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 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.


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.


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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Understanding the Catalan language

Travellers looking to rent a villa in Spain may be wondering how they’ll communicate with their hosts. The good news is that most locals who operate vacation rentals in Spain will have some command of the English language or will be happy to communicate in their native Spanish. However, if you’re considering a villa in Barcelona, a villa in Costa Dorada, or in any other destination in Catalonia, keep in mind that many people in this part of the country speak Catalan; a language similar to, but different from, Spanish.

Practice the language using items in the home
Practice the language using items in the home.

Catalan was the language of the Catalan rulers, and it went wherever they did. Saturation reached its peak between the 13th and 15th centuries, with a number of historically important works of literature being published in Catalan around this time, most notably the romance novel Tirant lo Blanch and the poetry of famed Valencian author Ausiàs March. However, the Spanish influences soon took over.

Despite Catalan falling out of favour, the language has done very well at retaining relevance. Today, it’s not only an official language of Catalonia and Andorra, but it’s also spoken in some areas of Southern France, Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands. Although there are six distinct Catalan dialects, a basic understanding of the language should be enough for you to chat with the host at your Barcelona villa.

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Paella means paella!

If you already have some knowledge of the romance languages, then you’ll find Catalan quite familiar. ‘Mat’i (morning), for example, is ‘matin’ in French and ‘mattina’ in Italian. In fact, even if you’re not confident in your language abilities outside of English, there are still a few similarities you may pick up on, such as ‘aubergine’ and ‘albergínia’, and ‘paella’ which is exactly the same in both languages!

When you’re relaxing at your villa in Spain, you’ll realise that the country is so laid back that it doesn’t matter if you speak the local language or not. However, it never hurts to brush up on your skills before a trip, and the residents are sure to appreciate your efforts to learn more about their language and culture.

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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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