Public holidays in Barcelona in May: what to do, what to see, where to eat
Article updated 7 May, 2018.
There are a number of public holidays in May and June, and Barcelona is a great place to visit at this time of year. Read on to find out more and plan your stay!
Some public holidays are the same pretty much everywhere – for example, few people in Europe work on 1st May (although in the UK, the holiday is transferred to the first Monday in the month). Others are specific to different countries – some have a day off on May 8th to celebrate the end of WWII, while others celebrate specific religious festivals.
For a list of public holidays in Catalonia, take a look at our article on Festivals and public holidays in Barcelona: all you need to know when planning your stay.
- If you haven’t booked accommodation for your trip to Barcelona yet, now might be a good time to do it! Our article on Renting a house or apartment in Barcelona should help.
1st May and Whit Monday: holidays in Barcelona
If you’re coming to Barcelona over 1st May or Whit weekend, you’ll need to check what’s open. 1st May and 21st May (Whit Monday) are public holidays in Catalonia, and certain restaurants and museums will be closed.
That said, there’s no reason to panic or, worse, put off your trip – there’s still plenty to see and do in Barcelona!
Culture on tap
- Gaudí’s masterpieces, Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera are all open on 1st May and Whit Monday.
- The Miró Foundation is also open, but with reduced opening hours on public holidays: 10am – 3pm.
- The Caixaforum, a museum devoted to temporary exhibitions, is also open on a reduced timetable.
- The Palau Robert operates along the same lines as the CaixaForum, but it’s free. It’s open from 10am – 2.30pm on 1st May and Whit Monday.
- The Picasso Museum will be closed on both 1st May and 21st May. The MNAC (National Museum of Catalan Art) closes at 3pm on Whit Monday.
If architecture is your thing, you may want to try our free walk on the theme of Catalan Art Nouveau – as it’s self-guided, you can go whenever you choose, taking the opportunity to discover some of the most impressive façades in the Eixample.
Beaches and parks
Make like the locals and spend the day kicking back at the beach or in one of Barcelona’s many parks. With plenty of opportunities for people-watching and a festive atmosphere, you’ll definitely get that holiday vibe!
- Beaches in Barcelona: hints and tips
- Parc de la Ciutadella: culture and relaxation in an oasis of greenery
Public holidays in Barcelona: shopping
Public holidays shouldn’t be a problem for the shopaholics among you – the Maremagnum shopping centre stays open on public holidays, 10am – 10pm.
Maremagnum is set in the Old Port area of Barcelona, looking out over the sea. For more details, see our article on Barcelona’s best shopping centres.
Public holidays in Barcelona: eating
Many of Barcelona’s restaurants are closed on 1st May and Whit Monday. That being said, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding somewhere to eat along the seafront or around major tourist spots.
On the seafront
There are many, many restaurants along Barcelona’s extensive coastline. One of our favourites is Xiringuito Escribà, home to some of the best paella in the city!
Around Las Ramblas and the Passeig de Gràcia
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat around Las Ramblas or the Passeig de Gràcia, be careful – there are a lot of rip-offs and tourist traps in the area. Take a look at our selection of restaurants around Las Ramblas: avoiding the tourist traps and restaurants around Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and La Pedrera. If it’s on our list, it’s sure to offer excellent value for money!
Eat al fresco
Picnics offer another budget-friendly, fun option. With its mediterranean climate and impressive selection of parks, Barcelona is a particularly good spot for al fresco dining. For inspiration, take a look at our article Picnics in Barcelona: our favourite spots.
Ascension: not a holiday in Barcelona!
Contrary to what you might expect from a broadly Catholic country, Ascension Thursday (10th May this year) is not a public holiday – restaurants and museums will be open as normal.
- Travelling with children? Check out our article Barcelona with kids: a whole heap of top tips for ideas of things to see and do.
Sant Joan: 24th June
St. John’s day (Sant Joan in Catalan) is a public holiday in Barcelona – but it falls on a Sunday this year. If you’re in the city on 24th June, make the most of the opportunity to discover some of the biggest Catalan traditions.
There’ll be bonfires, fireworks, lots of music, and above all, a party atmosphere! To find out about the traditions surrounding Sant Joan in Barcelona, see our article Sant Joan: festivals, fireworks and the summer solstice.
And on that note – holiday or not, enjoy your stay in Barcelona!
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