Share on Facebook

6 Countries with the Longest Lunch Breaks in the World

Americans, read this and weep: Workers in these countries get two to three times as long for their lunch breaks. Here's how the other half lives—and the trade-offs this lifestyle requires.

View of Barcelona from the park at sunriseLukasz Szwaj/Shutterstock

Spain: 3 hours

The Spanish “siesta” is no joke. In Spain, most companies break between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., then work another three hours before quitting time. How else are you going to be prepped for 10 o’clock dinners? But why these hours and not, say, 9 a.m. to noon? It’s because that’s when the outdoor weather is the hottest, causing productivity to take a nose dive, whether one works outdoors or in an office. Spaniards are currently holding tight to tradition. Last year the Catalonian government voted to end the workday at 6 p.m., The Guardian reports, which may spell the end of the siesta for this region.

Santorini, Greece. Picturesq view of traditional cycladic Santorini houses on small street with flowers in foreground. Location: Oia village, Santorini, Greece. Vacations background.Feel good studio/Shutterstock

Greece: 3 hours

A long lunch break in Greece isn’t so much about resting. It’s also rooted in traditional meal times. Greeks view lunch as the biggest meal of the day, which means it takes more time to chow down. Most people head home for lunch and a nap around 2 p.m., returning to the workplace at 5 p.m., which is about when the American workday slows down. What might one eat in Greece for lunch? Here’s a mouth-watering guide to the 13 best Greek dishes. Meze—small plates—of feta, olives, tzatziki, vegetables, and souvlaki are likely lunch options.

View of Eiffel Tower from Champ de Mars before the storm. Paris, FranceMarinaDa/Shutterstock

France: 2 hours

It’s acceptable for shop owners throughout France—whether in bustling Paris or rural Provence—to shut down between around 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. This is the universal lunch and afternoon break for school kids and working adults alike. According to the English-language French digital publication thelocal.fr, a recent survey found that 43 percent of French workers spend more than 45 minutes eating lunch every day—the highest percentage of 14 countries surveyed.

Beihai Park Beijing ChinaSchnepfDesign/Shutterstock

China: 2 hours

Workers in China receive a lunch break between noon and 2 p.m., starting with a quick lunch followed by a nap. The idea of the power nap is catching on in the country, according to a 2014 NBC article: Factories allow workers to indulge in naps of 30 minutes or less. Find out the healthiest things you can do on your lunch break that have nothing to do with food.

View of the historic Rua do Bom Jesus street in the city of Recife in Pernambuco, Brazil on a sunny summer day with its cobblestones and 17th century buildings.Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock

Brazil: 2 hours

Brazilian workers know how to make the most of their lunch break. They will often schedule a meeting out of the office for 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. and then take a two-hour lunch. But, like Spain, dinner begins very late in the evening, allowing them to work later—and creating the need for a hearty lunch. Here are 14 things healthy, happy people do on their lunch breaks.

Grand Canal and Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, ItalyMiiisha/Shutterstock

Italy: 90 minutes

Unless your boss is fairly relaxed (or you are the boss), an hour-and-a-half lunch is unheard of in the United States. In Italy, it’s standard, according to a recent survey by Quickbooks. Sounds nice, right? Next, find out 10 healthy and delicious lunch ideas from around the world.

Kristine Hansen
Based in Milwaukee, and a former Californian, Kristine Hansen is the author of Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State's Best Creameries (Globe Pequot Press) and writes about food/drink, travel and art/design for outlets that include--in addition to RD.com--ArchitecturalDigest.com, Fodors.com, TravelandLeisure.com and MarthaStewart.com. She earned a bachelor's degree in English, with a focus on writing, from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and enjoys yoga, reading, knitting and hiking.