Summer festivals in Catalonia

The Catalans love their festivals! They fully immerse themselves in the wonderful spectacles, firework displays, street parades and party atmosphere. Many famous festivals such as Easter parades, town fiestas, Saints´ days, and flower displays can be enjoyed all over Spain. Specifically, the region of Catalonia has its own incredible festivals held throughout the year. Here are a few dates to put on your calendar to ensure you reserve your vacation rental in Spain and don’t miss any of the fun!

 

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JUNE

In the coastal resort town of L’Estartit you can enjoy a wonderful Catalan folk music and Sardana dancing festival held between the 15th and 17th of June. It’s a wonderful way to experience the local music and dancing as all the residents take to the streets to enjoy the party atmosphere.

Also held around the 23rd June in all major towns and villages on the coast is the festival of Sant Joan, a summer solstice celebration where bonfires are lit on the beaches and in town squares, firework displays go off over the sea, and music echoes through ancient streets all through the night.

JULY

One of the most popular festivals you shouldn’t omit when visiting Catalonia is the Habanera. Named after a genre of music brought back from the Caribbean by sailors from the region, these are traditional fisherman songs which are sung in the Costa Brava villages. Every first weekend in July ,the Habanera comes to life in the pretty village of Calella de Palafrugell. Fisherman sail into the picturesque bay on their boats singing sea shanties – a warming drink of cremat (rum set alight) is offered on their arrival to the shore.

The evenings are spent on the sandy beaches and in local bodegas, dim lights illuminating the boats as they continue to sail into the cove. Songs are sung and visitors are more than welcome.

 

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AUGUST

If you are staying in the region during the month of August, head to see the Habaneras at Portbou, Sa Riera and other areas along the Costa Brava. In L’Escala during the last weekend of August you can enjoy the Festival of Giants – men and women dressed as giants parade the streets in a weekend full of fun and laughter.

SEPTEMBER

The myriad of festivals continue into September. Take a trip to Begur where the Indianos Colonial Fair occurs. During the 1800s many people of Begur began a pilgrimage to the new world to seek their fortune. Many townsfolk remained there building business and colonial mansions where they settled with their families. This festival celebrates the town’s ancestry connection with the Caribbean island of Cuba and the people who left from Begur to experience a different slice of life.

In the beautiful coastal town of Cadaques you can enjoy the summer festival, Catalan folk dancing, music, activities and games for children and plenty of firework displays.
The Catalan National Holiday is held on the 11th of the month in most towns and villages across all of Catalonia. The date commemorates the end of the siege of Barcelona by the Spanish.

If you are planning on reserving a Costa Brava vacation rental, this summer these are just a few of the local events you won’t want to miss.


Exploring Platja d’Aro

Platja d’Aro (or Playa d’Aro) is approximately 40 kilometers from Girona in Catalonia, Spain, and 110 kilometers north of Barcelona on the coast of the Costa Brava. It’s a well-known resort of the Catalan people, cosmopolitan with a historical town centre, great beaches and lots of entertainment all year round. If your vacation rental in Spain is close by, a visit to Platja d’Aro is a must. The resort is comprised of two areas: Castell d’Aro is the historic area, located 3 kilometers inland and constructed around the medieval castle and church; and then you have the modern, vibrant resort town next to the beach of Platja d’Aro.

 

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This resort is easy to reach by bus or car from other resorts and inland towns on the Costa Brava. It has excellent shopping that incorporates a mix of markets, high-end chains like Mango and Bershka, and local artisan shops. The beachfront is sprinkled with cafes and restaurants overlooking the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. On the beach a variety of water sports can be enjoyed, and if you are looking to achieve your PADI certification there are many dive schools in which you can enroll.

Although there is much to do on a daily basis in Platja d’Aro, it is also worth mentioning the annual festivals and events including the Beer Festival – a smaller Catalan version of Oktoberfest – the carnival, and the medieval market which tours each Spanish town, and is held in Castell d’Aro.

When you rent a villa in the Costa Brava it’s easy to get comfortable by the pool and not explore your surroundings; however, there is so much to see in this area, and you would be missing out. The cities of Girona and Barcelona are a short drive away as are the Pyrenees if you feel like hiking in the great outdoors. There are also many interesting and picturesque coastal resorts on the Costa Brava which are truly captivating.

 

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In the town centre and beachfront restaurants, you will find typical dishes of the Catalan region including the favourite breakfast dish of Pa Amb Tomàquet – toasted rustic bread, rubbed with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and tomato passata. This can also be served with sausage, Spanish potato omelette, or ham. This dish is easy to make and can easily be recreated on the terrace of your Costa Brava vacation rental. Sardines are very popular and freshly caught here, are are ideal for tossing into your next stew.

If relaxation is in order and Platja d’Aro is a little too lively for you, head to the upmarket resort of S’Agaro just a few miles away and enjoy the tranquil splendor of this attractive seaside town.

 

 


Cool off in Catalonia´s best water parks

Catalonia, Spain is famous for being family friendly, and their many water parks are no exception. A plethora of attractions await from dolphinariums (dolphin aquariums) to swimming pools and kamikaze water slides.  If you are renting a villa with private pool on the Costa Brava or you are staying in a Costa Dorada vacation rental you have many options when it comes to finding a water park to visit in your area. Here is a short guide to the water parks within traveling distance from your villa in Spain.

 

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Costa Brava
Marineland Catalunya
Marineland Catalunya is one of the most popular water parks on the Costa Brava. Located in Palafolls near the seaside resort of Malgrat de Mar, Marineland will keep all of the children (and adults) entertained throughout the day. There is a free shuttle bus which runs from the popular towns of Lloret de Mar, Blanes, Malgrat de Mar, Santa Susana, Pineda and Calella. Expect to see exciting dolphin shows, a myriad of exotic birds, sea lions and a wide selection of water slides and wave pools. If you have a child celebrating a birthday during your trip, let the park know in advance and the park entertainers will organise something special for the birthday boy or girl!

AquaBrava
The AquaBrava waterpark is located in Roses in the northern Costa Brava, while Marineland caters for the south of the area, Aquabrava is perfectly located to visit if you are staying near L’Estartit, Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell. The park hosts 19 amazing rides with wild rivers, relaxation pools and twisting, undulating water slides. Their newest attraction is the Cobra water ride, which will take your breath away! For younger children there is also Tropic Island and Kids Lagoon, perfect for the toddlers in your family.

Costa Maresme
Illa Fantasia
Illa Fantasia is a vibrant water park set on the Costa Maresme, approximately one hour north of Barcelona by train. With more than 20 water slides and three huge swimming pools, you will find many places to chill out and cool down during the hot summer days. Adults can lounge in the sun or under a shady canopy as the kids hit the water slides. The park´s picnic areas make it easy to bring your own food prepared in your Barcelona holiday rental, so there is no need for any additional expense. There is also a supermarket right next to the park if you wanted to shop for some essentials just before you enter the park.

Costa Dorada
Aquopolis
Aquopolis is located in La Pineda near Tarragona, and you can travel here from Cambrils, Salou and Sitges via bus. If you seek high excitement check out the Hurricane, Boomerang and the Black Hole which is a wild water slide in the dark! If you have a competitive streak, challenge the family to a speed race where you can all compete against each other on the water slides. There are also many relaxing wave pools and river rapids to enjoy together. The children’s mini park caters for the tiny tots, too.

With the plethora of water parks located up and down the coastline in Spain, you will definitely find one close to your Spain vacation rental!


Visiting Malgrat de Mar on the Costa Maresme

Families visiting Catalonia have a multitude of things to see and do close to their Costa Maresme holiday rental. Many of the Catalan resorts are perfect sites for children, with blue flag beaches and a multitude of play areas. Malgrat de Mar is one resort that offers plenty to see and do for the entire family.

 

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Malgrat is on the cusp of the Costa Maresme and the Costa Brava, and has the combination of “old Malgrat” which houses narrow streets, bars, restaurants, bakeries and grocery shops, and the new part of the town, which is abundant with bars, restaurants, mini golf and wonderful stretches of golden sandy beaches.

 

The train station located in the old town offers visitors the opportunity to travel up and down the coast to Barcelona and many other resort towns for the cost of a few euros. Opposite the train station you will often find elderly men involved in a competitive game of the Catalan version of Pétanque. The neighborhood is a wonderful place to uncover the real town of Malgrat.

 

The long stretch of beach in the more modern area of the town is divided into three zones: Malgrat beach which has been awarded blue flag status, Pomerada Beach with its protected dune area, and Astillero beach which hosts a lively children’s club. There are plenty of beach bars, crèches and monitored play areas on each, making this a great resort for families to visit.

 

Just outside Malgrat in Palafolls is Marineland where both adults and children can be entertained all day long with a variety of water slides, dolphin shows, swimming areas and exotic birds. Children under the age of 3 enter for free and the park is open from mid-May each year until the season ends around the end of October. There are a wide range of self-service restaurants or you can bring a picnic that you prepared earlier in your villa on the Costa Maresme.

 

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While in Marineland, children and adults can enjoy the hammock rental service, a fast pass so you don’t have to queue to enjoy the water slides, and souvenir photos which you can take with the dolphins or sea lions.

 

For those who are visiting the area but haven’t hired a car, there is a free bus to Marineland, with bus stops situated near your Costa Maresme vacation rental or villa in the Costa Brava. Bus schedules run from Tossa de Mar, Lloret de Mar, Blanes, Malgrat de Mar, Santa Susanna, Pineda de Mar and Calella.

 

If you are traveling to Catalonia with children and seek a resort with plenty for the little ones to do, book your Costa Maresme holiday rental close to Malgrat, and you will have access to trains, beautiful beaches, great restaurants, bicycles and water parks – everything you need to make your family holiday special.

 


What can vegetarians eat in Catalonia?

It can a little bit soul-destroying when you are enjoying your holiday in Spain with a loved one, family or friends and they suggest a meal at the local restaurant, knowing as a vegetarian you will probably find one item on the menu that you can eat every night of your holiday. So how do you ensure you are not chained to cooking the vegetables from the local market in your family villa in Barcelona for the duration of your stay? What on Earth can you eat as a veggie lover in the land of chorizo and jamon? Don’t panic: Here are a few tips to ensure you can eat out with the rest of the family without compromising your ethics.

 

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What can I eat from a traditional Spanish menu?

There is a lot that you can feast on as a veggie traveling in Spain! The Spanish omelette or tortilla de patata is found in pretty much every tapas bar and restaurant in the country. Enjoy a slice with some patatas bravas on the side (cooked potatoes with a spicy sauce) and a few slices of homemade crusty bread.

Country Calamari

Some restaurants serve tempura-style vegetables which are lightly fried in batter. Onions, peppers and courgettes often get the calamari-style treatment without the seafood.

Asparagus Revueltos

Asparagus is also a favourite Spanish dish and can be served “revueltos” with scrambled eggs, or with a poached egg or Parmesan cheese.

Gazpacho

Who would have thought Spain’s most famous soup would be vegetarian-friendly? Gazpacho may be cold to the taste but it’s super tasty and packed with antioxidants!

 

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Spinach and Chickpeas

Chickpeas! Whether its hummus or falafel, chickpeas are usually a staple in the vegetarian diet, fortunately the Spanish love them too. The Spanish version of espinacas con garbanzos (spinach and chickpeas) is really tasty and widely available.

Croquettes

Croquetas contain bechamel sauce and a variety of fillings from mushrooms to Roquefort and walnut to spinach and pine nuts which can be found on most tapas menus. Be careful to check the filling though as most come with ham or chicken. If you are unsure, ask or check your translation app or guidebook.

Fried Aubergine

Another wonderful veggie dish is berenjenas fritas (fried eggplant or aubergine). Usually served fried in thin slices with a drizzle of honey over the top it’s truly delicious.

Ratatouille or Pisto

Roasted vegetables in olive oil, with onion, pepper, eggplant and tomato in a chunky and tasty sauce. Very tasty indeed.

Manchego and Walnuts

Manchego is a hard Spanish cheese, served with walnuts, breadsticks and a drizzle of honey. it’s a dish you will want to try again and again.

If you are still struggling then remember the larger cities also have Italian, Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants where an abundance of alternative vegetarian dishes are served. You don’t have to feel that you will be eating in your vacation villa in Barcelona each evening alone. There are plenty of wonderful choices for any vegetarian traveling in Spain, and if all else fails you always have the desserts!

 

 


Don’t miss the best of Girona, Spain

A number of fascinating events took place in Spain in the year 1492: Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain to discover the Americas, the Moors were overthrown in their ruling of Granada and many forced to convert to Christianity, and until 1492 Girona was home to Catalonia’s second most important Jewish community, which encompassed one of the most vibrant Jewish quarters in Spain. Take a trip from your Catalonia villa rental and explore one of the most overlooked cities in Spain and discover its treasures for yourself.

 

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Historic Museum of the Jews

There are many remnants of the Jewish heritage today which can be found in the Historical Museum of the Jews in Girona, this shows the persecution of a race as they were almost forced out of Spain, it also documents the life and rituals of the ancient community in addition to Girona’s contribution to medieval medicine and astronomy.

Girona Cathedral

The splendid architecture of Girona Cathedral alone is worth taking time away from your Spain holiday rental to visit. It is flanked by an intricately designed Baroque façade, however, the Cathedral is in fact more ancient. It was built over parts of the old Roman Forum and parts of the structure date as far back as the 5th century. There is a wonderful Romanesque cloister which transports the visitor back to the 12th century, the entire Cathedral is a masterpiece and very interesting to explore. Don’t miss out on viewing the silver altarpiece covered with vibrant gemstones portraying the life of Christ, and the Tapestry of the Creation.

 

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Museum of Art

Close to the Cathedral and the Jewish Heritage museum is the Museum of Art. Here, day trippers or visitors will find over 8500 works of art, mainly deriving from this area of Catalonia. They range from spectacular stained glass tables to the sculptures of Rafael Masó i Valentí.

Museum of Cinema

For lovers of the silver screen, visitors to Girona must take a trip to the Museum of Cinema. It tells the story of why humans wish to indulge their imagination, as well as a tour of how the Camera Obscura was invented, you can view a myriad of optical illusions using masterful trickery and light.

In addition to the above attractions, Arabic Baths, contemporary pintxo bars and restaurants and the beautiful 11th century Romanesque Benedictine Monastery are well worth taking time out of your Costa Brava vacation rental to see while visiting the city of Girona.

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