A slightly odd incident happened to my wife and me in Alicante a couple of weeks ago. We visited a restaurant; first we ordered a jug of sangria, and then ordered a paella for two. The waiter didn't speak much English but was very friendly and helpful. After the meal he asked us if we wanted coffee - I asked for coffee and my wife asked for a glass of water, tap water. Immediately his attitude changed, as if we'd grievously insulted him. (And he didn't bring us the water.) I do know, that whilst in the UK it's perfectly ok to ask for tap water in a restaurant, that's by no means the case in much of the world - but for some reason that fact slipped my mind for a moment; (particularly annoying as 'agua sin gas' is one of the very few bits of restaurant Spanish I actually know). But even so, the waiter could have just told us only bottled water was available, rather than taking offence. So my questions: Is the tap water in Alicante OK to drink? Did the waiter perhaps think we were just the worst chiselling cheapskates he'd had all week? Is it simply unacceptable to ask for tap water in Alicante?

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    How did you ask for it?
    – jcaron
    Jul 5, 2023 at 21:42
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    @jcaron The waiter asked something along the lines of "Do you want anything else? Coffee?" (in English) and I replied "Yes, coffee for me please" and my wife said "Just water for me, please - tap water". Something like that. He brought my coffee, and it was nice, too. I don't remotely have enough Spanish to navigate the complexities of asking him directly if we'd offended him or anything, and he'd already indicated his English was very limited too.
    – peterG
    Jul 5, 2023 at 22:40
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    So you asked for it in English, right, not Spanish? Could possibly have misunderstood it for something else, though I wonder what. Did he actually bring the water?
    – jcaron
    Jul 5, 2023 at 22:44
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    As you’d already ordered sangria and paella it seems unlikely the waiter would take offence at you not spending a couple of € or so more on bottled water. Most probably he misheard or misunderstood - my spanish is quite good (I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to think what ‘tap water’ might sound like!) but even so accents/pronunciation still regularly cause confusion. Plus restaurants and bars in Spain are required by law to offer free tap water theolivepress.es/spain-news/2022/04/17/…
    – Traveller
    Jul 5, 2023 at 23:56
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    It either was a misunderstanding or was the result of something that had been building up during the rest of the meal. As @Traveller says, it is ok to ask for tap water, and it does not make much difference when you are already having meal on that place. I hope this incident did not spoil your visit to Spain. Jul 6, 2023 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


Is the tap water in Alicante OK to drink?

Yes, all tap water in Spain is considered safe to drink, although in some areas it may contain higher levels of chlorine, sediment and minerals than you are used to, which could mean it doesn’t taste good or might upset your stomach. https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/expat-tips/945-drinking-water-spain.html

Is it simply unacceptable to ask for tap water in Alicante?

I don’t know if that might have been the case in the past, however since April 2022 bars and restaurants have been required by law to provide free tap water https://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2022/04/17/restaurants-and-bars-across-spain-are-now-required-by-law-to-offer-free-tap-water/

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    "restaurants have been required by law to provide free tap water" - maybe that was the reason?
    – Trang Oul
    Jul 6, 2023 at 9:09

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