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Visiting a new country for the first time is a fantastic opportunity to get immersed in a new culture and to appreciate the differing customs of other societies. Even if you think the country you’re visiting is similar to that of your own, there may be subtle differences that should be observed.

Lets take a look at what customs to be aware of in the Spanish city of Barcelona



Spanish is spoken and understood everywhere however if you know Catalan the locals will appreciate your efforts to try and speak it. If English is all you’ll be speaking, more often than not you’ll not have many problems.



In Barcelona tipping is not a custom; if you want to it’s your own choice. A general rule of thumb is to round the bill up to the nearest Euro. In certain situations however a tip is appropriate, for example in a smart restaurant.



The Barcelona eating clock is typically Mediterranean. Lunch is usually from 2pm and dinner is from 10pm. If you’re eating in restaurants its better try and fit in with the local clock as the atmosphere will be much more buzzing.



The days in Barcelona are very long mainly because there is a three-hour break in the middle of it. The average working person will work from 9am till 8pm with a lunch break from 2-5pm. The timeout in the afternoon from 2-5pm can be well spent having lunch and a siesta. The latter is needed as the evenings can be a late affair with the restaurants not opening before 9:30pm and most people not heading out to the bars till at least 11pm and nightclubs till 2:30am.The shops in Barcelona are usually open Monday to Saturday from 10am-9:30pm. The big, chain shops will be open for the duration of that time and the smaller ones will be shut between 2-5pm. On Sunday nearly everything is shut however the local convenience shops are open everyday.



When meeting people on a social basis the local custom is to greet the person with two kisses, one on each cheek, even if it’s the first time you’ve met the person. Handshaking is not used socially.


Nationality matters:

Barcelona is a very international city so not every person that looks and speaks Spanish is Catalan. Catalans are particularly sensitive about their origin mainly because they’re fiercely proud of their specific region and its culture and history. Therefore it’s better not to assume someone’s origin.


Local people:

The local people can be a little misunderstood by tourists as being rude. The Catalans aren’t as warm and easy going as the Spanish however this shouldn’t be misconstrued as impoliteness. The best way to talk to Catalan’s is to be clear and quick as they’re generally not ones for embellishing a point or making a joke.



Barcelona is rife for pickpocketing. The serious crime rate is low but the petty theft scale is unfortunately very common. The way they operate is extremely subtle, for example you could be a in park with no one around you with your bag right there and then it will be gone seconds later. The beach and popular tourist spots are more prevalent for pickpocketing however it’s recommended to always be careful and aware of your belongings. Some tips to avoid being robbed include not carrying around anything that you do not need with you that day or night, keeping your bag and pockets closed at all times and to wear your bag around your body wear you can see it always, even in a bar, restaurant and park. They are so quick that given the opportunity they will take advantage. However on a more positive note the city it safe to walk around alone and anytime and serious crimes are a rare occurrence.

About the author:

Hatty Copeman is a freelance travel journalist, currently writing tips for holidays to Barcelona for easyJet holidays. She has previously written for various publications that include Seventeen magazine in New York City and GQ, Men’s Health and Arts London News in London.

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