See Barcelona for free

Taking the entire family on holiday is an expensive endeavor; with accommodation, car hire, shopping trips and entertainment you often miss out on some of the finer things in life, which are in fact free! If you are staying in Barcelona and don’t want to completely break the budget, try these fun free activities and attraction close to your villa in Spain.

Stroll the Passeig Maritime

This is a local Catalan pastime, especially during the weekends. It’s a popular place for cycling, roller-blading and walking. You can sit and watch the street musicians or browse the myriad souvenir stalls while admiring the glinting blue Mediterranean.

 

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Take in the sights of the Passeig de Gracia

This is one of the most popular streets in Barcelona and photographers love it, mainly because it is home to some of Gaudi’s best work – Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. It’s also a fabulous place to window shop at some of the high end luxury designer boutiques.

Check out the local flea markets

Mercat del Encants is a popular place in Barcelona where the locals will come to find the best deals on handmade arts and crafts and antique furnishings. There are over 500 retailers who sell everything you can imagine – spend a morning browsing and get some inspiration for yourself.

 

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Explore the Gothic Cathedral

We don’t mean the Sagrada Familia which is undoubtedly the best-known in the city. This time we suggest exploring the Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia. This striking cathedral was constructed in the 13th century in a traditional Gothic architectural style, plus it is free to enter!

Discover the multicultural neighbourhoods

Barcelona is home to a melting pot of cultures from the upmarket neighbourhood of Eixample to the wonderfully ethnic shops of El Raval. Discover the Nepalese and North African restaurants and the Chinese shops of El Raval before wandering into El Born district to visit the old Roman city ruins.

There is a variety of free attractions in Barcelona so long as you just know where to look. From free walking tours to museums and galleries, there is something for you to enjoy close to your own Barcelona accommodation.

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Guide: What you need to know before you visit Barcelona

Barcelona is a fascinating city with quirky modernist architecture, excellent shopping and restaurants, and miles of golden sandy beaches. When exploring a new city, it’s important to glean as much information as you can prior to your arrival in your Barcelona accommodation – it is only then that you can get the most from your visit.

 

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Don’t call the city Barça

Unless you are referring to the football team of course. Barça is another name used to refer to FC Barcelona. If you wish to shorten the word Barcelona, then use the same name as the Catalans do and call it Barna.

A strategic visit

An exciting time to visit the city is around Semana Santa, otherwise known as Holy Week or Easter. This also heralds the beginning of the tourist season in Spain. Alternatively visit in September or October when the main crowds of visitors have dispersed and you can have more of the city to yourself!

Learn a little Catalan

A great way to get on the good side of the locals is to learn a few words of Catalan. It shows you appreciate their desire for independence from the rest of Spain. When you are out and about from your villa in Barcelona try using such phrases as bon dia (good morning), or vagi be (be well).

Be prepared to eat late

Ever wondered why the restaurants on the city streets of Barcelona are empty at 7 or 8 in the evening? It’s because Catalan people eat incredibly late. Dinner is usually consumed between 9 and 11.30 so if you can’t wait, try a late afternoon snack!

 

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Barcelona picnics are a regional institution

There are myriad picturesque places in which to drop a blanket for a picnic in Barcelona. The best places (and those that are most popular with tourists) are next to the castle at Montjuic or in the Parc de la Cuitadella.

Barcelona is not like the rest of Spain

If you seek cavern-type bars with flamenco, raucous bull fights, or local women in polka dot flouncy traditional dress, you are in the wrong place. Barcelona has a unique culture all of its own to explore with charming streets, lively cava bars, interesting museums, and the more sedate Sardana dancing.

Leave your pre-conceived ideas of Spain behind before you book your Catalonia villa rental. However, if you do wish to discover a completely different side to Spain, you have definitely come to the right place.

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Calafell: A family holiday destination in Catalonia

Calafell on the Costa Dorada has been designated by the Catalonia tourist board as one of the best resorts in the region for families. Located on the coast approximately 35 kilometres north of Tarragona and 28 km south of Sitges, it is a perfect placed as a holiday resort. If you are considering booking a family villa with a pool on the Costa Dorada, take a closer look at Calafell as a family destination and see why it has categorised itself as such a resort.

 

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Five Miles of Golden Sand

Calafell is known as the gateway to the Costa Dorada: The sea is calm, the beaches are soft and sandy, and there are plenty of children’s play areas along the beachfront as well as a myriad of water sports and activities.

Eating Out

Restaurants in Calafell cater to families, as certified local restaurants have high chairs, bibs, dedicated children’s menus, and nappy changing areas.

Children’s Entertainment

During the summer months the town puts on special children’s shows which include puppet theatres, clowns, and dance classes for all the family which include pase doble and salsa!

 

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Culture

In addition to the family friendly options dotted around the resort, the town still has its fair share of interesting culture and heritage. The old quarter is delightful for an early evening stroll toexplore the Iberian Citadell, the Romanesque church, and the town’s medieval castle. Close to the marina is the old fishing district which highlights Calafell’s rich maritime heritage.

Festivals

There are festivals held in Calafell throughout the year. Whether it’s the gastronomy festival in late November, the Halloween festival, or Saint Peter’s Festival on the beach during the summer months, there is something for all members of the family to get involved in. If you are planning a winter break in your Catalonia villa rental, the February festival in the resort lasts for four days. There are parades, parties, processions, and children’s shows for everyone can enjoy.

Check out one of the other Catalan resorts which are also designated as family friendly destinations, including: Cambrils and Salou, Calella, Blanes, Santa Susanna and Malgrat de Mar, Lloret de Mar, Pineda, Roses, L’Estartit, Les Valls d’Aneu, Calonge and Castell Platja d’Aro.

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Don’t miss these Catalan festivals in August

For most Catalans, summer festivals are important annual traditions that bring communities together for fun, frolics and light-hearted entertainment. Whether you are staying in your villa on the Costa Brava, have rented a Barcelona accommodation or have a vacation rental on the Costa Dorada, there is an August festival near you!

 

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Besalu Medieval Festival

During the last weekend of August, see this fabulous ancient town in all its Medieval glory as you step back in time. The history and fantasy of this Catalonian jewel come to life as you join in with the most important Medieval festival in the region.

Cadaques International Music Festival

Not only is this incredible music festival set in one of the most beautiful coastal resorts Catalonia has to offer, it also showcases a wide range of musical genres for everyone to enjoy. Any music lover should make sure they are in Cadaques during the first two weeks in August for the 45th annual festival.

 

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Les Cases d’Alcanar

This pretty fishing village opens up its doors to everyone to enjoy outdoor dancing, bulls in the port area, food sampling, yacht racing, and local exhibitions.

Music in the Parks Barcelona

During the months of June, July and August many of the parks in Barcelona host free concerts. Head to the local market, grab some picnic items and lounge about in the glorious sunshine listening to some of the best up-and-coming Catalan artists.

Circuit Festival in Barcelona, Sitges and Vilassar de Mar

One of the largest gay festivals in Europe takes place from early to mid-August across the region. People arrive from all over the world to enjoy the celebratory fiestas and party atmosphere.

Whichever festival you choose there is bound to be one close to your vacation rental in Spain. Lather yourself in sunscreen, soak up the sun and party like the locals do.

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Sampling the wines of Catalonia

Catalonian wines are usually quite high in alcohol content and are full bodied, which is due to the warm weather conditions in the region and the varieties of grape that can be grown. If you are looking for an amazing Catalonian wine to sip by the pool in your villa in Spain or would like to be more knowledgeable when ordering wine while dining at a restaurant, here are a few tips to help you out.

 

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Catalonian wines focus predominantly on grapes of the Mediterranean variety, including the red grapes Carignan and Garnacha, and the white grapes of Garnacha Blanca and Xarel-lo.

Garnacha grapes produce low acidity wines with a fragrant wild strawberry or raspberry flavour. They are quite powerful and can also be used in fortified wines.

The Carignan is also a grape that is used to produce red wines but can be blended with other varieties. It’s quite high in tannins and acidity but makes it a great partner with fruitier and fuller bodied wines such as Syrah.

Throughout Catalonia you will find the grapes of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, which are the base flavour for many California reds or Bordeaux wines. These grapes produce a deep coloured red wine with an oaky aroma and taste. Merlot can also be found in the region, which offers a supple texture and blend and can be drunk earlier than many other wines as it doesn’t need to be left to age as long. However, if you prefer a spicy full-bodied wine that has been aged, then hold out for a Syrah.

 

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The most common grape in this region of Spain has to be the Tempranillo, the grapes of which make a very popular wine filled with berry and plum flavours, with spiced tobacco notes. The depth of flavours relates to the time it has been left to age.

All of these flavoursome wines can be purchased from local supermarkets close to your Catalonia villa rental or even local vineyards. Take a look at where your nearest vineyard is in relation to your villa in Spain and buy direct from the source. Gain a tour of the vineyard and understand the winemaking process by speaking with the local vintners. Salut!

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Best secluded beaches in Catalonia

One of the main reasons why holiday makers rent a villa in Spain is to enjoy the golden sands next to the azure Mediterranean Sea. Throughout Catalonia there are hundreds of beautiful beaches that are lesser known but just as perfect. Here are a few you may wish to explore from your vacation villa in Spain.

 

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Cala de l’Home Mort

On this secluded cove at the southern end of Sitges, clothing is optional. There are two beaches that are separated by the rocky cliffs and a bay. Beaches are small at about 10 metres wide so arrive early if you want to lay down your towel and reserve a spot! The water is shallow here and there’s a small chiringuito where you can order drinks and light snacks and also rent loungers and parasols.

Les Casetes de Garraf

Located in the town of Garraf, this beach is easily accessible from your Barcelona accommodation or your villa on the Costa Dorada. There are old fishing shacks on the beach that are used by the local fisherman to store their equipment. The beach is made up of golden sands and paddle boats, and parasols and sun loungers are available to rent. The small town of Garraf with its tapas bars and restaurants is a short walk away.

Platja del Portitxol

Perhaps one of the prettiest secluded beaches, this one is located between Sant Marti d’Empuries and L’Escala. Waters are calm and shallow in the rocky inlets, and behind the beach a backdrop of pine trees and plunging rock formations add to the serenity and beauty of this area.

 

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Cala Fonda

Located on the Tarragona coastline, Cala Fonda is a completely unspoiled beach with woodland and vegetation surrounding it. To reach the beach you have to walk from Platja Llarga in Tarragona along a signposted pathway heading east. It’s a wonderful walk surrounded by forests of pine trees, plunging cliffs, and flora and fauna. It’s a perfect day out from your villa on the Costa Dorada.

Illa Roja Beach

Known for its crystal clear waters and red rock island, this is a quiet and secluded beach which is unknown to many foreign tourists. It can be reached via a coastal path which offers picturesque views of the Costa Brava coastline. The beach lies underneath a cliff and when the tide is out you can walk to Red Rock Island. It’s best to arrive early in the morning as mid-afternoon this beach tends to catch more shade than others due to the surrounding rock formations. The beach is easy to reach from the towns of Aiguafreda and Sa Tuna.

Wherever you decide to rent a villa in Spain there are beautiful, secluded beaches nearby to tempt you into the turquoise waters.

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