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.


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!


Why should I visit Andorra?

It may be a little further afield for those renting a villa with private pool on the Costa Brava, yet it’s still a popular day trip destination. Many excursions run to this tiny country lodged between France and Spain, in the summer months the flora and fauna is amazing and during winter months it has some of the Pyrenees best ski slopes. So why would you make the 2.5 – 3-hour trip from the coast?

Here are a few reasons:

Firstly, Andorra has a rich and interesting history, legend has it that Charles the Great granted the people of Andorra a charter if they fought against the Moors. The small country previously had a joint allegiance with both Spain and France, in fact during the Spanish Civil war the French troops rallied to protect Andorra. During the second world war the country became a smuggling route from France into Spain, so it’s had its fair share of excitement over the years. These days the predominant language spoken is Catalan (although there is still some French and Castellano Spanish), the country is part of the United Nations and to this day remains independent.

The capital city Andorra La Vella is nestled high in the Pyrenees and enjoys spectacular mountain views all around. The surrounding lush, green country parks and walks are beautiful and in the city there are incredible examples of Andorran Romanesque art and architecture.

There are a variety of mountain sports to enjoy which are suitable for all the family, the two ski resorts have a Nordic ski centre and plenty of alpine ski activities, there is also a special area for children called Naturlandia. Just outside Andorra La Vella is the perfect location for rock climbing with many areas surrounding the city. Dense forests are filled with canyoning adventures and zip wiring and on the main roads cyclists are out in force especially during the spring and summer months.

For Golfers the Soldeu course ascends to 2250 metres of altitude, access is gained via an 8-person gondola, the journey offers unsurpassed panoramas even before you begin to play the course!

In the city itself architecture is typical of a Pyrenean town, grey slate and alpine stone is used to create chapels, towers, bridges and fortifications typical of the area. Visitors will see ancient traditions blend with contemporary lifestyle as they wander the streets. The old stone houses on the outskirts of the city contrast with modern shopping centres and edgy steel sculptures in Andorra la Vella. The shops offer the latest fashions and technologies at reasonable prices which are ideal for a gift to take home.

If you plan on renting your Spain holiday rental for a while and you have access to a car during your stay, take a drive to Andorra, its unique traditions and fascinating culture make for an interesting visit.


Tasty Churros – A Catalan Favourite

Picture the scene, you are strolling around the Sunday morning market close to your Costa Brava holiday rental and you happen to catch the scent of a deliciously sweet aroma coming from a local kiosk. Then you catch sight of locals dipping donut like sugary fingers into a cup of rich, warm hot chocolate and your mouth begins to water. You have just discovered Churros. Unbeknownst to most, you can also make this fabulous sweet treat easily from the comfort of your villa on the Costa Brava, here is the easiest way to ensure all of the family can enjoy a super sweet start to the day.

Firstly, boil the kettle and measure approximately 350ml of water into a jug. Add around 50g of melted butter (for four servings, adjust as applicable) and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Then sift 250g of baking powder into a bowl with a little pinch of salt and pour in the ingredients in the jug and stir until smooth, then leave for around 15 minutes.

When it’s ready put all of the ingredients into a pan and melt until your sauce is shiny and smooth, keep on a low heat.

Now fill a pan with one third of oil and heat a cube of bread until it browns (usually around 1 minutes or less). Cover a tray with greaseproof paper and mix 100g caster sugar and 2tsp of cinnamon together.

You will need a piping bag for the next part, around a 2 cm nozzle tip is a good size for piping. Fill the bag with the rested dough and pipe strips into the pan of oil and fry them until crisp and golden. Remove with a draining spoon and place on the grease proof paper then continue to cook the rest of the strips of dough. Sprinkle a little cinnamon and caster sugar onto the finished churros and you are almost ready.

The sauce is prepared at the same time with dark chocolate chunks, 100mls of double cream and the same of milk, a few tablespoons of golden syrup and a little vanilla extract. Melt the chocolate and add the syrup, cream, milk and vanilla and stir on a low heat until warm.

There you have it, quick and easy churros which you can enjoy in your Spain vacation rental at any time of the day or evening.


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!


Have you heard of Tossa del Mar?

Although it may not be the largest town on the Costa Brava coastline, Tossa del Mar is arguably one of the most majestic and impressive. Not only is it home to three beautiful beaches, but it also has a dominating castle, quaint old town and an altogether relaxed vibe.

The town centre is bustling and vibrant, with friendly bars and plenty of shops selling souvenirs. The restaurants cater for all ages and tastes, and there is always room to sunbathe on one of the beaches. If you are looking to get out of your villa with a private pool on the Costa Brava for a bit, look no further than these activities.

Explore the old town

The old town is known as Vila Vella, and is the only fully surviving Medieval fortified town in along the coast of Costa Brava. Plus, it boasts stunning views of the sea below. Stepping through the walls you will find yourself in a maze of cobbled alleys, with many bars and restaurants to enjoy.

Castillo de Tossa del mar

The castle that stands perched on the hill is the town’s most impressive feature. You will need to climb a winding path to reach the summit, but when you do you will be rewarded with some beautiful views of the beaches and town. If you don’t fancy the climb, you can always hop on the little land train to take you to the top.

Dog walking

Located just a short walk outside of the town lies the Tossa del Mar animal shelter, and you will certainly hear when you are getting close thanks to the chorus of barking! The shelter is always looked for people to help walk their pooches, and the surrounding area is a great place to go for a stroll with a rescued dog by your side.

Water sports

Although Tossa del Mar is a sleepy little town most of the time, it certainly has its fair share of water sports. Adrenaline seekers can hop on the back of a banana boat, while those that fancy something a little more relaxing can hire a kayak or take to the water on a glass bottom boat.


The benefits of renting a family villa during the winter

The benefits of renting a family villa during the winter

Louer une villa familiale en Espagne est une décision excellente à tout temps de l’année. Néanmoins, on peut facilement argumenter que l’hiver est une saison particulièrement adéquate et plaisante pour faire un séjour en Espagne en famille dans une villa Costa Brava, Dorara ou Barcelone. Si l’idée vous tente, vous découvririez bien pourquoi tôt ou tard. Mais d’ici là, voici trois bénéfices indiscutables de louer une villa en Espagne durant l’hiver!

Profitez du calme hivernal

Barcelone est une ville qui fourmille : les musées, les plages, les transports en commun, tout est bourré à craquer de gens, touristes et locaux. Comme perdre son enfant dans la foule est un cauchemar qui hante de nombreux parents, pourquoi ne pas contourner les périodes rouges et faire un séjour à Barcelone durant les mois froids? Ça permettra de profiter de la ville, de ses musées et attractions de manière tout à fait différente. Beaucoup plus relax!

Décorez pour les fêtes pendant vos vacances à Barcelone

Si vous faites un séjour à Barcelone d’au moins une semaine, pourquoi pas ne pas donner une touche personnalisée à votre villa Barcelone pour donner à vos espaces de vie une ambiance festive et cordiale? Surtout si vous avez acheté quelques décorations typiquement catalanes – un Tio de Natale, par exemple! Vous pourrez ainsi le remplir de bonbons locaux et reproduire une vraie ambiance de fêtes à saveur catalane! Vos enfants se réjouiront d’observer les rituels de la région pendant même qu’ils y sont!

Si ce n’est pas une manière extravagante et magnifique de faire découvrir à votre enfant la culture catalane, qu’est-ce qui pourrait bien l’être?

Préparez-vous pour les fêtes avec les cours in-villa

Vous comptiez donner une fête pour Noël où le jour de l’An? Pourquoi ne pas donner une touche espagnole à vos célébrations cette année en prenant un cours de cuisine espagnole – ou de flamenco, pour y mettre du piquant! Non seulement vous apprendrez à cuisiner de merveilleux mets qui épateront les invités, mais toute la famille pourra participer et assouvir leur curiosité en mettant aussi la main à la pâte.

Comme activité de famille hivernale, c’est assez chic et utile, non?


The many cathedrals of Barcelona

Like many cities in the Catalonia region, Barcelona is steeped in history and stunning architecture. In addition to the copious Roman remains, the city is home to handfuls of churches and cathedrals, some of which have become tourist destinations in their own right.

The best way to see these towering works of art is to consider a Barcelona holiday rental or hotel so that you can be in the heart of the action and stay for a least a few days.

Sagrada Familia

Considered one of the most famous churches in the world, the Sagrada Familia sits proudly on the Barcelona skyline. This architecturally stunning building was first designed and construction began back in 1882, but it has yet to be finished. In 2010, the church was declared a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI.

The best time to visit is early in the morning before the crowds of tourists descend upon the property.

Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar

This incredible church was built between 1329 and 1383, and the building is a stunning feat of Gothic construction. Like the Sagrada Familia, it is one of the most visited spots in the city.

Cathedral of Barcelona

This Gothic-style cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, and its distinguished Gothic style is a sight that shouldn’t be missed. The cathedral that you see today was built over the old cathedral in the 13th century. Every year around Christmas time the square outside of the building is host to a spectacular Christmas street market, full of food and music.

Catedral de Barcelona

Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazon

When you first arrive in Barcelona for your holiday in Spain, this impressive building is one of the first sights you will see. Built on a mountain high above the city, its lofty location offers stunning views of Barcelona below. Right in front of the church is one of the oldest amusement parks in Europe, Tibidabo Amusement Park.

Although Barcelona is a large city, it has great public transport allowing you to visit each location with ease. Villas in Barcelona create an ideal base from which to go out and explore the many sites and architectural feats on offer.


What to know about the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

If you are interested in where the mobile industry is heading in the next few years, be sure to book your spot at the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The event will take place from Feb. 26 to March 1 at the Fira Gran Via and brings together vendors, speakers, and advertisers in the mobile technology world.

Start-up businesses, future car concepts, knowledgeable speakers, and entertainment are all a huge part of this forward-thinking event. People come from all over the world not only to showcase their own technology but to learn more about the future of other technologies.

Last year more than 100,000 people attended the MWC, which included 2,300 exhibits and 3,500 media members from around the world. Hundreds of new and improved technology and software were on display with dozens of speakers to show the attendees and the world where we are heading as a mobile society. Learn more about the products you know and love, how they plan to improve in the future, and what you can do further collaborate with these ventures.

If you plan to visit Barcelona for the MWC, be sure to not only register now online but to also find a rental villa or property where you can stay for the duration of the event. Use your attendance as an opportunity to also live like a local in a holiday home just outside the city where you can decompress after long days at the conference.

While in town and when not in meetings or checking out the exhibits, enjoy the sights and tastes of Barcelona  Get to know the culture of Catalunya and meet other technology-loving people like yourself.

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The best museums and galleries in Barcelona

Barcelona is packed with places to visit if you feel like accepting some culture into your life. The amount of world-class art galleries and museums the city has to offer is staggering. Capture your imagination in the National Museum of Modern Art of Catalunya or if you have a penchant for all things maritime with a dash of Gothic architecture, head to the Maritime Museum. Wherever you wish to visit during your stay, there is a place to suit your tastes close to your Barcelona accommodation.

MNAC – Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
This is one of the world’s grandest museums, showcasing a variety of Catalan artwork that ranges from the Romanesque period to Gothic art and Modernism.

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Museum of History of the City – Museu d’Historia de la Ciutat
This museum tells the tale of the ancient city of Barcelona and explores her drainage systems, public baths, and even wine storage areas. You can also revel in Palau Reial, a former Royal Palace where you can admire the 14th-century banquet hall.

Maritime Museum – Museu Maritim
In days of yore much of Barcelona’s prosperity was dependent on trade from the sea. These ancient Gothic shipyards give a sense of the adventure and history of the area from the age of rafts to steam. There is also a full-size replica of the flagship belonging Don Juan of Austria. The story brings to life the existence of volunteers, prisoners, and slaves who lived aboard the ship.

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Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona
The expanding art collection at MACBA begins in a Gothic chapel and extends across the plaza into a glistening building of white. This museum showcases the best international, Catalan, and Spanish contemporary works of art. In addition to the temporary collections, there are also 1,600 pieces in the museums own collection, so they have to rotate the artwork.

Fundacio Antoni Tapies
If you have seen Gaudi and wish to delve deeper into the architecture and artwork of other famous Catalan visionaries, here is your chance. This foundation experiments with Catalonias Modernist art for which the city is renowned. The building itself is a delight to behold, with Tapies designing the structure to reflect his own mind at the time. Tapies political messages are hidden in his works; they are not easily decipherable but admirers can try to discover the meanings behind the collection.

Wherever you plan on visiting during your stay, there are museums and galleries on every street corner of the city. You are sure to find one close to your Barcelona holiday rental that fascinates and mesmerizes.

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