Frequently Asked Questions about Spain
Coming to a new country is always exciting. But you can’t help feeling disoriented and confused for the first few days, especially when you want to organize some kind of activity or trip. So, we’ve come up with this list of answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get, to help you feel a little more at home.
-What time do people eat lunch in Spain? Lunch in Spain is usually served between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and dinner is normally between 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Many people find this strange and even think it’s a little unhealthy. But there are many explanations for the habit, from our “night owl” character to our time zone.
-What time zone should I use? In Spain we use the time zone UTC +1 (UTC + 2 in the summer). In practice we’re in the same time zone as Berlin or Rome. But we’re actually in the strip that corresponds to UTC 0 (UTC +1 in the summer), meaning we should use the same time as London or Lisbon. Yep, we know it’s strange. Why is it like this? Well, in 1940 Franco’s government decided to change the time to match that of the Axis powers. It was going to be temporary, but nobody remembered to change their clocks back. To complicate things even more, the Canary Islands were except from the time change. Today, there are a few social platforms that advocate for a return to the time zone that is more “fitting” for our geographic location.
-What are normal business hours? It depends on if we’re talking about small businesses or large enterprises. Today, in some autonomous regions, businesses are free to choose their business hours. But normally, small businesses open from Monday to Friday, 9 to 9:30 a.m. until 2 or 2:30 p.m. and then from 5 p.m. to 8 or 8:30 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9 or 9:30 a.m. to 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Big companies usually open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. And a lot of them also open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.! And people wonder why we’re such a great tourist destination when it comes to shopping!
-Why are the museums closed on Mondays? It’s easy to see an interesting scene outside Spanish museums on Mondays: confused tourists outside the doors of closed buildings, wondering if the museums have been closed down or if they’re doing inventory. But it’s not that at all; museums in Spain (at least state run institutions) are closed on Mondays. This is the case for a few different reasons: to give museum staff, who work all weekend, a rest; and because statistically, Mondays have the least amount of traffic. However, some institutions in some regions are looking into opening on Mondays for half the day.
-Why can’t I ever get the dates right for Semana Santa(Holy Week)? Holy Week in Spain is a well rooted tradition and in many areas in Spain it’s beautiful and spectacular, truly something worth seeing. But there’s just one problem… Holy Week doesn’t fall on the same day every year! The reason it varies from year to year is that Easter Sunday always falls on the first Sunday after the spring equinox (check out our article for more information). But to get a little closer to getting the dates right, Holy Week never comes before March 22 or after April 25.
As you can see some of our answers are a little complicated and we’re sure you’ve got more questions. But don’t worry, we’ll have another article for you soon!