CHRISTMAS BANK HOLIDAYS WHEN EVERYTHING CLOSES IN SPAIN
Christmas is a very convenient time to travel, however, if you are coming to Barcelona you need to take into account that our traditions might be a bit different from what you expect, and they might affect your schedule… As I always tell to my clients when they contact me about touring Barcelona for Christmas, a very important thing to take into account is that most monuments and tourist sights open for shorter hours on the local Holidays.
And December in Barcelona is too cold to walk around lost at what to do because your plans backfired… Don’t leave it to improvisation: Learn with us about the Christmas traditions in Barcelona so they don’t interfere on your trip.
Here are 5 Barcelona public holidays over Christmas that you need to take into account:
Most tourist sites close after 2pm (some don’t even open). That’s because while Spanish families celebrate their big family meal on Dec 24th in the evening, Catalan families gather on the 25th for lunch. Most locals don’t want to miss this lunch where an earthy soup (escudella) and the rich meats (carn d’olla) used to make the broth will be the star of the meal. That’s why most sites will give the afternoon off to their staff so they can go celebrate with their families.
While the rest of Spain doesn’t celebrate it, Catalan families reunite again on Dec 26th – Sant Esteve. Traditionally they’d be eating cannelloni made from the left overs of the previous day feast. It’s another huge family day, so again the staff at the tourist sites are given the afternoon off. Most tourist sites close after 2pm (some don’t even open).
While not really a bank holiday, most sites are likely to close sooner than a normal day. Everyone wants to get ready for the Barcelona New Year dinner and party, that’s why tourist sites will rarely stay open later than 6pm. The good news is that , you can still tour normally until the afternoon. If you were planning to do some shopping, beware that many stores might be closing early as well. Do check our recommendations for New Years Eve: your travel mates will be grateful!
Most sites close after 2pm. While not all families gather again for lunch on Jan 1st, many do. Plus many people have been partying until the early morning the night before, so it’s best to give them some rest.
You were not attending this day being a holiday? January 6th is the Epiphany day: the 3 Wise Men brought their gifts to the Baby Jesus… and the Spanish kids get their presents as well (Santa is only a recent import: almighty TV globalization!). Families will gather again for their last Christmas meal of the season, anticipating the tortell de reis cake that comes for dessert. Most sites close after 2pm.
AND BONUS! Do you need some help figuring out what’s open in Barcelona for Christmas and what’s not?
Sightseeing in Barcelona for Christmas:
- Casa Batlló: Open all day, every day.
- Casa Milà / Pedrera: Closed on Dec 25. Open on normal schedule the rest of the days.
- Park Guell: Open all day, every day.
- Sagrada Familia Church: Open until 2pm on Dec 25 and 26, and January 1st and 6th. December 24 and January 31st open as usual.
- Picasso Museum: Closed on Dec 25 and 26, and January 1st. Dec 24 and 31, closing at 2pm. January 6th open as usual.
- Miro Museum: Dec 25 and 26, and January 1st and 6th, closing at 2.30pm. December 31, open as usual.
- Aquarium: Open all day, every day.
- Cathedral of Saint Eulàlia: Dec 25, Jan 1st and 6th – no visitors allowed during mass. Other days, open as usual.
By the way, check out this other post to get some more ideas on what to do in Barcelona for Christmas when everything is closed (it’s written with December 25th in mind, but it pretty much works for all the other public holidays over Christmas.
Enjoy your Christmas holidays in Spain!
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