Tourists visiting Europe, especially those from North America, are often amazed it’s still possible to smoke a cigarette in a bar in many cities in Europe.
In March 2004, Ireland became the first country in the world to impose an outright ban on smoking in workplaces. Since then, the EU has done its very best to ban smoking in public throughout Europe. In many countries though, smoking is such a tradition that it’s very difficult to ban it in social spots, such as bars and restaurants.
Where can you smoke a cigarette in a bar or restaurant in “our” Spotted by Locals countries & cities?
Tirana: No in theory, yes in practice.
According to the law, smoking is not allowed in restaurants and bars. However, there are a lot of people that regularly smoke in bars and restaurants nonetheless as the law is not strictly enforced. Our Spotter Eri recommends Bla Bla Public Bar for smokers.
Yerevan: No, only in special areas.
Due to smoking restrictions, it is only allowed to smoke in designated areas within bars and restaurants.
Vienna: No, but some larger establishments have smoking areas.
As of November 2019, a total ban on smoking in all restaurants, bars, discos, and pubs has been introduced. Only in larger establishments, it is possible to smoke in designated smoking areas and owners of smaller establishments are able to permit smoking throughout.
Up until 2011, the smoking ban was enforced only in venues where food is served. Since July 2011, smoking isn’t allowed in any restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, or casinos, with exemptions of clearly designated smoking rooms with appropriate ventilation. The smoking rooms cannot take up more than 25% of the total surface of the establishment. Any kind of service is forbidden and the customers can only take their drinks with them (in the hospitality sector).
A restaurant that offers a separate smoking room in Brussels: Brasserie Des Étangs
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Sarajevo: Go ahead!
Bosnia and Herzegovina has held a two-day anti-smoking exhibition, A Life in Smoke, in a number of cities across the Balkan country. The exhibition was designed to raise awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco smoke and the necessity of banning indoor smoking in all public places throughout the country.
Enforcement, however, is still weak so you may smoke in many places.
A non-smoking area can be found in: MilkMan House
Smoking in public places is prohibited since a nationwide ban came into effect on 1 June 2021.
Zagreb: Nay in restaurants, yea in bars!
A full smoking ban in 2009 was quickly repealed, as it was impossible to control. Now, the official rules say that establishments up to 50 sq m that meet very strict conditions may permit smoking. One of the conditions is a ventilation system that is able to change indoor air at least 10 times per hour. Only 16 out of 16.000 establishments met these conditions. In practice, many don’t care about the regulations – there’s no smoking in restaurants, i.e. places serving food, but as for the bars, an overwhelming majority is still smoke-friendly, even though not many meet the required standards.
As of May 2017, the Czech Republic has implemented a ban on smoking in all public areas, including bars and restaurants.
Copenhagen: No, only outside.
Since 15 August 2007, smoking in hospitality facilities, restaurants, bars, clubs, public transport, and all private and public workplaces has been forbidden. Exemptions to the law are bars with a floor space of less than 40m². Copenhagen has lots of those! Sometimes even bigger places seem to get away with it but it is rare. Bigger bars and clubs can have smoking sections.
Try outdoor smoking at Haabet Bodega Bar.
Tallinn: Only in smoking areas.
Banned in certain types of public places (e.g. shops), but in others (bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and nightclubs), smoking is allowed in designated rooms or areas.
For a bar with a smoking area try Tops.
Helsinki: Definitely not.
Smoking is prohibited in all Finish restaurants and bars. The government even plans to completely abolish smoking by 2030.
Paris: No, only outside.
Paris has introduced a general smoking ban inside restaurants and bars in 2006, but it is possible to smoke on outside terraces.
Since 2018, smoking has been banned in public places, which includes smoking in restaurants and bars.
Germany has different regulations in different parts of the country. Smoking bans exist at the state level, usually allowing for separate smoking rooms and exempting smaller establishments that do not serve food. Complete smoking bans for the hospitality sector are in place in Saarland, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Bavaria. In Berlin, many continue to try to abolish the smoking ban law.
Greece has the highest proportion of smokers in the EU (40%). They imposed a very strict law at the end of 2010 to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants. Enforcement of the law was very weak, until 2020. Few restaurants and bars still allow smoking now – it’s a miracle!
For a smoke-free place in Athens, try Vietnam.
Budapest: Probably not in any decent establishment.
Following a decade of resistance by the tobacco lobby, a comprehensive nationwide smoke-free law covering all inside public spaces (including workplaces, clubs, pubs, restaurants) is in effect from January 2012. Also, the number of stores where people can buy tobacco has been reduced from 40,000-42,000 to 5,300. Hungary’s really cracking down on smokers!
A potential place to try for indoor smoking would be Pótkulcs.
Dublin: No smoking whatsoever!
The first country to kick off the desmokification process, a total ban was imposed here in 2004, and seems to be strictly enforced.
Italy’s bars and restaurants have to meet very strict criteria to allow smoking indoors (rigorous ventilation, separate rooms with automatic doors). Many have chosen not to have smoking rooms (about 99%). Fortunately, the weather is often good and plenty of outdoor seating opportunities, so smoke ahead!
Prishtina: Only in designated areas.
Similar to many other countries, smoking in public spaces is restricted in Kosovo and people are only allowed to smoke in sperate smoking areas.
Riga: Total ban.
Since 2010, when the ban started, the enforcement has progressively grown. In late 2014 amendments to the law considering smoking ban took effect and included whole areas surrounding educational institutions, apartment building balconies, entrances and staircases as prohibited areas where smoking is not allowed. Also, additions to law states that every person, located in the vicinity of the smoker, now are given rights to ask the smoker to extinguish the cigarette at once upon request. Smoking in vicinity of underage children is now classified as child abuse and punished respectively. Serious stuff.
Since the beginning of 2007, smoking has been prohibited in any place where food is being served.
Since 2010, Northern Macedonia has implemented a national smoking ban that covers all public indoor areas.
While Montenegro has one of the highest tabacco-usage rates in Europe, a nationwide smoking ban in public places has still come into force on 14 August 2019.
A full ban on smoking in public places came into force on 31 March 2016.
Since 2013, the Dutch parliament agreed on a total ban in the hospitality sector with 77-73, with no exceptions for smaller, owner-operated bars.
Oslo: No smoking!
The Norwegians have banned smoking in bars and restaurants in 2004 already, as one of the first in Europe. This ban includes the immediate areas surrounding the doorways, etc.
Poland imposed a strict law at the end of 2010 to ban smoking in regular bars and restaurants. Smaller establishments may allow smoking though, and very large establishments can install physically separated and properly ventilated smoking rooms.
Smokers, try Antycafe in Krakow.
In theory, it is forbidden to smoke in cafes, restaurants, and bars of less than 100 square meters, but owners have the option to provide smoking areas.
Bucharest: Yes, no problem.
The smoking ban in Bucharest seems to be poorly enforced.
Non-smokers, go for The Harbour.
Smoking in public areas in Russia is not allowed and strictly enforced. Even in designated areas, it is not permitted.
Belgrade: Where can’t you smoke?
Serbia tried going along for the non-smoking ride in 2011 but gave it up quickly. The more reputable establishments have non-smoking areas though.
Bratislava: No in restaurants, yes in bars.
The law prohibits smoking restaurants but is it in bars and cafés as long as no food is being served.
Ljubljana: A pretty comprehensive ban.
Smoking has been prohibited since 2007 (with success coming in gradually), but there are places you can get away with it.
Spain imposed a strict ban in 2011, in all bars and restaurants, though many were defying it for years.
Our local Nathalie recently reports: “People are smoking outside now when they are with friends in a bar. The ban seems to be working!”
Stockholm: No smoking!
The ban has been on since 2005, with separate smoking rooms as an option for establishments. No serving or consumption of food or beverages is allowed in the smoking rooms though, and they may not cover more than 25% of the institution’s total area.
Smoking has been banned in all public places in Switzerland since May 2010 and is only permitted in separate smoking areas or outside.
A secret tip for smoking inside, check out Tina Bar.
Smoking is forbidden in all public places, including restaurants and bars.
Smoking in restaurants and bars is completely prohibited in Ukraine.
In July 2007, it became illegal to smoke in pubs, restaurants, etc., anywhere in the UK.
Source for facts about smoking regulation in Europe’s cities: Wikipedia, EU, and WHO websites, mixed with our own experiences. If you’re a local and know better: can you correct us where we’re wrong by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org? Thanks!