3 Things to Expect as an American Traveling to Spain

Before arriving in Spain, your mind is sure to be full of anticipation, and expectation of what your vacation will bring. It’s easy to forget that traveling to a foreign country also comes with foreign norms. Here are a few tips to help you roll with the flow, and be prepared for the culture shock.

1. Expect to Walk A Lot

Walking is the mode of transportation in Spain. You hop on the metro, hop off, and then could walk blocks and blocks around the many exquisite neighborhoods throughout the country. 

The locals here know this, and dress appropriately. Wearing sneakers with a dress is totally the norm. Even went going out at night, converse and flats are the way to go. If you’re bold enough to wear heels here, we recommend the chunkiest heel in your closet– the cobblestones are no fun for stilettos!

Whether you’re used to walking a lot, or not, the cities you explore will be worth the time spent on your feet. Expect to get those 10,000 steps in easily, and work off all the bread and wine you enjoy throughout your stay.

If interested in a guided walking tour through the not-so-known areas of the city, Buzziler offers some awesome tours to keep you on track, and make the most of your time here. Check out our Medieval Madrid Walking Tour— we know you won’t be disappointed.

2. Businesses, Stores, and Restaurants Run on Their Own Schedules

In America, we are accustomed to stores being open from early morning to late at night, and sometimes even 24 hours. However, work/life balance is of huge value in Spain, and they take their time off as they should. 

Don’t expect restaurants, or many grocery stores or businesses, to be open between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.– the owners are probably taking their siesta (midday nap). And on Sunday, it’s a hit and miss on whether or not the place you intended to go will be open at all. Just make sure you don’t eat all your food before Sunday morning, especially if you happen to be traveling to one of Spain’s smaller cities. 

A good place to go on Sunday is Retiro Park, if you’ll be in Madrid. It’s lively, and we’ve already listed out the best things to see and do there for your convenience 🙂

3. Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner is not a thing

In America, we are used to having 3 meals separated throughout our day (most of us, anyways), but they do things much different in Spain. 

They technically have five meal times, which makes it feel like they are constantly eating. But, most of their meals are significantly smaller portions than we are used to in America. So, if you order a plate and it’s smaller than you expect, it’s most likely meant to hold you over for a shorter time than you would typically wait in America.

PRO TIP: Spaniards also have a habit of going to bar after bar, ordering small plates and drinks as they go. In Spain, it’s much more of a snacking culture, than a big meal culture, so don’t overdo it at the start of your day!