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Semana Santa and Easter in Spain

Several years ago, I asked several general questions regarding Semana Santa in Seville, and the responses were extremely helpful. This thread raises several questions, some narrow, some broad.

A prefatory comment is that, though I know Semana Santa and Mardi Gras are very different events, I would not recommend to first-time visitors to New Orleans over the age of 30 that they visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras--certainly not at the height of Mardi Gras season (which is the Friday before Mardi Gras through Mardi Gras Day). Yes, you can have a great time, but it will be an atypical experience with greater expense, much more traffic, and more limited access to the city's restaurants.

These are my questions:

  1. For first-time visitors to Spain, is Semana Santa worth it? (And I will add that my wife for religious reasons is interested in Semana Santa.)

  2. If so, is Seville clearly the best place to go? And what are the best days to go? Is the beginning of the week an arguably better experience than the end of the week? Or if one is going to go, is the Holy Thursday-Good Friday period so special that one should experience it?

  3. Regarding Seville, does it make sense to consider buying seats in viewing stands? If so, how can they be purchased?

  4. As far as a hotel, are there areas in Seville to avoid, and are there areas that one should strongly consider booking a hotel in?

  5. How congested is Spain the week after Easter? Is it a week when many are on vacation and are travelling?

Thanks in advance for any information and opinions that might be offered.

Posted by
11805 posts
  1. Definitely worth it. Most think of Seville for Semana Santa but you can avoid the tourists and have a cheaper and more local experience by hitting events elsewhere. I made the mistake of spending most of the week in Barcelona. It was a poor choice because the city is the least religious in the least Catholic part of Spain. They have one procession on Good Friday and it's not even put on in conjunction with the church (some Seville expats run it). Every small town has processions, but the Good Friday procession in Pamplona was pretty quiet compared to what we had experienced in Zaragosa Thursday.

  2. The highlight for me was Holy Thursday in Zaragosa. The experience was beyond amazing and may be the single best travel experience in my life. I'd also suggest Burgos, Salamanca and Valladolid as good places to experience Semana Santa processions without crowds of tourists (but lots of locals).

  3. In Zaragosa, we stayed in a hotel that was right on one of the procession routes. Our room had a small balcony that gave us a great view. It was one of the nicest rooms of our trip and under 100 euros. Seville is much more crowded. If you're there, I think you would want to experience the crowds somewhat but also have a chance to see from a view seat so you can get a better idea of the overall picture.

  4. During April Fair we stayed further out of center than I normally would (Silken Al Andalus) because I got a great deal on the room. There is a bus line that goes right into the center from there, so it wasn't too hard getting where we wanted to go.

  5. The week after Easter we were traveling and didn't notice a lot of traffic or difficulty booking rooms. The hardest may have been San Sebastian because France has a lot of Spring Breakers who go there.

Posted by
357 posts

Brad, just a quick note of thanks for taking the time to respond at length as you did. I did sit up when I read about your experience in Zaragoza on Holy Thursday.

Posted by
59 posts

Hi Richard

I did read this post earlier today so I'm leaving a note here just to let you know that I've seen it.