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Film Locations in Barcelona & Surrounding Areas

You don’t need to travel to Hollywood to see some famous TV and movie locations with your own eyes. Barcelona is actually one of the most filmed destinations in the world thanks to its sunny weather, great lighting, and, of course, it’s fascinating architecture. Filming in Barcelona is also relatively easy, with a range of permits on offer enabling filming at some of the city’s most notable sights, including thoroughfares, municipal markets, cemeteries, and a number of parks, gardens, and beach locations.

Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona showed off some spectacular Spanish properties (which left many viewers wanting to buy a home in Spain!), but it is, perhaps, most well known for the sightseeing scenes at Sagrada Familia and Casa Mila. These are two top film locations in Barcelona, and are very easy to visit during your trip. Sagrada Familia is famous for its unfinished facade, while Casa Mila is well worth visiting for its highly unusual blend of geometric design and asymmetrical twists: another Gaudi masterpiece!

If you’re a lover of older cinema, you may be surprised by how much Catalonia has changed in recent years. The Passenger, a Jack Nicholson film released in 1975, shows a much darker side to Barcelona than we’d see if we were to visit today. Gone is the unkempt, sparse, almost seedy Las Ramblas from the film, replaced with a much brighter, airier, and cosmopolitan street that’s fast become one of the city’s top places for shopping, eating, and drinking. Barcelona has evolved significantly within the past 30 years!

Recently, filming in Barcelona has enjoyed a new surge, and Catalonia has hit the headlines for featuring in what is arguably one of the hottest shows of the century: George R.R. Martin’s Games of Thrones. It comes as no surprise, really, as Catalonia is filled with historic castles, stunning nature, and cobbled medieval villages that look just like the fairytale kingdoms of Westeros. If you fancy laying your eyes on a Game of Thrones filming location, head to Girona, where the cast have been spotted hanging out!


Travel to Palamos through 5 pictures.

Palamós is a town and municipality in the Mediterranean Costa Brava, located in the comarca of Baix Empordà, in the province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain.
Platja Gran.

View of the Port of Palamos.

Palamos, Old Town.

Port of Palamos.

Port of Palamos.

Photographer : Elina Aktipi

Copyright © July 18. All rights received.


4 Restaurants in Costa Brava with Stunning Views

You picked your rental villa in Costa Brava specifically for its stunning views, so why should you expect anything less from your dining experience? These four restaurants all offer amazing views of Costa Brava and/or the ocean that you don’t want to miss!
#1. Talla
With stunning views of the bay on top of a steep hill, Talla offers beauty and delicious dishes! Their menu consists of Mediterranean, Spanish, and European cuisine, each one a work of art. Though the inside seating is cozy, the real reason to visit is the bright and fun outdoor seating where you can enjoy the view and the cool, delicious breezes off the bay. People-watch, watch the boats come in and out of the bay, and relax.

#2. Restaurante Pizzeria Da Giovanni
This Italian and Spanish restaurant not only offers an amazing view of the bay, but a stunning look at the muralla medieval, or medieval wall. Though the restaurant itself is simple, the views and delicious food more than compensate for the mall-style dining area. They offer many traditional Spanish and Italian dishes but are best known for their paellas and tapas.

#3. La Blava
This former fishing house is on the beach, giving you one of the best beach views in Costa Brava! The style of the house is decidedly Mediterranean with a hint of Greece and features an open, yet intimate atmosphere that you are sure to enjoy. They offer simple Mediterranean cuisine with only fresh, local produce. They bring to light the essence of the Mediterranean diet through vegetables, rice, fish, and olive oil mixed in creative and delicious ways.

#4. Tapas del Mar
Traditional Mediterranean cuisine pairs with gorgeous views of the Costa Brava sea and mountains in Tapas del Mar. The food comes from family recipes that the chefs want to share with you so that you will hopefully enjoy them as much as their families always have. The chefs welcome you personally, and the restaurant itself is intimate, modern, and beautiful. They use local produce and try to keep their meals simple yet absolutely delicious. You are certain to enjoy any meal here and you’ll probably want to try them all!

Now that you’ve satisfied your eyes and your stomach, you can return to your gorgeous Costa Brava holiday rental for a quiet, relaxing evening.


Football Fever in Barcelona

Four years have flown by, and suddenly football Fever is upon us again with the arrival of the World Cup. No matter where people are on the earth, there will be people frantically searching for that ultimate place to watch the game, one that not only has big screens, but also a fantastic atmosphere. If you have a Barcelona holiday rental while the world cup is on, then fear not, there are plenty of places where you can catch a match.

CocoVail Beer Hall

This venue not only offers 6 flat screen TVs to capture the action, but also surround sound, resulting in an electric atmosphere. There are 24 craft beer taps, and plenty of delicious food, plus they do some great food and drinks deal for larger groups to get in the mood.

Belushi’s Bar

This bar is a favourite not only for travellers, but also for locals who want to watch live sports. There are over 10 TVs, plus a projector, so no matter where you sit, you are sure to have a great view. During the World Cup the bar is running some great promotions, or you can book a World Cup package in advance.

Wild Rover

If your vacation villa in Barcelona is near Last Ramblas, then this classically Irish pub is perfect. Every single match is screened on 2 projectors and 6 large TVs, all but the Spanish matches with English commentary.

Shenanigans

Although still located in the heart of the city, this bar is a little less well known for tourists, which means that you are much more likely to find a seat and be able to watch your match in ultimate comfort. There are 5 TVs, 20 different types of bear and a delicious food menu, its likely this bar will not stay hidden for much longer!


June events in Barcelona

June is the month when Barcelona really starts to come alive for the summer with a huge range of events and celebrations to kick off the season. Booking a family villa in Barcelona just before the mass of summer tourists flock in is a wise move as the city exudes a festive atmosphere and gorgeous weather.

Sant Joan

On the June 23, Barcelona residents celebrate the festival of Sant Joan. On the night itself the street lights up with a huge display of fireworks and bonfires all over the city, but especially on the beaches. It is not unusual for these displays to last until the early hours of the following morning. You can enjoy the spectacle from the comfort of your Barcelona accommodation while sampling a glass of cava and piles of coca, a type of seasonal bread that is topped with candied fruits.

Pride Barcelona

One of the most colorful events on the Barcelona events calendar is the Pride Festival, a 10-day festival where Barcelona shows its gay pride. You can find parties, concerts, and more, all topped off with a spectacular parade.

Sonar

This three-day international music festival is a must-see for anyone who loves electronic music and contemporary arts. The festival is celebrating its 25th year and the days include record fairs, art displays, exhibitions, and conferences, while at night concerts and DJs perform at multiple venues just outside the city.

Musica als Parcs

Another great reason to have a Barcelona vacation rental in June is the free al-fresco concerts that run throughout the summer in some of the city’s main parks. There’s jazz, various classical music, and bands, so pack a picnic and enjoy a few blissful hours under the sun.


The importance of Menorca’s El Toro

Standing at 357 metres tall, the mountain of El Toro is Menorca’s highest point and can be seen from miles around. Regardless of the town in which your Menorca vacation rental is located, you are likely to be able to spot its towering silhouette somewhere on the horizon.

The view from the top brings tourists and locals alike to its summit. From the top, the whole island unfolds before your eyes, and if the weather is very clear, you may even be able to see the Tramuntana mountain range of Mallorca.

Many locals claim that the mountain is the spiritual centre of the island, and it has been a place of
pilgrimage since the 13th century. They also claim that it earned its name from a bull (el toro) that led a group of monks to a statue of the Virgin Mary, which was in the rock face. Others claim that the name’s origin stems from the time the Moors inhabited the island, coming from the Arabic ‘al tor’ which means mountain.

Although a relatively small mountain, a range of buildings cluster at its peak. In the 15th century, a
watchtower was constructed there, with a defence tower later added. There are also the remains of a monastery that was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, a convent, and an army station. Today,
masts, transmitters, and satellites that are used by the people of Menorca.

The easiest way by far to reach the mountain’s summit is by car, and the journey
itself is quite an adventure! If you don’t have a hired car, another option is requesting a taxi to
pick you up from your villa in Menorca, and then taking the winding roads down by foot. There are also organised excursions that will take you up the mountain as part of the trip.


Top day trips from Palma

When it comes to seeing the sights and staying active, there is no shortage of things to do from an accommodation in Mallorca. From the largest city of Palma, there are heaps of adventures that await outside the city. Due to the size of the island, you will never have to travel more than a couple of hours by car for some of the best excursions, many of which can be reached by car or organised tour.

Coves del Drach

Located to the far west of Mallorca you will find the Coves del Drach. This attraction receives thousands of visitors every day and for good reason thanks to its impressive and glistening rock formations. The entrance fee includes a classic concert played by musicians on illuminated boats, and visitors can take rides on the boats as well.

Bodegas of Mallorca

What better way to spend an afternoon than to have a glass of wine in hand and spectacular views? That is exactly what the many bodegas offer its guests, as well as a tour of the bodegas and traditional Mallorcan snacks.

Soller

If you don’t have a car then one if the best day trips is to the picturesque town of Soller. It can be reached by the famous train that will take you straight through the mountains to the heart of the village. Spend a few hours wondering the cobbled streets of Soller and enjoy lunch in one of the many cafes in the square before catching the train back down to your Mallorca vacation rental.

Marineland

Catch the bus from Palma to Marineland to enjoy a full day of fun. You will have time to see energetic shows by both dolphins and sea lions, as well as a whole host of other sea creatures including turtles and sharks.


Springtime in Mallorca

Spring is a fantastic time to rent a villa in Mallorca as it is when the island really starts to come alive, but without the crowded beaches and increased prices that the summer season brings. The weather is just starting to creep up at this time of year, making the island and ideal location for outdoor excursions and possibly a bit of sun bathing.

Stunning Scenery

This is the time of year when the island showcases its almond blossom in full bloom, and it is arguably when the island looks its best. Lush and green with plenty of wildlife, the Tramuntana mountains are a must-see in the spring, so try to book a villa in Mallorca on the west coast of the island.

Some of the most idyllic hotspots include Valldemossa, Deia, and Soller. These towns exhibit an old-fashioned beauty thanks to their cobblestone streets and stone Mallorquin houses, many of which are decorated with exotic flowers.

Hiking

Hiking in this region in the peak of summer is not always a good idea. Although in the mountains the temperatures do tend to drop slightly, it can still be very hot. The milder weather that spring brings offers the perfect conditions for hiking or cycling.

The most popular route in the area is the Dry Stone Route which is an eight-day trek up the mountains and can be completed in parts.

Culture

If cycling and hiking are not appealing, there are plenty of other things to keep visitors occupied in the springtime. There are art galleries and museums to visit, or simply exploring some of the towns and enjoy the local cuisine and coffee shops. Alternatively, many people come at this time of year to escape the tourist crowds and enjoy some quiet time in their villas with pools in Mallorca.


Exploring the Ibiza coastline

Ibiza is a very picturesque island, but sometimes in order to see it in all its glory, it is best to view it from the sea. There are countless tour companies that will take you out on a boat for the day to see various parts of the dramatic coastline. Some will even take you around the entire circumference of the island. It is easiest to catch one of these trips if your Ibiza holiday rental is in one of the main coastal towns and resorts, but if you are located inland, you will still be able to get there using a hired car or public transport.

From the sea, you will be able the see the island from an entirely different perspective. The beaches and cliffs look particularly impressive, and you may even get the chance to tour some of the smaller out lying islands and take a dip in the waters that surround them.

Chances are that the boat that you travel in will be a traditional Ibiza boat, made by local craftsmen for an original boating experience.

If you don’t fancy an organised excursion and still want to escape the crowds, opt for hiring your own boat and touring the island. Contrary to what you might think, this option will not break the bank, especially if you reserve a vessel with a large group. Getting out of your vacation rental in Ibiza and onto the seas can be one of the most memorable parts of the trip, whether you simply want to explore the coastline, find hidden coves, visit Formentera, or get a glimpse of a beautiful sunset at Es Vedra.

Es Vedra

There are many types of boats to choose from depending on the sort of activity that you are looking for. Many opt for speedy motor boats to whizz around from place to place, or if you are looking for something a bit more relaxing, then a sailboat might be a better choice.


Celebrities who have properties in Spain

Mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands are coastal treasures with so much to offer on both land and sea, so it is no wonder that many celebrities look to buy properties in these regions.

Celebrity homes in Mallorca

When Brad Pitt purchased a property in Mallorca in 2016, he joined a plethora of fellow celebrities who have residences on the island. Pierce Brosnan (of James Bond fame) fell in love with the island of Mallorca when he visited, and thus decided to purchase his own piece of the island. Similarly, Claudia Schiffer has a long association with the island, and had her very own property developed from scratch in Camp de Mar. Undoubtedly the busiest of all the Balearics, Mallorca has a firm celebrity fan base with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Annie Lennox, Rafael Nadal, Michael Schumacher, and Andrew Lloyd Webber all having holiday homes there.

Tony Anstis, one of the biggest radio DJs on London’s Heart FM, has recently been looking for a place to enjoy picturesque beaches as well as a great clubbing scene. Ibiza was the answer, so he turned to locals on the island to help him find a villa with a budget of £250,000. Singer James Blunt also has a home on the island.

Ibiza villa

Menorca is arguably the quietest of the Balearic islands, therefore it tends to appeal to a slightly older generation of celebs. Sir Elton John, members of the rock band Led Zeppelin, and John Paul Jones all own property here, and use the island as a peaceful getaway that isn’t too far from the United Kingdom.

Football fans flood to Barcelona throughout the year, hoping for a glimpse of players from the world-famous team. Lionel Messi has a home in the charming town of Castelldefels, south of Barcelona. As the 12th most-visited city in the world, Barcelona attracts its fair share of celebs. Many of the rich and famous have chosen to buy property in Barcelona or in the region. Singer Shakira has recently purchased a house in Barcelona in the wealthy district of Pedralbes, and David Villa has purchased two penthouses worth 6.5 million euros, just a stone’s throw away from the Camp Nou football stadium.


Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter

Booking your vacation rental in Barcelona puts you just a short train or car ride away from the city’s Gothic Quarter where you are surrounded by stunning architecture and a hub of activity. The streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter are filled with medieval buildings and trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants. What’s more, you are in the heart of the city, thus within easy reach of all the other main attractions.

Barcelona Cathedral

History

The area is known as the Gothic Quarter due to its former existence as an ancient Roman village. You will still be able to find many remains of its glorious past. Because of the constant modernisation of the area, it’s not unusual for you to spot a modern building right next to an ancient one. It’s this eclectic mix of old and new that brings people from all over the world to this historic barrio.

Shopping

There is an abundance of shopping opportunities in the Gothic Quarter. For commercial shopping head to Carrer Portal de l’Angel, or you can spend hours popping in and out of the little boutiques of Carrer d’Avinyo. You are also in close proximity to Las Ramblas, which has an abundance of shops and market stalls.

Architecture

When exploring the narrow labyrinth of streets, be sure to look up so as not to miss all of the best bits. Bridges and archways span across the roads, and the decor on some of the buildings is extremely detailed.

Plaça Reial

There are many squares where you can sit outside with a drink and enjoy your surroundings. In the heart of one is the areas main attraction, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulàlia. The cathedral was constructed from the 13th to the 15th centuries and is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. One of its most notable features is the roof, scattered with gargoyles and a host of other mythical creatures.

Dining

If you don’t want to dine in your villa in Barcelona, you will be spoilt for choice with the amount of restaurants and bars in this area. Plaça Reial is always popular during both the day and night, and there is a great deal of nightlife on offer.


Best viewpoints along the Costa Brava

The coast of Costa Brava is truly stunning, with impressive cliffs, quaint coves, golden beaches, and small towns. It is no wonder that so many people want to rent a villa in Costa Brava! Let’s take a look at some of the best viewpoints in the region.

Mas Ventos

Mas Ventos is a special spot in Cap de Creus Natural Park. It offers one of the best viewing points over the Bay of Roses and the Saverdera Valley. Visitors are able to combine their trip with a picnic or barbecue as there are a number of wooden and stone tables.

Mirador del Cap de Creus

This is one of the most well-known viewing points in the area, and although it may be full of tourists, it is still worth a visit. From this point you will be able to see Cap Norfeu, the Illes d’en Forcat, Cadaques, Cala Fredosa, Cala Jugadora, and maybe even your Spain vacation rental.

Mirador de l’Hostatgeria

People claim that the best sunsets can be seen from this spot on the Costa Brava. The area was recently converted into a hotel and restaurant that are completely open to the sea, sitting on top of the cliff between Llafranc and Tamariu. If you have hired a car then it is easily accessible from your villa in Costa Brava.

Mirador dels Cards Tossa

This is the viewpoint for nature lovers. Surrounded by nature on every side, you can enjoy spectacular views of the beaches and cliffs that surround the town of Tossa del Mar, as well as the medieval wall and the castle on top of the hill.

El Mirador dels Tres Canons

In the heart of Port de la Selva is a viewing terrace that stands 40 metres high, perfect for taking in the sights of Port de la Selva and the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodesand La Verdera. Unlike the other viewpoints, this urban setting offers a little something different.


Easter in Ibiza

Easter in Ibiza is a great time to visit and stay in an Ibiza vacation rental. Generally it is a much more laid-back time than the summer months, perfect for recharging your batteries with a little post-winter sunshine.

Easter is a very important season for the Catholic church across all of Spain, and Ibiza is no exception. Many people choose to rent a villa in Ibiza near local towns as you are likely to see many parades taking place, and the streets are decorated with flowers and crosses.

One of the biggest events falls on Good Friday, where the cofradias, the people charged with looking after the statues, take part in a huge procession from the cathedral in Ibiza Town. The cofradias will dress in different coloured robes and wear a tall, cone shaped hood which is used to hide the suffering on their faces and signify their yearning to be closer to heaven.

This is an old-age tradition that has been virtually unchanged for centuries. The cofradias are accompanied by marching bands, church officials, large floats, and various other groups. Visiting some of the island’s towns at this time of year can be a bit strange as some hotels and bars will still be boarded up from the winter months and are not yet ready for the summer season. But if you travel away from the main holiday resorts and hot spots, there is still a huge range of things to see and do.

With an average temperature of 19-22 degrees Celsius, it is still warm enough for relaxing at the beach or at your villa with a pool in Ibiza with a glass of wine and good book.


A brief history of Palma

The Mallorca capital city of Palma is steeped in history, remains of which can still be seen around the town today. Like other major islands in the Mediterranean, it has attracted its fair share conquerors and invaders over the years, all of whom have helped shape the island into the place we know today. You can still see the remains of some settlements, churches, and fortresses around the central city of Palma.

Due to the size of the island, no matter where your Mallorca holiday rental is located you should still be able to reach the capital with relative ease. There is a decent road network into the city if you want to rent a car, or alternatively if you are staying in a bigger town you can hop on a local bus.

A Short History

For many, the history of Mallorca began when the Catalans took the island back from the Moors in the 13th century. Because of its location, the island found itself in the centre of trading routes that crossed the Mediterranean.

In 123 BC, the Romans conquered the island, after which Mallorca rode the many ups and downs of Roman fortune for more than five-and-a-half centuries.

Although the Romans did have an influence on the culture of Mallorca, it was the Moors that helped to develop the crafts and commerce, and you can still see this contribution in the folklore, language, and cuisine today.

At the end of the 15th century, the Balearic islands were united with the Kingdom of Spain.

Historical Sites

Renting a villa in Mallorca is a great way to relax while also viewing the history that the island has to offer. The Cathedral of Mallorca is undoubtedly one of the most famous historical buildings, standing tall on Palma’s skyline. It took approximately 300 years to build during the 14th and 17th centuries. Inside the royal chapel are the tombs of Kings James II and III.

The 10th-century Arab baths are one of the only artifacts that still remain of the old Arab city. Historians believe they formed part of an old nobleman’s house. Another great landmark is Bellver Castle, which is home to the city’s history museum. The castle dates to 1309, and since its building has been the summer palace for the island’s monarchy as well a prison.


Catalonia: Beyond the border

Spending a holiday in Catalonia means experiencing one of the most diverse and stunning locales in Europe, but just as much beauty and splendour lie just beyond the borders of the region in northeastern Spain. Venturing a little further is a great way to extend your holiday in Spain and see more of the region and what it has to offer. Here are three nearby towns and regions that are well worth visiting.

Monzón

Monzón is a small place with a very rich and fascinating history. It offers breathtaking scenery thanks to the two rivers that flow through the area — the Sosa and the Cinca — and many come here to view the impressive hilltop castle which boasts a very ornate and somewhat Moorish design.

Journey time from Barcelona: Approximately 2 hours

Peñiscola.

Peñiscola

Peñiscola is located just down the coastline from the Ebro Delta, narrowly missing out on being a part of Catalonia. Often called the ‘City in the Sea’, Peñiscola is said to be one of the most beautiful towns in Spain and attracts large numbers of visitors who are drawn to the old medieval walls and castle.

Journey time from Barcelona: 2.5 hours

Journey time from Tarragona: 1.5 hours

Perpignan

Although located just outside of Catalonia in Southern France, Perpignan is highly influenced by Catalonia, and many street signs are actually written in both French and Catalan. The area is famous for its wine, olive oil, and cork, as well as for its attractive bridges that cross the River Basse.

Perpignan.

Journey time from Barcelona: 2 hours by car

If you’re looking for a few day trips or overnight stays to enjoy as part of your Barcelona vacation, and you’re thinking of exploring the world beyond the Catalan border, then these three places are definitely worth adding to your list.


Family-friendly adventures in Costa Brava

When you’re in your vacation rental in Costa Brava with your family and eager to get out and explore your surroundings, here is a list of family-friendly outings that you and your children can enjoy!

Vila Vella (Old Town)

Vila Vella is a medieval town in Costa Brava that features a fortress built centuries ago to protect the city against North African pirates. Head into the city to find restaurants and shops. Climb the hill to the top of the fortress to enjoy the stunning views and all the greenery.

Castillo de Tossa de Mar

This gorgeous castle on the sea looks out on the beach, water, and beyond. You can hang out on the beach and look for seashells, take a tour of the castle, hike around the surrounding area, do a little shopping, and stop and grab lunch at one of the many restaurants.

Castillo de Tossa de Mar.

Fenals Beach

As you leave your holiday rental in Costa Brava, make sure you make a day trip to Fenals Beach. Spend an afternoon on the warm sands and sunny surf. It is the second largest beach in Lloret de Mar and is sheltered in a bay, protecting you from high winds. You can enjoy parasailing, kayaking, ice cream, skating, restaurants, and much more.

Camino de Ronda

If you and your family are active and love walking and hiking, you’ll love the Camino de Ronda. Travel the road that skirts the coast of Costa Brava, providing gorgeous views, geologic formations, and even wildlife! You can take the linear or circular route, and hire a tour guide to lead you to the best areas and point out all the interesting sights. You can even stop at a few beaches along the way.


Mallorca’s best picnic spots

Finding that perfect Mallorca vacation rental isn’t difficult. There are so many stunning locations dotted around the island, you are sure to find the perfect base from which to explore. This Mediterranean paradise is known for its amazing scenery, from jagged cliff faces to cosy coves, with both lush green vineyards and winding mountainous roads. Combine this scenery with delicious, local Spanish food and you can create your own perfect picnic. So where is the idea picnic spot that won’t take you too far away from your villa in Mallorca?


Serra de Tramuntana

This mountain range is located in the northwest of Mallorca and has been named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Recreation areas are in abundance with the provision of picnic tables, camping areas, and toilets. Despite the fact that the island benefits from around 300 days of sunshine a year, in the cooler months it can get slightly chilly up there, so don’t forget a jacket. The stunning views will make the winding drive well worth it.

S’illot Beach

If you are looking for ocean views and a place for a quick dip after your meal, then this natural setting over the bay of Pollenca and Formentor is ideal. There are a few picnic areas here for you to choose from, one located right by the beach. Many people enjoy snorkelling here thanks to the clear waters.

Sa Dragonera

If you fancy having your lunch on a tiny island overlooking Mallorca, then head over to Sa Dragonera. You can catch a boat from Sant Elm to get there, and make sure to keep an eye out for the wall lizard species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world! There is a great picnic area by the pier which has tables and benches, the ideal place to eat your lunch before catching a boat back to your Mallorca holiday rental.

Mondrago National Park

This national park is located to the east of the island, and here you will find many streams, beaches, gorges, and dune systems, creating a unique environment. Bird watchers and nature lovers will love it here thanks to the huge array of wildlife. Behind the sa Font de n’Alis beach there is a dedicated picnic spot.


Girona: The Flower City

To see a city completely draped in flowers, with aromas as pleasant as the rainbow of colours, head to Girona! The Temps de Flors festival has been taking place every year since 1954, and each year the city transforms into a floral paradise. The festival occurs annually in May and lasts for about one week, so to catch this spectacular festival, plan your Spain holiday with one of our vacation villas in Girona.

Girona by night.

What to See

The beauty of the flower festival is that you never know what’s around the next corner. From displays arranged by local children to designs that have clearly been the result of very intricate planning, there’s all sorts of arrangements to enjoy. Your vacation rental in Spain may even be decorated for the event! While there are amazing blooms to see all around Girona, it is said that there are 10 ‘essential’ places that you simply must see when you visit Girona during the festival, including the following:

● St Nicholas Chapel – one of the city’s oldest churches
● Plaça dels Jurats – a historic square
● Arab Baths – Roman hot spring spa
● Sant Feliu – a gothic cathedral
● The Cathedral – large cathedral and museum
● St Luke’s Church – near the main cathedral, in the Old Town
● Sant Martí – a 17th-century baroque convent
● The Sarraïnes Building – an old building near the Arab Baths
● Casa Lleó Avinay – a small house and museum in the Jewish Quarter
● Jardins dels Alemanys – spacious German gardens

Where to Stay

Prices can rise during the festival, but it’s still possible to get a good deal. Instead of booking a popular hotel, why not try something different and choose a family villa in Spain? Girona is also not too far from Barcelona – 1.5 hours by car – so a Barcelona accommodation is also a great option.


Barcelona’s spectacular Tibidabo mountain

If you are renting a villa in Barcelona, it is highly likely that at some point in your trip you will be able to see the mighty Mount Tibidabo dominating the skyline. The mountain reaches a height of 512m, and is the highest mountain in the bordering back country of Barcelona. Upon reaching the peak, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the whole city with the Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop.

Getting There

If you are not up for a lengthy hike, there is a much easier way to reach the mountain’s summit. The best way to get to the top is first by tram, and then by using the funicular railway. The tram will stop halfway up the mountain, and the funicular will take you straight up the side of the mountain, an adventure in itself. The train has been in service since 1901, making it one of Spain’s oldest funiculars.

Amusement Park

Although you wouldn’t expect it, one of Tibidabo’s main attractions is its amusement park that sits at the summit. Feel the adrenaline rush on one of the attraction’s many rides combined with spectacular views across the whole city. The park has six different zones to be explored, but currently is only open during the weekends.

Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

On the way to your Barcelona holiday rental, it is highly likely that you will spot this church dominating the horizon, no matter which way you enter the city. The church is almost out of a fairy tale with its tall spires and detailed décor. The Temple of the Sacred Heart was built between 1902 and 1961 and features stunning mosaics as well as a crypt that visitors can access.

Viewing Platform

The viewing areas of the Torre de Conserolla offers some amazing views of the city. On a clear day you may be able to see all the way over to Montserrat mountain, or at least you Barcelona accommodation! The tower was used for the Olympic games back in 1992 and measures 268 metres high. It can be reached by with the mountain cable car, tourist train or bus.

No matter where your vacation villa in Barcelona is location, a visit to the city wouldn’t be complete without a trip up the famous Tibidabo mountain.


The other side of Ibiza

When thoughts of an Ibiza vacation come to mind of Ibiza, it is likely to include images of partying at all-night clubs and bars. However, those looking for a more traditional holiday can seek out a villa in Ibiza as the majority of the island is a serene and picturesque place to spend a few days.

If you steer clear of the party towns like San Antonio and instead book an Ibiza vacation rental in one of the island’s many other towns, you will be able to discover a very peaceful island with some fantastic beaches.

A villa in Ibiza on the northeast side of the island will give you access to breathtaking scenery and a bohemian vibe. Spend your holiday doing yoga at one of the many wellness centres, wandering the local markets, and watching the sunset at Benirras beach.

For a trip with a little more adventure, the southwest corner provides dramatic cliffs, only accessible by winding roads through wooded hills. A family villa in Ibiza near Cala Tarida is the perfect location to enjoy the fine white sands of the beach and take a dip in the turquoise sea.

The northwest region of the island is home to many vineyards and also where you find one of the most stunning views on the island, the Punta Galera bay.

Host to panoramic views and an abundance of history, many holiday makers choose to have their holiday in Spain in one of the island’s gorgeous towns, like Dalt Vila. Named as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the town is a maze of winding cobbled streets just waiting to be explored.


The many cathedrals of Barcelona

Like many cities in the Catalonia region, Barcelona is steeped in history and stunning architecture. In addition to the copious Roman remains, the city is home to handfuls of churches and cathedrals, some of which have become tourist destinations in their own right.

The best way to see these towering works of art is to consider a Barcelona holiday rental or hotel so that you can be in the heart of the action and stay for a least a few days.

Sagrada Familia

Considered one of the most famous churches in the world, the Sagrada Familia sits proudly on the Barcelona skyline. This architecturally stunning building was first designed and construction began back in 1882, but it has yet to be finished. In 2010, the church was declared a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI.

The best time to visit is early in the morning before the crowds of tourists descend upon the property.

Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar

This incredible church was built between 1329 and 1383, and the building is a stunning feat of Gothic construction. Like the Sagrada Familia, it is one of the most visited spots in the city.

Cathedral of Barcelona

This Gothic-style cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, and its distinguished Gothic style is a sight that shouldn’t be missed. The cathedral that you see today was built over the old cathedral in the 13th century. Every year around Christmas time the square outside of the building is host to a spectacular Christmas street market, full of food and music.

Catedral de Barcelona

Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazon

When you first arrive in Barcelona for your holiday in Spain, this impressive building is one of the first sights you will see. Built on a mountain high above the city, its lofty location offers stunning views of Barcelona below. Right in front of the church is one of the oldest amusement parks in Europe, Tibidabo Amusement Park.

Although Barcelona is a large city, it has great public transport allowing you to visit each location with ease. Villas in Barcelona create an ideal base from which to go out and explore the many sites and architectural feats on offer.


The bridges of Catalonia

If you can’t decide whether to take a holiday in a historic destination or stay in a modern environment, why not do both? When you take a holiday in Spain, you’re combining the old and the new, as clearly evidenced by the spectacular bridges of Catalonia. Here are some of the region’s oldest, and newest, crossings.

Besalú Bridge

Catalonia’s Historic Bridges

Besalú Bridge
Believed to have been built sometime between the 11th and 14th centuries, this unusual L-shaped arch bridge crosses the Fluvià river and is one of the most photogenic bridges in all of Spain. This medieval, castle-like bridge looks even more amazing at dusk when it lights up with hundreds of twinkling lights.

Old Bridge of Vilaller

Located in the Province of Lleida, this is a classic three-arch bridge, although only one remains today. Built in the 17th century, two arches collapsed in August 1963, falling into the Noguera Ribagorçana. If you’re wondering why it hasn’t been rebuilt, the bridge is now a protected local cultural heritage site.

Pont del Diable

Also known as ‘Devil’s Bridge’, this unusual arch bridge was constructed in the 13th century at the site of an old Roman structure. The views of the Llobregat running underneath are fantastic, but the real amazement is how the bridge is a massive contrast to the modern flyovers and overpasses of Martorell.

Catalonia’s Modern Bridges

Sant Feliu Bridge
If you rent a villa on the Costa Brava, be sure to check out this modern bridge, built in 1998. While the steel frame isn’t much to look at, it has been nominated for a number of prestigious engineering awards. The bridge connects Sant Feliu Square with Deveda Park, which is one of the best parks in Catalonia.

Sant Feliu Bridge

Sant Boi Bridge
Crossing the high speed railway between Barcelona and Madrid, this bridge is located close to the airport, so you may see it if you stay for a night at the airport before or after your holiday in Barcelona. Measuring 870m in length, this bridge crosses the Llobregat and has an eye catching steel frame.

Vilafant Bridge
If you book a Spain holiday in Girona, it’s well worth taking some time to visit Vilafant and its bridge. Constructed in 2011, this is one of the most contemporary bridges in Catalonia, made from stainless steel and incorporating geometric shapes. It crosses the train line between Barcelona and France.


Santiago Rusiñol and the Catalan modernist movement

Many art enthusiasts think of Pablo Picasso as being a main driving force behind the Catalan modernist movement, but Picasso was actually influenced by another great Catalan artist, Santiago Rusiñol, who was instrumental in transforming Catalonia into an artist’s paradise.

Born in Barcelona in 1861, Rusiñol was one of Catalonia’s most important and influential artists. Many of his works depict beautiful and famous locations in Barcelona and other parts of Spain, including the paintings ‘Girona’, ‘Montserrat’, and ‘Sitges Interior’, as well as the drawing ‘View of Barcelona Port’.

The Cau Ferrat Museum

To learn more about Rusiñol during your next holiday in Spain, pay a visit to the Cau Ferrat Museum in Sitges. Located on the site of Cau Ferrat, which was the artist’s former home and studio, today the museum is a massive assortment of Rusiñol’s personal art collection. Some of the art is Rusiñol’s, while other pieces have been collected from other well-known Catalan artists, such as Picasso and Pichot.

Cau Ferrat Museum

The museum offers you an opportunity to explore the office, bedroom, great hall, dining room, fountain room (yes, fountain room!), and entrance hall, all of which are filled with an array of beautiful, eye-catching, and mesmerising decorative ironworks, glassworks, furniture, sculptures, and ceramics.

Where to Stay

Cau Ferrat is located in the heart of Sitges, so any villa on the Costa Dorada would be ideal for offering quick and easy access to the museum. However, Sitges is located just 40 minutes by road from Barcelona, so you could also rent a property closer to Barcelona and enjoy Cau Ferrat as part of a day trip.


Breakfast in Barcelona

While breakfast in many countries is largely based on savoury items, such as buttered toast, a bacon sandwich, or a bran-based cereal, things are a little different in Spain. In fact, Spanish breakfasts are an interesting mix of sweet and savoury, with offerings such as Spanish omelettes and sugar-coated churros. When you’re on holiday in Barcelona you’ll have a great opportunity to try out these yummy local foods.

Churros.

What to Eat

Although Spain, France, and Italy are three very distinct countries, cultural influences naturally spill over, and this is especially true when it comes to breakfast. While charcuterie is believed to have originated in France and Italy, it is today a very important part of a Spanish breakfast or brunch. You’ll also notice a rise in the number of American-style breakfasts on offer across the city, with modern establishments making a name for themselves as great places for waffles, crepes, and eggs Benedict.

When to Eat

Don’t be tempted to leave your Barcelona villa too early in the morning. Many locals will have a quick breakfast at home before a ‘proper’ breakfast at around 10am. Lunch may not be until 3 or 4pm, with dinner happening from 9pm. If you’re tired from the night before, you’ll be pleased to know that a Spanish breakfast usually includes a strong café con leche!

Cafe con leche.

Where to Eat

If there’s one thing that Barcelona isn’t short of, it’s places to eat! There are lots of great breakfast and brunch places all across the city. However, don’t feel like you need to venture out for breakfast every morning during your Barcelona vacation. If you’ve booked a villa in Barcelona with a kitchen, you could always pop to the local market and pick up some fresh, local produce to whip up your own Spanish breakfast!


Barcelona: Beyond the border

Taking a Barcelona holiday provides you with both the beach and the mountains on your doorstep, as well as numerous opportunities to discover the city’s historic architecture. While it’s easy to be blinded by the beauty of Barcelona, it’s important not to overlook some of the spectacular places that are located just outside of Barcelona’s border, such as the following.

Villa Torrelles de Llobregat.

Agrari Park

Situated just south of Barcelona’s Llobregat district, Agrari Park is often referred to as ‘Barcelona’s backyard’. A historic agricultural area, there is an extensive agro-ecosystem here with all sorts of plants, crops, and wildlife. Tours to the park have recently been introduced in an effort to encourage more people to eat fresh and highlight ecotourism in Spain. If you’ve ever eaten artichoke when you’ve been on holiday in Spain, chances are it came from the Agrari Park region!

Rubi

The little town of Rubi lies about 9 miles north of Barcelona and makes for an excellent day trip from your Barcelona accommodation. Rubi is a real blend of old and new with historic Roman ruins mixed with more modern architecture, built following the flood of 1962. One of the biggest attractions here is the town museum, located inside an old converted farmhouse. The museum tells stories of the town’s history and offers an extensive open space for exhibitions and concerts.

Badalona.

Badalona

The coastal city of Badalona is very close to Barcelona and is home to old Roman baths, a historic 19th-century theatre, neoclassical churches, great shopping streets, and golden beaches.


Dine with the stars at Barcelona’s Fabra Observatory

If you’re looking to enjoy a romantic getaway with a loved one, why not consider a holiday in Barcelona? They may say that Paris is the ‘City of Love’, but Barcelona is the ‘Capital of Romance’, and it has fast become a favourite holiday destination for lovers from across the globe.

There are plenty of romantic options in and around Barcelona for a night out for two. First, opt for booking a villa with private pool in Spain for the ultimate in luxury and relaxation, followed by a dinner underneath the stars at one of the city’s most romantic restaurants.

 

 

Dinner With Stars’ (or Sternalia) isn’t a restaurant, it’s an experience. Taking place in the summer months, availability is limited as couples from all over the world flock to Barcelona to enjoy this unique outing that includes fine dining with a view of the solar system. While cooking up a romantic dinner at your Barcelona villa is certainly a wonderful option, nothing quite beats the incredible experience of Dinner With Stars.

The Dinner With Stars experience takes place at the Fabra Observatory. Built in 1904, it is one of the world’s oldest working observatories, and the 32P/Comas Solà comet was actually discovered here. Located on Mount Tibidabo, the observatory is easy to reach from most Barcelona accommodations.

Fabra Observatory

All dishes at the Fabra Observatory are themed and take on galaxy-related names. Some of the top choices include the ‘Star Nebula’ salmon, and the ‘Textures in Cosmos’ beef tenderloin. If you’ve booked a family villa in Barcelona and have brought the little ones with you on your romantic getaway, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s also a great children’s menu here, with macaroni, French fries, and ice cream! Whether you have the kids in tow or it’s just you and your beloved, the experience is an unforgettable way to celebrate your love.

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Barcelona: Catalonia’s ‘Smart City’

Catalonia may appear to be a very quiet and historic part of the world ― and it is! ― but it also is one of the most technologically advanced hubs in Europe and is considered to be one of the world’s only ‘smart cities’. Along with destinations such as Amsterdam, Madrid, Manchester, and Stockholm, Barcelona is changing the way we live, work, and take holidays.

Image from barcinno.com.

What is a Smart City?

A smart city is a city that makes use of digital technology to improve everyday life for both residents and visitors. At some locations in Barcelona, for example, you may notice that live traffic data is transmitted to road signs to provide drivers with up-to-date, real-time information to help them determine the most efficient route. Another example is in in Stockholm where snow clearance data can be transmitted.

Smart Barcelona

How can technology help visitors have a safe and enjoyable holiday in Barcelona? The city’s ‘smart’ street lamps that illuminate when the sun goes down help improve safety in the city at night, and urban development programmes help make cities like Barcelona a great place to explore and discover.

View from Parc Guell.

Barcelona is home to an impressive fibre network which allows for excellent internet connectivity for residents and visitors, especially in the city. Many villas in Barcelona are able to offer their guests a fast and reliable internet service, although some properties in the rural parts of the region are still working to make the connection as efficient as that in the city, and have made tremendous strides in recent years.

Old & New

Catalonia is a fascinating mix of old and new, combining tradition with the latest technological advancements. This makes it one of the most interesting places to take a holiday in Spain, and allows you to enjoy a touch of history and culture while staying in a very modern and contemporary environment.


Best ways to spend your time on the Costa Brava

Once you have booked your Costa Brava vacation villa and are preparing your visit to this Catalan region just north of Barcelona, here are a few fun activities throughout the region that you may want to consider adding to your adventure-packed agenda during your holiday in Spain!

Cap de Creus National Park

Cap de Creus National Park offers gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea along with unique rock formations, heaps of walking and hiking trails, and a lighthouse that also houses a restaurant.

Cap de Creus National Park.

Cami de Ronda

This long stretch of hiking trails has incredible geological formations and plenty of plants and wildlife to enjoy. Relax by the emerald-green waters after a long hike, or take a boat out into the sea and admire the coastline from afar.

Jardi Botanic Marimurtra.

Jardi Botanic Marimurtra

A beautiful botanical garden awaits at Jardi Botanic Marimurtra. It is located on top of a cliff that overlooks gorgeous Mediterranean Sea views. The garden itself contains more than 4,000 plant types and is the creation of Carl Faust from Germany. You can also admire the beautiful Mediterranean architectural styles of the buildings around the garden, and the azure waters down below.

Playas de Calella

Looking for a nice, relaxing day at the beach? Check out Playas de Calella! The sand is warm and inviting, the waters are a beautiful blue, and a nearby village provides food and entertainment.


Exploring Plaça de Catalunya

Plaça de Catalunya is one of Barcelona’s most beautiful and stunning plazas, located within an easy reach of many popular sights and attractions. Large, airy, and open, there’s a true metropolitan feel here, and there is plenty for visitors to see and do in and around the square.

Old Meets New 

Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Plaça de Catalunya is that it acts as the meeting place of the two different sides of the city: Old Barcelona and New Barcelona. To the south of the plaza, you’ll find the historic district of El Gotico (the Gothic Quarter), while to the north you’ll find the more modern, 19th-century neighbourhood of L’Eixample. Ultimately, Plaça de Catalunya is a great place for seeing just how diverse Barcelona really is.

Things to Do

From shopping for souvenirs to admiring some of the best in Catalan art, there’s lots do at the Plaza:

Shopping

If you want to bring home some souvenirs from your holiday in Spain, then Plaça de Catalunya’s main shopping centre, El Corte Ingles, is the place to go. This massive department store offers everything from toys and fashion to electronics and home decor from some of the world’s biggest and best brands.

Art

In addition to a whole host of intricate mosaics, there’s a great deal of jaw-dropping Catalan art dotted around the plaza. By simply strolling around the square, you’ll find statues by famed Catalan sculptor Josep Clarà i Ayats, and renowned Spanish painter Pablo Emilio Gargallo.

Atmosphere

Perhaps one of the best things to do at Plaça de Catalunya is simply soak up the atmosphere. This is considered to be the main meeting point in the city; a place for socialising and celebrating. Its central location means it’s easy to get to on foot or by bus or train, no matter where your Barcelona holiday rental is.


Costa Brava’s most beautiful museums

If you found your vacation rental in Costa Brava, the next step is to decide how you want to spend your time in this gorgeous, peaceful region of Catalonia. When planning your stay, here are four of the area’s top museums to give you something to ponder, plus a bit of information about each to help you make an informed decision.

Ruins of Empuries

This unique experience is called the Ruins of Empuries, which was part of both the Greek and Roman civilizations. It has more than 2,500 years of history to explore in this ancient once-city. You’ll find ruins of homes, factories, streets, an amphitheatre, a forum, a basilica, and plenty of statues, mosaics, and artwork. You can check out the Greek god of medicine statue, Asclepios, the Greek wharf, and the Archaeology Museum. Plus, this amazing historical site is surrounded by picturesque beaches with gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Museu d’Historia de la Joguina

If you’re interested in historical toys, and especially if you have children, you are certain to love the Museu d’Historia de la Joguina. But this museum isn’t just for kids! It is located in a beautiful 19th-century home with gorgeous stained glass windows, amazing architecture, antique furniture, wrought ironwork, and a special glimpse into the life and times of 19th-century living.

Museo del Far de Tossa

There is so much to see in the seaside town of Tossa de Mar, and the Museo del Far de Tossa is no exception. It is located in the lighthouse at the top of the hill and offers not only the history of the lighthouse, sea travel, and Tossa de Mar, but also a gorgeous view of the sea and the surrounding town and beaches. You can also walk the beach, check out some of the shops, grab some delicious food, or just explore the area and take amazing pictures to help you remember your trip.

Tossa de Mar

The Municipal Museum

The Municipal Museum is one of the best art museums in Costa Brava. Not only will you enjoy the art, but you’ll love the gorgeous views. Head there for sunset and grab some amazing photos!

Now that you’re more informed about the historic region that is Costa Brava, you can plan educational and scenic day trips from your gorgeous rental villa in Costa Brava and leave with a new appreciation for Catalonia.


‘Game of Thrones’ filming spots in Barcelona and around

Are you a die-hard Game of Thrones fan? You’ll probably already know that the cast have been filming in Barcelona and in other areas of Catalonia, especially throughout Girona. Barcelona’s cobbled old town and Girona’s medieval streets make for excellent backdrops for this popular fantasy series.

If you’re keen to see these filming locations with your own eyes, here’s a DIY walking tour for you:

Begin your tour at the Tourist Information Centre in Girona. If you’re staying in a villa in Barcelona, you can catch the train directly from Barcelona Sants Station to Girona, which takes around 40 minutes. Cross the Sant Feliu Bridge, pass by the River Cafe, and head down Carrer del Bellaire. Take the steps down at Carrer del Riu Galligant, and you’ll be in the GoT ‘Old town’.

The large, imposing monastery you see before you is actually called Sant Pere de Galligants, and it’s home to the city’s archaeology museum. However, to GoT fans it’s none other than the Maesters’ citadel. Stroll around the garden, then cross the bridge and climb the stairs to Plaza del Jurats. You’ll recognise this plaza as being the theatre backdrop for some of Arya’s scenes.

By taking the stairs from the plaza, you’ll find yourself in the Arabic Baths, which is where the Braavos market scenes with Arya were filmed. Walk down Carrer de Ferran el Catolic (it eventually becomes Via Augusta) until you reach the beautiful Girona Cathedral which is, of course, the Great Sept of Baelor. The church played a huge role in the series 6 finale!

After exploring the cathedral, you’re in a great spot for strolling around the main city centre before heading back to the station to catch a train to your Barcelona accommodation. Alternatively, rent a villa on the Costa Brava, in towns such as Blanes and Lloret de Mar, which offer easy access to Girona.

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Exploring Barcelona’s El Born neighbourhood

There are many great locations to consider when choosing where to stay for your holiday in Spain, but perhaps one of the most exciting is the El Born neighbourhood. The lively, eclectic neighbourhood is located in the Ciutat Vella (Old Town), nestled between Plaça Catalunya and the beach.

About El Born

On the surface, El Born appears to be remarkably similar to the historic Gothic Quarter with its narrow, cobbled streets and old time charm. However, situated just a tiny bit further from the main city centre, El Born tends to have less of a touristy feel, making it a great place to learn more about ‘real’ local life. Despite not being within the main hub of hustle and bustle, there is still plenty to see and do in El Born, including the Picasso Museum, Ciutadella Park, and the Barcelona Zoo. El Born is also recognised as an up-and-coming ‘hip’ district, doing for Barcelona what Brooklyn did for New York City.

What to See and Do

Passeig del Born is one of the city’s top nightlife hotspots, located along the beautiful, tree-lined street. The neighbourhood is also home to some of the most breathtaking architecture in all of Spain, including the mesmerising Santa Maria del Mar church. Thanks to the presence of the Picasso Museum, there’s also a very definite artistic vibe running through the streets, and El Born has fast become a favourite Bohemian hangout.

Staying in El Born

While there may be fewer larger options (big family villas in Spain are often located in more spacious areas, for example), what you will find in El Born is a wide range of cozy and charming apartments that are full of character and personality. With rooms often located above the shops and restaurants within the pedestrianised streets, you will find stunning rooftop terraces and views of the city, mountains, and beyond.

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Barcelona’s Christmas markets

Travellers come from all over the world to the famous European Christmas markets, which are a festive blend of handmade decorations, beautiful gifts, local foods, and, of course, plenty of grog. So if you’re considering taking a holiday in Spain during December, here’s what to expect from the Christmas markets like in Barcelona.

As a winter festive location, Barcelona isn’t quite as renowned as places in Germany or Poland, for example. If you’ve visited the markets in Northern Europe in the past, you may find Barcelona’s offerings to be a little less atmospheric, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth making the trip. In fact, Christmas is actually one of the very best times in Barcelona, accompanied by winter sun, mulled wine, and sparkling cava.

There are two main markets in Barcelona, both of which are centrally located so they’re very easy to get to from your Barcelona accommodation. The biggest market (which is still relatively small by European standards) is the Santa Llúcia market which is held in the square at the front of the Barcelona Cathedral. This is an excellent place to pick up some Catalan decorations for your Christmas tree. The smaller market is located at La Sagrada Família, and is a wonderful place to peruse unique and unusual trinkets.

It’s not just the markets that make Barcelona a great holiday choice for the winter. Shops and department stores often feature amazing Christmas displays, and twinkling lights illuminate the street at dusk. So while Barcelona’s Christmas markets aren’t the biggest or most spectacular, they’re still incredibly magical, and they help make Barcelona a great year-round destination. Take a few days away from the stresses and strains of Christmas shopping back home, and enjoy a relaxing pre-Christmas break in Spain!

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What to know about the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

If you are interested in where the mobile industry is heading in the next few years, be sure to book your spot at the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The event will take place from Feb. 26 to March 1 at the Fira Gran Via and brings together vendors, speakers, and advertisers in the mobile technology world.

Start-up businesses, future car concepts, knowledgeable speakers, and entertainment are all a huge part of this forward-thinking event. People come from all over the world not only to showcase their own technology but to learn more about the future of other technologies.

Last year more than 100,000 people attended the MWC, which included 2,300 exhibits and 3,500 media members from around the world. Hundreds of new and improved technology and software were on display with dozens of speakers to show the attendees and the world where we are heading as a mobile society. Learn more about the products you know and love, how they plan to improve in the future, and what you can do further collaborate with these ventures.

If you plan to visit Barcelona for the MWC, be sure to not only register now online but to also find a rental villa or property where you can stay for the duration of the event. Use your attendance as an opportunity to also live like a local in a holiday home just outside the city where you can decompress after long days at the conference.

While in town and when not in meetings or checking out the exhibits, enjoy the sights and tastes of Barcelona  Get to know the culture of Catalunya and meet other technology-loving people like yourself.

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The hidden coves of the Costa Brava

There are heaps of reasons to book a villa on the Costa Brava, but one of the biggest reasons is to be close to the ‘rough coast’, with its wild scenery, rugged landscape and, of course, those famous, secluded coves. While we don’t want to give away the locations of all of the great coves of the Costa Brava (that’s for you to figure out during your holiday in Spain!), here are just a few that you may want to check out for some peace and beauty.

Cala Pi

Also known as Platja del Pi, this secluded little cove is located just a short distance away from Portbou Beach. As Portbou Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the Costa Brava, many people naturally flock here, leaving Cala Pi relatively quiet and peaceful. Getting there isn’t easy — you’ll need to take the Cami de Ronda path from the main beach — but this helps keep the crowds to a minimum.

Cala Maset

Access to Cala Maset is simple (ideal for those who can’t manage the rugged Cami de Ronda path) yet Cala Maset is still a very quiet and serene spot. Why? Because the location of the beach means that it’s largely shaded throughout the day, so it’s not a favourite of the sun worshippers. However, for those who don’t mind a bit of shade, Cala Maset is fantastic and has plenty of large rocks to climb and jump from into the sea (at your own risk!).

Cala Vallpresona

This is yet another beautiful little cove that’s quite easy to get to, so why is it so quiet and secluded? Because the beach at Cala Vallpresona is largely made up of large pebbles and stones, so sunbathers can find it a little uncomfortable. However, for those who don’t mind a few rocks here and there, this is a really great place close to Tossa del Mar for those who have a Spain holiday rental in the town.

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Salvador Dalí’s Figueres

Renowned artist Salvador Dalí was born in the town of Figueres in Catalonia, Spain. Despite stints in Madrid, Paris, and the United States, he always considered Figueres to be his home, and it’s here where he died in 1989. If you’re on holiday in Spain, it’s still possible to see some of Dalí’s local haunts, and it’s even possible to visit his final resting place at the Dalí Theatre and Museum. Here’s a guide to Dalí’s Figueres.

Birth

Salvador Dalí was born on 11th May 1904, and his childhood home still stands on Monturiol Street. You’ll know you’re at the right place because there is a small plaque on the property, which reads ‘en aquesta casa va neixer salvador dali dia 11 de maig de l’any 1904’, translated from Catalan as ‘in this house Salvador Dalí was born on May 11, 1904’. While Figueres is a quiet town, for Dalí fans this is perhaps even more exciting than any location in Barcelona.

Early Life

Dalí was baptised at the Church of Sant Pere de Figueres (St Peter’s Church, pictured above), which is the main church in town. While it may look impressive from the outside with its large bell tower, it is even more amazing inside, and it’s well worth popping your head in for a look. If you want to rent a house in Spain that’s close to Dalí-related sights and attractions, then this area, which is right in the heart of the town, is ideal because St Peter’s Church is very close to another important place: the Dalí Theatre & Museum (pictured below).

Museum

Whether you’re a fan of Dalí or not, if you’re staying in a Spain holiday rental in or near Figueres then it’s definitely worth taking the time to visit the Dalí Theatre & Museum. The museum houses the world’s biggest collection of Dalí works, including sculptures, collages, and even mechanical devices! There are also some works by other Catalan artists, too, highlighting the importance of visual arts in Catalonia. Dalí himself is buried in a crypt beneath the centre of the museum, which is open for public visits. 


All about the Costa Maresme

The Costa Maresme coastline in Catalonia runs all the way from Barcelona to Blanes, a distance of roughly 31 miles in total. Along the coast, you’ll find a large number of resorts and luxury Spain vacation rentals, as well as many different sights and attractions. This makes the Costa Maresme coastline a top holiday destination for visitors who love the stunning scenery that this part of Catalonia has to offer.

What is the Costa Maresme Like?

Catalonia is famous for its fine beaches and old, cobbled villages, but the Costa Maresme is probably more diverse and varied than you might think! Some locations like Barcelona are very busy and hectic with a definite city vibe, but there are also a lot of beautiful, historic fishing towns, too. Another great thing about the Costa Maresme is that it’s a prominent wine-growing region, so there are plenty of vineyards dotted around the area. One of the best places for wine is Alella, which has its own Denominació d’Origen.

Places of Interest

Where should you rent a villa on the Costa Maresme? There are many places of interest along the coast, including Barcelona (the capital of Catalonia) and Mataró (the capital of the Costa Maresme region). If bustling cities aren’t quite your thing, there are plenty of other options such as the fantastic harbour town of Arenys de Mar, or the relaxing thermal spas of Caldes d’Estrac.

Which Costa?

A Costa Brava vacation rental, a Costa Dorada vacation rental, or a Costa Maresme vacation rental — which is better? While each section of coast has something different offer, the Costa Maresme is considered to be a ‘happy medium’ between the white sand beaches of the Costa Dorada (the Golden Coast), and the rocky landscape of the Costa Brava (the Rough Coast). It really is the best of both worlds!


This autumn, stop by the Platja D’Aro Beer Festival!

If you’re staying in a villa on the Costa Brava in October, there’s one very important cultural festival that you shouldn’t miss. Although it’s officially known as the Autumn Festival, this big Catalan event has become much better known as the ‘Beer Festival’ thanks to the high number of international beers on tap.

Activities 

As well as sampling more than 30 international beers, there are plenty of other activities at the Autumn Festival. One of the biggest draws to the festival is the range of artisanal produce which is available to sample and purchase (and which is great for enjoying back at your Costa Brava vacation rental at the end of the day!). There’s also live music in the form of brass bands and orchestras which you can dance along to. Don’t leave the festival without picking up a Beer Festival commemorative drinking mug!

Where to Stay

The obvious answer is to rent a house in Spain in the Platja D’Aro area, although the region can become quite crowded around the time of the festival. Thus, any villa on the Costa Brava would do, especially in the nearby towns of Palamós to the north and S’Agaró to the south.

Exploring Platja D’Aro 

Even if you’re not a beer fan, Platja D’Aro is still worth exploring. This beautiful seaside town is home to one of Catalonia’s best beaches, offering fantastic swimming opportunities. It’s also home to the Magic Park amusement park with adrenaline-pumping rides! If you’d prefer a calmer, more relaxed holiday in Spain, then strolling the beachside Passeig Maritim is the ideal activity as it is flat enough walk to walk for any age and any activity level.


Explore Catalonia’s ancient ruins

As you probably already know, Catalonia is famous for its rich history. The region is actually home to some of the best-preserved Medieval towns and villages in the world, making it a truly fascinating place to explore.

If you’re interested in delving back even further in the region’s history and learning more about the Greek and Roman eras on your next holiday in Spain, then be sure to check out some of Catalonia’s ancient ruins. From historic walled remains to first-century racecourses, the Catalonia region has plenty to uncover. Here are three of the region’s best-preserved ancient ruins that are open to the public.

Empúries 

The old town of Empúries was founded in 575 BC by the Greeks, although the town was eventually taken over by the Romans. Excavations on the town began in the 1900s, and today it’s possible to see old homes, temples, walls, and mosaics, and there’s even the Museum of MAC-Empúries which provides a little context for the ruins that you’re seeing.

The highlights are the gardens, where you can learn more about traditional Roman medicine, and the underground crypt, which has only recently opened to the public. Book a Costa Brava vacation rental or stay in L’Escala and take the pedestrianised coastal path right along the water to the town.

Tarragona Amphitheatre

Built in the 2nd century, the Tarragona Amphitheatre is one of the main attractions in this old town, which was once a thriving Roman colony known as Tarraco. Taking on a traditional colosseum appearance, it is believed that the amphitheatre could once hold up to 15,000 spectators at a time, making it one of the largest in Europe.

When Islam took over from Catholicism as the primary religion in Spain, the amphitheatre was abandoned, and over the years it has housed a church and has been used as a prison. Luckily for those taking a vacation in Spain, the theatre was somewhat recovered in recent years and today is a remarkably well-preserved site, one of many ancient ruins dotted around Tarragona.

Circ Roma

Another great location in Tarragona is Circ Roma, or the Roman Circus. Built in the first century, this was the place to see and be seen, and it played a major role in leisurely life during Roman ruling. Somewhat of an ancient alternative to the modern Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the Roman Circus was the best place in Catalonia to watch fast-action chariot races. Perhaps one of Catalonia’s best-preserved ruins, remaining inscriptions have led experts to believe that the racetrack remained in use until the fifth century, when it was abandoned.

A part of the track is still very much intact, making it a truly amazing place to explore. Tarragona is easy to reach from most villas on the Costa Dorada, but it’s also just a one hour drive from Barcelona, making it a top choice for a day trip during your Barcelona holiday.


Celebrate Halloween and All Saints’ Day in Barcelona

If you choose to take a holiday in Barcelona during the week of October 31 and November 1, you’ll have the chance to take part in Barcelona’s yearly Halloween and All Saints’ Day celebrations.

Halloween

On the night of Halloween, people of all ages dress in costumes and decorate their houses and businesses in scary decor. Children go trick-or-treating, or truco o trato in Spanish, while adults choose to party at popular local venues. There are many nightclubs available for Halloween parties like Opium Mar, Sala Razzmatazz, and Sala Apolo.

If you prefer restaurants, the Enigmatium offers an interactive show that promises a night of comedy, mystery, and puzzles. Be beware, this restaurant doesn’t reveal its location. You must find it by following the clues! Alternatively, check out La Posada Maldita, where the waiters dress as scary creatures and the entire theme of the restaurant is horror. You can even check out a horror show while you dine!

There are many other great options to help you celebrate such as the Nocturna Festival, PortAventura, and the Sandemans New Halloween Tour.

All Saints Day

After you spent time recovering in you Barcelona villa from your experiences the night before, make sure to check out the culture and traditions that encompass the solemn celebration of All Saints’ Day.

Many locals go to church to remember the saints or visit the graves of their loved ones to lay flowers.

On the streets of Barcelona, you’ll find vendors, dancers, artists, and food. The most common food is panellet, a Catalan pastry of cinnamon bread with sugar, potatoes, almonds, eggs, pine nuts, and cherries. Also served are boniatos (sweet potatoes), candied fruit, and muscatel wine.

Panellets

Catch a production of the famous “Don Juan Tenorio” which will be performed in many theaters throughout the city as well as in the Poblenou cemetery.

The city also offers its annual Castanyada, which is a festival where everyone gets together over a huge fire in an open space. There they place a pan on the hot coals and cook castañas (chestnuts), which are available for sampling to get into the autumn spirit!

Take a break from your beautiful Barcelona vacation rental and make sure you check out these unique holiday celebrations, great for all ages!


Catalunya’s referendum vote to take place on 1 October

Catalonia represents one-fifth of Spain’s 1.1 trillion-euro economy and enjoys a great deal of self-government. However, on 1 October, the Catalan people are going to have a vote to choose whether want to be ruled independently from the rest of Spain. If the referendum is passed, they will be able to vote on their own laws and government.

According to polls, less than half of Catalonia’s 5.5 million voters want self-rule, although most of the wealthy at least want the chance to vote on the issue.

The constitutional court of Spain ruled that any referendum on independence is illegal; however, the Catalan Parliament plans to declare independence within the first 48 hours of a “Yes” vote.

Because the Catalan people stand firm in their demand for a right to vote, the central government called in between 3,000 and 4,000 national police officers who are under orders to prevent the staging of the referendum.

On 20 September, 14 Catalan government officials were arrested because they were involved in organizing the vote. And it didn’t stop with arrests. Electoral materials were seized from millions of ballot papers to hundreds of ballot boxes.

These actions by the Spanish government have caused the people of Catalunya to organize peaceful protests against the current government and for their own right to vote independently.

Tensions are high in the city of Barcelona. Every night at 22:00, locals bang pots and pans together in what is called a cacerolada, a form of protest to unite the people together in solidarity.

The President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, told the separatists to resist the provocations of the central government and remain peaceful. If things become violent, they will have more reason to stop the vote.

Although Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariana Rajoy, demands that the Catalan officials stop their “disobedience”, the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, says that the vote will continue as planned on Sunday, 1 October.


Autumn on the Costa Brava

Thinking of booking a Costa Brava vacation rental? There’s never a bad time of year to take a holiday in Spain, but there’s something extra special about autumn on the Costa Brava. Here’s what to expect.

Great Weather

Autumn on the Costa Brava is surprisingly bright and clear, a far cry from the conditions in northern Europe! These bright and clear days mean that there are usually excellent views toward the mountains, and as the leaves begin to fall from the trees this view only keeps getting better and better.

A Quiet, Local Feel

Known as the ‘off season’, this time of year sees very few visitors so you’ll find that there’s a very local feel. A big advantage of this is that there tends to be greater availability for restaurants and accommodations. In fact, you may be able to get an amazing deal on a holiday rental on the Costa Brava!

A Natural Environment

Washed up driftwood replaces the crowds of people on the Costa Brava beaches, while the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà is not to be missed at this time of year, with migratory birds stopping off on their way back to Africa for the winter. The Costa Brava loses its resort feel and returns to nature during autumn.

Serene Mountains

Autumn is a great time for hiking. Not only is it often very dry and comfortable, rather than being overly sunny and warm, but it’s also one of the quietest times of the year in the mountains. The ski season hasn’t yet started, so many people find the mountainous areas to be very peaceful and serene.

Summer is by far the most popular time of the year to take a holiday in Spain, but it’s worth considering the benefits and beauty of travelling at other times of the year. Autumn still brings lovely weather and tends to be a little quieter than mid-summer, making it excellent for those who appreciate the calm.


Why choose a Catalonia villa rental over a hotel?

Looking back just a few years, the obvious go-to choice for a Barcelona accommodation was a hotel. After all, hotels aim to be a ‘home away from home’, providing travellers with a decent selection of amenities such as on-site restaurants, cleaning services, and concierge assistance. However, today things are a little different. An increasing number of travellers are now turning their attention to Barcelona villas instead. Why? Because there a number of advantages of villas in Barcelona that hotels simply can’t offer.

These advantages include the following:

Separate Bedrooms

While some larger hotel rooms can comfortably accommodate families and groups, there’s nothing like having your own private space! If you’re travelling with family or friends, a family villa in Barcelona allows you to be together under the same roof, but also have your own space to acquire some private time. It really is the best of both worlds!

Kitchen Area

When you’re on holiday in Spain it’s important to immerse yourself in the local culture and try out some of the delicacies on offer at the nearby restaurants. However, being able to whip up some cheese on toast as a midnight snack or warm up some milk for the kids in your own kitchen is a huge benefit. 

Additional Privacy

Hotels are a great way to meet other like-minded travellers and make new friends, but sometimes you just need a bit more privacy. Staying in a Barcelona holiday rental means you never have to worry about the pool being busy or having loud neighbours in the next room. It’s your space.

Flexibility

Your time off is precious, so why spend it trying to fit in with someone else’s schedule? Staying in a vacation villa in Barcelona means that you can do what you want, when you want. While hotels may offer breakfast between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., you can enjoy a nice bacon sandwich at 3 in the afternoon!


Exploring World Heritage Sites in Catalonia

For travellers staying in an apartment in Barcelona, there is not one but seven amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in and around the city that all were designed by architect and modernist Antoni Gaudí. See below for just a few of these must-see marvels in art and architecture.

Poblet Monastery

One of Spain’s oldest abbeys, the Poblet Monastery is located in the lush green village of Vimbodí. The architecture and design, both inside and out, are breathtaking, but what really makes it stand out is that it’s actually one of the most complete Cistercian abbeys in the entire world. There are usually two tours of the abbey each day, and the monastery can be visited from your Barcelona villa as a day trip. You could also consider a Catalonia villa rental in Reus or Tarragona, which are a little closer.

Palau de la Música Catalana

Palau de la Música Catalana

This famous concert hall is one of the only World Heritage Sites in the centre of Barcelona that wasn’t designed by Gaudí. Instead, it was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who was instrumental in the 19th-century revival of Catalan culture. Take a guided tour to learn more, or book tickets to see a performance of local and international operas and symphonies, as well as lectures and conferences, too. Located right in the heart of historic Ciutat Vella (Old Town), it’s quick and easy to reach from many villas in Barcelona.

Hospital de Sant Pau

This World Heritage Site is located very close to another: Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia. A working hospital until fairly recently — 2009 — today the site is a popular museum and cultural centre attracting both locals and visitors, and it’s just as impressive on the outside as it is on the inside, designed in the classic Art Nouveau style. The hospital is situated in the El Guinardó neighbourhood, where you’ll find many luxury Barcelona holiday rentals, as well as great sights and attractions, like the Guinardó municipal park.

Hospital de Sant Pau

Tárraco

Although the town is today known as Tarragona, it was once referred to as Tárraco, and was one of the country’s most prominent Roman centres. The archaeological remains of Tárraco were declared a World Heritage Site in 2000, and are well worth visiting. It takes slightly more than one hour to drive from your Barcelona accommodation to Tarragona, and you pass through many other beautiful places along the way, including the fantastic coastal resorts of Sitges and Vilanova which are renowned for their beaches.


Pla de Bages: Catalonia’s smallest wine region

When we think about Catalan wines (which are perfect for enjoying at your luxury villa with private pool in Spain!), we tend to think about the major wine-growing regions such as DO Empordà from northern Catalonia and DO Alella wines from the Mediterranean coast. We rarely stop to consider one of Catalonia’s smallest wine-growing regions: Pla de Bages, located within the Province of Barcelona.

About Pla de Bages

Covering just 600 hectares, Pla de Bages is the smallest DO region in all of Catalonia, but despite its size it certainly has a lot to offer. Believed to be named after Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine, a large number of grape varieties are grown here, including the red varieties of Garnatxa and Ull de Llebre and picapoll for white wines. Boasting two different types of soil, Pla de Bages is renowned for its diverse offerings.

Right on Trend

Believe it or not, Pla de Bages is actually one of the oldest locations in Barcelona for wine growing, but its agricultural challenges of the past have made growth and development slower than other regions. However, thanks to the influx of ‘boutique’ wines on offer here, Pla de Bages is said to the ‘the next big thing’ in Catalan wines, offering trendier reds, whites, and sparkling cavas than their competitors.

Visiting Pla de Bages 

There are a number of tours that you can take of Pla de Bages, which take you right into the heart of the 13th-century chateau where the magic happens, and demonstrate the processes that help this region offer the highest quality wines in Barcelona. For easy access to the region, rent a house in Barcelona and rent a car locally; it’s less than an hour’s drive from the city centre to Pla de Bages.


What to do in Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar is one of the most popular destinations for people booking a holiday in Spain, and it’s easy to see why. As one of the best coastal resorts in Catalonia, this former fishing town thrives on tourism and features a number of beaches, seafront activities, and watersports centres to entertain visitors.

But what if the beach isn’t really your thing? What if you want a vacation in Spain that’s less about the sunbathing, and more about Catalan history and culture? Is Tossa de Mar still a good choice? Yes!

There’s so much more to Tossa de Mar than just the beach. Here are a few of the town’s attractions:

12th-Century History

In the 1100s, Tossa de Mar became a walled city, and parts of this historic wall still remain today. A section of the wall is open to pedestrians and offers breathtaking views in every direction as it weaves around the edge of the town. Remember: it’s old, and some of the terrain can be quite uneven in certain places.

Hollywood Glamour

Think there’s only good film locations in Barcelona? Think again! The 1951 British drama Pandora and the Flying Dutchman starring Ava Gardner was filmed in Tossa de Mar! The castle and beach areas look just the same today, although the overall landscape has certainly changed during the past 60 years!

Museums

The town’s main museum is the Municipal Museum, and it’s a great place to learn more about the history of Tossa de Mar. It is located in the Old Town and is home to everything from painting and mosaics to glass works and sculptures. It’s compact, but only costs a few euros to enter.

Roman Ruins

If you’re interested in seeing what a villa on the Costa Brava used to look like, then be sure to visit the Roman Villa of Ametllers. Discovered in 1914, the ruins are believed to date from somewhere prior to the 6th century. This villa in Spain tells us a great deal about Roman-Mediterranean farming of the time.

 

 

 

 


A tapas crawl in El Born

No matter where you choose to rent a villa in Barcelona, you’ll be within walking distance of a great tapas restaurant! The city has plenty of great places that serve up small plates of classic Spanish dishes such as patatas bravas, calamares, and croquetas. However there is one particular location in Barcelona that is especially known for its tapas offerings: the neighbourhood of El Born in Ciutat Vella (the old city). Join us as we take a look at some of the highlights of an El Born tapas crawl!

Stop 1: Tapeo

Begin your El Born tapas crawl at Tapeo. Run by husband-and-wife team Daniel Rueda and Natalia Ferran, the menu features modern, creative tapas that you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s the perfect way to begin your evening. How about meatballs with cuttlefish, wasabi-topped salmon, or a burger with mushroom mayo?

Stop 2: El Xampanyet

El Xampanyet should be your second stop on your El Born tapas crawl for two reasons: first, it’s right across the road from Tapeo, and second this traditional watering hole is extremely popular and it gets busy, so arriving early is essential. Authenticity is key here and you won’t find any ‘crazy’ menu items, just good old-fashioned Spanish tortillas and plenty of chorizo. While the tapas is delicious, many people flock here for the homemade cava!

Stop 3: Cal Pep

A short walk through El Born will bring you to Cal Pep, a Mediterranean-style restaurant famous for its fresh seafood offerings. With menu items changing depending on the ‘catch of the day’, there’s always something different to sample here, and there’s usually more than 70 dishes available, including tapas, meats, fish, vegetables, soups, and salads.

Stop 4: Ten’s Tapas OR Vinya del Senyor

Now it’s time to make a decision: Either head toward Barcelona Zoo and you can visit Ten’s Tapas, run by renowned chef Jordi Cruz, or head toward Port Vell and stop in at Vinya del Senyor, a wine-themed tapas restaurant that commands spectacular views of the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar from the outdoor patio. If you enjoy people-watching, then this is a true Barcelona hotspot.


How to reach the summit of Barcelona’s Montjuic mountain

You’ve seen the towering castle from the streets of Barcelona that rests atop the city, but how do you reach the summit of Montjuic? Luckily, the castle that stands at the top of the hill is actually very accessible, and there are a number of different ways to get there. The best way will depend on your budget and fitness level. Here is a brief look at the different transport options.

By Funicular

A fun way to travel, the funicular is also very convenient as it connects to the city’s metro system at Paral-lel Station and takes just two minutes to reach the summit. If you’re staying in a family villa in Barcelona with the kids, they will love taking the funicular, which is a train car that travels up and down the hill.

Cost: A single journey costs just 2 Euros.

By Cable Car

Another fun way to travel, the cable car offers spectacular views of Barcelona (can you spot your villa in Barcelona from way up here?). Departing close to the funicular, the cable car is convenient but more costly than the funicular. This method of travel is not recommended for travellers who are afraid of heights!

Cost: 12.50 Euros for an adult return, or 9.00 Euros for a return ticket for children aged 4 – 12.

By Bus

The local Barcelona bus 150 departs from Plaça d’Espanya and travels up the hill to the castle. If you’re not confident taking the bus on holiday in Spain, don’t worry — the castle is the last stop on the line so it’s easy to know where to get off! This isn’t a very exciting option, but it is a very cost-effective one!

Cost: A single bus journey (valid to the end of the line) costs 2.15 Euros per person.

By Taxi

Taking the taxi can be more expensive than taking the bus, but the advantage is that you can travel on your own schedule (perfect if you’re with young children), and you have a bit of added privacy, too. However, keep in mind that a taxi isn’t the most interesting or fun way to travel to the summit.

Cost: Cost will vary depending on your starting point, but this is probably the most expensive option.

By Foot

Feeling fit? Why not walk to the top? The best way is to leave from the funicular station and head up through the park, taking the winding footpath to the summit. The walk should take between 20 and 30 minutes, although it can be steep in parts. You can rest your legs at your Barcelona vacation rental afterwards!

Cost: Free!


Crema catalana: The perfect local treat for something sweet

There are lots of reasons why travellers choose to take a holiday in Spain, but one of the main reasons is the food! Spanish cuisine is arguably some of the best in the world, and Catalonia is famous for its local delicacies. One such dish is crema catalana; a creamy, silky pudding topped with burnt sugar.

Dessert History

When you’re on holiday in Barcelona, you’ll hear that the Spanish invented the crema catalana sometime around the 14th century. If you’re on holiday in France, you’ll hear that it was, in fact, the French that created the dessert, naming it crème brûlée. And if you’re on holiday in England, you’ll no doubt hear that the dessert originated in Cambridge! All three countries lay claim to the pudding, but the reality of the rightful owner is still up for debate!

Crema Catalana 

Traditionally crema catalana has been served on St Joseph’s Day in March, but you can enjoy this creamy dessert at all times of year, whether you’re taking a Barcelona vacation in the summer or winter. Many local restaurants offer this pudding, and it has become a firm favourite of travellers from around the world.

Crème Brûlée v. Crema Catalana

If you can find both crème brûlée and crema catalana, then why not pick up both, take them back to your Spain holiday rental, and do a taste test to see which is better? While both are made in a similar way, crema catalana is thickened with cornflour and is not cooked in a water bath, like traditional crème brûlée. This gives it a little more texture. Many types of crema catalana are also flavoured with citrus and cinnamon, which gives it more flavour. Which one will be your favourite? Try them and see

 

 


Celebrate Barcelona’s La Mercè Festival this September!

If you’re staying in a villa in Barcelona during September, you may be wondering why there’s an extra special atmosphere surrounding the city and why everyone appears to be in good spirits. It’s because of La Mercè, a lively and exciting festival that is one of Barcelona’s most important annual calendar events. The festival takes place on 24th September each year and is not to be missed!

History of La Mercè

Catalans have celebrated La Mercè since 1871, although the celebrations as we know them today were largely introduced during the early 20th century. The event is thrown in honour of the Mare de Déu de la Mercè, or Virgin of Grace, who is believed to have saved Barcelona from a plague of locusts. If you’re staying in a Barcelona vacation rental in or near to the Gothic Quarter, you can visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy, which displays a statue of the Virgin at the top of the church.

Festivities

Street performances, parades featuring giant statues (gegants i capgrossos), and human towers (castellers) are all standard events that take place throughout the festival. However, each year there’s something new and different, including ‘fire runs’, fire-breathing dragons, and light projection shows. The festivities continue well into the night, but don’t worry too much about how to get back to your vacation villa in Barcelona; there are often late night train services in operation.

Catalan Produce

La Mercè is one of the best times to sample some authentic Catalan food and drink, especially at the Catalan Wine & Cava Festival which takes place as part of the event. Beverages from local Catalan vineyards are available to taste and purchase, and they make great souvenirs or gifts to bring back to friends and family from your holiday in Spain.

 


Catalonia’s fairy-tale town

Are you staying in a family villa is Spain with children who love magic, mystery, and fairy tales? Then you must make time to visit the tiny, stone-clad village of Rupit, located roughly halfway between Girona and Torelló in Barcelona Province. With historic architecture dating to the year 968, and with old buildings peeking out from masses of green woodland, Rupit is truly a fairy-tale town.

 

Exploring Rupit

For those who want to enjoy a totally ‘different’ holiday in Spain; a vacation that’s less beaches and watersports and more exploring and discovering, Rupit has everything you could ask for. Look down to see the streets carved from the natural rock formations in the area, and look up to see the red brick roofs, providing shelter to the old stone buildings. Take a walk to hear the sounds of the crashing Sallent waterfall, or edge across the wood-slat suspension bridge that crosses the flowing river. Bend down to smell the delicate white hawthorns, and marvel at the castle-like turrets atop the monastery. Watch as vultures and eagles swoop down from the trees, and enjoy being transported back in time.

Weather in Rupit

Unlike Barcelona, which is very warm, Rupit is noticeably cooler, making it the ideal place for those who find high heat to be uncomfortable. While Rupit is often busier in the summer and remarkably quiet at other times of the year, autumn and winter are still excellent times to visit. With crisp orange leaves and just a shimmer of frost, Rupit looks even more stunning in the off season.

A Day Trip 

Catalan poet Josep Maria de Sagarra famously described Rupit as ‘distinguished and hidden’, so it may come as some surprise that the village is less than two hours from the centre of Barcelona. It’s an easy day trip from your Barcelona villa, or you could choose to look at Catalonia villa rentals in the town itself which gives you an opportunity to stay longer and perhaps see more of the local area. If you do decide to stick around, be sure to check out the natural area of Collsacabra, one of Spain’s best hidden gems.


Where to swim in Barcelona

Whether you take a holiday in Spain during the summer or prefer to take your Spain vacation in the winter, there’s usually one thing you can always rely on: great weather! While the temperatures in the winter months can be a little cooler and much more unpredictable, winters can often be very mild and pleasant, and you may still need to cool off a little! So where are the best places to swim in Barcelona? Here are three of the best options.

Option 1: Your Villa with Private Pool in Barcelona

A villa with private pool in Spain is undoubtedly the best option for swimming in the city, giving you unrestricted access to the waters whenever you feel like taking a dip. If you dislike crowds or are travelling with little ones and are worried about them getting splashed by bigger kids, then this is a great way to ensure a safe and supportive environment for your kids to learn to swim.

Option 2: A Public Swimming Pool in Barcelona

There are lots of outdoor public swimming pools in Barcelona that are a good option for those who have decided to rent a villa in Spain without a private swimming pool. For young families and swimmers who aren’t particularly confident, Ciutadella Municipal Sports Centre is good because the pool is quite shallow. Otherwise, head to the Montjuïc Municipal Swimming Pool for spectacular views of the area.

Option 3: One of Barcelona’s Best Beaches

Perhaps the most common option for swimming in Barcelona is to head to one of the local beaches. Barceloneta Beach is one of the most easily accessible from many Barcelona accommodations which makes it a good choice, but this beach can get very busy, especially in the summer and on sunny weekends. For calmer options, head north to Bogatell or Badalona.


Visiting the Pyrenees

Located on the border between France and Spain, the Pyrenees mountain range is one of the most stunning sights in all of Europe, and a must-see during any holiday in Spain or southern France. Towns in the Pyrenees offer a completely different experience than many other parts of Catalonia, which can typically be grouped into either coastal resorts filled with luxury Spain holiday rentals or small medieval towns. There’s more of an Alpine feel here, and it can get rather chilly during the winter months!

The Catalan Pyrenees

Also known as ‘Pirineus’ in Catalan, and Pirenèus in Occitan, the Catalan Pyrenees are a spectacular sight. The French side of the mountain range is arguably the more popular side with more towns, more activity, and more things to do, but that’s exactly what makes the Catalan Pyrenees such an attractive option for many people in the area: it’s more natural and more rugged, and you won’t have to deal with as many crowds!

Although the Catalan side is slightly more sparse, there’s still plenty to see and do in the area, enough that you could easily spend a few days of your Barcelona holiday exploring the sights. A few places that are definitely worth visiting are the Mont-Rebei Gorge, which offers an expanse of breathtaking landscape, the wonderful Sant Maurici National Park, and the small village of Llavorsí, where the brave can enjoy a day of wild river rafting through the canyons and along the fast and intense Noguera Pallaresa river.

Where to Stay

While you can rent a house in Girona and make a day trip to the Catalan Pyrenees, it’s much better to stay in the heart of all the action. A good choice is nearby Ripoll, which is considered to be the gateway to the Pyrenees and features plenty of Romanesque-style architecture. Another interesting choice is Vall de Boí, which has UNESCO World Heritage status, and is home to the highest ski resort in the Pyrenees.


Park Güell to Sagrada Família: The scenic route

Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell and Sagrada Família are two of the top attractions that cannot be missed on a holiday in Barcelona. Separated by just 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometres), many visitors choose to walk between the two sights, and the fastest and most direct option is along Carrer de Sardenya, taking the curved Ctra. del Carmel at the Park Güell end, where you can exit the park near the Mirador Virolai observation deck.

However, while this may be the fastest route, it’s not the most scenic. For those who really want to make the most of their Barcelona vacation, take a slightly longer route that takes you past some of the city’s most fascinating sites and interesting spots. The scenic route takes you through the beautiful Gràcia neighbourhood for a glimpse into local life.

Here’s your guide to walking the scenic route between Park Güell to Sagrada Família:

Instead of leaving Park Güell via Ctra. del Carmel, take the other exit, which brings you out onto Carrer d’Olot, and then onto Carrer de Larrard. Heading south, your first stop should be the Gaudí interactive museum, where you can learn more about the architect’s life and works.

Keep walking until you hit Travessera de Dalt, and cross over almost directly to get onto Carrer del Torrent de les Flors. This will bring you into the heart of Vila de Gràcia, home to a large number of Barcelona villas.

If you’re feeling peckish, there are some tapas places in the area. If not, turn to stroll through the pretty Plaça de Rovira i Trias park and gardens. Turn south at the end of the park, and then head along Carrer de les Tres Senyores, past the Hideout Bar which is a good place to stop for a break and a cerveza.

By turning south at the dance school, you’ll find yourself staring at the stunning Parish Church of St. Joan and the grand Virreina Palace. This baroque-style building was built in the 18th century for Manuel d’Amat i de Junyent, a celebrated Spanish military officer.

Turn at Carrer de l’Or, and then onto Carrer del Torrent d’En Vidalet. Stop for a drink at the Elephanta bar — it may seem basic, but they have more than 40 gins on offer, and more than 40 teas, too! Turn onto Carrer del Terol for shopping and a peek at the old evangelical church.

Enjoy a stroll through Plaça de la Revolució square, and then join Plaça Vila de Gràcia park by walking along Carrer de Ramón y Cajal and Carrer de Mariana Pineda. By walking through the busy shopping district here, you’ll find peace and relaxation at the Salvador Espriu Gardens.

Once you’re at the end of the gardens, you’re on the home stretch! It’s a straight route along Avinguda Diagonal and Carrer de Provença to the Plaça de la Sagrada Família. The walk should take roughly an hour; you can put your feet up at your Barcelona villa at the end of the day! 

 


Costa Brava travel tips

Villas on the Costa Brava are great choices for families, couples, and for solo travellers, offering easy access to some of Catalonia’s best attractions and most beautiful sights. It’s easy to travel along the picturesque Costa Brava, and here are three great travel tips that can help make your holiday in Spain fantastic.

Book a Villa with Pool on the Costa Brava

The Costa Brava certainly doesn’t have a shortage of great places to swim. In fact, the horseshoe-shaped bays of Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell are ideal swimming spots thanks to their gentle waters. If you visit during the popular summer months, you may find the beaches quite lively, as opposed to the quiet environment found during the off-season. If you book a villa with private pool on the Costa Brava you can have the waters all to yourself and enjoy a truly peaceful experience.

Hire a Car

When we think of the Costa Brava, we usually think of the seaside resorts of Blanes, Tossa de Mar, and Lloret de Mar. However, there is much more to this part of Catalonia than meets the eye, and there are some truly fantastic destinations located just a short distance inland like the city of Girona or Les Guilleries national park. You’ll find it easiest and most convenient to see these places by hiring a car. You could even add on a mini vacation in Barcelona; a long weekend in the city!

Pack Carefully

Packing for a holiday in Spain is usually very simple; you’ll want cool, loose clothing and plenty of suncream! However, there are a few extras that you may need on the Costa Brava. Remember that ‘Costa Brava’ can be translated as ‘Rough Coast’, highlighting the very craggy shorelines, so a strong pair of comfortable shoes is essential if you want to make the most of this part of Catalonia. Also be sure to pack a sun hat as some attractions, like Castell de Begur, typically have no shade during the day.


A day out at the Aquopolis Waterpark

Looking to enjoy some fun, family-friendly days out on your next Spain holiday? Consider spending some time at the Aquopolis Waterpark. Located close to PortAventura, this theme park is filled with slides, flumes, and lots of other water-based activities, as well as restaurants and shops for the whole family.

What to Do 

There is something for everyone at the Aquopolis Waterpark, so if you’re staying in a family villa in Spain with the kids and the grandparents, this is the perfect place to enjoy a day out. Adrenaline junkies will love the speed of Hurricane, the waves of Surf Waimea, and the mystery of the Black Hole, while those who want something a little more relaxing can enjoy the Magic Oval and the Blue Lagoon. For the very little ones, there are mini parks, adventure turtles, and all sorts of jungle fun in the Funny Jungle.

Eco-Tourism in Catalonia 

Catalonia is fast becoming one of the most well-known parts of Europe in terms of eco-tourism, and the Aquopolis Waterpark is a fine example. If you’re looking to learn more about responsibility and sustainability during your holiday in Spain, then Aquopolis’ on-site dolphinarium is the place to be. The dolphinarium exhibits explain the importance of taking care of the environment so that we can protect local sea life, and how we can all make small, everyday changes to do our part for our planet. 

Where to Stay 

The Aquopolis Waterpark is located in Vila-Seca, so any Costa Dorada holiday rental would be a great choice for a day trip to this water-based amusement park. However, to be really close to all the action, rent a house in Spain in Vila-Seca, Tarragona, Salou, or Cambrils, all of which are very close to the park.


Group holidays in Catalonia: Where to stay

With plenty of attractions for both young and old, beautiful places to relax, and a nightlife that really is second to none, it’s really no surprise that Barcelona is a top choice for group holidays in Spain. Whether you’re taking a vacation and bringing the whole family with you, or planning an energetic getaway with a group of friends, Catalonia is one of your best options.

For group travel, there are a few extra considerations to take into account when choosing your Barcelona accommodation. Here are some things to think about before booking.

Location

Ask yourself why your group is taking a Barcelona holiday: for the beaches? The bars? The city sights? To really make the most of your trip, it’s best to find a villa in Barcelona that is relatively close to what you want to enjoy. You should also consider whether you plan to rent a car or not, as this will help guide your villa selection.

Restrictions

Keep in mind that some Spain vacation rental owners may have restrictions surrounding group travel, especially for hen and stag parties. Always check that your accommodation welcomes large groups and whether there are extra conditions or security deposits for groups of younger people.

 Size

Although you may be excited about spending time with your close friends, remember that being too close can be a little claustrophobic! Make sure that your Barcelona villa has plenty of space for you to enjoy each other’s company but also to acquire some peace and quiet.

 On-Site Facilities

If you’re travelling in a large group, you may not wish to spend every night dining out. If this is the case, consider a Barcelona vacation rental with a full kitchen so that everyone can cook their own dinners and you can save money on your dining budget,

Design & Layout

If your group includes people of all ages, consider the layout of the property. Can you put the kids to bed and socialise in the evening without waking them up? Family villas in Barcelona may be a good choice.

 


Barcelona’s Festival Major de Gràcia

When is the best time to take a holiday in Spain? The country is beautiful all throughout the year, but if you’re planning to visit Barcelona’s city centre in particular, then August is a great time to see the city. Each August, Barcelona hosts the vibrant and colourful Festa Major de Gràcia, promising a lively and energetic atmosphere. It’s Barcelona’s best street festival, and it’s completely free to enjoy! 

What’s On? 

The first things you’ll notice when you head towards the festival are the many street decorations which dominate the skies. Whether it’s brightly-coloured umbrellas or bats made from recycled materials, these decorations, which are suspended in mid-air, help transform the neighbourhood into a completely different place and work to keep the festival magic alive underneath this bold and eye-catching makeshift canopy.

As well as the decorations, there are also floats, parades, live music performances, and more food than you can imagine! In fact, some of the best Barcelona street food comes in the form of mouthwatering flatbreads with all sorts of tasty toppings. Spend hours strolling the streets during the daytime or nighttime during this weeklong festival and take in the ornate designs and artwork around every corner.

Where to Stay

The best location in Barcelona to stay in during the festival is the Gràcia district, which is where all the magic happens. Incorporated into the city as recently as the 19th century, there’s still very much a strong community feel here, and the narrow, winding streets feel a world apart from the increasingly modern locations in Barcelona. Today, there is quite a ‘boho’ atmosphere here, and it’s a place that is particularly popular with young couples who are looking for great nightlife, food, bars, and a lively neighbourhood.


Barcelona’s best spots to see fireworks

Barcelona could be considered to be the ‘Fireworks Capital’ of Catalonia. In fact, it’s almost impossible to take a vacation in Barcelona without seeing the sky light up in a myriad of bright, bold colours. New Year’s Eve, La Merce festival, and the Sant Joan festival host three of the biggest fireworks displays on the Barcelona events calendar, but the big question is, where are the best places to view them from in the city?

Here are a few great options to consider:

Barceloneta Beach

There’s no location in Barcelona quite like Barceloneta Beach, which is why many parties and celebrations are held here throughout the year. The beach is one of the best places to watch the city’s fireworks displays, and there is usually a very lively, colourful atmosphere to enjoy, too.

Your Barcelona Villa

If you’re travelling with young children, or if you don’t really like big crowds, then consider watching the fireworks from your villa in Barcelona. During the bigger holidays, you should have great views from your windows or patio, and you can enjoy the show in a relaxed, quiet, and comfortable environment.

Bunkers de Carmel

If you rent a house in Barcelona near the El Carmel neighbourhood, then the most obvious choice for viewing the fireworks if from the famous Carmel bunkers. From the top of the hill you can enjoy an incredible 360-degree view of the city, putting you in a prime location regardless of where the fireworks take place.

Montjuïc

Like the Carmel bunkers, the beauty of Montjuïc is that the hill looms over the city, so you have a fantastic vantage point. An additional benefit of Montjuïc is that the hill tends to be a little less crowded than locations in the city centre, so you should be able to find plenty of space to set up a tripod.


Smart vacation rental property management with Dawn Buckler of Catalunya & Caribbean Casas

Recently, owner and managing director of Catalunya Casas, Dawn Buckler, was interviewed by Kigo, a vacation property management software company, regarding how vacation rental managers can deliver a great guest experience. Here’s what she shared:

Tell us about Catalunya Casas and Caribbean Casas. What is the mission behind the sites?

Catalunya Casas has been in operation for nine years. Caribbean Casas is two years old and was created out of a need for a winter sun market for our clients. Both offer full-service vacation rental property management. I truly believe that guests feel more confident knowing that there is an agency behind the product – ensuring that service standards will be guaranteed. Privately managed properties with great reviews and testimonials help a lot with guest trust, but this takes years to build up a healthy reputation. As a respected agency, when we contract a new and unproven villa, our clients trust our brand.

What makes Barcelona/Catalonia such a desirable vacation destination? What sets it apart?

Barcelona is now an internationally known vacation destination. It’s very metropolitan, but the surrounding areas still have the laid-back Spanish feel. It offers incredible history, architecture, art, sunshine, gastronomic delicacies and, of course, beaches.

 

What have you found visitors to this region are looking for when it comes to vacation rentals? What are their must-have amenities and features?

What sells in Spain: private pools, large gardens with grass, exterior dining areas, walking distance to amenities and beaches. Match these aspects with a nicely decorated/well-maintained property and competitive prices and you have a winning formula for excellent occupation.

What have you found travelers tend to steer clear of when it comes to vacation rentals? What causes them to pass over a particular property?

Shared pools. We will only contract a property with a shared pool if it is within 1 km of the beach. For Northern European tourists, private swimming pools are rare and a luxury.

How can property owners/managers make their vacation rentals more appealing to travelers? What should they be doing to not only attract new guests but also keep previous ones coming back?

Without a doubt, owners and managers should be looking for direct ways to market their vacation rental websites. With all major listing sites now adding a “booking fee,” guests are looking for the lowest price. If they can find you directly and avoid paying the booking fee, they will do so.

With all of the recent negative hoopla over listing sites adding guest booking fees, I find this a positive and direct advantage to any villa company. Conveniently, for this very reason, listing sites are trying to encourage advertisers to remove their property name from their listings. Do hotels do this? No. And vacation rentals shouldn’t either!

Also, as we are the ones who have the direct contracts with the property, we have an advantage over booking sites. If you look at it in terms of “direct from the manufacturer (villa owner),” we have the lowest prices.

How should property owners approach creating listings for their vacation rentals? What are best practices for making a listing that will increase bookings?

I think it’s a given that great professional photos and descriptions are the number one draw for vacation rentals, but in the end it all comes down to price. Many Spanish property owners overvalue their properties (it’s the same with the property sales market here in Spain). They demand a ridiculously expensive rental price and then complain that they don’t have any bookings.

Yes, the first two weeks of August will always sell regardless of the price but outside of these dates, it’s a competitive market and no matter how wonderful the property is, there are plenty of others just as wonderful with lower rates. A lot of owners do not understand that rates absolutely need to be on a sliding scale depending on the month of the year – and that includes lowering rates in June, July, and September. We are constantly educating our property owners on the concept of “supply and demand.”

 

What doesn’t seem to work as well in property listings? What are the “don’ts”?

Don’t take a “do it yourself” attitude just to avoid management commissions. It’s a lot of work and investment in managing and marketing a property and professional services exist for a reason. We are not here to “take your money.” As an agency, we have no problem sharing calendars and working together in unison to make your property the best it can be. The bottom line is to increase bookings and increase revenue for the owner’s “business.” We are not the competition, rather a collaborator. Doing it together is a win-win situation.

Can you talk about a property or properties that you think have done an exceptional job of attracting vacationers and delivering a “wow” experience? What can we learn from these property owners?

I think client attention is the number one formula for delivering a great experience. Spain has always been a bit behind in areas of customer service. Born and raised in Canada, a country very focused on excellent customer service, I find it difficult to educate many owners on maintenance and cleaning standards. We lose many a property because our requirements are too “demanding.” However, what owners fail to realize is that it’s not us that is demanding – it’s the guests, and rightly so! No, it’s not ok if the electricity trips when it rains, if there is a daily limit on WiFi use, if there is a window handle that does not shut properly, or if there is a “trick” to getting the coffee machine to work. We find that our owners from other countries are much more accepting and understanding of our requirements because they have a longer history of customer service standards.

What trends or innovations are you following in the world of vacation rentals today? Why do they interest you?

Programming rates are the bane of our existence so rate management systems continue to interest me. Unfortunately, I think that many of these programs need a lot more work. They are useful for capital city center apartments but for villas, they need to take into consideration a lot of other aspects including location, seasonal occupation, distances to amenities and transport, individual property features, etc.

Also customizable maintenance and cleaning technology for full-service management agencies. We have a large staff covering property care. It’s very labor intensive to provide an excellent service while maintaining client satisfaction from two sides (owners and guests). We have tried various programs, but keep returning to manual control due to each property having its own very specific set of requirements.


The best picnic spots in Barcelona

Despite the plethora of great restaurants in Barcelona, it can get a bit pricey to dip into your travel budget every time you want a good meal. Luckily, there is an alternative: a picnic! Here are some of the best picnic spots in Barcelona.

Parks

A nearby park is one of the best places to enjoy a picnic on a sunny day. Parc Cervantes is a great choice, with a large picnic area located near the entrance, set amongst the beautiful rose garden. Another good choice is the top of the Joan Brossa Gardens, where you can enjoy a great view of the cable car heading up to Montjuic. Piknic Electronik parties are held here on Sundays during the summer.

Your Barcelona Villa

There’s no need to venture too far from ‘home’ for your picnic; how about enjoying your picnic food at your villa in Barcelona where there are no crowds and no fuss. You’ll enjoy your picnic even more if you book a luxury villa with private pool in Spain!

Beaches

For a seaside picnic, there’s nowhere better than Barceloneta beach, which is one of the biggest beaches in the city, so you’ll always find somewhere comfortable to lay out your blanket. However, it’s also one of the most lively beaches, too, so you’ll have plenty to look at while you’re relaxing with your sandwich.

What to Eat

Local to Catalonia, the ‘Coca’ is a type of savoury pastry that’s enjoyed all across the Mediterranean. The Coca is quite similar to a pizza, topped with nuts, cheeses, and meats. If it’s fresh sandwiches that you’re after, Catalonia actually has a great local sandwich chain, Pans & Company, which has a number of locations in Barcelona. Alternatively, if you wanted to make up your own picnic using local ingredients, head to La Boqueria market in the morning for a range of fresh produce.


All about the Costa Dorada

Located in the Province of Tarragona and stretching all the way between the towns of Cunit and Alcanar, the Costa Dorada is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The Costa Dorada includes notable destinations such as Salou, Cambrils, and L’Ampolla, making it a top holiday destination in Spain.

The Golden Coast

‘Costa Dorada’ translates as ‘Golden Coast’ because the area is well known for its expanse of golden sands. There are heaps of great beaches along the Costa Dorada, including Cunit Beach, Tarragona Beach, and La Pineda Beach, and many people book a Costa Dorada vacation rental overlooking the shores. The region of L’Ametlla de Mar is even commonly referred to by its nickname — ‘La Cala’, or ‘The Beach’.

Where to Rent a Villa on the Costa Dorada

Despite the region’s name, there’s actually more to the Costa Dorada than just the beaches; the area is much more diverse than it gets credit for! Here’s a glimpse into the very best destinations:

Calafell

This is the place to go for a stunning villa with private pool on the Costa Dorada. It’s very much your typical beachfront town, with great swimming, sunbathing, and relaxation opportunities nearby.

Ametlla

If you don’t fancy cooking anything up in your Costa Dorada holiday rental, then consider Ametlla. As a popular fishing town, Ametlla has some of the very best seafood restaurants in all of Catalonia!

Cunit / Vila-Seca

These two small towns located on the Costa Dorada are bursting with history and culture, and still maintain some old architecture and ruins that can be traced back to Catalonia’s first settlers.

Tarragona

If you’ve enjoyed a holiday in Barcelona in the past, then you’ll love Tarragona. Although a little quieter than Barcelona, there’s still a busy, bustling city atmosphere here with shops, bars, and activities.

Salou

Salou is home to one of Europe’s most famous theme parks: Port Aventura (and now Ferrari Land, too!). If you’re travelling to Spain with kids, then a Salou villa on the Costa Dorada is the perfect choice.

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A guide to Barcelona’s beaches

For such a compact city, Barcelona has a plethora of beaches — 10 in fact! The good news is that there’s really no need to pick just one. Barcelona is a very walkable city, so no matter where your Barcelona holiday rental is located, you should be able to make it to a few different beaches during your trip. See below for the best beaches in Barcelona that you can’t afford to miss out on!

 

Somorrostro. If you’re staying in a Barcelona villa near the city, this beach is one of the most convenient. This is a great ‘all round’ beach, and it’s especially good for kids thanks to the Beach Centre educational facility, which organises all sorts of activities during the summer.

Mar Bella. This beach is located a little out of the city centre towards Sant Marti, and it’s one of the only beaches with a designated nudist area. Although primarily suitable for adults, children are welcomed at the Bac de Roda end of the beach, where there’s a playground.

Sant Sebastià. At 660 metres in length, this is one of Barcelona’s longest beaches, ideal for those wanting to take a stroll along the golden sands. It’s a firm favourite of the locals, but visitors are welcome to enjoy the bathing areas and playgrounds, or simply chill out on a lounger.

 

 

Why Visit a Barcelona Beach?

From swimming to sunbathing, and everything in between, Barcelona’s sands offer visitors that classic beach experience. Many of Barcelona’s beaches also have chiringuitos (beach bars), which you may also hear referred to by the Catalan name; guingueta. The beaches are a place to relax, unwind, have fun, keep fit, socialise, and enjoy some traditional Spanish refreshments. What more could you ask for?

Considerations

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve booked a big family villa in Barcelona for the summer, or you’ve decided on a winter Spain holiday, Barcelona’s beaches are lovely all year round. However, just keep in mind that if you’re visiting outside of the main summer season, some beach facilities may be closed.

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What is the secret to a perfect Catalan paella?

When you’re on vacation in Barcelona, you can’t afford to miss out on one of the region’s most famous dishes: paella. Paella is widely considered to be a Spanish staple, but what exactly is it, and why does Catalan paella always seem to taste just a little bit better? Here’s everything you need to know about paella!

What is Paella?

When you’re on holiday in Spain, you’ll find many restaurants offering classic Spanish paella. A typical recipe includes white rice, beans, vegetables, meat or seafood, and a range of herbs and spices. There are different varieties, including the ‘original’ Valencian recipe with snails, and vegetarian recipes, but some say that the Catalan way is the best. So what do the Catalans do differently?

Catalan Paella

While on a Barcelona holiday, you may notice that your restaurant paella is a little different (and many would say better!) than paella you’ve tasted in other parts of Spain. Catalan paella is made with the same traditional ingredients, but the method is slightly different than that of other regions. In Catalonia, the trend is to avoid mixing the paella once the rice has been added to the pot, leaving everything to relax and soak up the rich, bold flavours.

Self Catering

If you’ve decided to stay in a self-catering Catalonia villa rental, then why not try whipping up a Catalan paella on your own? Give yourself plenty of time, as a good paella can’t be rushed, and remember to pair the dish with a local Catalan wine. Paella also tastes better when it’s eaten in a magnificent location, so bring your dishes out and enjoy them by the pool at your luxury Barcelona villa.

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Hiking along the Costa Brava

If you love nature, the great outdoors, and keeping active, then rent a villa on the Costa Brava, where you’ll have easy access to one of Spain’s most spectacular hiking trails: Camino de Ronda. Considered to be Costa Brava’s ‘hiking gem’, the path travels all 136 miles between Blanes in Catalonia to Collioure in France, and is a great alternative to the much longer 450-mile Camino de Santiago Frances Trail.

Camino de Ronda — Day Hike

For many visitors to Catalonia, hiking the entire 136-mile trail may be a bit too much. However, the good news is that it’s possible to just walk a small section of the path in one day, which can give you a great taste of the coastal path. Start in Calella de Palafrugell and walk up to the lighthouse in Llafranc before walking back again. In some places, the trail goes right along the beach for amazing views.

Camino de Ronda — Through Hike

Travelling all the way between Blanes and Collioure is a big journey, but it can be done! If you find it difficult to pack lightly, consider arranging for luggage transfer through a company in Spain. These companies drive your bags from one villa in Spain to another, so you can enjoy a lightweight walk in the day but still have all your little luxuries waiting for you at your destination.

Why Walk the Costa Brava Trail?

There are many wonderful things to see in Catalonia, but it’s impossible to see them all from your Spain holiday rental. By taking a walk away from the main tourist destinations, you’ll stumble across hidden beaches and secret coves, tiny fishing villages and inland beauty spots; all places that you wouldn’t have found if you’d stayed in the more well-known places.

Camino de Ronda Accommodations

The great news is that the Camino de Ronda trail runs right through a number of popular resort destinations, including Lloret de Mar, Tossa del Mar, and Cap de Creus, which means that there’s a wide range of Spain holiday rentals available along the track. This allows you to really take your time, walk at a pace that’s comfortable for you, and really make the most of the incredible sights along the way.

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Explore Catalonia’s ancient ruins

Spain’s Catalonia region is famous for its centuries of history and is home to some of the best-preserved Medieval towns and villages in the world. If you’re interested in delving back even further into the region’s history to learn more about the Greek and Roman eras during your holiday in Spain, check out some of Catalonia’s ancient ruins. From historic walled remains to first-century racecourses, the Catalonia region has plenty to uncover. Here are three of the region’s best-preserved ancient ruins that are open to the public.

Empúries

The old town of Empúries was founded in 575 BC by the Greeks, although the town was eventually taken over by the Romans. Excavations on the town began in the 1900s, and today it’s possible to see old homes, temples, walls, and mosaics, and there’s even the Museum of MAC-Empúries which provides stories behind the ruins. However, the highlights are the gardens, where you can learn more about traditional Roman medicine, and the underground crypt, which has only recently opened to the public. Book a Costa Brava vacation rental to stay near to Empúries. If you enjoy pleasant strolls, then stay in L’Escala and take the pedestrianized coastal path right along the water to the town.

Tarragona Amphitheatre

Built in the second century, the Tarragona Amphitheatre is one of the main attractions in this old town, which was once a thriving Roman colony known as Tarraco. Taking on a traditional Colosseum appearance, it is believed that the amphitheatre could once hold up to 15,000 spectators at a time, making it one of the largest in Europe. When Islam arrived and Catholicism dwindled as the primary religion in Spain, the amphitheatre was abandoned, and over the years it has housed a church and has been used as a prison. Luckily for those taking a vacation in Spain, the theatre was somewhat recovered in recent years, and today is a remarkably well-preserved site.

Circ Roma

Another great location in Tarragona is Circ Roma, or the Roman Circus. Built in the first century, this was the place to see and be seen, and played a major role in the world of leisure during Roman rule. Somewhat of an ancient alternative to the modern Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the Roman Circus was the best place in Catalonia to watch fast-action chariot races. Perhaps one of Catalonia’s best preserved ruins, remaining inscriptions have led experts to believe that the racetrack remained in use until the fifth century, when it was abandoned. A part of the track is still very much intact, making it an amazing place to explore. Tarragona is easy to reach from most villas on the Costa Dorada, but it’s also just a one-hour drive from Barcelona, too, making it a top choice for a day trip during your Barcelona holiday.

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Tips for renting a car in Spain

During a holiday in Spain, it is common to be curious about the best way of get around the region. The answer may vary depending on the specific area that travelers are visiting. Getting from a vacation villa in Barcelona to the city’s top sights and attractions is generally very easy using public transport as many parts of Catalonia benefit from excellent rail links and bus routes. However, for those planning to visit some of the more quiet and isolated parts of the country, a car may be the best choice.

 

 

If you’re looking for the fastest and most convenient way to get from your villa in Barcelona to a Costa Dorada holiday rental, then here’s everything you need to know about hiring a car in Spain.

Age: While the minimum driving age in Spain is 18, you’ll need to be a little older to rent a car. Most Spanish rental agencies set their minimum age limit at either 21 or 22, although others may restrict rentals to those who are 25 years old or older. In most cases, renters under age 25 will need to pay an additional ‘young driver fee’, which usually amounts to around 20 EUR per day.

License: Whether you rent from a location in Barcelona or somewhere else in Spain, you will need to present a valid driving license from your home country. Although an International Driving License is not a legal requirement if you have a license from an EU country, it is still recommended as it can make things easier if you require assistance during the rental period.

Locations: Although most rental cars can be driven across European borders without hassle, it’s worth double checking with your rental agency if you plan to cross over the French Pyrenees or visit Andorra. If you do decide to visit more places in Europe during your trip, beware that you may be charged extra if you return your car to a different country.

Driving in Spain

The good news is that driving in Spain is actually very simple. Although things can be a little hectic if you rent a car from a central location in Barcelona, driving Barcelona’s roads is not particularly stressful. In Spain, they drive on the right, which is simple for Americans but a little trickier for Brits! Remember that speed limits are posted in km/h, rather than m/h, and that standard speed limits are 50km/h for urban areas, 90km/h for rural areas, and 120km/h when driving on Spanish motorways.

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There’s more to Barcelona than Barcelona!

If you’re thinking about taking a vacation in Barcelona, will you visit the city itself, or will you see what else the province of Barcelona has to offer? Contrary to popular belief, Barcelona isn’t just a city; it’s also one of Catalonia’s four provinces, and there’s much more to the area than simply the city. In fact, the province is bursting with culture, history, and plenty of scenery.

Vilassar de Mar.

City Life

Along with Barcelona, there’s also a number of other busy, bustling cities within Barcelona province that demonstrate just how lively and active things can be in Catalonia. If you love the full, hectic atmosphere of major cities, then book a villa in Barcelona province in the city of Hospitalet de Llobregat, or “L’Hospitalet” for short, which is actually one of the most densely packed cities in all of Europe! While there’s not quite as much to do here as there is in the city of Barcelona, L’Hospitalet certainly has one mightily impressive skyline with some of the tallest skyscrapers in all of Catalonia.

For a completely different side to city life, try another city location in Barcelona province: Mataró. This is a quieter, compact city that’s very easy to navigate on foot, and is a little more laidback than L’Hospitalet or Barcelona. The main sights are the Roman ruins and the Puig i Cadafalch architecture. It’s located south of the Costa Brava, so you can easily visit Mataró from your Costa Brava vacation rental.

Sitges.

Mediterranean Beauty

Of course, many people who take a holiday in Spain want sun, sea, and sand, and Barcelona province has plenty! As well as the fascinating and historic cities, there’s also a number of smaller coastal resorts that scream “Mediterranean!”. Sitges is one of these areas, and it’s one of the most popular holiday destinations in Catalonia. It offers plenty for visitors, including sandy beaches, cultural museums, seafront restaurants, and luxury Costa Dorada holiday rentals overlooking the famous golden coast.

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When in Catalunya, catch the Castells

Want to see something completely unique and a little bit off-the-wall during your holiday in Spain? Make it a point to check out the famous Catalan Castells: the human towers that have become a true spectacle. Translating into ‘castle’ in English, which refers to the overall structure of the tower, the Castells are a common display at many festivals and at other major community events in Catalonia. Believed to have been a Catalan tradition since 1712, the Castells have become a big part of the local culture, and were even given UNESCO Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity status.

Castell History & Evolution

If you were staying in a villa in Barcelona back in the 1980s, the type of Castells you will have witnessed would be totally different from the Castells you would see in the city today. Understood to have a religious meaning, this has become somewhat lost over the years. Today the displays are mostly for show, with towers getting taller and taller every year and including more and more acrobatics. There is a bigger performance aspect to modern Castells, and some towers can even reach up to 10 levels!

Where to See Castells

It is pretty easy to plan your vacation in Spain to coincide with the Casteller season as the season runs from February to November. The Castells regularly appear at festivals in the area, but perhaps the very best place to see them is in Valls, which is where they originated. Be sure to stop by the museum, Món Casteller: The Human Towers Experience, to learn more about this unusual Catalan sport.

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All about the Costa Brava

The Costa Brava is located in the Province of Girona, and runs from the beautiful Catalan town of Blanes all the way up to the French border. The towns along the Costa Brava were once mostly sleepy fishing towns, but things are very different today. Starting in the 1950s, many luxury resorts and Costa Brava vacation rentals were built in the region, especially around the seaside towns of Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar, making the Costa Brava a top tourist destination for those looking for a trio of sun, sea, and sand.

The “Rough Coast”

‘Costa Brava’ translates as ‘Rough Coast’, and gets its name from Catalan journalist Ferran Agulló who remarked on the coast’s raw, rugged scenery and jagged shoreline. Unlike the Costa Dorada, which boasts a fairly neat, clean coast, the Costa Brava is made up of steep, rocky cliffs and natural features which result in its bays, inlets, coves, islands, and peninsulas. Photographers are often known to rent a villa on the Costa Brava to capture this stunning and unusual look.

Sights & Scenery

The scenery on the Costa Brava is quite the mix. From your villa on the Costa Brava you may see white sand beaches or wild marshland; lakes or tropical gardens; historic castles and fortresses or protected nature reserves with all sorts of flora and fauna. Blankets of beaches cover Platja d’Aro, fascinating rock formations rise at Palamós, and a beautiful harbour cuts into Llafranc. There are even three separate and distinct lush green natural parks; Cap de Creus Natural Park, Montseny Natural Park, and Aiguamolls de l’Empordà.

Choosing a villa with pool on the Costa Brava is an excellent choice for those who love nature and spending time in the great outdoors. The town of Blanes is also just an hour’s drive from Barcelona, so it’s ideal for a multi-centre holiday, blending city life with more rural, back-to-nature living.

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Calçotadas: Catalonia’s onion obsession

Vacation rentals in Barcelona can get booked up quickly during the summer as it is one of the most popular times to visit Catalonia. However, deciding to take a Barcelona holiday in the winter isn’t such a bad idea especially if you like onions! Why? Because it’s calçot season; a time for good food and good wine!

What is a Calçot?

A calçot is a type of onion that is similar to a scallion, spring onion, green onion, salad onion, or the like. They’re harvested during the winter months in rural Catalonia, and are served in a rather unique and interesting way that makes them truly delicious and hard to put down!

Catalonia Calçotades

If you’re staying in a villa in Barcelona during the winter, you may hear the locals discussing the calçotada…but what is IT? A calçotada is a festival celebrating the calçot, where the onions are barbecued, steamed, and then eaten as a snack, usually dipped in a traditional Romesco sauce from Tarragona. There are also grilled meats, crusty breads, and copious amounts of local red wine.

Finding Calçotadas

If you’re keen to visit a calçotada during your holiday in Spain, then consider visiting the town of Valls in January, which is when the region’s biggest annual calçotada takes place. However, you’re sure to find smaller calçotadas taking place in restaurants throughout calçot season, which runs from December to April.

Even if onions aren’t really your thing, Valls is still a great place to visit in the winter months. Spend time in Plaça del Blat in the historic centre of the town, home to the Castells Museum, where you can learn more about another of Valls’ famous attractions: the human towers, which have been a unique Catalan artistic style since the 1700s!

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Ecotourism in Catalonia

Many people dream about swimming with dolphins, but what about swimming with bluefin tuna? Ecotourism is becoming a huge attraction for people who take a holiday in Spain, and the region of Catalonia is ripe with such opportunities.

Ecotourism

The idea behind ecotourism is to encourage visitors to look after and care for the environment, teaching them more about the local area, its vulnerabilities, and demonstrating how we can all help to do our part for the environment. Tuna tours take place in the Terres de l’Ebre region of Catalonia, where it’s possible to not only swim with endangered bluefin tuna, but also to learn more about sustainable fishing methods.

The Tuna Tour

The Tuna Tour leaves from Ametlla de Mar for a 30-minute catamaran ride into the depths of the Mediterranean Sea. Sailing away, you’ll get a great view of the coastline, as well as the beautiful villas on the Costa Dorada. The swimming season lasts from June to October, so plan your trip accordingly.

Although this is open-sea swimming in the Mediterranean, the tuna pool is completely enclosed making it safe for both swimmers and the fish. You’ll be provided with a wetsuit so you can keep your swimsuit clean and dry, ready to throw on once you get back to your villa with private pool on the Costa Dorada!

Ametlla de Mar

If a Costa Dorada vacation rental sounds ideal, then consider staying in Ametlla de Mar, a southern town with gorgeous beaches, plenty of watersports, great museums, a few castles, and truly fantastic views. As one of Catalonia’s primary fishing ports, the local seafood is delicious (and much of it is sustainable, too!). Ametlla de Mar is big enough for couples and families to enjoy a range of activities, while also basking in the small fishing town feel.

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Underground Barcelona

Have you ever stopped to think what might be lurking underneath your Barcelona villa? Soil, dirt, or how about a bomb shelter? If you make your way to Barcelona’s El Poble-Sec district, then you could have the chance to visit Refugi 307, an air raid shelter dating from the Spanish Civil War.

Refugi 307

Refugi 307 is made up of more than 400 metres of underground tunnel, with winding passageways measuring just 1.5 metres wide (this certainly isn’t a place for the claustrophobic!). It provides a completely different experience to what you get at your luxury vacation villa in Spain, offering a glimpse into what life was really like for those who spent time here during the war. During a tour of the shelter, you can even view the original toilets, the old drinking fountains, and the makeshift infirmary.

Believe it or not, there are between 1,000 and 2,000 air raid shelters nestled beneath the city, so what’s hiding under your Barcelona accommodation? Whatever it is, chances are it’s nowhere near as elaborate or fancy as Refugi 307. For while these series of tunnels may appear disheveled and unkempt, Refugi 307 was, at the time, actually considered to be one of the more privileged air raid shelters. Digging into the mountainside produced a reliable water source, something most did not have.

El Poble-Sec

Although many travellers opt for a more ‘Old Town’ location in Barcelona, it is worth checking out what El Poble-Sec has to offer. As a more modern district, boasting a central location, bustling streets, great nightlife, and spectacular views across Montjuïc, this is a place that’s not to be missed. The mountainous area itself tends to be a little cooler, and is ideal for picnics, making it an excellent choice for families.

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Barcelona locations for families with children

Barcelona is a great family-friendly destination, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a holiday with your children. Not only can you find a lot of family villas in Barcelona, but there are also 10 beautiful beaches and a number of kid-friendly museums, too! However, there are a few considerations to take into account to ensure your Spain holiday is simple and stress-free, the most important of which is deciding where to stay.

Barcelona’s Districts

Although many people who take a Barcelona holiday love the old city area, including the districts of Sant Pere and Barceloneta, these may not be the best areas for families with very young children. Historic and cobbled, with narrow, winding streets, it may be difficult to maneuver a pushchair in these areas, and the uneven surfaces could increase the risk of trips and falls. Instead,  look into villas in Barcelona outside the city center. These properties will have gardens where kids can play, and some even have private, secured pools.

 

Barcelona’s Beaches

Many kids love spending the day at the beach, but families often prefer quieter areas than some busy and bustling beaches. If the beaches close to the heart of the city sound a little hectic, why not rent a house in Barcelona that’s just a little further down the coast? From Sitges to El Vendrell to Tarragona, these Costa Dorada beaches tend to be less crowded and much more enjoyable for families.

Things to Do

Barcelona’s residents are renowned for their friendly nature, so if you’re not sure if a building is equipped with a lift that is suitable for pushchairs, or for young children, don’t hesitate to ask a member of the staff! Take the kids on a day trip to the Barcelona Zoo or Port Aventura for an afternoon of fun rides as you collect precious family memories.

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Don’t miss Tarragona’s best festivals

If you love taking part in local events, then where is the best place to take a holiday in Spain? Many people would book a villa in Barcelona for events such as the Barcelona Carnival and La Mercè, but there’s actually another popular destination that’s giving Barcelona a run for its money: Tarragona.

 

Tarragona holds a number of annual festivals that really are great fun! See below for just a few.

Dixieland

Like Breda, Dresden, and Miskolc, Tarragona also hosts its own Dixieland festival, dedicated to classic, New Orleans-style jazz. The city has been hosting the events since 1994, with festivities taking place annually during the weekend before Easter. Keep in mind that the music carries on well into the night, so if you book a Spain villa near to any of the venues, such as the Premium Music Club or the Bar del Teatre Metropol, you may want to pack some earplugs in your luggage if you’re an ‘early-to-bed’ kind of person!

Fireworks

The Tarragona International Fireworks competition is one not to be missed! Usually taking place at the end of June, the world’s most talented fireworks designers and routine coordinators gather in the city to show the world just how it’s done. The main festivities take place on Playa del Miracle Beach, but the real beauty of this festival is that the fireworks can be seen from anywhere; from a local restaurant, from your luxury vacation rental in Spain, or from practically anywhere else in the city and surrounding areas.

 

Santa Tecla

The Santa Tecla festival in Tarragona lasts for a whopping 10 days, and there’s always something new to see and enjoy. The festivals typically includes movies, sports events, parties, music, and dance, but it is most famous for its human towers which are truly a sight to behold. Santa Tecla is one of just two Catalonia festivals that have been given declarations by the Spanish Government. The festival is considered to be of national and tourism interest, and is one of the hottest events in the calendar.

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Walking the Roman walls of Girona

Although many travelers love to relax in their villa with private pool in Spain, others are looking for a vacation in Spain that’s a little more active. The good news is that Catalonia offers the best of both worlds, with great places to relax, and a number of lively activities to really get the heart pumping. One of the best things to do if you’re an activity lover is to walk the old Roman walls of Girona.

Passeig de la Muralla

The pathway created by the Roman walls is known as ‘Passeig de la Muralla’, and experts believe that some sections of the wall date as far back as the first century! However, many portions of the wall are actually much newer and were restored following intentional destruction, which enabled the city of Girona to expand. There are a number of entry and exit points along the path, but taking in the entire 3-kilometer wall is recommended. (You can rest your legs at your villa in Spain at the end of the day!)

One of the best advantages of walking the Roman walls of Girona is that you can see the entire town — and even further afield — from the spectacular vantage points. The iconic cathedral is one of the most prominent sights from the walls, and in the distance you can see the snow capped peaks of the Pyrenees.

Visiting Girona

Girona is located about a 1.5-hour drive from Barcelona, so while it’s a trip that can be done in a day from your Barcelona villa, you may want to allow for a little more time to explore, especially if you plan on walking the Roman walls. Fortunately, there are some great Spain vacation rentals in this part of Catalonia, so why not extend your stay and stop for a night in this beautiful and historic city?

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Where to golf in Catalonia

With heaps of world-class golf courses and stunning coastal views, Catalonia is the perfect place to take a golf vacation in Spain. Whether you are planning on a birdie or a hole in one, here are a few worthy suggestions for your next golf holiday in Spain.

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PGA Catalunya Resort

PGA Catalunya Resort

Located due south of the Catalonian city of Girona, the PGA Catalunya Golf Resort is one of the most well-known in the region; in fact the Stadium Course has been ranked the top golf course in Spain and has achieved top 10 status throughout Europe. The course opened in 1999 and has since become a venue for many of the European PGA  tournaments. The stunning landscape features tree-lined fairways, hidden bunkers, and tranquil lakes. If you find the Stadium Course too challenging, try the picturesque Tour Course, suitable for all levels and sprinkled with lakes and pine trees.

Club Golf D’Aro – Mas Nou

If you like your golf course with a side of sea views, Club Golf D’Aro could be just what you are looking for. With 18 holes, two golf courses, and nine pitch-and-putt holes, there is something for everyone. Located close to the popular Catalan beach resort of Platja D’Aro the course is more than 300 metres above sea level, surrounded by a natural park filled with cork, pine, and olive trees and two artificial lakes. Between holes, admire the spectacular sea views from the fairways before you navigate your buggy to the next tee.

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Lumine Mediterranea Beach Club & Golf Community

Lumine Mediterranea Beach Club & Golf Community

This golf course has not two, but three golf courses and 45 holes in total. Situated close to villas on the Costa Dorada, the courses encompass 170 hectares in total. Try to avoid becoming distracted by the sheer abundance of nature, wetlands, archaeological ruins, and the sea views – be aware your score card may suffer!

Club de Golf Peralada

With a backdrop of the Pyrenees, it’s easy to see why Club de Golf Peralada is so popular. This 18-hole, par 71 course is located in the northern Costa Brava in Emporda, a 10-minute drive from the French border. The golf course is competition level and also has a great pitch-and-putt academy that can be enjoyed year round.

If you are fortunate enough to be staying in a holiday rental on the Costa Brava, Maresme, or Costa Dorada, there are world-class golf courses right on your doorstep. On your next visit to Catalonia, don’t forget to pack your clubs!

 

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A bird’s eye view of Barcelona

A few of the best ways to see the city of Barcelona include walking the historic streets of the Barri Gotic and strolling around the more modern plazas of the neighbourhood of Eixample. But what if you want alternative views of the city? What if there was a way to view Barcelona villas, shops, statues, and structures from the sky? Well there is! In fact, there are actually a few ways to get a bird’s eye view of the city of Barcelona.

Port Vell Tramway

The Port Vell Aerial Tramway was opened in 1931, but the original cabins are still in use today, which makes this a very interesting and historic attraction in the city. The base station location in Barcelona is very convenient at La Barceloneta, and the 1,303-meter long line transports visitors from the coast to the top of Montjuïc for truly breathtaking views. The entire ride provides great views along the way, especially of the harbour, and if it’s clear you can even see as far as far as the Sagrada Familia and the Hospital de Sant Pau. If you’re not too fond of heights, don’t worry — a single ride only lasts five to 10 minutes in total.

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Montjuïc Cable Car

Many visitors on holiday in Barcelona think that the Port Vell Tramway and the Montjuïc Cable Car are the same thing, but actually they’re two very different and distinct attractions. Opened in 1970, the Montjuïc Cable Car travels between Montjuïc Park and Montjuïc Castle near the mountain’s summit. Not only is it an excellent way to reach the castle without tiring out your legs, it’s also an amazing opportunity to get a different view of the city below. The ride takes just five minutes, but thanks to the glass-encased cabins, this is all the time you need to enjoy the views and take some great pictures.

City Views

Don’t forget that there’s another great way to enjoy a unique view of Barcelona, too: from your airplane! Thanks to the airport’s convenient location just along the coast from Montjuïc, you’ll enjoy some spectacular views at the start and end of your holiday in Spain without having to leave your seat!

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A guide to Picasso’s Barcelona

There are many reasons why travellers choose to take a holiday in Spain; everything from the fine weather to the glorious coastal resorts of Catalonia. However, Spain, and Barcelona in particular, is also known as being a top vacation destination for art lovers, who flock here to get a feel for Picasso’s Barcelona.

Although Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga in the south of Spain and spent much of his life in France, it is widely reported that he considered Barcelona to be his true home. The Picasso family decided to buy a house in Barcelona at a time when the city was ready and willing to start embracing some of the more radical movements, and Cubist Picasso easily found his place here, essentially launching his career in the city.

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Picasso’s art

Picasso underwent his famous ‘blue period’ in Barcelona, and many of his blue-tinted artworks are inspired by his life in the city. One of his most well-known depictions of Barcelona is, of course, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (currently on display at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art), which shows the more sinful side of historic city life. The street depicted in the artwork, Carrer D’Avinyo, is still around, and you can easily visit it from your Barcelona villa in the beautiful, cobbled Barri Gotic neighbourhood.

Castle-like interior of one of our villas

Castle-like interior of one of our villas

Picasso Museum & other areas of interest

Opened in 1963, the Picasso Museum has a great, central location in Barcelona, and displays 4,251 pieces of Picasso artwork. However, there are many more Picasso-related sights and attractions in the city. The Barcelona Ceramics Museum houses a few pieces, while the National Museum of Catalan Art houses Woman in Hat and Fur Collar, which is one of many paintings Picasso did of his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Finally, it’s well worth stopping for lunch at the 4 Cats Tavern, which is where Picasso held his very first exhibition. Today, it’s a popular gastrobar serving up mouthwatering Spanish cuisine.

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Walking Las Ramblas

Whatever sort of Barcelona accommodation you choose and wherever it is, chances are you’ll be a walk or train ride away from Las Ramblas, a large, central shopping street in the city that’s a big hit with visitors.

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Understanding Las Ramblas

Contrary to popular belief, Las Ramblas isn’t actually a single street. In fact, it’s made up of lots of smaller streets: Rambla de Canaletes, Rambla dels Estudis, Rambla de Sant Josep, Rambla dels Caputxins, and Rambla de Santa Mònica. There is plenty to see along these streets, and lots of shopping and dining, too.

What to see and do

Even if you’re only in Barcelona on holiday for a few days, you should try to find time to walk Las Ramblas as it’s arguably one of the biggest attractions in the city. If you love shopping, then La Boqueria market is definitely worth checking out. It sells all manner of goods, but the vibrant colours of the fresh fruits and vegetables are what really makes this place noteworthy. If you’re in a self-catering villa in Barcelona, you’ll certainly find some delicious foods to pick up for dinner while browsing in this open-air market.

 

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There are plenty of sights along Las Ramblas, too, including the beautiful and breathtaking architecture of the historic Liceu Theatre and Virreina Palace, and monuments such as the Columbus Monument at the end of the street, and the ornate Font de Canaletes fountain, both of which are excellent photo points.

An easy stroll

The entirety of Las Ramblas stretches for three quarters of a mile, from Plaça de Catalunya to Port Vell, so it’s a nice easy stroll and a return trip can easily be completed in a morning or afternoon (although with so much to see and do, it’s worth allocating a little longer for your walk). Lace up your walking shoes and enjoy a light stroll away from your vacation rental in Barcelona.

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The best hiking trails in Catalonia

Leaving your deluxe Catalonia villa rental might not be high on your list of things to do on holiday (especially if you’ve opted for a luxurious villa with private pool in Spain!), but it really is worth taking some time to get out and enjoy the country’s stunning natural beauty. While many people choose to rent a car, there are much better ways to enjoy the sights and sounds of the region; taking a bike ride in Catalonia, for example, or perhaps even donning the walking boots and heading off on the hiking trails.

Here are some of the best walking routes in Catalonia.

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  • Sant Jeroni Trail, Montserrat

Taking just over one hour in total, this is an excellent hiking route for people of all ability levels. There’s a sharp ascent up to the summit, but it’s worth the effort for the breathtaking views over the Llobregat valley. If you’re staying in a Barcelona accommodation, it’s easy to get to the start of the trail; take a train to Montserrat-Aeri, and then the St. Joan funicular.

  • GR92, Blanes – Lloret

The GR92 long-distance walking route covers a whopping 362 miles between Portbou and Vilanova, but there’s a very manageable and stunning coastal section for leisure hikers between Blanes and Lloret. At just over three miles one way, it’s even good for kids, and it’s a handy and convenient option for those with a holiday rental in Costa Brava. The beach at Lloret is stunning, so spend some time there if you can!

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  • Footpath 1, Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park

If you fancy heading a little bit inland, there’s nowhere better than the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. There are more than 20 different trails in the park, but footpath 1 is arguably one of the best. A loop trail covering just over six miles, this path takes you to the Santa Margarida crater, which is much more lush and green than you may think. It’s a tiring walk, but it will be a highlight of your vacation in Spain.

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Catalonia: Land of Castles?

There’s a great deal of debate over exactly where the name ‘Catalonia’, or ‘Catalunya’, came from. There are some who say that the region is named after the Katelans, an Iberian tribe. Others say that the name has Celtic origins. Perhaps most interesting, however, is the belief that Catalonia means ‘Land of Castles’. While we don’t know for sure, what we do know is that the region has an abundance of fortresses and magnificent, castle-like mansions that make this a very historic and stunning place to visit.

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The beauty of the ‘Land of Castles’ is that there’s a lot of diversity in both the architectural styles and the current status of the bu