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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