Hours, festivals and customs
Local time in Barcelona and the Spanish peninsula is an hour ahead of Greenwich mean time (UTC/GMT+1).
As with the EU's other member states, Spain uses Daylight Saving Time. We put our clocks forward an hour on the last Sunday of March and back an hour on the last Sunday of October. However, daylight saving time is now under discussion and consideration is being given to keeping the same time throughout the year.
So, when it's 3 pm in Barcelona, it’s 2 pm in London, 10 am in New York and 11 pm in Tokyo (in wintertime).
Here in Barcelona, we have lunch and dinner much later than most of our European neighbors as well as a longer working day.
There is currently a citizen movement calling for working-hour reforms, shorter working days and earlier lunch hours. The aim is to harmonize working hours with those of the rest of Europe and have more free time available and a better quality of life.
In the meantime, however, here are our hours:
Breakfast is usually eaten early and a snack eaten mid-morning, as we do not have our lunch until some time between 2 pm and 3 pm. Things are much the same when it comes to dinner, as it’s normal to eat any time from 9 pm onwards, even around 10 pm. And, given the little time at your disposal, you will find it's part of the local custom to linger over lunch at the table during what is known as the “sobremesa” period.
- Working hours
People work an average of 40 hours a week in Spain. Workdays usually start between 8 am and 9 am, lunch breaks between 1.30 pm and 2 pm, and afternoon work begins between 3 pm and 4 pm. Workdays normally finish between 6 pm and 7.30 pm. During the summer period, many workers enjoy a shorter working day, which usually runs from 8 am to 3 pm. Even so, working hours are usually regulated by collective agreements. Big international companies usually have shorter lunch breaks and workdays.
- Business opening hours
Barcelona's shops traditionally open from Monday to Saturday and are closed on Sundays, except in some of the tourist areas and for a series of Sundays throughout the year. It is usual for shops’ shutters and doors to open to customers between 9 am and 10 am and to close midday between 1 pm and 2 pm. They re-open in the afternoon between 4.30 pm and 5 pm and close for the day between 8 pm and 9 pm. They are also frequently closed on Saturday afternoons. These are the most usual opening hours in Barcelona. Depending on their business and type, some shops may stay open throughout the day, without closing in the afternoon. Sunday opening hours are subject to regulations that allowing shops to open on specific days throughout the year, especially during public holidays and periods such as Christmas and summer and winter sales. Don’t be surprised if you see restaurants and shops closed for all or part of August. Their staff have holidays too.
There are fifteen public holidays in Barcelona throughout the year. Most of these have religious origins. Some are held throughout the country and others are strictly local.
- 1 January: New Year's day*
- 6 January: Epiphany*
- March-April (variable): Good Friday*
- March-April (variable): Easter Monday**
- 1 May: Labour Day*
- May (variable): Whit Monday*** / Pentecost Monday
- 24 June: St John's day** / Midsummer Day
- 15 August: Feast of the Assumption of Mary*
- 11 September: Catalan National Day**
- 24 September: La Mercè*** (Saint's Day of one of Barcelona’s two co-patron saints)
- 12 October: Spanish National Day*
- 1 November: All Saints’ Day*
- 6 December: Spanish Constitution Day*
- 8 December: Feast of the Immaculate Conception*
- 25 December: Christmas*
- 26 December: Boxing Day** / Saint Stephen's Day
* National public holiday
** Regional public holiday (only in Catalonia)
*** Local public holiday (only in Barcelona)
The Festival calendar's website always features an up-to-date public holidays calender of the city of Barcelona.
Living in Barcelona and taking part in local festivals enables you to discover local culture and, for example, castellers (impressive human tower makers), correfocs (fire-runs made up of “demons” and fire-breathing “dragons”) and the sardana (Catalonia's most famous traditional dance).
Not every celebration is a festival day. The most typical example is Sant Jordi/ St George's Day, held on 23 April, which is a very special and popular day dedicated to books, roses and culture.
Another very popular celebration is St John's Eve, the night of 23 June, coinciding with the arrival of the summer. This is a night of bonfires and fireworks.
Another festival of Barcelona’s not to be missed and dedicated to its other co-patron saint, La Mercè, starts on 24 September. It features numerous free festival and cultural activities in every district.
The end of the year sees the arrival of the Christmas traditions, where children are the central players. We invite you to discover the tió de Nadal and other special features of these dates.
Find out more about local culture on Popular Culture.
Barcelona is an open, welcoming and tolerant city, with a diverse population. While it is always hard to speak in general terms, we offer you a few notes and pieces of advice below on local customs and certain rules for positive community life:
- Peace and quiet: Barcelona is a vibrant Mediterranean city and full of life, but it is important to respect local residents’ peace and quiet. Keep your noise down at night and during the early hours, from 10 pm to 8 am. That way we can all recharge our batteries!
- Respecting public spaces: Barcelona is a lovely city and each and every one of us has to look after our urban furniture and keep our streets clean. Note that you will need to ask the City Council for permission to carry out activities involving the use of squares and other public spaces, even where these are one-off events.
- How to dress: all styles are possible in Barcelona; even so, semi-nudity in public spaces is regarded as rather anti-social and in poor taste. So, even when it’s very hot, avoid walking the streets wearing just your swimming trunks or a bikini.
- Tips: it's not customary to leave big tips. It's more a personal option to do with satisfaction for the service received. Service is included in the price in restaurants, so you can leave a tip if you’re satisfied. It’s also usual to leave a tip for your hotel’s bellboys, people working in public toilets and taxi drivers where journeys are long and they help you with your luggage.
- Haggling: it’s not usual to haggle over prices when buying goods in Barcelona's shops.
- Smoking: smoking is not allowed in restaurants, bars and other public spaces, including areas close to schools.