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Things that are different in Barcelona

Written by Samuel

Having lived in Barcelona for a few months now I have noticed that certain things are a little different. Some of these differences add a certain charm to the city, whilst some are just a little strange.

5 minutes late is on time

timeAs an English teacher working in Barcelona I have noticed that many of my students seem to believe turning up 5 minutes late to a class doesn’t warrant any comment or excuse. Similarly, when I teach classes away from home and turn up 2 or 3 minutes early or just on the dot – they never seem to be ready, are often finishing a phone call and occasionally finishing a meal! You might consider it strange or rude, but when you talk to some of the locals you realise that it’s actually a type of unwritten rule that 5 minutes should mean “on time”. So don’t be offended if you are kept waiting a little – that is just the Barcelona way.

Kiss on both cheeks

True in many places but not in the UK, this social law can leave you looking silly if you don’t know about it. The correct etiquette in Barcelona is to kiss both cheeks when you are greeting people. This is common in many countries in Europe, and whilst you may know the rule, you may find it slipping your mind which might just leave you in an awkward social situation!

Always pay atpaying the end

In the UK, when eating or drinking out, there are times when you pay the bill after and there are times when you pay the bill before. In Barcelona, the latter is hardly ever an option and payment almost always comes after you have eaten. This is by no means a bad thing and is really the logical way of doing business!

You don’t always need to tip 10%

In many places in the world giving a 10% tip is considered compulsory and if you were to give anything less you would be greeted with disapproving looks. In Spain however, giving a much smaller tip is often regarded as totally acceptable. In fact in many places, especially for lunch, a tip is often not considered necessary at all.

traffic lightDrivers can still go through red lights

Crossing the road is one thing that still confuses me in Barcelona. Much like many cities in Europe drivers can go through red lights. The green lights for the pedestrian offer a chance to cross but if there is no one waiting to cross then cars will drive though!


About the author


Samuel Purnell is a journalism student living in Barcelona.

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