Local customs in Madrid

The following customs are common behavior for the majority of Spaniards, but you likely will not cause major offence if you fail to act exactly as the custom dictates.


It is common practice when meeting friends, acquaintances and family to kiss each other on both cheeks. However, this greeting is more of a brushing of cheeks than an actual kiss. A man will only practice this greeting with another man if they are very good friends. If not, a simple handshake will suffice. A handshake is also the expected form of greeting in formal meetings.


Although the traditional siesta is fighting for its survival in Spain’s larger cities, it is still somewhat common in Madrid for people to have an “horario partido,” in which people nap or eat between the hours of 2PM and 5PM. Many of the smaller shops observe this schedule and close between these hours.


Spanish people are notorious for being late, but if you are going to be more than 20 minutes late, it is courteous to inform the person you are meeting of your delay.


Nightlife in Spain starts late, with most nightclubs filling to capacity at about 3:30AM. Due to this all night partying, it is customary in Madrid to have a hot chocolate and churros (Spanish style fried dough) before heading home to bed.

Spanish Surnames

In Spain, both the father’s surname and the mothers surnamename are given to the child, with the father’s name listed first. A woman may drop her mother’s name in order to substitute it with her husband’s, but this is not common practice.


In Spain, wedding bands are worn on the right hand.


In Spain, the largest meal of the day is lunch. Lunch is generally between 2PM and 4PM and dinner between 9PM and Midnight.