What is the legal drinking age in Spain? The Complete 2024 Planning Guide

To enjoy your vacation to the fullest and find out if you may enjoy the delectable Spanish wine or vermouth, do you want to know what the legal drinking age is in Spain? You’ve arrived at the correct place; the data is here!

Many of the finest things to do in Spain include alcohol, and Spain is known for producing some of the best wine, beer, and – our favorite – Spanish vermouth in the world. It’s a fantastic Spanish keepsake as well! Even locals have been seen sipping beer or wine during their lunch break!

The legal drinking age in Spain is 18, which is far lower than it is in the US. Furthermore, Spain has a constant drinking age, unlike the US.

We know a thing or two about Spanish laws and drinking culture because Caleb and I have traveled to Spain several times and one of our favorite activities during our four days in Madrid is indulging in their delectable alcoholic beverages!

To help you get the most out of your Spanish trip, we’ll cover all you need to know in this piece, including the legal drinking age in Spain, the drinking culture, alcohol laws, what happens if you breach the regulations, and even our favorite drinks and cultural suggestions!

What is the legal drinking age in Spain? The Complete 2024 Planning Guide

Also Read: Mallorca Driving and Renting a Car

What Is Spain’s Legal Drinking Age?

The legal drinking age in Spain is eighteen. This holds whether you’re using alcohol or trying to get it. To undertake either of these in Spain, you have to be at least eighteen years old.

No matter what city or region of the nation you are in, this is true. The legal drinking age in Barcelona, Madrid, and Mallorca is eighteen.

The initial legal drinking age was sixteen, but in 1991, limitations started to be imposed, and by 2009, they were entirely in place. Thank God for this since it’s impossible to fathom a romantic getaway with a bunch of drunken 16-year-olds. Many thanks for it.

In Europe, the legal drinking age is 18 years old.

The legal drinking age in the majority of European nations is the same as it is in Spain: eighteen.

Nonetheless, there are notable differences throughout Europe:

  • In Belgium, Denmark, and Germany, you can purchase alcohol with less than 1.2% distilled alcohol at the age of 16 and more than that at the age of 18.
  • To purchase anything stronger than 3.5% alcohol in Sweden, you must be at least 20 years old.
  • In Cyprus and Malta, you can buy any type of alcohol at the age of 17.
  • In Luxembourg, you can purchase alcohol at the age of 16.

The Legal Drinking Ages in Spain and the United States

The main difference between the legal drinking ages in Spain and the US is that in the US, you have to be 21 to buy or drink alcohol. You must be at least eighteen to enter Spain.

Because of this, nations like Spain are well-known for occasions like spring break (which is why, if you’re looking for an amazing, romantic couples holiday, we don’t recommend going at this time!).

The United States legal drinking age was set at 21 years old by the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 to teach youth alcohol use responsibility. Spain raised the legal drinking age from 16 to 18 for comparable reasons.

Both nations have regulations that address public drinking, open containers, driving while intoxicated, and the buying, selling, and serving of alcohol to minors. Both nations demand that you present identification upon request, but we’ve discovered that although we frequently receive cards in the US, we never get them in Spain—which always makes us happy since who wouldn’t want to appear to be in their twenties?

Returning Alcohol from Spain to the United States

We can assure you that you will want to pack some delectable Spanish wine or vermouth for when you get back from your trip. Here’s what you need to know so you don’t lose it:

You are allowed to bring one small bottle of alcohol into the country per person if you choose not to pay duty on it (as long as you are 21). The quantity of alcohol you are allowed to bring back for personal use is unlimited by law, yet bringing in big amounts might get you noticed.

On the other hand, if the alcohol level is between 24% and 70%, the Federal Aviation Administration limits the amount of alcohol that may be transported on an aircraft to 5 liters of unopened alcohol per passenger. If the percentage is less than 24%, you can bring more. Customs will charge everything over one liter per person.

Keep in mind that, if you reside in a state with different alcohol laws, you may be restricted in how much you may bring back. Be sure to do your homework. If you are just passing through that state, as would be the case during a stopover, this usually does not apply.

Duty-free: In Spain, you may always purchase alcohol duty-free as you leave the airport. However, keep in mind that this just eliminates the need for you to pay Spanish alcohol taxes. You will still be subject to duty in the US if you carry back more than one liter per person.

Spain’s Drinking Culture

In comparison to the United States, alcohol use in Spain is far more informal, laid-back, and typical. This is especially true when traveling to some of the island nations, such as Mallorca. It is not very normal to see folks enjoying a few beers or glasses of wine with their lunch, particularly if they are taking a (long) break for business. Isn’t this amazing?

Since Spaniards eat and drink out more frequently than Americans (perhaps due to the lower cost of food and beverages), going out for beer, wine, and cocktails at night is rather typical. Sometimes a glass of locally brewed beer or wine is less expensive than a Coke can!

Not taking advantage of this would be foolish, especially considering that Spain produces some of the greatest wines in the world! In the United States, we like Spanish wine better than popular California wine. In Spain, beer is considered “fancier” than wine, while wine is considered “less fancy.” In the US, this is not the case. Similar to the US, Spain struggles with underage alcohol use. In Spain, the average age at which one starts drinking is 13, and 75% of those between the ages of 14 and 18 have consumed alcohol at some time in their lives.

Spain is a party nation, therefore if you visit big cities like Madrid, Barcelona, or Ibiza, you’ll notice that the beautiful bars stay open late. In certain regions, like Andalusia or less popular locales, you could get a tiny tapa for free if you only purchase a drink at a bar. It was a nice surprise when this happened, as it was not typical in big cities like Madrid or Barcelona!

Alcohol Consumption Regulations in Spain

Public Consumption of Alcohol

In Spain, you could come across something known as a “botellón” (or “big bottle” in English) when strolling through the streets. A bunch of young people get together in public spaces, play loud music, and trade drinks to save money.

Botellón is outlawed, and other restrictions have been put in place, such as the inability to buy alcohol in stores after 10 p.m. But that doesn’t mean you can’t buy alcohol beyond the age of ten or enjoy a botellón. Even though it’s still illegal, some firms could still offer it to you after 10 p.m., so please don’t put them in danger. Just head to the bar.

You may, of course, enjoy your drink al fresco on a restaurant patio.

Spain’s Open Container Laws

It is against the law to carry an open container of alcohol in Spain, even if you aren’t hosting a boisterous botellón.

Driving While Intoxicated (DUI) in Spain

No matter where you are, it is never proper to drink and drive. Because European public transit is so much better than American public transport, there is always a cab, Uber, rail, or metro available. Driving after intoxication is never acceptable!

On the Spanish mainland and islands such as Mallorca, the legal driving limit is:

0.5% in your system, or 0.25 mg/l in a breathalyzer test.

The limit in your bloodstream is 0.03 g/L if you are a rookie driver.

Minors Should Not Be Served Or Sold Alcohol

It is not acceptable for waiters to fail to serve children who are accompanied by their parents; the fine for doing so is a minimum of €30,000 and a maximum of €600,000.

Drinking Expressions in Spain

It’s time to decide what to say and do when drinking in Spain now that you know what not to say and do! The most common terms you’ll need to know are the ones listed below:

  • Wine – Vino (VEE-NO)
  • Red wine – Vino Tinto (VEE-NO TEEN-TOE)
  • White Wine – Vino Blanco (VEE-NO BLAH-NCO)
  • Beer – Cerveza (SIR-VAY-SA)
  • Cider – Sidra (SEE-DRAH)
  • Gin – Ginebra (JIN-E-BRAH)
  • Whiskey – Whiskey
  • Vodka – Vodka
  • Rum – Ron
  • A shot – Un chupito (OO-N CHU-PEE-TOE)
  • Alcohol-free – Sin Alcohol
  • I would like – Me gustaría (MAY GOO-STAH-REE-AH)
  • Cheers! – ¡Salud! This translates to “Health!” Note: the “d” is silent so it’s
    pronounced (SAH-LOO)
  • No more – no más
  • Please – Por favor (POOR FAH-VOR)

Traditional Drinks in Spain You Must Try (Alcoholic)

When visiting Spain, make sure to sample these incredible adult beverages:

  • Sangria –  A delicious blend of red wine, brandy, Sprite, peaches, oranges, apples, sugar, lemon, and cinnamon. Taberna El Sur in Madrid offers delectable sangria.
  • Spanish Wine – Spain produces some of the world’s finest wines.

If you like red wine, try Tempranillo. If you prefer white wines, try Albario.

  • Mahou –  The most popular beer brand, Mahou, is made in Madrid.
  • Tinto de verano –  Tinto de verano, a primitive relative of Sangria (and the local alternative), is just wine and Sprite with a lemon slice.
  • Vermouth –  Spanish vermouth is a fortified wine with caramel, spice, and herb flavors. It’s dark brown but is made from white wine, and it’s rich, sweet, and medicinal in a lovely, one-of-a-kind way. I promise it tastes better than it sounds. Taberna La Concha in Madrid is our favorite spot to get Vermouth. We always bring bottles home with us.

What is the legal drinking age in Spain? The Complete 2024 Planning Guide

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Conclusion

Spain is a beautiful nation with incredible cuisine, drink, and culture! Having traveled to Spain around ten times and experienced the finest wine, vermouth, and sangria the nation has to offer, we realize how crucial it is to comprehend the legal drinking age. We hope that this has addressed all of your inquiries and that you are now ready to explore Spain’s food and drink offerings!

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