5 Useful Tips for Eating Out Alone in Spain (and Not Feel Awkward)

The food culture in Spain is one of international fame and glory. Delicious wines and tapas for cheap in a vibrant ambiance while dining with the locals! Sounds like the most fulfilling travel experience when you travel in Spain, doesn’t it? But what to do when you spend your evenings eating out alone in Spain? I have some useful tips for all you solo travellers out there that will prevent feeling akward when you eat out in Spain.

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. When you travel solo to Barcelona and the rest of Spain, it can feel awkward to eat alone. Here are my practical tips for travelling alone in Spain and eating alone in Spain.

 

Read more about my adventures as a solo female traveller.

Food culture in Spain

The Spanish food culture is mainly focussed on sharing. World famous is their paella. A big pan of rice, seafood and other delicious foods from the local countryside. You do not make 1 pan of paella for yourself, it is made to share with the whole family. Or the street or village, depending on the size of the pan.

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
Paella for 2

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
Sharing Churros over breakfast

Or the Spanish tapas. Little bites to eat when having a drink before dinner or a full platter of delicious meats, cheeses and other things to nibble on that make up for a whole meal! You can always order a “raciones”, which means racion or portion. You’ll get a smaller portion of a full plate, made to share.

But you don’t walk into a crowded local bar to shout your orders at the counter and then nibble on 5 different types of tapas all by yourself. No! You share it with your friends. They try some cold cuts, while you have a bunch of croquettes and you share it among each other to taste a bit of everything. Not really a setting you’ll enjoy as a solo traveller and you can feel quite awkward with your tapas platter and nobody to share it with. Solo dining in Spain is hard!

Read more: Barcelona Nightlife Tips from a Local.

 

Eating out in Spain

Restaurant life and eating out in Spain is the most common thing to do. Maybe your mama will make you an excellent lunch which you will eat at home. But for breakfasts, pre-diner drinks and diner it is perfectly normal to eat out.

When I travelled solo in Barcelona, I was looking for a nice place to eat by myself. But the restaurants where all so crowded, they didn’t want to sacrifice a table for just one person eating in. All they could offer me, was a place at the bar on a very uncomfortable bar stool. No thanks.

Read more: 36 Things to do in Barcelona

 
Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
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My 5 useful tips for eating out alone in Spain for solo travellers

But I travelled a lot since then. And learned a lot about dining alone while travelling without feeling awkward as a solo traveller. These 5 tips for eating out can be applied to eating out wherever in the world, but they are particularly important for eating out alone in Spain, as the Spanish food culture is quite different than the rest of the world.

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
Or occupy yourself with other activities while you wait for your food.

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
Pinxtos in Barcelona

Don’t go dining solo in Spain

Maybe a bit obvious, but if you do not like eating out alone in Spain, then don’t go solo. Because of the easy going character of Spanish food culture, it is perfectly normal to eat out with an almost perfect stranger.

In France, you’ll be stuck as a romantic table for two with candle lights in between (owh wait that was in Peru, awkward) but in Spain you’ll just stand shoulder to shoulder at a crowded bar with other strangers. Or you’re so close to the other table, you have to remind yourself not to take their bread because it is closer to you than the one on your table. (True story).

 

Eating out in Spain with other solo travellers

One of the best way to meet new people when you travel solo, is to stay in a hostel. I have not always made instant friends with the people in my dorm room, but I did strike up a friendly conversation with the people hanging out in the common area. As most of the people staying in hostels are also travelling solo, it is very easy to just say: I am going out for diner, anyone wants to join me? Voila, instant eating out companion it is.

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
A bit much for one person, so please share with others.

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
Trying out new things like these oxtail stew stuffed cracklings

Join a Food tour in Spain

This must have been one of my biggest discoveries from the past year. After my food tour in Nice, I was very eager to try a few food tours in Andalusia. I joined a food tour in Malaga and realized I didn’t need to have lunch by myself. We were with a whole group of fun people! Excellent.

During my evening food tour of Seville, I had a lovely sampling of all kinds of Spanish tapas, while enjoying the company of some interesting people who became instant friends. Diner and a good conversation? This solo traveller didn’t feel awkward at all while eating out alone in Spain!

One of the best Spanish Food Tour companies is Devour Tours. Their Barcelona Food Tours will show you the very best of Barcelona, her markets and Devour Barcelona offers great tips on where to eat solo in Barcelona. Find a suitable tour for yourself via this link, (you may thank me later).

Find the Best Barcelona Food Tour here

Reschedule your feeding frenzy times

While travelling in Spain, I was almost constantly hungry. Only 7 pm, darn, still cannot go out for diner, it is wayyyyy to early! A sandwich in the afternoon just doesn’t cut it to last you through the whole (longgggg) afternoon until it is an appropriate time to have diner. Ugh.

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
Delicious vegetarian food

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
Snacks in between meals

Long lunches in Spain

In Spain, it is perfectly normal to have a 3 course warm lunch in the afternoon. It is something different than tapas but you can enjoy some local specialties over lunch too!

While I stuffed my face in the afternoon, I wasn’t hungry for the rest of the day. Eating out alone in the afternoon felt less awkward than at night and I just ate a small snack or little tapas in the evening, and I was good to go for a good night sleep and another day on my road trip around Andalusia.

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
A little bit for everyone

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
Platter fit to share

Dine solo at a different time

Another advantage of having an exuberant lunch is the fact that places are less crowded. I had my different tapas tastings in the afternoon. There was plenty of room for me to sit at a table and I still was able to sample all the different flavours of the Spanish cuisine.

It feels more common to have lunch on your own and you feel less akward as a solo traveller eating out alone in Spain.

Of course, you can eat out at 6 pm if the restaurant or tapas bar is open. It will not be that crowded and people will not stare at you for being alone. But then you miss out on an important part of Spanish eating out culture, which usually doesn’t start until well after 8 pm.

 
Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
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Last but not least: do not give a f*ck about solo dining!

Excuse me for the language but it is something we all think. I must confess I myself have not nailed this point a full 100% but I am getting there. When you do find yourself hungry in Spain when travelling alone and you want to eat out as a solo traveller: just do it. I’ve found this excellent (self-help) book with the enticing title: the Art of not giving a F*ck, which seems very much appropriate for the road still ahead. If you’re anything like me, and still give a tiny f*ck, then give it a read.

You found a nice tapas bar or restaurant, didn’t arrive too early and are ready to feast on some fantastic food tonight. GO FOR IT! Don’t give a dime for some stares or glares from others.

 

Truth is, you are not the centre of the universe and you are not that important. Nobody of the 125 people in that tapas bar will stop eating because you are eating out solo. It is more likely that they will ask you to join them!

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
Small portion size food for sharing

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. As a solo traveller in Spain, you can feel akward dining solo. Here are my tips for eating out alone in Spain.
What would be the first thing you’d taste?

 

Have you ever travelled solo in Spain? How did you handle the eating out alone situation? Please share your solo diner tips when traveling in the comment section below. Buen provecho!

Spanish food culture is based on sharing. When you travel solo to Barcelona and the rest of Spain, it can feel awkward to eat alone. Here are my practical tips for travelling alone in Spain and eating alone in Spain.
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68 Comments

  1. I love the food in Spain! We were there last Autumn and surprisingly, locals love their food as much as they love their grandma. And they really enjoy eating with company.

    We also joined a food tour and enjoyed meals with newfound friends. Fantastic experience!

    Great tips for dining out solo.

  2. I am definitely guilty of sitting watching a video on my phone because I feeling so awkward at a solo dinner table. I find myself eavesdropping too hard otherwise and when I almost chocked on my apple pie in Amsterdam because of a joke someone told, Inrealised how dangerous this could be. I love the idea of saying “right, who is coming to dinner” at the hostel.
    Great post

  3. Marguerite

    I wish I had read this before going to Spain a couple months ago! I spent some time in Barcelona, most of it with a friend from home, but she did a lot more solo travelling than I did – will be sending her this link 🙂

  4. It is true!! As a Spaniard for us is very weird to eat by yourself or not to wait for the rest to start eating but it is part of the culture. We love sharing food and all of our greatest moments are shared and around food. I understand that the timing is completely different (as expats we have managed to have lunch a mid day but CAN’T have dinner early it has to be past 8:30!) But if you feel hungry you can always find people eating there is “the time to eat” and then the rest of the time when you can also eat!

  5. Robyn Spice

    This post is great. I didn’t realise how it was so easy to dine with others in Spain. Spanish food is some of my favourite too! Your photos make it look so delicious. I’m going to pin this post 🙂

  6. I’ve come across so many solo travelers who look so down when it comes to sitting alone and eating. I must say that I understand what they feel and it is probably why I never want to experience it! The concept of brushing shoulders with a number of friendly people is definitely something that I would like!

  7. Nuria Vidal

    you had incredible experiences dining out here! haha I am from Spain, well, from a little town in Catalonia, and sometimes I go solo dining and didn’t feel uncomfortable, although I have an English time for meals, I have dinner at 7pm most of the days… but it is true that here people use to dine later…
    Great tips for foreigns thinking about dining solo in Spain!

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