Meal times and opening times in Barcelona: prepare to be surprised!
When planning your trip to Barcelona, remember to take into account the unusual pace of life that's just one more fascinating aspect of Catalan culture!
If you have already been to Catalonia or Spain, you will have noticed that the pace of life is quite different to other countries!
The famous traditional siesta after lunch is no longer current. However, lunch breaks still occur quite late and can be quite long. And to compensate, the shops tend to stay open quite late in the evening.
Meal times in Barcelona
Catalan people often skip breakfast (or simply have coffee, sometimes accompanied by a little biscuit) and wait until 11 to eat a bite such as a sandwich or tomato bread, coffee or fruit juice.
This holds you over until 2:30 or 3pm, when the Catalan people have lunch. Most businesses take a lunch break from 2pm to 4pm, and this is quite normal in Barcelona!
Lunch is the most important meal of the day. Most restaurants offer a copious lunchtime set menu with a starter, main, dessert and drink for between 10 and 15 euros.
And as everything happens later, dinner is usually around 9pm or 10pm. Evening set menus are less common and, when you do find them, they are more expensive than the lunchtime menus. It is more usual to sit at a table with a number of small dishes to share…or lean on a counter, as eating standing up is totally normal in Barcelona. It’s less comfortable but much more lively!
There are different sorts of tapas: those for sharing and pintxos, which are like individual canapés made of a slice of bread with a little topping.
However, you may be surprised to learn that some granjas, those traditional cafés serving hot chocolate and milk products, are closed from 1pm to 5pm. This is the case with Granja Viader, a Barcelona institution. So if you want a chocolatey afternoon snack you may have to wait until 5pm. Although if you’re generally keeping up with the local timetable, this should be fine!
Otherwise you can go and enjoy your chocolate in the beautiful setting of Oriol Balaguer’s chocolate shop which is open continually Tuesday to Sunday and on Monday from 3pm.
Opening hours of shops in Barcelona
The changeable hours of small businesses
Obviously a change of meal times means a change of work times but opening hours tend to vary from shop to shop. As each one sets their own opening times it can be difficult to know when they are open. Some stay open all day and some close at 1pm, and others at 1:15, 1:45, 2pm, 3pm…
The breaks vary in length depending on the shop, and to complicate things the opening hours also change depending on the time of year. It is not unusual in fact for shops to close early in Summer. Furthermore the owners change their opening hours depending on how busy they are.
- A tip: As a general rule shops are open from 11am to 1pm and from 5pm to 8pm Monday to Saturday. They will be open longer than that but to organise a shopping window your best bet is to cast your net during those hours.
Continual hours for bigger business
Chains like Zara, Mango or Desigual generally tend to open continually from 10am to 9pm Monday to Saturday.
Generally, shops are closed on Sunday as well as holidays. However on some days of the year legislation allows them to open on those days. More info in this article.
Food shops are allowed to open every day of the week. However, many larger shops are closed on Sundays as well as many bakeries and cake shops.
Markets in Barcelona are open Monday to Saturday but not Sunday.
- You can stock up on Sundays in one of the many corner shops or small supermarkets in your area.
- More and more cafés and restaurants are opening on Sundays. So don’t worry! You won’t starve on your weekend in Barcelona!
- Unusual: The huge flower shop in the Eixample neighbourhood, Navarro, is open 24 hours 365 days a year!
Specific cases: Maremagnum and La Roca village
There are two shopping centres that are open every day of the week and almost every Sunday of the year: Maremagnum (near the Ramblas) and La Roca Village. This shopping centre is 30 minutes from Barcelona, and made up exclusively of outlet stores of chic lines. So you can some great deals even on a Sunday!
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