Business Hours in Spain

In general the working day in Spain is split into two halves, the day commences at 9am until 2pm and 5pm to 8pm, with the famous “siesta” in between.  Like elsewhere in Europe, the working week runs from Monday to Friday, except in hospitality and retail (see below).

However, Spain is a large country and you can expect some variation, for example in Southern Spain where it is hotter, the siesta can often be a little longer and shops may not open again until 6pm in the evening. As a Catholic country, Sundays are observed as a holiday in Spain.

Today, particularly in these trying economic times, some businesses have chosen to forego the traditional siesta in order to compete with the rest of Europe.

Shops

Shopping hours in Spain vary considerably depending on the region, city or town and the type of shop.

There are no statutory closing days or hours for retail outlets, except in Cataluña where shops must close by 9 pm.  Large shops must open on a minimum of 8 Sundays and public holidays a year, but the actual number depends on the region. Most regions have opted to open on 8 public holidays only except for Murcia where shops open on 12 Sundays and public holidays a year and Madrid with a record 20 public holidays. Shops located in zones of great tourist influence can apply to open all year round, not just during the summer months.

A big surprise for many foreigners is the long afternoon siesta, when most small shops close from 2pm until 5pm. Apart from department stores and many large supermarkets, there is no such thing as afternoon shopping in Spain. Foreigners are often divided over Spain’s shopping hours, some seeing them as an inconvenience, others as a bonus. Many people actually find they prefer to shop in the evening when they get used to it.

Most small shops open from between 9.30am until between 2pm and from around 5pm until between 8.30 and 9pm, Mondays to Fridays, from 10.00am until 2pm on Saturdays.

Restaurants and cafes

Restaurants for obvious reasons tend to operate on a different timetable to other businesses, usually opening around 1pm for lunch and closing again until 4pm. Opening again for in the evenings at around 8pm until midnight and beyond.

Cafes have different business hours from restaurants, as they tend to open early in the morning to catch the breakfast trade, often staying open all day and into the evening.

Government offices

Hours of business for government offices in Spain can vary. In some cases they may only open in the morning, especially during the summer when they start earlier and finish around 2pm.