Catalan Pyrenees and Mollo Park

Travelling by car from your Costa Brava vacation rental you will find the glorious natural peaks of the Catalan Pyrenees. The area is perfect for hiking and skiing and attracts visitors from across the globe every year. The stretches of parkland and wild rivers flow through the mountains as charming alpine style villages sit nestled in the low valleys.

Hike around the area of Setcases which means the “seven houses”, the river Ter is just above the town it’s a wonderful place for walking and a picnic with family and friends. If you have the opportunity to visit the Benedictine Monastery of Sant Pere de Camprodon it will be well worth your time. The interior is simple yet atmospheric, with arched windows and rustic, authentic architecture, the roof is a pointed arch which houses the bell tower.  

Take a break for a coffee or tapas snack at one of the small cafes in the area and enjoy local delicacies from the Pyrenees region as you plan your next move.

Following your coffee break, take a short drive to Mollo Park. Located in a forest and surrounded by incredible flora and fauna, this park allows visitors to get up close and personal with a myriad of animal species. Here you will be able to see bears, deer, donkeys, wolves, eagles and marmots in large enclosures in a picturesque, forest environment. There’s an interactive map which can be downloaded so that you can plan your route around the nature park prior to your visit, that way you won’t miss seeing any of your favourite furry friends!

If you plan ahead prepare a snack in your Spain vacation rental, there are many picnic areas in the forest where you can relax overlooking the river and the valley. The park allows visitors to bring sandwiches and fruit in their rucksacks – anymore and the animals may be tempted! There is however a café which services pizza, sandwiches and hamburgers if you don’t wish to bring your own.

Mollo park is open almost all year round apart from major holidays, however the café is only opening during the summer months. It’s a wonderful day trip combined with a walk in the foothills of the Pyrenees, something for all of the family in a stunning area of Catalonia.


3 Must-See Monuments and Statues in Barcelona

So, you rented a beautiful villa in Barcelona. Now what? Well, you’re going to want to explore this amazing city! And here are 3 monuments and statues that you won’t want to miss.

Casa Batllo

The exterior of Casa Batllo reminds one of candy castles and Dr. Seuss. It is an exceptional work of Modernism art and will draw your attention all on its own. But the interior holds even more surprises. Expect to find beautiful architectural details from Antoni Gaudí and go on a tour you will never forget. From the attic and chimneys to the noble floor that was the residence of the Batllo family, each room is a piece of art and history mixed with a touch of magic.

La Pedrera

This amazing stone quarry is not what you would expect. La Pedrera was so-named because its façade resembles an open quarry. It was built by Antoni Gaudí and is now the headquarters of Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation.

During the day, when you visit this beautiful site, you’ll learn more about Antoni Gaudí and will go through the entire museum, discovering amazing and beautiful works of art that just can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. You even get to see what life was like in the early 20th century.

But don’t miss out on the spectacular night-time experience either, called “Gaudí’s Pedrera: The Origins.” The museum’s beautiful architecture comes to life in a way that is almost magical through a magnificent audiovisual show that you won’t want to miss.

Park de la Ciutadella

The Park de la Ciutadella is one of the largest and most beautiful parks to be found in Barcelona. As you move around the park you can see so many amazing sites that a walk through and around the park is essential to any stay in Barcelona. You’ll glimpse Old Town, Vila Olimpia, Marcat del Born, and the two gates of Passes de Picasso and you’ll want to check out the stunning Arc de Triomf. You’ll see the Museo de Ciensies Naturals de Barcelona, the Hivernacle conservatories, and the gorgeous fountain Cascada.

There is much more to see, but you’ll have to discover it all for yourself as you wander through the lush foliage.

When you are done exploring, return to your gorgeous holiday rental in Spain for a nice, long siesta.


Unique tourist attractions in the heart of Barcelona

An Olympic Legacy

A unique tourist attraction in the heart of Barcelona, perched on the side of a mountain, is the Olympic Park. The legacy that was left behind after the 1992 games took place there.

The site can be reached easily no matter where you decide to rent a villa in Barcelona thanks to the ease of the city’s public transport system, or if you don’t fancy getting on the train, the climb to the site is not too strenuous.

The Stadium

Montjuic Mountain proved to be the perfect settings for one of the most successful games in history, and transformed that area of the city almost overnight. One of the most important facilities on the site has to be the Olympic Stadium itself. The structure was actually built back in 1929 for the International Exposition, and underwent extreme renovation in just a few years before the games took place.

Montjuic Municipal Pool

All Olympic venues around the world are impressive in their own way, but there is definitely something special about Barcelona site. The pool for example, features stunning views out over the whole city and the mountains in the background.

Palua Sant Jordi and Telecommunications Tower

The Palau Sant Jordi was home to events such as gymnastics, volleyball and handball, and is now one of the most popular venues in the city for musical performances. The tower, a unique feature on the Barcelona skyline, was designed by Spanish architect Calatrava, and has helped to shape a new symbol for the city.

Uses Today

Unfortunately, much of the park remains devoid of use, except of course to pique the interest of the constant flow of visitors stopping to see the venues on their way up or down the mountain. The stadium itself has been the venue of choice for many world-famous music acts such as David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Coldplay and many more. It also hosts many sporting events through the year. These are great events to incorporate into your Barcelona holiday.  

If you have a Barcelona holiday rental, then there is no excuse not to pay this historic site a visit. You can also incorporate the mountains many other attractions during your visit.


Catalonia’s Green Spaces: La Devesa Park

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.

Getting There

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.


Bonavista Market: The Biggest Outdoor Market in Spain

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.

Getting There

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!


Catalonia’s Volcanoes

Catalonia’s Volcanoes

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!

Volcanic Weather

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 the region.


Cycling in Catalonia

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.

Plan your 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.

If 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.


Discover the El Born district of Barcelona

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.


Top 5 Budget-Friendly Restaurants in Barcelona

You are in your beautiful rented private villa in Barcelona. You look up at the sunset, take a sip of your cocktail, and then your stomach rumbles. Uh oh! Time to find a restaurant! But, just because you’re in one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, doesn’t mean you want to break your bank. So, here are five budget-friendly restaurants you should check out while visiting Barcelona.

1. Viana

Craving an International, Mediterranean, and Spanish menu? Then head down to Viana! This restaurant offers beautifully crafted, unique dishes, each a delectable gastronomic journey you’ll enjoy. Make sure you grab one of their amazing cocktails and delicious desserts. This restaurant mixes a high-quality, fine-dining atmosphere with the laid-back fusion bar vibe that makes this affordable restaurant a unique dining experience.

2. Blavis

Simple yet elegant describes this small and cozy restaurant. Blavis doesn’t have a large menu, but each dish is a delicious, handcrafted experience that you are sure to enjoy pulled from the European, Spanish, and Mediterranean cuisines. The atmosphere is casual, the portions generous, and the desserts a must at this amazing and inexpensive restaurant!

3. Bodega Biarritz

Rustic, intimate, and beautifully modern describe this wine and tapas bar. Bodega Biarritz features a Mediterranean and Spanish menu with unique and delicious dishes you are certain to enjoy. The inside is cozy, with unique lighting and a bar atmosphere. The food has large portions and a lot of choices, so you are certain to find something for everyone. A great place for date night or just a fun night on the town!

4. Bodega Biarritz 1881

Another Bodega Biarritz tapa bar, the Bodega Biarritz 1881 offers a delicious selection of Spanish and Mediterranean tapas paired with excellent beers, wines, and cocktails that make for a truly fun time out with your significant other or group of friends. The food comes in generous portions and each dish is certain to delight.

5. La Caleta de Sants

A rustic yet modern family-friendly restaurant, La Caleta de Sants has a Venezuelan menu with Latin and Caribbean influences. With large portions, delicious dishes, and plenty of bread and beer, everyone in your family or group of friends are sure to find something to love at this restaurant!

Now that your stomach grumblings have left, head back to your Barcelona vacation rental and enjoy a relaxing evening, or go out for more fun on the town with an evening of entertainment and delight!


Discover Girona’s Jewish Quarter

Have you already enjoyed a Barcelona holiday and are looking for somewhere new to explore in Catalonia? How about Girona? Located to the Northeast of Barcelona, the stunning city of Girona is home to one of the world’s best preserved Jewish quarters, known locally as ‘El Call’, and transports you back in time, through a true labyrinth of narrow medieval streets which wind throughout the city.

Girona’s Jewish quarter is believed to date from the year 982, although it is understood to have not become an established community until 1160. There is a dark yet fascinating history here, in such beautiful surroundings, and many have compared the beauty of Girona to Old Town Jerusalem.

Today, like many locations in Barcelona, Girona’s Jewish quarter is a real mix of old and new. While the stone walls and cobbled streets still remain, there has been an influx of bars, restaurants, and shops which have helped to rejuvenate this old district and make it a top destination for visitors to Spain.

Jewish Quarter Highlights

There’s lots to see and do in Girona’s Jewish quarter, but the main attraction for many is the Museum of Jewish History. The museum highlights Catalonia’s Medieval Jewish communities, and features glazed ceramics from the 12th century, bronze and silver artifacts recovered from the Montjuïc area, and even a miniature replica of the Jewish quarter! Maybe you could spot your Spain villa within the model? Another interesting activity in Girona is to visit the Mikvah; the Jewish ritual baths which were only discovered a few years ago, and excavated to become yet another great attraction in this historic city.

Staying in Girona

A Spain vacation rental close to Girona’s Jewish quarter is the perfect choice for anyone interested in history, architecture, or simply great photo opportunities. There’s a very strong community feel here, which makes Girona’s Jewish quarter a great place to stay; it’s warm, welcoming, and truly fascinating.

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