Catalonia is arguably one of the most stunning regions of Spain, stretching all the way from the sandy Mediterranean beaches of Costa Dorada in the south, to the historic coastal villages of Costa Brava in the north. This region of Spain is incredibly diverse, famous not only for its breathtaking coastline, but also for its abstract Gaudí-designed architecture and its mouthwatering local cuisine. It’s not surprising that Catalonia is one of the most visited destinations in Spain.
With everything from the white sands of Lloret de Mar and the historic cobbled streets of Santa Pau, it can be difficult to figure out where to begin your Catalonia adventure. However, for many visitors to the region, the highlight is the thriving metropolis known as Barcelona. As the capital of Catalonia and the unofficial capital of the modernist movement, Barcelona is a key stop on any Catalonia holiday. Top attractions in this sprawling, bustling city include the towering Sagrada Familia church and the Palau de la Musical Catalana, both of which have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as the hilltop National Museum of Art of Catalonia with rotating exhibits.
The lively shopping streets of Barcelona, including the world-renowned Las Ramblas, can be easily combined with a few days spent relaxing and unwinding along the Mediterranean coast. Some of Spain’s most majestic beaches are located right here in Catalonia, with Salou, Sitges, Tossa de Mar, and Sant Feliu de Guixols all boasting miles upon miles of white sands and crystal blue waters that appear straight from a postcard.
Nature lovers can spend time up in the Pyrenees Mountains for a winter ski trip, or check out some of the hiking trails in the region that lead up to secluded and picturesque spots with panoramic views across the region. Some of Spain´s best hiking trails are located in Catalonia, with both easy and challenging paths surrounding the monastery at Montserrat. Catalonia enjoys mostly pleasant weather all year round, so whether it’s winter or summer, you can hope for sunshine and mild temperatures.
No trip to Spain would be complete without sampling some of the coast’s delicious cuisine, and the foods of Catalonia really are second to none. Boasting everything from tiny beach bars (chiringuitos) to some of the world’s best restaurants (like El Celler de Can Roca in Girona), you’ll find the food of Catalonia to be varied and remarkably unique. Local favourites include pa amb tomàquet, which is a crusty bread topped with tomato and garlic, and the region’s signature dish: patatas bravas, which has fast become a tapas staple.
Catalonia is a region full of rich history, featuring castles and fortresses from days gone by. Your visit can be serene and peaceful by a beach where you can relax and unwind, or it can be a cosmopolitan, lively shopping retreat and sampling of wine and art. Regardless of your reason for visiting Catalonia, the region appeals to all tastes and interests.
Mallorca, also known as Majorca, is one of the most popular islands in the Balearic Islands chain, and is also the largest. Full of gorgeous beaches, stunning mountains, and plenty of Roman and Moorish history, it is the perfect place to hire a holiday rental villa for both a relaxing and invigorating holiday.
Lovers of architecture, artwork, and history should visit the island’s capital city of Palma de Mallorca and walk through the Catedral de Mallorca, an enormous Gothic cathedral, or the captivating 14th-century Bellver Castle. Renting a villa in Mallorca puts you up close and personal to the island’s best attractions, which include dozens of restaurants, shops, museums, art galleries, walking tours, and even winery excursionos.
Take a day trip with the family to the Palma Aquarium to learn about local and international sea life and to marvel in Europe’s largest shark tank, Deep Blue.
Hiking opportunities abound in Mallorca thanks to its sky-kissing peaks and rolling hills, some of which are viewable and accessible from Mallorca vacation rentals. Mirador Es Colomer Formentor sits atop a mountain and offers some of the most stunning views of the island. It is a fairly strenuous hike, but it is well worth the climb. Other breathtaking views can be seen from The 365 Calvari Steps, a second intense hike that will put your physical fitness to the test. Parc Natural de Mondrago makes for an enjoyable family excursion with the chance to spot wild animals while leisurely strolling. If you prefer casually meandering around a city and enjoying shops and restaurants along the way, Pine Walk is the ideal option, located near a plethora of Mallorca villas.
When you’re ready to leave the comfortable confines of your family villa in Mallorca, check out some of the top-rated restaurants on the island. The DaiCa Restaurant at the Petit Hotel offers healthy Mediterranean-style cuisine with a host of vegetarian options. At Bottega Bay Rocks and Stones you’ll find a British and European steakhouse with dishes for all types of palates. Consider Salvia Restaurant for more contemporary Mediterranean and European cuisine.
The most obvious way to spend time on an island is to hit the beach and relax! Playa de Muro and Port de Pollensa are two popular beaches with white sands, beach bars, shops, and nightlife.
Ibiza is one of the larger of the Balearic Islands and is best known for its vibrant nightlife. However, this Mediterranean island has a lot more to offer than just trendy beach bars and nightclubs. Once you venture outside of Ibiza Town and spend a few days in a countryside or seaside Ibiza villa, you’ll learn what it’s like to live like a local.
The largest city in Ibiza (and also the capital city of the island) is Ibiza Town, where you can spend hours wandering the streets of the old city and dine on delicious plates of freshly caught seafood. In Ibiza Town you’ll also find the hilltop Castle of Ibiza where you can learn more about the history of the island and snap photos of the expansive views of the coastline and beyond. Grab a café con leche and people-watch in Santa Gertrudis, a charming town square surrounded by quaint shops and restaurants.
For a sample of some of the island’s best architecture, visit Ibiza Cathedral or Iglesia de Sant Rafel, two magnificent churches that overflow with beauty and history. The Ibiza Museum of Contemporary Art features works from both local and internationally renowned artists. While staying in your Ibiza holiday rental, you can also check out some of the island’s best restaurants, like Sa Vida – a Mediterranean and Spanish delicatessen; Cositasricas – a healthy Spanish delicatessen; or Restaurante S’Ametller – a restaurant that features a mixture of Mediterranean, European, and Spanish dishes.
In the afternoon, grab a beach towel and head out to Ibiza’s most picturesque beaches, like Cala Comte or Playa de Ses Salines. Comb the outer edges of the island for more remote beaches where visitors don’t often tread.
Just off the southern coast of Ibiza is the tiny island of Es Vedra. Hike to the top of the mainland cliffs for a spectacular view of the distant island, which is best enjoyed at sunrise or sunset. There are many myths surrounding the history of the island, one of which dictates that it is the fabled home of the sirens in Homer’s Odyssey, and another that speculates the island as the tip of the famous underwater city of Atlantis.