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5 replies
Spanish Drinking Age?
BoonyCo
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I am going to Tarragona, Spain this summer. It is an hour south of Barcelona.

Any idea what the drinking age is there? Is the drinking age strictly enforced?

Markjason
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I think after 18 + is drinking age.

luv_the_beach
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Not sure why Markjason is resurrecting these ancient threads, but for the record:

The legal drinking age is 18, but if you have to ask, then you’re probably not ready to handle alcohol, regardless of age (I don’t care if you’re 16 or 60).

The drinking age isn’t really enforced in Southern Europe, but they also don’t have the alcohol-related problems that Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, or the USA have. It’s just not a part of the culture to purposely get drunk. And if someone does get drunk, it’s not something to brag about; it’s actually frowned upon. And it’s not like 12-year-olds walk into bars packed with 18-34 year-olds. So, it all works out.

Wine, beer, spirits, etc are just social drinks that people have with friends/family at dinner or socializing at a bar. There is no binge drinking, no bar fights…none of the stuff you might see in the US. Everyone in Southern Europe grows up seeing wine at the dinner table (and their parents even have them taste a little), so by the time they’re 16 or 17 or 18, it’s not some forbidden fruit. It’s not like the Anglo countries, where it’s all locked away in the “liquor cabinet” (or worse, the family might not even have any alcohol because it’s bad and evil) but then the kids go binge drinking when they’re older.


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Cil
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We just got back from a trip to Spain. There are signs up in bars stating that the legal age is 18.
The only time I ever saw anyone imbibing who looked younger than 18 was in a tiny town on the Camino de Santiago. Two girls who looked maybe 16 came in, slammed down some sort of mixed drink, played a game of foosball and then left (presumably for the next bar). They actually looked like they could handle themselves pretty well. As Luv says, alcohol for them was never a forbidden fruit.

What was actually more interesting was that the time we were there was the first anniversary of the smoking ban. Smoking is no longer allowed inside bars and restaurants or any enclosed public spaces. Everyone seemed to be obeying the law.

wellsronald18
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Lolz! Replying out to such an old thread. Well as far as I know it’s strictly enforced there.

luv_the_beach
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wellsronald18 wrote:
Lolz! Replying out to such an old thread. Well as far as I know it’s strictly enforced there.

You can’t project your own culture’s social norms and givens on other cultures.

If it’s “strictly enforced”, then either this is something very, very new, or it’s only enforced in parts of the country that are bombarded by northern European tourists.

There have been several widely-reported incidents over the past several years in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, and to a lesser extent France and Italy, about northern European tourists (Brits, Irish, Dutch, Scandinavians) getting piss-drunk and then getting violent, starting fights, vandalizing property, breaking store windows, having sex in public, falling off of balconies, drunk driving, drunk speedboat-driving and killing swimmers…the list goes on….much to the shock and anger of locals. I’m not trying to knock northern Europeans, as these people represent only a minority of northerners. But in Southern Europe, where drinking alcohol with the specific intent of getting drunk is still a foreign concept, and where public drunkenness is still very rare and frowned upon, these incidents have enraged locals. What to you may have been a “fun holiday with the boys” (just like any Saturday night in Manchester UK or some Midwestern American college town) lingers in the national conversations of Southern Europeans long after tourism season has concluded, and has sparked debates about the pros and cons of the mass tourism industry, and what direction the industry should take going forward (i.e. targetting quality tourists, not quantity of tourists). Especially in “resort towns”, like Benidorm (Spain) or Malia (Crete, Greece) among many many others, local police have started cracking down hard. I’m sure they’re enforcing the drinking age in places like that (in US/UK-style dive bars frequented only by guiris ), but for most of the country, as I said, they don’t really need to enforce it because it’s not a problem. Even if it were strictly enforced, the age is 18…hardly a very late age (unlike 21 in the US, which is a very high minimum drinking age).

I’m not sure where in Spain you visited, and what gave you the impression that it’s “strictly enforced” but it’s a bit more complicated than that. And like I said…if one has to ask, then he/she is probably not responsible and mature with alcohol anyways.


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