This page tells you about what to expect during the Madrid bank holidays. You can see which attractions remain open and where to eat. There's also information about what happens in Madrid during August, when in contrast to the coast of Spain, the city quietens down. We've provided a link to a list of Madrid bank holiday fiestas to help you plan your trip.
Madrid bank holidays are an excellent time to visit the city as you will usually be able to enjoy the spectacular of one of the city's fiestas. Be prepared for shops to be closed, or only open half days, and focus on enjoying the parades and party atmosphere.
New Years Eve in Spain is seen more as a family celebration. If you travel to Madrid to celebrate the New Year, be prepared for the streets to be empty of locals until midnight. Bars and restaurants will only open from about 01:00 onwards. Before this time everyone will be indoors with friends and family.
During Madrid bank holidays the emphasis is on partying. So, the banks, post office and other governmental organisations will be closed. Large supermarkets will post notices a few days before the fiesta date to inform you of their opening hours over the Madrid bank holidays. They are not usually closed for more than 1 entire day, and will open for at least a half day (in the morning) if they have been closed the day previously.
The metro runs on a Sunday timetable during Madrid bank holidays. This means that the trains will be slightly less frequent. They will arrive every 5 to 7 minutes, and every 15 minutes after midnight. Madrid metro.
Madrid Metro Sunday Timetable
Operating hours: 06:00 - 01:30
Taxis and buses will be running. Taxis will have their metre set of tariff '2', which elevates their rates slightly. Buses will be slightly less frequent but the prices will be the same as usual. Taxi fares
Other shops, such as clothes shops or department stores will normally close. Souvenir shops tend to stay open due to the increased number of tourists during the Madrid bank holidays. The department store El Corte Ingles remains open during most Madrid bank holidays, except for 01 May, 25 December, 01 January and 06 January.
I you spot a Chinese Bazaar shop while you are in Madrid, it will more than likely stay open during the Madrid bank holidays. These shops rarely close, and they sometimes sell food as well as household goods and souvenirs. They're good for emergencies. Likewise, if you're desperate for food, and the rest of the shops are shut, look for 'Opencor'. This food store remains open 365 days of the year. The official 'En Madrid' guide pamphlet available from tourist information offices has a map that shows where all Opencor shops are.
Unlike the coast of Spain in August, Madrid is not full of people. Most businesses close down or work limited hours, and many of the population leave the city and head for the coast. During the first weekend of August, there is a huge flow of traffic leaving the city. At the end of August, the flow is reversed, as drivers head back into Madrid. Consequently, the hotels and other accommodation providers tend to class August as low season and so rooms are cheaper. Finding accommodation in Madrid
The benefits of visiting Madrid during August are that the city has less traffic, and is generally quieter and easier to navigate. You'll also find that bars are less crowded and it's easier to get a table.
There will always be restaurants open during the Madrid bank holidays. The tourist information service don't have an exact list, but they recommend the official leisure guide web page (in Spanish but phone numbers of restaurants available) to check opening times of restaurants.
Visiting during the Madrid bank holidays is a good idea as long as you are prepared for many shops to be shut. Most of the population will be out on the streets celebrating and it's fun to find out what's happening and when, so that you can join in. There are always a few shops open so you can buy food, and if not, you will still be able to find restaurants.