One of the things that allows most of us to travel is statutory public holidays.

But in a foreign country, they can prove a real nuisance. Banks, government offices, post offices and often all shops may close. This can delay visa applications, close museums and tourist sites, and overload transport of all types as the local population travels home for family visits or overseas for a vacation (just like you).

So, it pays to be prepared.

The best site we have found listing all official public holidays worldwide is here.

But this is not the whole story. Over and above the official dates, there are the religious holidays and traditional closures. Most people will know that much of France and a lot of Southern European countries regard August as the holiday month. Many restaurants simply close for the whole month.

Ramadan causes problems for non-Muslims. Not only does it last for a month and cause problems finding places to eat during the day, but after sunset, the local population catches up on all the meals they have missed through the day – often noisily and well into the night. In addition, the level of service degenerates to what one would expect from someone on a daily diet! Ramadan moves backwards towards January by a little over a week every year and at the end there is the festival of Eid which can close most shops and restaurants for a full week.

The best listing of religious holidays we have found is from the BBC here. Just plug in the month and year you plan to travel to get an overview.

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