Salud! Spaniards' love of socialising places them top in the EU for household expenditure in bars, cafes and restaurants.

Salud! Spaniards’ love of socialising places them top in the EU for household expenditure in bars, cafés and restaurants.

Bars and Spain have a long and (not always so) healthy history. It is well-known that Spaniards love to socialise, but few non-Spaniards may realise just how prevalent bar culture is in the country…

Spain has more bars per inhabitant than any other nation in the EU, with one bar for every 169 residents. In the region of Andalucía alone there are more bars than in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Ireland combined, with the entire country home to more than 290,000 licensed establishments.

Not all bars in Spain serve food, but a vast majority of them will have a selection of tapas or pintxos to munch on, which makes dining out in Spain a wonderfully diverse and vibrant experience.

It’s cheap, too – although new Eurostat data has found that Spaniards spend more per household budget in cafés, bars and restaurants than any other nationality in the EU.

While this data may come as a surprise to Brits knocking back €8 pints and chowing down €20 burgers, or the French who simply love to while away many an hour in Parisian-style cafés chain-drinking espressos (yes, outmoded clichés were consulted during the creation of this article), it will not surprise anybody who has spent any extended length of time in Spain.

According to the Eurostat data, Spaniards spend, on average, 14.8% of their household income on socialising in such establishments. The EU average is a mere 6.9% of household income on dining or drinking out, with Spain topping the table ahead of Ireland (13.2%), Malta (12%) and Greece (11.5%).

With a lengthy and active working day, Spaniards are typically frequenting cafés in the morning for their caffeine pick-me-up, relaxing in shaded plazas enjoying menus-del-día at lunchtime, and ushering in the evening by sinking a few cervezas and tasting a couple of tapas.

Spain’s bar culture can also be enjoyed in all weathers, with the nation ably catering for the cold, the mild and the hot weather. Spaniards are also famously outgoing people, with every town, city and pueblo geared up to ensure families and friends can gather at all hours to chat over a meal, snack or jarra of sangría.

It’s a great way of life, and one that underpins the Spanish economy: INE data shows that Spain’s bars and restaurants account for approximately 16% of its GDP. So why not do your bit for Spain’s economy and get the round in, eh?