7 stereotypes foreigners get totally wrong about Spain

Living in Spain, many friends suppose that I spend my days asleep and my nights drinking sangria and dancing the flamenco.  Sadly, my response would be a definite ‘No way’ rather than ‘Olay!’  In fact, many Spanish stereotypes are about as true as the idea that all Scots wear kilts and drink whisky – i.e. they’re not true!  Here are some Spanish stereotypes that foreigners always get wrong:


Spain is always sunny and hot

Don’t get me wrong, the weather is a lot better than the UK (it’s not hard to be), but you’d be wrong to believe it’s all ‘Olay olay, feeling hot, hot, hot’.  In fact, this morning, I woke to frost and donned gloves, hats and scarf before heading out.  Hard to believe I know, but both photos above are of Spain.


All Spaniards love bull-fighting

Not true! The majority of Spaniards have never been to a bull-fight – and a large number will never wish to.  In fact, just 1 in 10 Spaniards go to a bullfight annually.  It’s much more likely that your Spanish friend is going to the cinema or the beach this weekend than to a bullring.

The Spanish love to say ‘Hasta la vista baby’

Actually they don’t: foreigners love to say ‘Hast la vista baby’; the Spanish never do.  And they rarely shout ‘Olay’ or ‘Arriba Arriba’ at parties – so don’t try these either!  In fact, it’s not even true that the Spanish speak Spanish.  There are actually 4 languages in Spain: Castilian (this is the main one and the one we call Spanish), Catalan and the similar Valencian, Basque and Galician.

Spanish Siesta Outdoor

Spain has a daily siesta

The world is convinced that every day all Spaniards snuggle down for a snooze after lunch.  In reality, the only place this occurs is in the dreams of foreigners.  In fact, twice as many Americans take a daily nap as Spaniards.  The misconception seems to be because many businesses close during the afternoon – but most people just head home to eat and do household chores for a couple of hours rather than actually sleep.

The Spanish are lazy

Built on the idea that the Spanish siesta instead or work, the Spanish are stereotypically seen as lazy.  This is an idea that the Spanish are very defensive against.  And they have a right to be: the Spanish working week is longer than many other countries – even including efficiency-famous Germany!


Spaniards dance the flamenco

Just as not all Mexicans wear sombreros, not all Spanish women wear flamenco dresses. In fact, hardly any Spaniards wear flamenco costumes – the only time you are likely to see them is at a tourist show or a festival in the south.  So if you’re heading for a night out in Spain, don’t worry: you’re more likely to dance to salsa than flamenco.


Sangria, sangria, sangria

Sorry to disappoint but I’ve never seen anyone drinking sangria here.  Sangria is a sweet wine with floating fruit, which, in reality, tourists, rather than the Spanish, are obsessed with.  Beyond tourist hotspots, Sangria is only common in some areas of Spain and then only in the summer.  A more popular version with Spaniards is tinto de verano – a mixture of wine with coke or lemonade.


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