• Spain's news in English

Ten things Spaniards do better than anyone else

Jessica Jones · 22 Jul 2015, 12:18

Published: 22 Jul 2015 12:18 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The siesta

Photo: Jessica Jones/The Local

It might be an age-old Spanish stereotype, but the siesta is still just as much a part of many communities as ever, with one Spanish town recently enshrining in law the right to an afternoon snooze. Taking a break from 2pm until 5pm ensures sensible Spaniards stay out of the blazing sun, while also guaranteeing that they have the energy to stay up late into the night.

Stay up late

Photo: jeff_golden/Flickr

Spaniards (including Spanish children) are great at burning the midnight oil; they watch films late, they work late and they eat late. Any tourist visiting Spain will tell you of their surprise at Spanish meal times - Spaniards eat later than almost anyone else on earth. Don’t expect to have lunch until around 2pm while dinner can start as late as 10.30pm and that’s not to mention the sobremesa, or after-dinner conversation. Which leads us to…


Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simoes/Flickr

Spaniards can talk the hind legs off a donkey, in the nicest possible way. We might be generalizing here, but Spaniards are loud. None of that shy northern European whispering here, Spaniards seem to enjoy shouting at each other. It could be due to the fact that in most bars they are battling to be heard over the noise of the television - its volume often turned up high. 

Look after their families

Photo: Shutterstock

Families in Spain are close-knit affairs, and Spanish culture is very much centered on looking up to - and after - your elders. It is completely normal in Spain to see different generations of family members enjoying a night out, an afternoon stroll or a morning shop together. Grandmas and grandads are revered and cherished, often living with younger family members and helping to look after the grandchildren. Families are so close, in fact, that young Spaniards are really not too eager to fly the nest.


Photo: AFP

Spaniards love a fiesta, every little town has its own special day, when residents decorate the streets and eat, drink and dance into the small hours of the morning. Spain’s Catholic tradition means it has among the most public holidays in Europe, thanks to its many saints days, which are always celebrated with a huge party.


Photo: sanfamedia.com/Flickr

Has there ever been a better food idea than tapas, those delicious morsels that allow you to try five or six different dishes in one meal? The Spanish diet is a healthy mixture of fresh fish, vegetables and lashings of olive oil and the country is home to the best restaurant in the world. And to top it off, you can enjoy some of the freshest, most delicious ingredients in Spain even if you are on a modest budget, everyone in Spain eats well, even the old men propping up your neighbourhood bar can dine like kings. 


Photo: Shutterstock

If we had to pick one specific food that Spaniards do better than anyone else, it would have to be jamón, the de facto national dish of Spain. Every other bar is decorated with hanging ham legs and it comes in all kinds of varieties, from a few slices as a tapa with beers to some premium jamón iberico. 


Photo: Shutterstock

Story continues below…

Among Spaniards, you very rarely see the fall-down-drunk-in-the-gutter style of drinking that is so prevalent in northern Europe. Spaniards enjoy a drink (the country has the highest ratio of bars to people in Europe), but are generally not binge drinkers, preferring to enjoy a tipple alongside some tapas, ensuring their stomachs are lined and preventing the dreaded next-day hangover. And with so many Spanish drinks to choose from there is something for everyone.

Work to live, not live to work

Photo: Samuel Mann/Flickr

Contrary to the negative stereotype, Spaniards are hard-workers, putting in some of the longest hours in Europe. But where they differ from other nationalities is their attitude towards work and family time: the latter always comes first. Spaniards work later so they can take a long lunch break shunning eating at their desks in favour of meeting friends or colleagues for a sit-down lunch. And weekends are sacred family-time, never to be disrupted with anything so trivial as work…

Gay rights

Photo: AFP

While the United States has only just legalized gay marriage, Spain was way ahead of the game, bringing same-sex marriage into law back in 2005, only the third country in the world to do so. Spain has also been ranked as the most gay-friendly country in the world and plays host each summer to one of the biggest gay pride celebrations on the planet.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Eta members made a ceasefire declaration in January, 2011. Photo: Gara / AFP

Five years after armed separatist group Eta declared a permanent ceasefire, Basque journalist Alberto Letona is still wondering when the dialogue will begin.

Hunt for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Call Crimestoppers if you recognize these faces.

These fugitives from British justice are thought to be hiding out in Spain. Do you recognize anyone?

Eta 'not dead' but Spain focus moves onto jihadism
Archive photo of a pro-mural in the Basque Country. Photo: AFP

Five years after Eta quit violence, the Basque separatist group has yet to dissolve but it poses little threat and authorities have shifted their focus to fight jihadists, says Spain's chief anti-terrorism prosecutor.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available