Siesta Time in Spain: All You Need to Know

Siesta time is an old Spanish tradition that is still in practice today. The siesta time in Spain refers to a “midday break.” This tradition allows people to take a break from daily activities and rest. It is not unusual to see some shops, businesses, or restaurants close during siesta in Spain, so their personnel retire to their homes to rest for a couple of hours. Since it is still an actively practiced tradition in Spain that takes place in the middle of the day, siesta time heavily influences everyday life in Spain.

1. When is Siesta Time?

Siesta typically starts at 2 pm and lasts until 5 pm in Spain. However, this is not a rule that is written in stone. It is a habit-based tradition rather than a legal obligation. Therefore, the hours of the siesta can change in different regions. It may start at 1 pm and finish at 6 pm.

take a break

The tradition of Siesta time has been around for centuries and has an important place in Spanish culture. Due to traffic conditions, most people need more time to return to their homes to rest during siesta. However, they still take a siesta break from their work to get out of the office. They usually walk to a nearby park to meet with friends or family, read, and unwind.

2. Origins of Siesta Time

Historical records don’t indicate the exact origin of the siesta time in Spain. However, it is believed to be started as a practice by agricultural workers who want to avoid the hottest part of the day. The word siesta comes from the Spanish term “sexta hora”, which indicates that farmers would take a break at 6 pm.

siesta time- Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh “The siesta”

Spain has a very warm climate. In many parts of Spain, summer temperatures can rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104F). Agricultural labourers worked under the sun. Taking a break during the hottest hours of the day was a way of conserving energy for them rather than being lazy.

Farmers would take a break from working midday to eat lunch with their families while avoiding the heat. Over time, this break established itself as a traditional practice in Spanish culture and spread to other industries and professions.

3. We Have Air Conditioners. Why do We Still Need Siesta Time?

Logically thinking, some people would prefer to stay in their air-conditioned offices instead of park outside during the day’s hottest hours. Regardless, siesta time is important for Spanish people even today because it gives them a chance to recharge.

Indeed, most Spanish people don’t do siesta time properly, which means taking a nap for a few hours every day. This could be partially because most don’t have time to go to their homes or because they are not physically exhausted by their work at noon. However, most Spanish people still enjoy their midday siesta and spend their break meeting or relaxing with their families.

family time painting
Family time

Also, the midday heat can be very exhausting, even when working in an office. Especially in summer, siesta time in Spain still serves its primary reason: to avoid the midday heat.

4. Benefits of the Siesta Time

Taking a break during the hottest period of the day has many health benefits. First, avoiding excessive heat decreases the possibility of heart stroke and other heart-related diseases. It reduces stress at a great scale by giving people a chance to refresh and relax during the day. This, in turn, improves mental health, boosts productivity and helps avoid countless stress-related illnesses.

The siesta time also offers social and economic benefits too. Since families gather to spend some time together, they often go to a restaurant to get lunch. This strengthens social bonds while increasing money circulation.

midday nap

Despite its proven benefits, the siesta time has been subject to debate for many years. While some advocate for it, others argue that it no longer applies in the modern world. To them, taking a break for hours leads to inefficiencies in a global world where everything is connected 24/7.

5. Siesta Time in Practice

The siesta tradition influences everyday life in many ways. To start with, many businesses and shops close during siesta. Therefore, if you are still getting familiar with the area, finding a place to eat or shop might be challenging during siesta hours. However, parks and public locations also become lively during siesta time since people often gather to socialize and rest.

It is worth noting that not all shops have the same timetable, so make sure to do a little research to plan for the siesta time before you visit Spain.

siesta time- park
Siesta time in the park

Siesta also impacts the dinner in Spain. As a result of taking a few hours-long breaks during the day, Spanish people eat dinner at around 9 pm. The sleep schedules also shift because of siesta time, as people tend to stay up much later at night. Therefore, dinner often becomes a leisurely activity with family and friends. This shift also reflects to the nigh life in some Spanish towns. For example, nightlife in Malaga starts at 11 pm and usually lasts until 7 am in the morning.

6. Siesta Time in Other Parts of the World

Other countries in the world also adopt Spain’s siesta culture. Today, Latin America, Greece, Italy, and some parts of Asia practice a midday break similar to the siesta time in Spain. These countries were inspired to adopt this practice because their climate is very hot, especially in summer.

siesta time- urbana

In contrast to the belief that taking a midday nap will reduce productivity, these countries discovered that siesta practices improve productivity, overall happiness, and energy.

Even though its practical origins are out of touch today, siesta time in Spain remains a very important aspect of the culture. If you want to learn more about Spanish culture, read The Richness of a Spanish Heritage: flamenco music. You can also check out the definition of the Spanish siesta.

If you are planning a trip to Spain read the Conditions for entry into Spain.

7. FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Is there a siesta time in Spain?

There is no fixed time for a siesta in Spain. However, in many regions, the siesta is typically between 2 and 5 pm. It can also start at 1 pm and last until 6 pm.

2. What is the purpose of a siesta?

When it first originated, siesta break allowed agricultural workers to avoid the sun during the day’s hottest hours. Today, avoiding the heat is only one of the reasons for siesta. People take this break to unwind, spend time with their family and friends, and recharge. Their stress levels decrease while their overall health and productivity increase.

3. How long should a siesta nap be?

There is no rule that dictates the length of a siesta nap. The siesta break lasts for a few hours, and all of it can be spared for a nap. However, people usually take a short power nap that lasts around 15 to 30 minutes and spends the rest of their break socializing.

4. What is siesta time in Greece?

Greece also applies a similar practice to the Spanish siesta. Between 2 pm and 3 to 5 pm, Greek banks, shops, offices, stores, and restaurants take a break to rest.

5. What country allows nap time?

The “nap time”, also known as the “siesta time”, is a traditional Spanish practice. However, Latin America, Greece, Italy, and some parts of Asia also practice a break time like the Spanish siesta, where people can nap at midday.

6. How long is a siesta in France?

In practice, France doesn’t have a siesta tradition. However, it is common for lunch breaks to be around two hours in France, which is considered some form of siesta.