 3 bedrooms 3 bathrooms in the outskirt of the city but with good Metro system (Cañada ?) or an apartment in the city with same type of accommodations. Either choices have to be full furniture. Beside English I also speak fluent Spanish, some German and Italian as well.
As a musician (voice) an apartment should have excellent sound proof in order to don’t disturb the neighbors; also the building most have elevators. If you have any suggestion, por favor de comunicarse conmigo atraves de email. Muchas gracias y esperanto noticias.
I’ve just semi retired to Andalusia.
I found my property in the Sierra Nevada national park through a local estate agent.
First find the exact area you’d like to live. Google it, watch videos on YouTube and read reviews.
Second google all the local estate agents. Visit their websites and write down an exact list of your must haves and would likes. Just go through everything within your price range and those that are about ten to twenty thousand above your top price. Reductions can be quite large if you haggle and start at a very low price.
My place ended up being reduced from £350,000 to £250,000. I snapped it up.
It’s got 13 acres, stables, orchards, allotment, large three bedroom villa and two two bedroom cottages as well as a ruin and a caravan. I’m going to run it as an Airbnb and spend the rest of my time baking and tending to the grounds and making jam, marmalade and other things.
Never arrive 30 minutes late. That advise is terrible. Being late is considered rude and slightly acceptable only among friends. You are expected to arrive in time and people won’t be bothered if you are 15 minutes late however punctuality is a must.
Heyy so I moved from Spain to England over a year ago after living in Catalunya for more than 10 years and I’ve always wondered what it is about Spanish people that makes their whole world so different from the British. This post really helped me see it more clearly.
Mira, ni llevo tanto tiempo aquí, pero ya me cuesta hablar directamente en Español o Català como solía hacer. Ya te digo yo que los Britnànicos imponen sus maneras de ser mucho más que los Españoles. Soys gente de mente más abierta y aceptáis la diversidad con más gusto, mientras que aquí todos son reservados, rígidos, se toman las cosas literalmente y esperan que actúes de cierto modo sin ser unos con la diversidad y las personalidades distintas. Hecho mucho de menos España y las costumbres de su gente, enserio.
Igualmente, ¡gracias por esta publicación! Ha sido agradable leerla :))
Hey, Mariam! Thanks, I am really glad it helped you!
¡Muchas gracias, felices fiestas!
Very nice post
Thank you, Woodward