We are planning to go to Spain next Easter. Will shops and restaurants be open and will there be any public transport available?
Wow, look at Semana Santa. It is huge in Andaucia. More crowds than any other time, highest hotel prices and experiences like no other. I was concerned about restaurants on Easter Sunday, was told they are all open (they were), but that I might need reservations since it is about their biggest day of the year - locals competing with tourists for places. I was in Cordoba and had no trouble eating lunch and dinner in 2 of m favorites restaurants there on Easter Sunday. Public transportation is somewhat limited in city centers because many of the streets are closed to vehicles for the week. Other than that, everything runs as usual and there may be extra intercity trains.
I'm told that Barcelona is hardly affected at all by Semana Santa, Madrid only marginally. Early spring is a wonderful time to be in Spain.
When you say Easter, do you mean the whole Holy Week, or just Easter day/Monday?
Spain is a big country, it depends on where you go, you will feel the effects of Semana Santa more or less.
As for Eastern Monday, in Spain it's a public holiday, so the majority of shops and restaurants will be closed.
If your trip will include most or all of Holy Week and you spend that time in Andalucía (a good decision, weather-wise), be aware that it will slow down your ability to sightsee:
- You will want to spend some time observing the processions.
- You will probably sometimes have difficulty moving through a city (in my case, it was a real issue in Seville) because of crowds along the processional route.
- Sights may be closed on some days or may close early, so you may find that you can't organize your sightseeing schedule purely geographically.
If you enjoy traditional sightseeing--i.e., going inside museums, landmark buildings, etc., this is not the time to try a blitz trip to Andalucia, because it will be especially challenging to fit in a normal amount of sightseeing. You'll be less frustrated if you allow extra time at each of the major locations in that part of the country.
In general I had no trouble finding places to eat. I'm not a big-time shopper, but I didn't specifically notice a lot of closed shops.
We’re going to Girona in Catalonia.
It seems you´re not going to Spain to watch the processions or any other activities around Holy Week, but wonder about places being closed. Festivities are very different from place to place, as well as closing days. In Catalonia, Holy Thursday is not a vacation day, but it´s on Friday and Easter Monday. Most of Spain is on vacation since Thursday to Sunday, but the Basque Country enjoys holidays from Thursday to Easter Monday. Bars and restaurants will be obviouly open and welcoming, as it´s a very high season for tourism. We are not that religious any more (only around 10 to 15% of population go to church weekly...) but love to celebrate our Easter and HOly Week traditions...and Girona is a very traditional city.
Thank you all so much.
If your going to Girona, there are no major Semana Santa Processions (like in Andalucia) that totally block up the city, so public transportation should be unaffected. However. if you want to get a taste of the local Holy Week traditions of Girona, consider making a short daytrip to the small town of Verges, in Girona province. There they put on one of the last medieval dances of death in Europe, on Maundy Thursday.