Eating times and customs in Spain & on the different Caminos de Santiago

One of the man difference you will find with your home country when traveling in Spain and on the Camino de Santiago is the extreme mealtimes that are followed and this is a concern for many of our clients. Spaniards are among those who eat lunch and dinner the latest in the world so we created this blog post to detail the different eating times customs you will encounter in Spain as well as the shop opening times.

The Timezones explanation

To understand, why Spaniards eat so late, you must know Spain goes by Central European Time (CET), putting it in sync with the Serbian capital Belgrade, more than 2,500 km East of Madrid, while it should be in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) like the UK and Portugal. So Galicia, which is the most Western region in continental Spain, is about 2h away from its normal sun time. This means the sun rises later and sets later, bestowing Spain with gloriously long summer evenings and 10 pm sunsets.

Consequences on the typical work-day in Spain

The typical Spanish work day begins at 9am and ends around 8 pm with a 2 to 3h lunch break (the vast majority of workers go home for lunch and enjoy a large meal with their family and rest for a while). Prime-time television doesn’t start until 10:30pm. Most people do not go to bed until midnight.

When pilgrims are walking the Camino and staying in municipal Albergues, they tend to get up very early (between 4 and 6 am) and go to bed early (by 9 pm). They do this to ensure they reach the next town and bed before the rest of the crowds but this means walking most of the distance in the dark. 

Your room is booked and is not going anywhere so no need to rush. Just make sure your luggage is at the reception by 8:30 am for the luggage transfer.

Mealtimes along the Camino de Santiago


Spaniards are not early risers and el desayuno at home is generally the smallest meal of the day, rather light and more like a continental breakfast than anything else. We believe you need a lot of energy to complete your Camino so we always order a larger breakfast for our clients.

Coffee shops start opening for breakfast from 7 am, sometimes even later. Many hotels won’t even start serving breakfast until 8:30 am so if you want to take an early start on the Camino, make sure to ask your host in advance to prepare breakfast early or ask for breakfast to go.

Typical Spanish breakfast include café con leche (espresso with milk) or Colacao (hot chocolate) and a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice: 

Pan con Tomate: a toasted half baguette with crushed tomato and olive oil

Bollería / pastries: croissants (plain or grilled a la plancha with jam), napolitana (chocolate or cream-filled puff pastry – much like the French pain au chocolate), churros and porras (thin sticks of fried dough often dipped in thick hot chocolate) 

Expect to find in your hotels on top of the above: different types of cheese and hams, fruits, cornflakes, yogurts, toast with jam, cakes, tortilla (Spanish potato omelet), plus eggs and bacon in some hotels.


It is very common in Spain to have a mid morning snack another coffee and toast / tortilla / small sandwich, and we highly recommend you have one while you are walking the Camino to boost your energy.  You will find bars every few kilometers along the Camino serving this second breakfast.


The most important meal of the day for Spaniards, where the family gathers together to enjoy a delicious home-made Lunch. Restaurants serve lunch from 1 pm to 4 pm. On the Camino, some places might be open before but remember they are only aimed at pilgrims so not always the best options around. 

You will see “menu del dia” / menu of the day and “menu del peregrino” / pilgrim menu (you will need to show your Pilgrim Passport to get it). The day menu is usually only available lunch and more elaborate & more expensive than the pilgrim menu, which will set you back for €8 to €15. 

These excellent value menus include bread, a drink (usually wine, beer or a soda), dessert or coffee and a choice of 3 to 6 options for a first course and either meat or fish for the second course. 


Children are usually fed a sugary snack in the afternoon but this time is not a popular eating time in Spain. You will see friends gathering for a coffee but no tapas or meal will be served. In fact, most kitchens at completely closed until 8 pm.


This is when tapas bars begin to open and fill up. It is very common in Spain to meet friends for a drink after work at 8 pm and grab something small to eat. Bars in Santiago, Lugo, Jaen, Granada, and Madrid will offer free tapas with a drink from 8 pm to 11 pm (careful this tradition is not followed in all of Spain). The free tapas can range from potato chips to paella to even crabs / pulpo or other elaborate preparation in certain places (check out of list of recommended tapas places in Santiago). In the Basque Country, San Sebastian for example, you will be offered to purchase amazing “pintxos” from the counter 


Dinner in Spanish families is usually late and light. But on the Camino, you will find restaurants will serve very generous quantities. Most of your set meals will be similar to the Menu del Día and include wine / beer / water / coffee but this depends on the restaurant.

If you are not booked into a set meal, we recommend ordering a variety of raciónes, or large plates, to share at a nearby bar. The general rule is to order one ración per person. The waiter will set it in the middle of the table and everyone will dish a few spoonfuls or forkfuls onto their own plate. 


Shops usually start opening between 9 am and 10 am and close between 8 and 10 pm. Almost everything close between 1:30 pm and 5 pm. This includes most retail shop / pharmacy / post office / bank / office / police station. The only places that will stay open during lunch time are bars, restaurants, bakeries and larger supermarkets (usually open from 9 am to 9 or 10 pm) as well as retail chains (Zara for example will stay open from 10 am to 8:30 pm). 

Most shops will not open on Sundays or on Bank Holidays.


Shops, public services opening times
6 to 8 am
11:30 to 1 pm
5:30 to 7 pm
10 am to 7 or 9 pm
7 to 9 am
12 to 1:30 pm
7:30 to 9 pm
9 am to 12 pm
2 pm to 7 pm (9 pm for convenient stores)
Closed Sundays
7 to 9 am
1 to 2 pm
7:30 to 9 pm
9 am to 1 pm
3 pm to 7 pm 
Closed Saturdays after 1pm & Sunday
7 to 9:30 am
1 to 4 pm
8:30 to 11 pm
10 am to 1:30 pm
4:30 pm to 8 pm (10 pm for convenient stores)
Closed Sundays

7 to 9:30 am
12:30 to 2 pm
7:30 to 9:30 pm
9 am to 1 pm
3:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Closed Sundays

Monuments on the Plaza del Obradoiro in Santiago de Compostela

Beautiful Santiago de Compostela is famous world-wide for its Gothic Cathedral, the resting place of the Apostle Saint James and the end of the Camino de Santiago. But inside the old Medieval walls that surround the City there is much more to discover for those who allow themselves to wander and who know what to look for. In this article, we would like to give you a bit more insight on the monuments that make the most stricking and important of the 5 squares of the Cathedral – The Plaza del Obradoiro.

The Plaza del Obradoiro in Santiago de Compostela, at the end of the Camino

What monuments will you find on the Main Square of the Plaza del Obradoiro

The Portico de la Gloria of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

The main facade of the Cathedral has a style that is unique in the world known as Compostela Baroque. It was built, by the architect Fernando de Casa y Noboa between 1738 and 1750. Continue reading Monuments on the Plaza del Obradoiro in Santiago de Compostela

Congratulations to the 300 000 pilgrims who accomplished the Camino de Santiago in 2017

2017 is the biggest year for the Camino de Santiago on record as the Pilgrim Office in Santiago de Compostela announced last week they gave out a total of 301 036 Compostelas, Certificates of Achievement of the Camino de Santiago.

Congratulations to all those brave pilgrims who walked, cycled or horse-rode over 100 km into the City of the Apostle Saint James!

Each Camino has its reason and is an achievement.

Whichever way you have done it (with luggage transfers, support van & booked luxury accommodation or with just your backpack and a map), you dedicated at least a week of your time plus preparation, you overcame your fears and each one of the challenges that were put in front of you, you went out of your comfort zone and interacted with other human beings. Even if you are a seasoned traveller and have walked the Camino in the past, each Camino is unique and worthy of respect and praise.

group of horse-riders on the Camino de Santiago arriving in Monte de GozoSo, we dedicate this post to the 300 000 intrepid pilgrims who accomplished their goal last year, to those who are not in this list but who walked a long section of the Camino somewhere not finishing in Santiago and to all those who have done it in the past and will in the future! Well done!

Continue reading Congratulations to the 300 000 pilgrims who accomplished the Camino de Santiago in 2017