Practical A to Z
Practical A to Z
- Eating out
- Embassies and consulates
- Public holidays
People eat out later in Spain and restaurants generally serve lunch from 1-3.30pm and evening meals from 8.30pm (or 9pm) to midnight.
Tips and bills
It is customary to leave a small tip in cafés, bars, restaurants and taxis.
If bread or olives are brought to your table, this will be billed (€1.50 each), unless you immediately indicate otherwise.
Spanish people traditionally like breakfasting in their neighbourhood café. This can last up until 2pm, at which time lunch, the main meal of the day, is served. The renowned siesta is now the prerogative of a lucky few who can go home at lunchtimes. After work, around 8pm, Spanish people traditionally meet in tapas bars for a glass of beer or wine. Often, and particularly at weekends, this pre-dinner drink can often last longer and replace dinner. In the evenings, restaurants serve dinner from 8.30-9pm until 11pm, midnight at weekends.
Most small restaurants are also tapas bars. They serve tapas, raciones, slightly more filling and pintxos (pronounced pintchos), which are genuine mini meals.
At the counter, you can sample small plates of tapas (€2-3/plate), ranging from olives and squid to ham or potatoes in mayonnaise. In the dining room, you can choose between racionesand1/2 ración, which are larger portions of tapas. A 1/2 ración costs between €6-12 per person. Such dishes are however served completely alone. If you order a 1/2 ración of cheese or ham, there will be nothing else on the plate.
The voltage in Spain is 220V, but plugs are standard two-pin continental plugs, so you will probably need an adaptor.
Embassies and consulates
British Embassy – Torre Espacio, Paseo de la Castellana 259D, 28046 Madrid - t 91 714 6300 - http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk/en/
Irish Embassy – Paseo de la Castellana 46-4, 28046 Madrid - t 91 436 4093 - http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=33978
Also see Know before you go.
Universal European emergency number: t 112.
Medical emergencies: t 061. Police: t 091.
Chemists are open 9.30am-1.30pm and 4.30-8pm. In major towns, they can be open all day. On Sundays and public holidays, a list of out-of-hours chemists is posted in chemists’ windows and also published in the newspapers.
The currency of Spain is the Euro.
Banks / exchange
Banks are open Monday-Saturday from 8.30-9am to 1-2pm; they are closed on Saturdays in summertime and in small towns. Visitors from outside the Euro zone can change currency in banks.
Credit cards and traveller’s cheques
Although not as widespread as in the UK or Ireland, major international credit cards are nonetheless accepted in most shops, restaurants (not the very smallest) and hotels. However most tapas bars and guesthouses do not have credit card facilities. Euro zone residents should note that bank charges for withdrawals and payments are identical to those in their country of origin.
Traveller’s cheques are safe in case of theft, but not very convenient.
Budget / cost living
Those travelling on a small budget should plan on spending around €55/day/person for a night in a basic hotel or guesthouse, light meal (tapas) and a full meal in a simple restaurant.
Those on medium budgets can expect to spend around €85/day/person for a night in a good hotel or guesthouse in a large town, light tapas meal and another meal in a medium-level restaurant.
In terms of transport: a car rental for a week will cost between €150 and 300.
Sightseeing: monuments and museums cost an average of €4-6, but can reach €8 or even €12.
Museums are open daily (except Monday); most close between 2 and 5pm except the larger museums, which stay open all day.
As a general rule, visits are not permitted during religious services.
Post offices are open Monday-Friday from 8.30am to 8.30pm (2.30pm in small towns) and on Saturdays from 9.30am to 2pm.
6 January – Epiphany
Maundy Thursday and Good Friday
15 August – Assumption Day
12 October – National Holiday
1 November – All Saints Day
6 December – Constitution Day
8 December – Immaculate Conception
Shops are open from 9.30-10am to 1.30-2pm and from 5pm to 8-9pm, sometimes 10pm in big cities. More and more shops (department stores and hypermarkets) stay open at lunchtime. Most shops are closed on Sundays and sometimes even on Saturday afternoon.
Calling Spain from abroad
00 + 34 (code for Spain) + area code + number of the person.
Calling home from Spain
00 + country code. For the United Kingdom: 44; for Ireland: 353.
All telephone numbers, local or regional, are made up of 9 digits and start with the 2- or 3-digit area code.