When you live in Spain, you might want to fit in with the locals and probably don’t want to stick out as a guiri (someone who is an obvious foreigner) if you can help it. Unfortunately, when you have red hair and freckles like I do, it’s a bit hard to not to stand out as a Brit, but there are some ways to blend in with the locals in Spain…
Dress for the weather
One thing that makes you stand out as an obvious foreigner in Spain is how you dress in the colder months. In the summer everyone wears t-shirts and shorts, but as soon as September hits, the Spanish put their shorts away! Once temperatures drop below 26-ish degrees you’ll find the Spanish wearing jumpers and coats. If you’re still wearing shorts (and if you come from the UK you’ll want to wear them until November on the Costa Blanca!) you’ll get some funny looks.
Don’t wear flip flops
Wearing plastic flip flops, or ‘Brit flops’ will definitely make you stand out! In Spain flip flops are only worn at the beach or around the pool, and definitely not for wandering around town or going shopping in, even in the middle of summer. Leather sandals are fine, but you’ll want to avoid the plasticky flip flops.
The only people eating in restaurants in Spain before 9pm will be tourists. The Spanish eat late and don’t usually go to restaurants until around 10pm, even with children. This can get a bit of getting used to at first, but unless you want to be the only ones in a restaurant you need to start going out to eat much later of an evening.
Don’t turn up early
One of the mistakes we made when we first moved to Spain was turning up early or on time for kids’ birthday parties. The first few times we arrived at the start time on the invitation only to find even the birthday child wasn’t there! We’ve still not really worked out why they put a time that no one turns up to, but we’ve learnt to be 30-45 minutes late to fit in with the Spanish parents.
Don’t get sunburnt
Getting sunburnt in Spain is easy to do, even in the winter. You very rarely see the Spanish applying suntan lotion, but that doesn’t mean you can forget to apply it yourself! Walking around looking like a lobster isn’t a good look, and if you’re sunburnt you may as well have a flashing sign on your head saying ‘BRIT!’.
Bikinis are only for the beach
Walking around town or a shopping mall with your bikini showing is a big no no if you want to blend in with the locals in Spain, and something that the Spanish would never do. Bikini’s are strictly for the beach only, as are beach dresses and sarongs.
Yoga pants are only for exercise
In the UK it’s very common to see women in yoga pants or gym clothes in the supermarket or at the school gates, but in Spain the only time you’ll see Spanish women wearing them is at the gym or when out running. The same goes for tracksuit bottoms, you might find them comfortable but if you wear them in public you’ll stand out as a foreigner straight away.
Ditch the backpacks
Unless they’re on a day out, no Spanish person would walk around wearing a backpack. If you’re only wandering around town or going shopping, leave the backpack at home. In busy cities you’re also much more likely to get mugged if wearing a backpack, so try a smaller bag instead.
The Spanish are incredibly laid back and outside of the cities, no one rushes around. When there’s a long queue at the bank (which there always is!), wait patiently without huffing or fidgeting around. When walking along the pavements or in shops, don’t bustle past people or try to hurry them along. Walk slowly and generally just slow down the pace in which you do things.
So, if you want to blend in with the locals in Spain and don’t want to stand out as a ‘guiri’ try following some of the above suggestions. However, don’t be afraid to be yourself and hold on to some of your British customs!
Pin for later: