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Drinking Age in Spain: What You Need to Know

Spain is known for Sangria, its lively nightlife and delicious wines. So an often asked question is “What is the legal drinking age in Spain?”

Well, if you’re over 18 years old, you’re in luck because that’s the legal drinking age in Spain. This means you can enjoy a glass of wine, beer or any other alcoholic beverage without any worries.

I’ve been to Spain numerous times to different areas inside the country and I can tell you Spaniards love their glass of wine. It’s almost part of their national identity to have a glass of wine with their lunch or dinner. I usually don’t drink alcohol myself, but I can tell you quite a bit about it.

It’s very important to abide by the law. In this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Spanish drinking laws.

Legal Drinking Age in Spain

In Spain, the legal drinking age is 18 years old. This means that you can purchase and consume alcoholic beverages when you are 18 or over. I recommend carrying an ID with you since they might check if you look underage.

It is important to note that the drinking age in Spain is the same throughout the entire country.

Whether you are in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, or Andalusia the legal drinking age remains 18. So you don’t need to worry about changing laws when you travel through Spain.

If you are under 18 years old, you are not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol in Spain. It is also illegal to sell or provide alcohol to minors. So you’d better choose a soft drink or tap water instead.

A tall and a short cocktail on a table in front of a bar

Comparisons to Other Countries

Drinking Age in Europe

The Spanish drinking age is about the norm in Europe. Even though there is no uniform drinking age, most countries in Europe, like Spain’s neighboring country Portugal, allow people 18 years old and older to drink.

There are some countries, like Austria and Germany, where the drinking age for beer and wine is 16 years. The drinking age for spirits is still 18 years in these countries.

In other European countries, like Norway, the drinking age for spirits is 20 years and for beer and wine, it’s 18 years. In Iceland, the general drinking age is 20 years.

As you can see, the drinking age in Europe is not the same in each country. But a drinking age of 18 like in Spain is pretty average.

Drinking Age in the USA

In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21 years old. This is much higher than in Spain and many other European countries.

Overall, while Spain’s legal drinking age may seem low compared to the United States, it’s actually quite common among many European countries.

Drinking in Spanish Culture

In Spain, drinking is less about the act of getting drunk and more about socializing and enjoying one’s self.

It’s common to see Spaniards sipping on glasses of wine during a long lunch, called Siesta, or while having tapas in the evening. Tapas, small plates of food, are often served with your drink, adding to the social aspect and making drinking more of a culinary experience.

Wine, especially, is deeply ingrained in Spanish culture and is considered a standard part of daily life rather than a luxury.

So, when you’re on your itinerary to Spain, embrace their culture, linger at the table after a meal, talking, and drinking. You can also enjoy a glass of wine or sangria when you’re traveling in Spain alone.

A red drink in a glass with ice cubes and roses in it, it's a non-alcoholic sangria so even if you're under the drinking age in Spain you can have it
A delicious non-alcoholic Sangria

But you should never feel obliged to consume alcohol if you don’t want to, every place serves non-alcoholic drinks as well. I had a delicious non-alcoholic Sangria in a vegan tapas restaurant in Barcelona.

In many restaurants in Andalusia, you even get some free nibbles when you order some drinks. We experienced this when we went for vegan food in Granada, we got some olives and carrot sticks on the house.

Remember, the Spanish approach to drinking is all about moderation and enjoyment, not excess.

Traditional Drinks in Spain

  • Sangria: This sweet, fruity mix of wine and assorted fruit pieces is perfect for sipping on a hot day. It’s a much-loved drink during the Spanish summer.
  • Spanish Wines: Spain, particularly the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions, is renowned for its wines. These wines come in a variety of styles and flavors.
  • Tinto de Verano: This refreshing cocktail is a blend of equal parts of red wine and mild, sweetened carbonated water. It’s served ice cold with a slice of lemon or orange.
  • Sherry: This fortified wine from the Jerez region is a Spanish staple. Traditionally served as an aperitif, sherry is a great way to kick off any meal.
  • Beer: If beer is more your style, Spain’s got you covered. The country offers an array of local brews. Beer in Spanish is called ‘cerveza’ and if you’re in Spain you should definitely try a local one.
  • Agua de Valencia: Not for the faint-hearted, this potent mix of cava, orange juice, vodka, and gin is certainly memorable. It’s one of the unique things in Valencia.
Two bottles with juice in them next to two empty glasses, in the back you can see a dark street

Things to Know About Drinking in Spain

While embracing the enriching drinking culture in Spain, it is crucial to stay within the legal boundaries for an enjoyable and hassle-free experience. Here are some legal tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid Public Drinking: Public drinking, called ‘botellón’, is prohibited in Spain. Be sure to enjoy your drinks within designated establishments or at home.
  • Time Restrictions on Alcohol Sale: In many regions of Spain, the sale of alcohol is restricted after 10:00 PM in supermarkets and most shops.
  • Bring ID: Bring ID if you want to buy or consume alcohol and you look under age.
  • Adhering to the Legal Drinking Age: The legal drinking age in Spain is 18. When you’re out, be prepared to show a valid ID if asked.
  • No Drunk Driving: Spain is very strict when it comes to drunk driving. Use public transport or a taxi/uber if you had a drink.
  • Respect Local Laws: Laws might vary between different Spanish regions. It’s always a good idea to ask a local if you’re not sure.

Staying mindful of these legal tips will ensure that your enjoyment of the vibrant Spanish drinking culture doesn’t lead to unpleasant surprises.

Legal Consequences for Breaking Spanish Drinking Laws

It is important to be aware of the legal consequences of breaking drinking laws in Spain. Here are some of the most common consequences:

  • Drinking as a minor: If a minor is caught drinking alcohol they’ll be fined at least €300 or they have to do community service instead. Otherwise, the parents get fined.
  • Drinking in public: Drinking in public is not allowed in Spain. If you are caught drinking in the streets or participating in a “botellón” (a gathering of people drinking in public), you can be fined around €600. The fine varies depending on the region of Spain.
  • Drinking and driving: If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol, you’ll be fined at least €500 and face a possible prison sentence. The legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.5 grams per liter of blood. If you are a new driver or a professional driver, the limit is even lower at 0.3 grams per liter of blood. Additionally, you can lose your driver’s license for a certain time period.
  • Selling alcohol to minors: If you are caught selling alcohol to minors, you can face fines ranging from €30,000 to €600,000. The amount of the fine will depend on the severity of the offense and whether or not you are a repeat offender.
  • Buying alcohol for minors: If you are caught buying alcohol for minors, you can be fined around €30,000. This includes buying alcohol for your own children or for the children of your friends.
  • Using fake ID: If you are caught using a fake ID to buy alcohol, you can be fined a very high amount. Additionally, the establishment that sold you the alcohol can also face fines and even foreclosure.

It is important to note that these are just some of the most common consequences for breaking Spanish drinking laws. The actual consequences can vary depending on the region you’re in, the severity of the offense and whether or not you are a repeat offender.

It is always best to follow the law and drink responsibly.

FAQ about Dinking Age Spain

Can you drink at 16 in Spain?

No, the minimum drinking age in the whole country of Spain is 18.

Can a 15 year old drink alcohol in a restaurant in Spain?

No, the minimum drinking age in Spain is 18.

Can you go clubbing at 16 in Spain?

No, you need to be at least 18 years old to be allowed to enter a nightclub in Spain.

Do they sell alcohol in supermarkets in Spain?

Yes, most supermarkets sell alcohol in Spain but not after 10pm.

Can you buy alcohol in Spain at any time?

Shops in Spain are not allowed to sell alcohol after 10pm.

What is the legal drinking age in Spain Barcelona?

The legal drinking age in Barcelona is 18 years, the same as in the rest of Spain.

What is the legal drinking age in Ibiza Spain?

The legal drinking age in Ibiza is 18 years, the same as in the rest of Spain.

Final Thoughts: Spain Legal Drinking Age

In conclusion, the drinking age in Spain is 18 and it’s there for a reason. It’s important to abide by the local drinking laws not just to avoid hefty fines but also for your own and other peoples safety!

Whether you’re sipping on a robust Rioja wine, enjoying a refreshing Tinto de Verano, or daring to try the potent Agua de Valencia, remember that it’s all about moderation and appreciation of the moment and that you should never feel forced to drink alcohol.

So, the next time you find yourself in Spain, raise a glass to their drinking age laws, embrace the local customs, and above all, enjoy responsibly. ¡Salud!

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Collage highlighting the legal drinking age in Spain, with images of vibrant cocktails and drinks, including a punch bowl with roses, refreshing beverages on a cafe table, and close-ups of a passionfruit cocktail and a classic gin and tonic.
Spain Drinking Age: All You Need to Know

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