When moving to another country, or when going on holidays, one thing to check before travelling is the time of different meals. Lunch and dinner times in Spain have always been a talking point due to the cultural difference with other neighbouring countries. So, what time do people eat dinner in Spain? And how does dinnertime in Spain compare to other European countries? We have the details.
Routines and habits vary across Europe. Looking at other European countries, Norwegians eat dinner between 4 and 5pm, Finns from 4:30 to 5:30 pm, or Swedes between 5 and 6pm. These are the countries which are furthest away from Spain when it comes to dinner time, as Spaniards have dinner much later, around 9:30 and 10:30pm. This is according to the Spanish radio station Cope, which based its findings on a map published on the Instagram account @LoverOfGeography.
When it comes to Spanish eating customs, keep in mind that when eating out in Spain that most restaurants won’t open until around 8pm. At the weekend, it’s also common for Spaniards to eat even later beyond 10pm.
Other European countries with a similar dinner timetable to Spain include Portugal (9-10pm) or Italy (between 8-9pm). However, as we move towards the north of Europe, dinner time becomes earlier and closer to the Spanish snack time which is known as “merienda” and is usually around 5 or 6pm.
The question is, why do Spaniards eat dinner so late? Most people say that it’s actually because Spain is in living in the wrong timezone, CET, when it should really be using GMT. Spain changed to CET after the Spanish Civil War in 1940 but continued to eat at the same time. Therefore, 1pm lunches became 2pm lunches, and Spaniards were suddenly eating dinner at 9pm instead of 8pm, and to this day, the clocks were never changed back.