Etiquette & Customs (in short)
The Spanish have a relaxed attitude to practices and attitudes.
Try to learn as much Spanish you can before you arrive or at least so many simple words you can, like “Hello”: Hola (OH-lah), “Thank you”: Gracias (GRAH-syahs) or “Goodbye”: Adiós (ah-DYOHS)
This shows, that you are willing to learn their language. You can learn more here.
- When introduced, expect to shake hands
- Once a relationship is established, men may embrace and pat each other on the shoulder
- Many men use a two-handed shake, where the left hand is placed on the right forearm of the other person
Gift Giving Etiquette:
- If invited to a Spaniard’s home, you can bring chocolates, pastries or cakes; wine, liqueur or brandy; or flowers to the hostess
- If you know your hosts have children, they may be included in the evening, so a small gift for them is always appreciated
- Remain standing until invited to sit down. You may be shown to a particular seat
- Always keep your hands visible during the dinner. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table
- Use utensils to eat most food. Even fruit is eaten with a knife and fork
- If you have not finished eating, cross your knife and fork on your plate with the fork over the knife
- Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel on your plate, tines facing up, with the handles facing to the right
- Do not get up until the guest of honour does
Should you leave a tip in restaurants or bars?
You can leave a tip, but you don’t have to.
As in many European countries, the bill includes a service charge. So make sure to check the bill itself; there is no need to leave any extra tip in addition to this amount. A service charge is not the same as a tip.
People sometimes give 5 or 10% of the bill as a tip or round up to an even number. It depends on how happy you were with the service.
Spain is a very peaceful country, but there can always happen thefts of mobile phones, cameras and other valuable things. Be aware of pickpockets around various sights especially around cathedrals and other places where tourists gather.
Most travellers will not experience any issues or problems on their holiday in Spain. It can happen, but it can also be prevented by some simple precautions as:
- Do not “flash” cash or expensive items
- Visit only the cash machines during the day or early evening
- Do not leave expensive items visible in cars
Places you should avoid in Madrid:
- Carabanchel – Area are not safe day and night
- Leganés – Avoid after dark, part of these areas are not safe
Places you should avoid in Barcelona:
- El Raval (east end) – Avoid after dark, part of this area is not safe
- La Rambla – Use caution, you do need to be careful. Avoid at night
Places you should avoid in Valencia:
- Malvarossa – Avoid day and night, part of this area is not safe
- Carmen – Use caution, you do need to be careful. Avoid after dark
Emergency numbers in Spain (free call)
In case of any emergency call:
- 112 – National emergency number
- 112 – Fire Brigade
- 112 – Police
- 112 – Ambulance
The caller must:
- State the location where assistance is needed
- State their name and telephone number
- State what happened, and if it is still happening
- State how many people need help
- State if there are weapons involved