Adapting to La Siesta on Your Trip to Spain

Adapting to La Siesta on Your Trip to Spain

Cat Nap (Photo by Care_SMC)

No matter how much you read about the siesta and how it affects the flow of daily (and nightly) life in Spain, it must be experienced to be fully understood – and appreciated. Hopefully you will not arrive at your Spanish destination during the restaurants’ siesta, but if you do, plan ahead by bringing along some snacks or something to eat from the airport to fill the period of time between lunch and dinner.

With a little bit of adjustment to your regular habits, you’ll quickly fall into the easy, enjoyable siesta routine during your visit to Spain. It helps to remember that you are on vacation, after all, and there is no reason to get up at sunrise or shortly thereafter in Spain. Everyone else is still sleeping, and they likely will be until 9 or 10 a.m. You may have a difficult time with this on your first full day in Madrid, Barcelona or your other vacation destination, but after your first night out, you’ll quickly adapt.

Linus, Archie and Millie Napping (Photo by

If you’re a hearty breakfast eater in addition to an early riser, you’ll want to make some adjustments to that routine, as well. Breakfast is not a large affair in Spain. Coffee and pastries is typical, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try starting off your day with chocolate and churros – a traditional breakfast favorite you’ll find yourself to surprised to be looking forward to in no time.

The main meal of the day in Spain is lunch, and once you adapt to enjoying a three-course meal and a few glasses of wine in the early afternoon, it becomes very enjoyable. The siesta takes place during the hottest part of the day, and it gives you the rest you need due to staying out late the night before. Plus you’ll have the stamina for staying out late in the night ahead.

Cat Nap (Photo by Harris Graber)

Lunch is generally served from around 1:20 until 4 pm, at the latest, and the lightest meal you’ll enjoy around 10 or 11 pm will be much smaller. You may skimp on lunch your first day in Spain out of habit, but you will soon adapt after your first very long evening waiting for dinner time to arrive.

After your lunch, you’ll enjoy a nap of however long you choose. You’ll wake refreshed and ready to do some shopping or visit museums and other attractions, which while closed during the siesta, are open evenings and nights until around 9 or 10 pm.