So you want to take a trip down to Spain?
It’s a good idea to learn a bit about Spanish culture before you leave.
If you take time to learn the basics, you’ll understand how society works once you arrive.
This means you’ll have an easier time getting around, and an understanding of what’s expected of you as a tourist. You’ll also have the added advantage of having an “in” with the locals.
Ready to have an amazing Spanish adventure?
Read on to discover the cultural principles which guide the goings-on in this vacation hotspot.
Spanish Culture Makes for Friendly Neighbors
The Spanish people are notoriously outgoing and friendly. They view themselves (and potentially you, if you’re lucky) as a big family.
This is consistent with Mediterranean culture in general, which is relaxed and amicable in nature.
If you take time to learn a bit of the Spanish language, you’ll have a leg up over your traveling peers. Everyone appreciates a foreigner who tries, and it’s no different in Spain.
Spanish culture demands friendliness. The traditional Spanish greeting involves a peck on each cheek, which is purely platonic in nature but scares many non-natives.
It’s a novelty you need to embrace, however. Spaniards appreciate when their customs are followed.
If you follow them to the T, you may just be invited to take a meal with your new Spanish friends.
Food is a Cornerstone of Spanish Culture
One of the best parts of Spanish culture is the food.
This fare is absolutely exquisite, drawing from the Mediterranean style of diet so popular on the Iberian Peninsula.
Flavorful and rich dishes are accentuated with fresh produce, meat and seafood. Though Spanish cuisine varies from town to town, much of it is similar across the board.
It’s likely you’ll encounter these mouthwatering traditional dishes on your trip:
- Tortilla: Tortilla Espanola is different than the Latino-style tortillas you find in the States. It’s actually a thick omelet of sorts, usually containing onions and potatoes. This dish is one of the most popular in the country, and you’ll find it anywhere frequented by Spaniards.
- Paella: A good Paella is a complicated affair but well worth the preparation. This rice dish hails from Valencia and is packed with flavorful seafood, rabbit, and snails.
- Tapas: Tapas are a fun way to try out all the flavors of Spain. These small dishes are traditionally given away with drinks at the bar, though by now, many places charge for them. They can be anything from meatballs to croquettes to traditional chorizo. They are meant to be picked at as the night goes on, and they’re part of the café culture that Spain has become famous for.
3 Important Concepts Within Spanish Culture
You probably already know about the siesta.
This lunchtime break is a period of rest between working hours (after la comida) during which the Spanish relax and spend time napping or chatting with family. It’s a perfect representation of life in Spain.
It’s important to take note of a few other concepts within the culture as well.
1. How to Eat Like a Native
Yes, it warrants its own section.
That’s because the way that the Spanish eat is entirely different than the way we eat.
The first Spanish meal of the day is desayuno (breakfast), which is usually only a coffee and a bun or small snack eaten around 8 or 9 AM.
This is followed by la comida around noon, an epic multi-course lunch lasting for hours.
La merienda (snack) comes a few hours after this at 4 or 5 PM. The snack is small and quick.
La Cena (dinner) is served much later than you’re most likely accustomed to, anywhere from 9 PM to midnight. It’s always light and simple.
The Spanish meal timeline is important to understand because it’s a reflection of the slower, relaxed atmosphere which is integral to the culture.
2. How to Live Like a Native
The way of life in Spain may seem a bit lazy to outsiders. It’s certainly slower than the rest of Europe. This is partly because of the heat, but there is also an unexplainable aspect to the timeliness of activities that many foreigners don’t understand.
The Spanish are often late to appointments and often laissez-faire about the timing of other things. Don’t expect appointments to be held to the minute, and don’t be offended by lateness — it’s normal.
3. How to Listen Like a Native
Spanish culture has a definite ring to it.
The sound of music can be heard throughout the city streets, in popular styles both modern and traditional.
Don’t miss out on classical flamenco, a mix of gypsy, Moorish and Semitic Sephardic styles. The guitar is exquisite and bold, with thick strumming accentuated by song and dance.
Spanish Culture Makes Spain One of the Best Destinations in Europe
When you travel to Spain, you aren’t just taking a vacation.
You’re delving deep into a culture that proudly upholds its own set of principles, one with a rich history and beautiful traditions.
Spain is a wonderland of new experiences to explore, so what are you waiting for?
Book your ticket today.