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Your Spain Dress Code Questions Answered

Your Spain Dress Code Questions Answered

We often get asked questions about what the Spain Dress Code is and how not to look like a tourist in Spain. In this guide we aim to demystify the rules over what to wear to Spain by asking your most frequently asked Spain outfit questions and giving you some outfit inspiration. 

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FAQS About the Spain Dress Code

Do you have questions about the Spain dress code? In this guide we aimed to answer any questions you may have about Spanish dress code sensibilities.

Parc Guell in Barcelona full of tourists
Spain Dress Code / Barcelona Dress Code

It is worth noting however that the month of travel and also the region or travel i.e. Barcelona or Madrid vs Tenerife or Mallorca for instance will have different sensibilities about clothes.

Is there a dress code in Spain?

There is not a Spain dress code per se. However there are some places where dress codes are enforced.

For instance, all churches in Spain will have a dress code. The most famous example of this is of course the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona but it can be any church and is even recommended for Monserrat Monastery and the Cathedral in Seville.

And let me tell you, certainly at the Sagrada Familia the dress code is enforced.

Generally speaking the following areas should always be covered when visiting any church in Spain:

  • Shoulders 
  • Knees. 

Therefore when putting together your Spain Outfit for churches your should avoid wearing 

  • Sleeveless Tops
  • Mini Skirts
  • Shorts

This dress code is strictly enforced and you may not be granted entry should your outfit not meet the rules. It is also worth noting that the Church Dress Code applies to both men and women

On top of that beaches in Spain will have a very different dress code to cities which we will covered below.

But before we get onto your questions I also wanted to stress that you will find that the Spanish are a stylish bunch, even when casual.

Can I wear shorts in Spain?

Woman in Bilbao in Summer
What to wear in Spain in August (what to wear in Bilbao)

Yes you can absolutely wear shorts in Spain.

If you are selecting shorts to wear in a city in Spain I would select smarter shorts such as tailored shorts for men instead of cargo shorts. But women can wear a mixture of cotton shorts and denim shorts.

However if you want to visit churches then you will not be able to wear shorts as these do not cover your leg enough.

It is also worth mentioning that it is not common to see shorts being worn by either men or women in Spanish restaurants.

However outside of the cities, shorts are more commonly worn by locals and tourists alike on beaches.

Therefore in answer to can you wear shorts in Spain I would say absolutely you can so long as you are not going to a religious site.

Can I wear crop tops in Spain?

Yes you can wear crop tops in Spain. These are most commonly worn by locals on the beach and in coastal settings as opposed to cities. And you would not be allowed to enter a church in a crop top.

However outside of churches there are no rules to say you can’t wear crop tops or would feel uncomfortable doing so.

Do you have to cover your shoulders in Spain?

Woman with Barcelona beach in background

The answer to do you have to cover your shoulders in Spain is yes and no.

If you plan to visit a church in Spain you absolutely have to keep your shoulders covered. You will not be permitted entry to some churches with bare shoulders. For this reason I always carry a pashmina with me in Spain for these occasions.

However outside of churches bare shoulders are perfectly acceptable especially in coastal settings and beach / island resorts.

Can you wear ripped jeans in Spain?

You can definitely wear ripped jeans in Spain but there are a few provisos.

Ripped jeans are acceptable in Spain if they are done in a fashion way. However tatty and ripped jeans would not be acceptable,

Also depending on the church and the security on the entrance, may mean they are not acceptable in a church. To be safe I would avoid wearing ripped jeans in a church in Spain.

Can I wear jeans in Spain?

Jeans are perfectly acceptable to wear in Spain. However I would avoid them in Summer due to the heat.

However they are a great choice for Spain in Winter and cooler shoulder seasons.

To fit in more with locals I would personally opt for dark blue or black skinny jeans as opposed to baggy stone washed ones.

Can I wear sneakers in Spain?

Sneakers are my go to shoe in Spain no matter the season or place. They are most comfortable for walking in. And trust me there is lots of walking involved in Spanish city breaks.

They can also cope with cobbles and uneven surfaces in some of Spain’s more historic places.

I never travel to Spain without a pair of sneakers.

Can I wear flip flops in Spain? 

People walking down La Rambla in Barcelona in May

You can wear flip flops in Spain, there are no rules against it however I would strongly advise you not too. In fact I usually put them on my what not to wear in Spain list.

Flip flops offer very little arch support and aren’t great to wear on the uneven surfaces of Spain or for doing lots of walking.

Therefore I would keep the flip flops for wearing round by pools and on the beach whether that be a city beach or an island beach.

Do people wear leggings in Spain?

You will find that many tourists wear leggings in Spain however they are not commonly worn by Spaniards, unless they are actually doing sports such as running.

Therefore if you want to look more like a local then I would recommend leaving the leggings at home. However if you feel comfortable in leggings and aren’t trying to fit in with local styles then by all means wear leggings.

What do you wear at night in Spain?

Although Spain isn’t a very formal place, you will find that most restaurants in Spain will adopt a smart casual dress code. Unless that it you are heading out for tapas which has a more casual dress code.

For more information on what to wear in Spain for dinner check out this post.

When I dress for dinner in Spain I avoid shorts and sneakers and opt for dresses and either sandals and boots for women depending on the time of year and chinos and shirts, either long and short sleeved, for men.

However if you are on one of the islands and looking for night club dress codes check out our island specific guides instead.

Do I need swimwear for Spain?

Tourists on beach in Spain in June
Tourists on beach in Spain in June

Beaches are a big part of many Spanish holidays particularly on the islands and Barcelona on Summer.

If you do plan to visit a beach during your visit be sure to bring swimwear, a quick dry towel and a beach cover with you.

However in Winter it will likely be too cold to swim, unless you have access to a heated pool.

Spain Dress codes

When you are looking for how to dress for Spain, we advise taking all of the above advice into consideration but also thinking about how to dress for the weather.

Despite many people thinking of Spain as a year round warm destination this is in fact not true. And many places in Spain experiences four seasons.

For this reason we advise checking out our monthly what to wear in Spain guides to help you put together your Spanish Capsule Wardrobe:

Generally speaking I would advise packing trousers / jeans along with t shirts and blouses for winter alongside coats and blazers.

However in summer I recommend sticking to Maxi dresses and skirts, with shoulders covered for days when you are planning to visit churches.

And a pashmina is an essential whatever time of year you are visiting Spain as it works as a great extra cover for churches and for when you feel chilly when dining al fresco.

And sunglasses are a must whatever season you visit Spain in.

What Else to Add to Your Spain Packing List

On top of the above the following items should be added to your Spain Packing List whatever season you are traveling in.

  • Crossbody bag – one with plenty of zips that can put off pick pockets is best. You can get pickpockets anywhere around tourist attractions so having a bag that deters pickpockets is best.
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen 
  • Aloe Vera
  • Toiletries
  • Quick Dry Towel
  • Insect Repellant
  • Medication
  • Travel First Aid Kit
  • Blister plasters 
  • Camera 
  • Travel Adaptor
  • Power Pack / Battery recharger

Are you traveling to Spain? Is there a question you have we haven’t answered? Then please leave us a comment below and we will do our best to answer.