Catalonia benefits from having numerous green spaces, which make the region the ideal holiday spot for families, as well as for those who really value spending time outdoors. While there’s plenty of green spaces to spend time, there is one which really stands out from the crowd: Girona’s La Devesa Park.
Spanning more than 40 hectares, and with
more than 2600 plane trees (many of which date back to the 1850’s), La Devesa
Park is the biggest urban park in Catalonia, and one of the region’s largest
green spaces. It’s similar to Manhattan’s Central Park, offering quiet
seclusion in the heart of the city.
When to Visit
Although there’s never a bad day to visit the park, the area really comes to life on Tuesdays and Saturdays when there’s a large, lively fruit and veg market. If you’re staying in a villa in Spain that has a kitchen that you can use, this market is great or picking up some fresh, local produce to cook with.
Attractions & Activities
You’ll find peaceful picnic spots, busy, on-the-go sports areas, and everything in between here. Be sure to spend some time admiring the streams and fountains and, if you’re staying in a family villa in Spain with the kids you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a child’s play area here to keep them active! It’s also worth walking around the French-style gardens which have local varieties, as well as more exotic plants.
The only downside to La Devesa Park is access. If you’re staying in Barcelona accommodation and are taking the train into Girona, the park is a 25 minute walk from the station, which can be challenging for older people and those with lesser mobility. The good news, however, is that it is possible to take public transport. Both the L6 and L11 buses make stops quite close to the park, which is very convenient.
Are you looking for some unique souvenirs to bring back for your friends and family from your holiday in Spain? Then look no further than the Bonavista Market, which is one of the biggest outdoor markets in Spain! Held every Sunday, the Bonavista Market takes place roughly halfway between Tarragona and Vila-Seca; roughly 6 miles from Salou (so you’ll have easy access if you rent a villa on the Costa Dorada!).
What to Buy
Imagine a local Sunday morning car boot… but bigger! At The Bonavista Market, you’ll find a sprawling array of stalls selling everything from clothing and handbags to souvenirs and toiletries. You can even pick up some locally-sourced fruit and vegetables to cook up in the kitchen at your villa in Spain. This is also a fantastic place to practice your haggling skills and see what sorts of top bargains you can pick up.
If you’re planning on buying a lot, then a hire car is probably your best, bet, which makes it easy for you to transport all your bargains back to your Spain villa. However, you may also wish to get a taxi (which can be quite expensive), or take the local bus from Salou which is very cost effective and takes just 20 minutes. The Bonavista Market is so large that many tour operators also operate half day excursions!
More Shopping Opportunities
If you’re staying in a Costa Dorada holiday rental and are looking for more great markets, then be sure to check out the similar yet smaller market that’s held right in the heart of Salou every Monday. While not quite as large, there’s still a great selection here, and it’s really easy to access even without a hire car. Catalonia may be famous for its coastline and beaches, but it’s also a top shopping destination!
When you think about Catalonia, what comes to mind? Sightseeing vacations in Barcelona, enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city? Luxury villas with private pool on the Costa Brava? How about… volcanoes? While we often think of Catalonia as being a very coastal and seaside-y place, it’s important not to forget about the region’s other side; the side that’s a bit wild, a bit unkempt, and very, very unpredictable!
Volcanoes in Catalonia
It is understood that there were once around 30 volcanoes in and around the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, but today there are just 4 which remain visually identifiable as volcanoes, with the rest having been absorbed into the local woodland. Book a Catalonia vacation rental in the small town of Olot for a chance to see the volcanoes — Montolivet, Montsacopa, Garrinada, and Bisaroques — in person.
A Symbol of Catalonia
Of these 4 volcanoes, Montsacopa tends to
be the most popular amongst visitors on holiday in Spain. That’s because
this volcano is one of the best preserved in the region, with the classic cone
and crater structure. There are numerous hiking and biking trails all across
the volcano — and the other local volcanoes — but don’t worry; there hasn’t
been any volcanic activity here for around 12,000 years!
Due to the many volcanoes and mountains
in the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park area, the weather here isn’t quite
stereotypical for Spain. It tends to be very hot, very wet, and incredibly
humid, which can make it a little uncomfortable for some people. If you want to
learn more about Catalonia’s volcanoes without hiking them in the heat, why not
visit the Museum of the Volcanoes in Olot? This is a great place to understand
more about volcanic activity, and how it has affected the flora and fauna of
If your idea of the perfect holiday involves more than lounging around your rented villa with pool in the Costa Brava, then you will be pleased to know there are some exceptional cycle routes in the area too. From the city of Girona to rural villages and coastal cycle paths, there are perfect tours for cyclists and mountain bikers, and beginners to seasoned riders.
There are kilometres of old railway tracks and greenways awaiting, allowing you to participate in a healthy and exciting family activity. Take a backpack with a picnic or enjoy a tapas lunch in one of the charming villages en-route, you will see more of the picturesque Catalan countryside than you could ever imagine – especially if you are usually the designated driver. In addition to an abundance of fresh, clean air you can enjoy kilometres of lush, green countryside, natural parks, rugged coastline and medieval hilltop villages.
route accordingly, if you are an experienced cyclist but your travelling party
only indulge once or twice a year, choose a route which is suitable for
everyone. The terrain needs to be taken into account as well, flat cycle paths
are great if you are touring with children, with plenty of stop off points for
a beverage and a bite to eat on the way.
mountain biking is more your thing, leave your Costa Brava vacation rental and
head for the Girona Pyrenees area, there are spectacular natural parks, quaint
mountain towns, you can also indulge in some downhill biking. Follow the B
roads which link the towns of Girona and head off on your merry journey.
If you didn’t arrive at your family villa in Spain by car there are plenty of areas locally where you can cycle along the coastline, and there are places where you can hire bicycles for all the family. Check before you arrive so that you can plan your routes and discover the best that Catalonia has to offer cyclists.
It’s easy to stick to the main tourist trails when you are venturing out of your Barcelona holiday rental for the first time. Sometimes, by doing this you miss out on some of the incredibly vibrant and historically rich areas of the city. There are many areas of Barcelona which remain relatively untouched by tourists, now is the time to visit the El Born district before everyone else discovers its magical allure.
About El Born
El Born has grown into one of Barcelona’s most fashionable districts, located next to the popular and touristy area of the Gothic Quarter, it was originally a settlement which was used to host medieval jousts and celebrations. These days El Born is the place where the hip crowd eat, drink and shop. The cafes and tapas bars are much cheaper than the main tourist areas so you can enjoy a full family meal even on a budget.
It’s not just about the shopping and nightlife either. The Picasso museum is located here with many works of art featured from when he resided in the city. Also if you have an interest in fashion, you can visit the famous textile museum which was home to the textile guilds of Barcelona.
The Church of Santa Maria del Mar has an interesting history and wonderful interior architecture which shouldn’t be overlooked. As these areas are relatively untapped by tourists, there are hardly any queues to visit the attractions and museums (with the exception of the popular Picasso museum).
If retail therapy is your thing, the
multitude of shoe shops and boutiques will tempt your purse strings, many
international upcoming independent stores have chosen El Born as the place to
launch their flagship stores – you may even find the next Gucci or Chanel here!
With great shops, nightlife and café culture it’s hard not to love this area, but it’s catching on quickly, so take a day away from your vacation rental in Barcelona and discover it now while it is still relatively tourist free and reasonably priced.