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?
Vienna: Yes, many places!
Background: As of January 2009, all restaurants, bars, discos and pubs larger than 50m² have to introduce smoking rooms and non-smoking rooms. In a place less than 50m² the owner can choose to be a smoking or non-smoking place. They expect it to take a long time to be fully implemented. Quite understandable, since Austrians love their smoking!
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
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A full smoking ban in 2009 was quickly repealed, as it was impossible to control.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.
Prague: Yes, no problem!
The Czech Republic requires bars and restaurants where smoking is allowed (practically all of them), to put up a sign.
For a smoking bar in Prague, our Spotter Štěpán, recommends Café Jehuda.
Copenhagen: Yes, but only in tiny places.
Smoking is prohibited in venues larger than 40 sq, except in smoking rooms or cabins, where food and drinks are not served. Small bars, with a serving area smaller than 40 sq may permit smoking.
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.
Paris: Yes, some places.
Paris establishments have to meet very strict criteria to allow smoking (much ventilation, separate rooms with automatic doors). In practice though, many establishments ignore this ban.
Local Tamara recommends this place for smokers: Lavomatic.
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.
Athens: No in theory, yes in practice.
Greece has the highest proportion of smokers in the EU (40%) . Yet they imposed a very strict law at the end of 2010 to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants. Enforcement of the law is reportedly weak though, with most owners of coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants continuing to allow smoking.
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 indoors 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 outdoors seating opportunities, so smoke ahead!
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 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, restaurants and bars in Portugal must have detached, ventilated and labeled smoking areas. In practice though, the smoking ban isn’t thoroughly enforced. According to a study by the Ministry of Health, there was 90% compliance with the law in establishments with a total smoking ban, but only 50% compliance in establishments where smoking is partly or wholly permitted (i.e., most bars).
For places with non-smoking areas, try the terrace of Hub New Lisbon
Bucharest: Yes, no problem.
The smoking ban in Bucharest seems to be poorly enforced.
Non-smokers, go for The Harbour.
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.
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.
11 cantons (Jura, Aargau, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Zug, Schwyz, Glarus, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden) have imposed only the national mandated restrictions, with the remaining 15 (Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Valais, Fribourg, Bern, Solothurn, Basel-City, Basel-Land, Zürich, Uri, Ticino, Graubünden, St. Gallen, Lucerne) imposing stricter laws by not excluding establishments smaller than 80 square meters. All 15 cantons, however, permit separate smoking rooms with 6 (Bern, Solothurn, Zürich, Uri, Ticino, Graubünden) permitting service in them.
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 email@example.com? Thanks!