Wondering what not to wear in Spain? Worried that there might be a Spain dress code that you aren’t aware of? In this guide we will round up what not to wear to Spain, no matter the region you are traveling to so you won’t look like a tourist and provide the best alternatives to things that may normally be in your travel wardrobe.
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How do people dress in Spain?
In answer to how do people dress in Spain I have to say it varies. Spain is a young, vibrant and dynamic country and the style you see on the street will reflect this.
People tend to dress more conservatively out in the countryside, however in the cities and tourist areas you will find an almost anything goes attitude towards clothing and fashion.
You will also find that the dress code in the Spanish cities it tends to err towards the casual, especially during the daytime.
Although in business districts you will see the usual professional workplace attire.
Zara, is a Spanish chain clothing store and is a great litmus test for things that you will see touring Spain.
For seasonal examples of what to wear in Spain check out these regional and monthly guides:
- What to wear in Spain in May
- What to wear in Spain in June
- What to wear in Spain in July
- What to wear in Spain in August
- What to wear in Spain in September
- What to wear in Spain in October
- What to wear in Spain in November
- What to wear in Spain in Winter
- What to wear in Barcelona in May
- What to wear in Barcelona in June
What Not to Wear in Spain
High Heels and Stilettos
Spain is a beautiful country and in the cities in particular you will do a lot of exploring on foot. As such heels and stilettos in the city aren’t really appropriate.
That is because these cities are full of cobblestones, bridges and uneven streets and piazzas. High heels and stilettos are just a danger on these.
High heels can easily get caught in the cobbles and someone can easily get injured.
My advice is to leave the high heels and stilettos at home however if you must take them keep them to use in nice restaurants only and be sure to have an alternative pair of shoes with you for walking.
And if you do want to take shoes with a bit of height I would definitely recommend taking a pair of wedges in place of stilettos.
Although flip flops are great for beach resorts in Spain, you won’t want to wear them in the cities.
Flip flops offer no arch support and if you are visiting cities such as Barcelona or Madrid they will not cope with hills and all the walking.
Instead for cities we recommend having a food pair of sneakers with you. For summer we recommend having a breathable paur.
White Socks and Shoes
Although fashion can be more casual in Spain, you will not see the Spanish wearing white socks and shoes. This is definitely a huge flag that you are a tourist
Instead switch out those white socks for sneaker socks or wear sandals without a sock.
Shorts (But Only in Certain Places)
Now 99% of the time shorts are perfectly acceptable in Spain especially in cities, beaches and countryside. However if you plan to visit religious venues such as the Sagrada Familia you will need to keep your knees covered – as well as your shoulders.
And in Spain you don’t have to worry about the type of shorts you wear. You will see short, long, denim, cotton and more.
Short Skirts (But Only in Certain Places)
Again by all means wear a short skirt in Spain but just don’t do it on days you plan on entering religious sites.
Sleeveless Tops but only in certain places.
Not to sound like a broken record but you need a shirt with sleeves if you are visiting Spanish churches.
Tops with no sleeves for both men and women are not allowed in places of worship in Spain and you will be refused entry.
Nothing shouts drunk tourist in Spain than a shirtless man.
Be sure to keep appropriate attire on for streets and cafes etc and save swimwear and being shirtless for the beaches.
Synthetic Fabrics in Summer
If you are visiting Spain in the summer, whether you are in the north, south or on an island be sure to avoid synthetic fabrics.
Spain in summer gets HOT HOT HOT, particularly the further South you go. You don’t want to make yourself sweat more than you have to in synthetic fabrics.
Instead opt for light and breathable fabrics such as loose linen trousers and beautiful cotton tops.
Although Spain is home of Flamenco outfits, Seville in particular, Flamenco dresses are not something that locals walk around it.
By all means feel free to buy a flamenco dress as a souvenir from Spain, but wearing one while traveling around the country will single you out as a tourist.
An Open Bag / Fanny Bag
As with any tourist place around the world, pickpockets can be a problem in Spain especially in the cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.
There are two ways of mitigating your risk of being targeted by pickpockets.
One way is to not look like a tourist. The other way is to have bags that protect your belongings.
Therefore we recommend
1) Not wearing a fanny pack in Spain. The Spanish would never use this so you will be just highlighting yourself as a tourist.
2) Using a cross body bag with plenty of zips to make a pickpockets job more difficult.
FAQs About what Not to wear in Spain
What to wear in Spain for dinner
Spain is a great foodie country. From great tapas bars to fancy Michelin starred restaurants, and countryside tavernas there is something foodie for everyone.
Can I wear shorts in Spain
Can I wear shorts in Spain? Yes you absolutely can! Shorts are appropriate in cities and beaches but just don’t wear them to religious sites such as the Sagrada Familia.
Is it OK to wear leggings in Spain?
Yes during the day you can certainly wear leggings in Spain. Spain has relatively casual attire so you will see everything from jeans, skirts, leggings and more.
Is it OK to wear crop tops in Spain?
Crop tops are certainly fine on the beaches and islands of Spain, and you will even see them in towns and cities. However you won’t see them entering religious venues.
Is it okay to wear sneakers in Spain?
It is absolutely ok to wear sneakers in Spain.
In fact I would say that sneakers are an essential item for your Spain packing list wherever you are traveling as you tend to walk a lot on any Spanish vacation.
Can I wear a bikini in Spain?
If you want to hit the pool or a beach in Spain you may be wondering what type of swimwear is appropriate.
The good news is anything goes! In fact amongst younger people the swimwear tends to skew slightly towards the skimpier end. However we recommend packing a one or two piece based on personal preference as you will see both types on a Spanish beach.
Just be sure to also have a beach cover with you for the boardwalk and beach restaurants, bars etc.
Can I wear flip flops in Spain?
You can definitely wear flip flops in Spain but this is not something I recommend in cities. I would save these for beaches and around hotel pools.
Do you have to cover your shoulders in Spain?
No on a normal day you do not have to cover your shoulders in Spain. In fact on beaches you will find quite skimpy swimwear.
However if you plan to go into a church or a religious site then you absolutely must cover your shoulders.
Have you been to Spain? What would you add to the what not to wear in Italy guide? What would you leave at home next time