Spain on a public holiday can be a lonely place - shops close, transport is almost non-existent and many of the activities you want to do may be impossible. Spain also likes to make its holidays last with what are called 'puentes' (bridges) - see below for how these could affect you. Then there are Sundays, Mondays, afternoons.
List of Public Holidays
- January 1 New Year's Day.
- January 6 Epiphany.
- Week Before Easter Semana Santa - the later in the week you get, the more likely things will be closed - with Thursday, Friday and Sunday the most affected. Easter Monday is not a public holiday, except in Catalonia and Valencia.
- May 1 Workers' Day.
- August 15 Assumption of the Virgin.
- October 12 National Day.
- November 1 All Saints' Day.
- December 6 Constitution Day.
- December 8 Immaculate Conception.
- December 24 Navidad. Christmas Eve (Night) is far more important than Christmas Day in Spain. Shops may close early on Christmas Eve, though most will be open in the morning.
Regional Holidays in Madrid and Barcelona
Each region of Spain has its own holidays. Here are the ones that are most likely to affect you in Barcelona and Madrid.
- May 16 San Isidro (Madrid).
- June 23-24 Sant Joan (Barcelona).
- September 11 National day of Catalonia (Barcelona).
- November 9 Almudena (Madrid).
What Is a 'Puente'?
If a holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, many businesses will take the Monday or Friday off too. This is known as a 'puente', a 'bridge' between the holiday and the weekend. Sometimes, if the holiday falls on a Wednesday, staff may take both Monday and Tuesday off.
Sundays and Mondays
Sundays, in general, are also a bad time to get anything done in Spain. Different Autonomous Communities have different laws regarding shopping on a Sunday - in Madrid, for example, the shops are open on the first Sunday of a month and closed on the rest of them. Most regions are more relaxed regarding Sunday opening in December.
Big shops like El Corte Inglés and FNAC often open on public holidays (though not on Sundays and not on Workers' Day - May 1).
Museums and other activities aimed at tourists may have their weekly closed day on Monday instead. Bars and cafes will usually have either Sunday or Monday off, but some might capitalize on
The month of August, particularly in bigger cities, is a popular time for businesses to take a vacation and you will often find stores and restaurants to be closed for the whole of the month. Madrid and Seville are especially bad for this. Considering the heat in summer in these cities, you're better avoiding them anyway.
While on the subject of businesses being closed, remember the Siesta in Spain, while still affects the opening times of shops and companies.