For members


My Spanish habits that foreigners just don’t get

Do the Spanish have certain habits you just can't work out? Here Spanish author Alberto Letona lists a number of typical national traits or customs that leave his foreign friends bemused...or if queuing is involved, even enraged.

My Spanish habits that foreigners just don't get
Spaniards like to pace along the beach. Esparta Palma / Flickr

1. We are very noisy

Photo: SETShots / Flickr

Noise is everywhere in Spain whether in restaurants, on the buses, or at the beach. In bars the TV is often on, even if people aren’t watching. This makes conversations louder and the Spanish difficult to understand, for non-native and natives alike.

The latter are more resourceful; They will raise their voice even louder to be heard.  

.2. We go to bed late

Photo: Bark / Flickr 

Staying up late is part of daily life in Spain. At home it is not unusual to have dinner at ten and if you go to a restaurant, you’ll find it difficult to get a table before 9pm. At weekends we don’t start going out until at least 9pm and the night can be very long. Work is mañana.

3. We kit ourselves out for sport

Photo: The Pug Father/Flickr 

Dressing in the correct way to take exercise is a rule for the locals. So much so that you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at the Vuelta de España with professional cyclists when you use Spanish roads on the weekends. Don’t blow your horn at them, they would not take it graciously.

4. We like to be in a crowd (in pre-Covid times)

Photo: Allen Skyy/Flickr

The Spaniards are very gregarious. We all go out for a stroll at the same time and usually to the same places. Sometimes with friends, and other times with family, but very rarely alone.

5. We like to party…a lot

Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

The summer fiestas of every village in Spain are a kind of social event that you cannot miss. This is the place to see and be seen. The younger ones enjoy their first drinks in life, and their parents are most likely enjoying themselves preparing traditional dishes with their friends.

6. We are a contradiction in terms

Photo: AFP

Liberal-minded but conservative in their life style is a description that fits many Spaniards. Even the most politically left wing citizens are ready to take part as a pious believer in the religious processions at Easter. 

7. We pace up and down the beach

Photo: Esparta Palma/Flickr

Pacing up and down the seashore is a favourite pastime for anyone over thirty. Sometimes the beaches get so crowded with people marching back and forth that it is difficult to imagine this activity as a pleasurable stroll. But we do it anyway. 

8. We all want to work in the public sector

Photo: tec_estromberg / flickr

Being a “funcionario” (civil servant) is a very sought after and carefully planned occupation for many. A job for life is often a source for admiration or envy among the different social classes in Spain.

9. We abandon our offices en masse at 11am

Photo: Alda Chou

Mid-morning is the time when everybody working in an office walks out to have a long coffee break in the bar with their colleagues. This is the moment to talk about the trials and tribulations of domestic life. Sometimes if the conversation is very engaging the break can go on a long time.

10. We don’t do queuing

Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr 

Jumping the queue is a national trait. Very few people respect queues in this country. If you are catching a bus, please be aware of old ladies. They are sometimes the most pushy and will try to go first, even if they know that you have been waiting longer.

Alberto Letona is the author of Hijos e Hijas de la Gran Bretaña – Sons and Daughters of Great Britain – in which he delves into the psyche of the British in an attempt to explain them to his own countrymen. 

Read more on his opinions of the British

For members


Seven essential apps for life in Spain’s Málaga

Málaga is one of the most popular cities for foreign residents in Andalusia and if you want to enjoy living there to the fullest, these 7 essential apps will help you out.

Seven essential apps for life in Spain’s Málaga

Málaga’s coastal location as the gateway to the Costa del Sol, its bustling centre and many cultural and artistic attractions make it a popular choice for foreigners. 

If you’re living in Málaga, you’ll know that sometimes simple tasks such as parking, finding up-to-date information about the beaches and booking a doctor’s appointment can be tricky or take time. These seven essential apps can help you out. 

Playas de Málaga

If you’re a fan of the beach, this app could prove very useful during the long summer months in the city. It gives you information on each of the beaches in the Málaga area, as well as the possibility to reserve barbecue spots to have your own moragas (beach parties with barbecued sardines). Health and safety information about all the beaches is also provided along with any updates from the Málaga City Council Beach Area. Directions to get to any of the beaches, weather information and even digital postcards are also available. It can be used in both Spanish and English. You can download it via the AppStore here.

EMT Málaga

The app from the Málaga Municipal Transport Company is invaluable for those who regularly need to travel around the city on public transport. It can tell you the best route to get to your destination, how long you need to wait for a bus and even enables you to top up your EMT travel card with more credit. If you use the Malagabici public bicycle system, it also allows you to find out how many bikes are available at each station and even rent them with your EMT card. It’s available via the App Store here and via the Google Play Store here.

Aparcamientos Málaga SMASSA

This app, managed by the Sociedad Municipal de Aparcamientos y Servicios de Málaga, offers several utilities related to paid parking in the city. You can check how many free spaces there are in each municipal car park and in the different SARE parking areas. You can even pay for parking fees straight from your mobile. If you do this, it also allows you to renew the parking time and notifies you when it’s about to run out. In addition, it has a radar function that detects where the nearest parking space is. It’s available via the App Store here and via the Google Play Store here.

Too Good to Go

Too Good To Go is a great app that allows you to get your hands on food that would otherwise be thrown out.

According to the Too Good To Go website, around a third of food is wasted. Not only is that bad for the environment, but it also means that you can take advantage of loads of perfectly good (and tasty) food that would otherwise go straight in the bin. 

You can download the app here, and through the Apple App Store, Google Play y Huawei AppGallery. From there, you can browse the various local restaurants and businesses partnered with Too Good To Go, including Aloha Poke and Udon, and arrange to pick up your food from a nearby location. 

Salud Responde

Andalusia’s public health app is an invaluable resource for anyone registered in the public system. The app enables you to book an appointment without having to call on the phone, to modify any existing appointments or find out any laboratory results. You can also look up the answers to any frequently asked questions on many health-related topics such as vaccinations, allergies, sexual health, flu, maternity care and hospital admissions. It’s available via the App Store here and via the Google Play Store here.


Whether you’re a regular taxi user or occasionally need to book one after a late night or an early morning flight, then PideTaxi may come in handy. It was launched by Radio Taxi Association of Spain and is associated with Unitaxi in Málaga. Through the app you can request a taxi to come straight away or book it in advance from any point in the city. You can also request special taxis such as a vehicle adapted for the disabled, a taxi for large groups or the transportation of pets. The app will also help calculate the trip price so that you’re not surprised at the end. It’s available via the App Store here and via the Google Play Store here.

Málaga CitySense

CitySense is a citizen participation project in Málaga that aims to generate new collaborative experiences for users in the city. It enables the city to gather data on the way its citizens use the city and its services by reading the sensors on your smartphone, which is all done anonymously and safely. It also gives users real-time data on the city from culture to science and weather, as well as various points of interest you may want to visit. You can find out more about the app here