Catalonia is a bird watcher’s paradise


Catalonia is a wonderful place for bird watching – and we mean of the feathered variety! The incredible, picturesque delta plains and nature reserves of Terres de l’Ebre have over 350 species of birdlife for you to discover. If your Spain vacation rental is in this region and you are a keen ornithologist, then don’t forget your binoculars as this area will be right up your street!

The Els Ports mountain range flanks the River Ebre as it meanders down to the delta and the sea. Keen observers can view rice fields, salt marches and hundreds of pink flamingos – almost unheard of in the western Mediterranean. The birdlife is unrivalled with rare species waiting to be discovered among the flora and fauna.

Andouin’s Gull is one of the rare nesting birds which can be found along the delta, a greater number you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the Mediterranean. The Black Wheatear, Squacco Heron and Boneli’s Eagle also inhabit this area of Spain. Other rare and exotic birds you can expect to see around the Terres de L’Ebre delta include: the red-rumped swallow, collared pratincole and the slender billed gull which first bred in this area. They can easily be discovered at the channel mouth, on the saltpans and along the bays.

In addition to birds if you head up to the Els Ports mountains where you will have the opportunity to explore caves, peaks and gorges which are home to wild boar, otter, roe deer and some Spanish Ibex. You definitely don’t want to visit here without binoculars or your camera.

If your travelling party includes keen photographers and bird-watchers, then this is the ideal place for all of you.  Research the wildlife areas and reserve your villa in the Costa Dorada, you will have all of the rare species, natural beauty and wildlife right on your doorstep. Make up a picnic, fill up your backpack and get ready for the natural adventure of a lifetime.


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.


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.


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!


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!


4 Awesome Places in Barcelona for Tapas

Tapas are one of the staples of Spain. They aren’t a specific food, but rather a small portion of many different kinds of foods – almost like samplers. But many people, tourists and locals alike, enjoy tapa hops, which is like bar hopping (and often does include alcohol), where you head to different bars and restaurants to try a variety of tapas. Some of these may even be near your holiday rental. To help you on your tapa journey, here are four awesome places where you can find delicious tapas in Barcelona!

1. Guru Bcn Food & Cocktails

This Asian-style restaurant and bar may be dimly lit, but it is still warm and welcoming and makes a perfect stop for your tapa hop. You’ll find Guru Bcn Food & Cocktails in the Gothic Quarter of Old Barcelona. Expect Mediterranean flavors from these tapas, and make sure you grab a delicious cocktail or two as well! Whatever you order, it is certain to be delicious and an amazing gastronomic experience.

2. Palosanto

The tapas at Palosanto are from a variety of European cuisines, so expect a unique experience each time you go. This adorable rustic and French-country-style café makes another excellent stop on your tapa tour. The staff is friendly, the sangria delicious, and every dish a tasty work of art. It is a small place so you may want to make a reservation, but it is well worth the wait!

3. 9 Nine

If you want great, meaty tapas look no further than 9 Nine, which is a steakhouse and also includes Mediterranean and International cuisines. Every dish is served with flair and pizzazz. The interior is elegant and modern with a wall of wine. Make sure you get a glass of wine or two to go with your delicious tapas! You may also want a lemon sorbet to clear your palate before moving on to your next tapa stop.

4. Sensi Bistro Barcelona

A rustic yet bright and fun Spanish café awaits at Sensi Bistro Barcelona. Spanish, Mediterranean, and European cuisine make up the menu and the restaurant can be found in the Gothic Quarter of Old Barcelona. The best tapas are the truffle ravioli, so don’t miss out! Their dessert and wine are excellent as well.

We hope you enjoy your tapa hop! Get a taste for Spain and a feel for the culture as you try all new experiences, like your rental villa or apartment that makes you feel right at home!


The Best Loved Cake Shops in Barcelona

We all love a delicious slice of chocolate gateaux or a decadent macaron but Spain isn’t often known for its cakes, preferring to lead the way with tapas, seafood and cava. However, unbeknownst to many, Barcelona is actually a cake haven…here are a few of the best pastelerias you can explore from your Barcelona accommodation.

La Patisseria Barcelona

Vibrant, decadent cakes and pastries are the order of the day at La Patisseria. From the refreshing Llimona tart to a thousand layers with chocolate (mil fulls xocolata) expect to be here a while… You can also take away cakes and pastries to dine on in the comfort of your family villa in Spain.

Bubo Degustacions

Bubo is a group of bakeries and pastelerias dotted throughout Barcelona city centre. You can pre-order for parties and special occasions or simply dine in. The variety of bombons, macarons, pastries, petit fours and cakes are incredible – you will be spoiled for choice. Sip on coffee, take a slice and stay a while.

 

Cosmo

Cosmo is a café and space for contemporary artwork in Barcelona. Their carrot cake and hot chocolate with whipped cream are firm favourites of the locals.

 

 

 

Hoffman Patisseria

Close to Santa Maria del Mar church in the El Born district sits the quirky Hoffman Patisseria. Take away all of your favourites from here including crunchy tiramisu, delicious brioche, chocolate and vanilla cookies, decadent black forest gateau and much more.

 

Forn Baluard

If you seek some of the best bread, pies and pastries in the city then this is the place to be. Try their sourdough or even their dark chocolate and strawberry flavoured bread!

Takashi Ochiai

For something a little different, how about trying some sweet Japanese treats in Barcelona? With a menu of exclusive and traditional creations you can sample such decadent delights as Yokan Bambu which is a combination of green tea, sugar and sweet red bean paste or pasta filo pastry with cream and cherry cream glaze!

Coffee and cake is as popular in Barcelona as it is in France or Switzerland, it’s just a case of finding the best place for you. Hopefully this list will help you find a perfect bakery or pasteleria close to your Barcelona holiday rental.


Family activities in Catalonia and Barcelona

There are many family activities in Catalonia and Barcelona that are suitable for families with kids. Whether you go to the Ebre Delta or the Pyrenees, there are a myriad of options from which to choose that will delight and entertain your little ones. Catalonia has everything that families seek for a holiday in barcelona with children including some of the activities that are listed below.

Bike along a railway track

One of the family activities in Catalonia and Barcelona is biking without having to worry about cars and other vehicles. The Greenway runs from Aragon to Catalonia, which is the same route of the old railway track. At present, the rails are gone and in their place is a well-maintained track that is exclusive for hikers and cyclists, as well as horse riders. The track is relatively flat, which is ideal for the whole family. Just make sure that you bring a flashlight because there are tunnels along the way, and some of them are unlit. The total distance of the track is around 130 kilometres, but you don’t need to travel all the way. The Catalan side of the track takes your family through the Baix Ebre and Terra Alta regions, which are filled with wonderful sceneries.

Parc Guell

Parc Guell is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites found in Barcelona. It was created by renowned architect Antoni Gaudi and feels like a scene right out of a fairy tale. Visiting the park and exploring the grounds is an ideal family activity in Catalonia and Barcelona. Children will be in awe of the Hansel and Gretel homes, leafy plazas, and dragons found throughout the park’s grounds. The best way to get to the park is to take the metro to Vallcarca and then travel up to the park via the escalator to the back of Parc Guell.

Coastline at Lloret de Mar

Kids who love to climb rocks and explore beaches will adores the coastline of Lloret de Mar. A list of family activities in Catalonia and Barcelona is incomplete without a mention of the wonderful beaches in the region. A rocky area just north of the main beach in Lloret de Mar is ideal for children who love adventure, and parents who love stunning scenery.

La Rambla

To complete your list of family activities in Catalonia and Barcelona, take a stroll down the famous La Rambla in the center of Barcelona. Enjoy the various street performers, human statues, painters, animal stalls, flower vendors, and a lot more. La Rambla is definitely a sight that visitors must see in Barcelona before heading back home.

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