What is a ‘Puente’ Anyway?

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However you’re spending your life in Spain, whether you’re working full time, interning, or you’re a student here, the chances are that you’ll at some point have some days off for a much needed, (and hopefully well-deserved), rest! If you haven’t been living here for very long, you may still be a bit unsure of how the public holiday system works, as it’s quite different here than in some other countries.

So when are the holidays? How many days off will I get? How does one even spend a ‘puente’? I’m going to include all the information you might possibly need in order to answer these and any other questions you may have, so that you can start planning for your holidays and ‘aprovechar tu tiempo’ as much as possible!  

What is a Puente?

First things first, what actually is the popular ‘puente’ that Spaniards constantly talk about and seem to await so eagerly? Well,  essentially a puente is what the Spanish refer to a long-weekend. You’ll perhaps know that ‘puente’ is the Spanish word for ‘bridge’, and in this instance refers to a day between a holiday and a weekend which people can choose to take off work. Thus bridging the two time periods together and creating a long weekend. In fact, this is so common thing that in anticipation of this, some companies don’t open at all during a ‘bridge‘ day.

When are the holidays?


calendario laboral 2020

Here you can see the full calendar of public holidays in Madrid for 2020. The dates you see highlighted indicate regional holidays and are therefore solely for Madrid. But before you get too excited, it’s not because us Madrileños are particularly special or deserving of more holiday time than the rest of the country! Instead, the truth is that every region in Spain has its own days of regional holiday, and that every single week of the year at least one part of Spain or the other is celebrating for something! Fiestas all-year round! ¡Olé!

How many days off will I get? 

The standard anual holiday allowance is 12 days for national holidays, and up to three regional days chosen by the respective governments. This year you’ll be able to benefit from the standard 12 days of national holiday, specific to the Community of Madrid. If you look at November 1st and 6th on the calendar, you’ll notice they both land on a Sunday. Meaning everyone would have the weekend off anyway. However, to avoid any disappointment, Madrid has created 2 puentes for us by moving the public holiday to the following Monday!

How to make the most of your ‘puente’?

With the Spanish government considering changing the public holiday policy in order to specifically avoid ‘puentes’ for productivity and economic reasons, it’s all the more important to celebrate the extra days of weekend in style! For most Spaniards the ‘puente’ is the ideal opportunity to pack the car up and head to the mountains, or the beach, or even just to the countryside to spend time with family for a mental break with good company. For others, the ‘puente’ is the perfect opportunity to fiesta-it-up Spanish style, with the sangria flowing, the smell of fresh tapas and churos filling the streets, with many heading over to the bullfighting rings or outside bars and restaurants. So, you might want to take the opportunity to book yourself onto a trip somewhere and travel for a few days, but if not, I assure you there will be no shortage of things to do around here too! 

Hopefully the information packed in here has been useful to you and that whatever you decide to do, whether “livin’ la vida loca” Madrid-style or being a typical tourist on a world adventure, you have a fantastic time celebrating your holidays whilst here in Spain! In fact, if you haven’t yet finalised your plans for the five-day ‘puente’ in May, you may want to check out the link below to learn more about Citylife’s incredible trip to Portugal before it sells out!

Leah has been living in and exploring Madrid since 2013 when she moved to the city for a simple summer abroad. She started the Citylife Blog in 2014 with the goal to share everything there is to know about her favourite place on earth!

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