There is a long held traditional view that everyone in Spain shuts down for a few hours after lunch. In fact, the age old custom of the Spanish siesta is becoming something of a relic. In the past it has been a custom of hot countries to take an extended lunch break with the perception this lasts for most of the afternoon. Modern times saw this pretty much alter to a working day that lasted from 9am to 7pm with a two hour break for lunch, or 9am to 8pm with a three hour break – both of which options are found in Spain.
What does this mean for business visitors to Barcelona? Although Spain is geographically in the same time zone as the United Kingdom, Ireland and Portugal, the country conforms to Central European Time (a legacy of the relationship between Franco and Hitler). The main impact of this is that the “midday” meal usually happens after and around 2pm, and with the extended working day to compensate for the long lunch break, dinner is taken around 9pm. However, to keep in step with the modern world, many big cities – like Madrid and Barcelona – are moving away from the extended day to the general European 9-5 day. This is mostly happening in the business community, so business visitors can expect pretty much the same as at home. The changing practice however, hasn’t seen widespread adoption so non-business (tourist) visitors will find a mixture of opening hours in the commercial and tourism sector.
Non-business visitors to Barcelona
To get the most out of a visit to Barcelona it is worth knowing opening hours:
- Banks - banks in Spain do not have extended hours or Saturday opening. Most are open 08:30-14:30 +/- 30-60 minutes.
- Government offices – open 08:00 – 15:00 Monday to Friday
- Shops – opening hours vary greatly and much is to do with location. Generally, shop hours 09:00 to 13:00 or 14:00 then 16:30 to 19:00 or 20:00. Most are closed on Sunday.
There are however some major exceptions:
Stores in areas of high tourist traffic may stay open all day from 10:00-22:00, even foregoing the two hour lunch. This includes the elegant shopping avenue Passeig de Gracia which is known for its designer stores and international brands. Some shopping centres are open for extended hours including the ultra-modern Maremagnum in the Old Port (Port Vell) which also opens on Sundays.
Restaurants – many will accept orders as late as 23:00
Bars and clubs – hours as advertised.