How to party with Spaniards: the ultimate Guide

Spaniards love to party. But there are unwritten rules to having a good time.

How to party with Spaniards: the ultimate Guide
Photo: Syda_productions/Depositphotos

How should you dress when you go out for a night on the tiles with a group of Spaniards?

How do you greet someone you've never met before, and why is it bad luck not to look someone in the eye when toasting?

The answer to all these vitally important questions and many more are answered below.

Here's The Local's ultimate guide.


Photo: AFP

Most Spaniards are quite understated when it comes to all matters clothes related, so leave your sequinned mini-dresses at home and don’t forget to wrap up: Spaniards are also good at dressing weather-appropriately and would not go out in winter without a warm coat. Unless it's carnival of course. In which case, anything goes!

READ ALSO: 12 signs you've totally nailed the Spanish language 


Photo: AFP

Tapas culture means that drinking goes hand in hand with eating in Spain: order a drink and you’ll more than likely be given a plate of tapas to nibble away on. That should help you pace yourself during long Spanish nights out, important given getting very drunk in public is frowned on.


Photo: belahoche/Depositphotos

Greetings are always a bit of a social minefield, but in Spain a couple of basic rules apply. In a social context, women generally kiss each other on both cheeks when they meet for the first time, while men will shake hands. If you're meeting a member of the opposite sex, or anyone for that matter, for the first time and you're not sure what to do, you can always play it safe and shake hands.


Photo: Rafa_Luque / Flickr

Spaniards are a superstitious lot and never have a 'last drink' thinking it sounds unlucky, more your last drink on earth than last drink of the night. Instead Spaniards always suggest having the 'penúltimo', or second-last drink, no matter how late it is.


Photo: Joan Noah / Flickr

Spaniards cherish their elders and adore their children and it is not unusual to see many generations of a family socializing together. Children stay out late here and are welcome everywhere so if you have got kids, take them, and grandmother, along to the party.


Photo: macniak/Depositphotos


When it comes to toasting in Spain, people under 40 look each other in the eyes in a relatively new tradition, taken from the German legend that says if you do fail to do so, you will have seven years of bad sex.


Photo: AFP

A botellón (Spanish for big bottle) involves socializing while drinking outside. It can mean anything from hanging around in a doorway to going to a mega, council-sponsored event with thousands of people. You should take your own booze either spirits and mixers (rum with lemon is a firm favourite) or Kalimotxo, red wine mixed with cola. Botellónes start to wind down around 3am when people tend to move on to clubs.


Photo: everett225/Depositphotos

Smoking is viewed as more of a sociable activity than a dirty vice in Spain and Spaniards have a tolerant attitude towards smoking with many of them lighting up indoors when at a private party. In restaurants and public buildings however, smoking is banned.


Photo: Gianni Cumbo

Be prepared to stay out very late. Everything starts later in Spain: mealtimes are much later than in English-speaking countries, lunch is around 2pm while dinner can be after 10pm. Most clubs open their doors at midnight, but you will find that people generally do not turn up until 2 or 3am and can stay out way past sunrise

READ MORE: How to sound cool on a night out in Spain


Photo: Nordroden/Depositphotos

In many Spanish bars you pay up at the end of the night, so splitting the bill is more common than buying rounds. In terms of tipping, while Spaniards do sometimes leave small change, 10 percent is usually more than enough.


Rampant branch closures and job cuts help Spain’s banks post huge earnings

Spain’s biggest banks this week reported huge profits in 2021 and cheered their return to recovery post-Covid, but ruthless cost-cutting in the form of thousands of layoffs, hundreds of branch closures and the removal of many ATMs have left customers in Spain suffering, in this latest example of ‘Capitalismo 2.0’. 

A man withdraws cash from a Santander branch in Madrid.
More than 3,500 Santander workers lost their jobs in Spain in 2021 and a further 2,000 more employees working for Santander across Europe were also laid off. Photo: PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

Spanish banking giant Santander on Wednesday said it has bounced back from the pandemic as it returned to profit last year, beating analyst expectations and exceeding its pre-COVID earnings.

Likewise, Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA said on Thursday that it saw a strong rebound in 2021 following the Covid crisis, tripling its net profits thanks to a recovery in business activity.

It’s a similar story for Unicaja (€137 million profit in 2021), Caixabank (€5.2 billion profit thanks to merge with Bankia), Sabadell (€530 million profit last year), Abanca (€323 million profit) and all of Spain’s other main banks.

This may be promising news for Spain’s banking sector, but their profits have come at a cost for many of their employees and customers. 

In 2021, 19,000 bank employees lost their jobs, almost all through state-approved ERE layoffs, meant for companies struggling financially.

BBVA employees protest against layoffs in May 2021 in Madrid. Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, in a move denounced by unions as “scandalous”. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Around 11 percent of bank branches in Spain have also been closed down in 2021 as part of Spanish banks’ attempts to cut costs, even though they’ve agreed to pay just under €5 billion in compensation.

Rampant branch closures have in turn resulted in 2,200 ATMs being removed since the Covid-19 pandemic began, even though the use of cajeros automáticos went up by 20 percent in 2021.

There are now 48,300 ATMs in Spain, levels not seen since 2001.


Apart from losses caused by the coronavirus crisis, Spain’s financial institutions have justified the lay-offs, branch closures and ATM removals under the premise that there was already a shift to online banking taking place among customers. 

But the problem has been around for longer in a country with stark population differences between the cities and so-called ‘Empty Spain’, with rural communities and elderly people bearing the brunt of it. 


Caixabank laid off almost 6,500 workers in the first sixth months of 2021. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP

Just this month, a 78-year-old Valencian man has than collected 400,000+ signatures in an online petition calling for Spanish banks to offer face-to-face customer service that’s “humane” to elderly people, spurring the Bank of Spain and even Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to publicly say they would address the problem.

READ MORE: ‘I’m old, not stupid’ – How one Spanish senior is demanding face-to-face bank service

It’s worth noting that between 2008 and 2019, Spain had the highest number of branch closures and bank job cuts in Europe, with 48 percent of its branches shuttered compared with a bloc-wide average of 31 percent.

Below is more detailed information on how Santander and BBVA, Spain’s two biggest banks, have reported their huge profits in 2021.


Driven by a strong performance in the United States and Britain, the bank booked a net profit of €8.1 billion in 2021, close to a 12-year high. 

It was a huge improvement from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the bank suffered a net loss of €8.7 billion after it was forced to write down the value of several of its branches, particularly in the UK. It was also higher than 2019, when the bank posted a net profit of €6.5 billion.

Analysts from FactSet were expecting profits of €7.9 billion. 

“Our 2021 results demonstrate once again the value of our scale and presence across both developed and developing markets, with attributable profit 25 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in 2019,” said chief executive Ana Botin in a statement.

Net banking income, the equivalent to turnover, also increased, reaching €33.4 billion, compared to €31.9 billion in 2020. This dynamic was made possible by a strong increase in customer numbers, with the group now counting almost 153 million customers worldwide. 

“We have added five million new customers in the last 12 months alone,” said Botin.

Santander performed particularly well in Europe and North America, with profits doubling in constant euros compared to 2020. In the UK, where Santander has a strong presence, current profit even “quadrupled” over the same period to €1.6 billion.

Last year’s net loss was the first in Banco Santander’s history, after having to revise downwards the value of several of its subsidiaries, notably in the UK, because of COVID.

The banking giant, which cut nearly 3,500 jobs at the end of 2020, in September announced an interim shareholder payout of €1.7 billion for its 2021 results. “In the coming weeks, we will announce additional compensation linked to the 2021 results,” it said.


The group, which mainly operates in Spain but also in Latin America, Mexico and Turkey, posted profits of €4.65 billion ($5.25 billion), up from €1.3 billion a year earlier.

The result, which followed a solid fourth quarter with profits of €1.34 billion, was higher than expected, with FactSet analysts expecting a figure of €4.32 billion .

Excluding non-recurring items, such as the outcome of a restructuring plan launched last year, it generated profits of 5.07 billion euros in what was the highest figure “in 10 years”, the bank said in a statement.

In 2020, the Spanish bank saw its net profit tumble 63 percent as a result of asset depreciation and provisions taken against an increase in bad loans due to the economic fallout of the virus crisis.

“The economic recovery over the past year has brought with it a marked upturn in banking activity, mainly in the loan portfolio,” the bank explained, pointing to a reduction of the provisions put in place because of Covid.

In 2021, BBVA added a “record” 8.7 million new customers, largely due to the growth of its online activities. It now has 81.7 million customers worldwide.

The group’s net interest margins also rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to €14.7 billion, said the bank, which is undergoing a cost-cutting drive.

So far, it has axed 2,935 jobs and closed down 480 branches as the banking sector undergoes increasing digitalisation and fewer and fewer transactions are carried out over the counter.

At the end of 2020, BBVA sold its US unit to PNC Financial Services for nearly 10 billion euros and decided to reinvest some of the funds in the Turkish market.

In November, it launched a bid to take full control of its Turkish lending subsidiary Garanti, offering €2.25 billion ($2.6 billion) to buy the 50.15 percent stake it does not yet own.

The deal should be finalised in the first quarter of 2022.