Spain May Officially Say Goodbye to Siesta Hour
For travelers, the implications are varied—but significant.
Just as nap pods are becoming a thing in the American workplace, Spain is calling a quits to its famous siesta hour. According to a flurry of news reporting coming out of Europe, the country’s Prime Minister has proposed legislation that will nix the daytime break for once and for all. What does it mean for travelers? A few things, actually.
No more itinerary interruptions
If you’ve ever traveled to a country with siesta-like practices, you’ve probably found yourself walking down oddly quiet streets in the mid-afternoon—shops closed, locals at home, and little to do. I remember feeling incredibly frustrated in Bologna, Italy, where I was forced to window shop down ghostly streets for two hours when what I really wanted to do was chat with local artisans and buy some of their beautiful wares. Thanks to some bad timing during siesta hour, my search for an authentic shopping experience left me feeling out of place and out of sorts. It was a rookie move—I should have been at my hotel, kicking up my feet like a local—but we’ve all been there, whether in Barcelona or Bologna or Tel Aviv.
Restaurant reservations may be trickier to score
Spaniards eat famously late. The reason: they work until 8 p.m., so getting to a restaurant before 8:30 is a near-impossibility. The very purpose of eliminating siesta hour is to give locals more regular working hours—from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. rather than 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. The new hours mean you’ll likely be competing with locals—not just other travelers—for a 7:30 or 8:00 two-top. Bear that in mind before your next trip, and make plans ahead of time.
Cafés will be less crowded by day
The upside to tougher restaurant reservations is that you’ll be able to take your café con leche without elbowing for seating space. Since many Spaniards have too long a commute to go home during siesta hour, the cafés and department stores that remain open by day get flooded with not-napping working folk. Now you’ll have them all to yourselves.