Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Dreaded Siesta


The siesta is a sacred rest period for most Argentinians. It usually begins around 1 p.m. That’s when businesses shut down, and store owners and employees get to go home until around 6 p.m. In theory, it’s a great concept, but when you’ve lived in a country that has no siesta, this rest period can be a major inconvenience. Check the video above and you’ll see what I mean.

The word siesta means nap in English, but not every Argentinian uses this five-hour rest period to sleep. Most go home to eat lunch with their families, run errands, play soccer, or video games. They’ll drink tea at 5 p.m., and then they’ll get ready to finish off the latter half of the work day (or would that be the work night?).

If you want to eat at a restaurant or get takeout or delivery during the siesta you’re out of luck! Most restaurants won’t even start up again until 8 p.m., which is the time Argentinians commonly eat dinner. If you want to find a mechanic who can fix your car during the siesta… good luck! Hair salons and bakeries are affected as well. The only places I’ve seen open during the siesta are the local supermarkets in the neighborhoods, the malls, and the ice cream parlor called “Grido”, which remains open through the siesta and most holidays.

It’s important to note that the siesta is not observed in business districts like “El Centro”, aka downtown Cordoba, or other urbanized regions in Argentina, like the country’s capital of Buenos Aires.

It can be quite an adjustment to deal with the siesta, but if you can't beat em, you might as well join em! 


  1. Great post and I agree completely. I am from the USA as well and the afternoon is a time when I like to run errands to local shops and it is a a major inconvenience because they are all closed! I have found that you can use the siesta time to your advantage if you head to a larger store (for example Walmart, Carrefour, Jumbo/Disco Supermercado) or a mall. Anywhere that is open during siesta will be empty and so you can have a stress-free shopping experience all to yourself :) Trying to see the silver lining.

    1. Thank you Lisa! Yes, I agree that large supermarkets and malls are the best places to go. I really wish they'd bring a McD's or a Burger King over to my side of the neighborhood. The nearest one for me is in Patio Olmos. It's great to hear from a fellow expat.