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Spanish Customs: The Dos and Don'ts

November 24, 2020
by CEA CAPA Content Creator

The Spanish culture is rich and vibrant, yet very traditional. There are certain unwritten rules that are important for travelers to understand -- if you don’t want to be “that American.” By the end of this post, you will know five dos and don’ts while spending time in the beautiful España. Let’s get started…

Do: Wear socks inside your house!!!

I know, I know -- this sounds like a strange piece of advice, especially if it is warm outside. However, I will never forget the look on my host mom’s face when I walked into the kitchen for lunch without socks on during my first day in Spain. It’s customary to wear socks, house shoes, or slippers while inside someone’s home. So, please, don’t forget to pack LOTS of socks or slippers!

Don’t: Expect to grab a quick cup of coffee

In the United States, it’s customary to order your favorite Starbucks drink off an app and then get on with your day. In Spain, if you want a coffee, you’re going to have to plan your time accordingly! It’s customary to enjoy that warm cup of café con leche while talking with a friend, reading a good book, or just enjoying the beautiful scenery for at least one hour. So, relax and enjoy!

Do: Embrace the slow-paced lifestyle

If you are visiting or staying the South of Spain, be sure to keep this “do” in mind. Unlike the American way of rushing to work, fast-paced walking, or asking for the check as soon as you’ve scarfed your food down at a restaurant, in Spain it is customary to enjoy life in the moment. So, my advice is to walk slowly, take that picture you don’t think you have time to take, and remain tranquilo while going about your day.


Don’t: Expect the waiter/waitress to check up on you

In the States, waiters/ waitresses usually check up on your table frequently because they are working for that tip! In Spain, the wage of the waiter/waitress is not based off of a tip, so don’t expect them to be attentive to you. You’ll have to wave them down or somehow get their attention to order, if you need something, or to pay la cuenta.

Do: Give dos besos while greeting someone

Like in the United States, when you greet someone, you either give that person a hug or shake their hand depending on your relationship. However, in Spain, dos besos (or “two kisses”) are customary. Spaniards will kiss both cheeks while greeting someone they know -- so don’t be taken off guard!

Abby Vogel is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Seville, Spain, during the Spring 2020 semester. She is currently a student at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

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