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.

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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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Catalonia’s top World Heritage Sites

Catalonia´s list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites has been growing tremendously as of late. The sites are protected as areas and events of cultural interest. From concert halls to sculptures to festivals and monasteries, here are a few of the most popular sites to visit as day trips from your Barcelona holiday rental.

Casa Batlló, Barcelona

This Gaudí masterpiece on Passeig de Gracia in the centre of Barcelona speaks for itself. The event space, museum, and architecture make this one very special World Heritage Site to visit in the city.

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Amfiteatre Roma de Tarragona

Close to your Costa Dorada holiday rental lies the glorious and well preserved Roman Amphitheatre in Tarragona, showcasing outdoor events and with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Aqueducte de les Ferreres – Pont del Diable

Devils Bridge and Aqueduct is an unspoiled structure close to Tarragona on the Costa Dorada. Walk across and glance into the valley below and imagine what it was like to live in the time when this aqueduct and bridge was fully functional.

Casa Milà – La Pedrera, Barcelona

Just up the street from Casa Batllo lies another well-known Catalan modernisme piece designed by Antoni Gaudí between 1905 and 1911. The undulating curves, use of experimental materials, and unique design make this one of Barcelona’s most popular and most photographed World Heritage Sites.

Parc Natural del Montseny

Montseny Natural Park has one of the most beautiful landscapes in Catalonia that has inspired poets, writers, and artists for centuries. The park attracts in access of 2 million visitors every year.

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Park Güell, Barcelona

This beautiful park is filled with curved structures, colourful glazed ceramic tiles, and monuments and offers incredible views of the park and the city.

Castells

The 10-level human towers are a big part of Catalan culture; the festival is held each year in town squares throughout the region where groups of men and women stand on each others´ shoulders creating a human tower as high as 10 people.

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Whether you wish to see festivals, Roman settlements, architecture, or natural parks there is always something incredible to see close to your Barcelona apartment or your family villa on the Costa Dorada.

 

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Visit the Benedictine abbey deep in the Catalonia mountains

The spectacular Santa Maria de Montserrat or Montserrat Monastery as it is otherwise known, was founded back in 1025, it is a Benedictine Abbey perched majestically on the mountainside of Montserrat in Catalonia. Set deep in the heart of Catalan terrain it’s hard to believe it’s a mere 30 miles drive to the west of Barcelona. The monastery can be reached easily from your Costa Brava vacation rental or Costa Maresme holiday rental by train, road or cable car.

 

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The monastery itself is 1,236 metres above the ground level of the valley making it the highest point of all of the Catalonia lowlands. The summit of Sant Jeromi can be walked to from the funicular station. Make sure you travel to the monastery on a clear day for panoramic views of the entire region, if you are really fortunate occasionally you can even see right across the azure waters of the Mediterranean to the island of Mallorca.

 

The Basilica of Montserrat houses a museum which contains rare artworks and sculptures by El Greco, Picasso and Dali. It is also home to one of the earliest publishing houses where the first book was published in the year 1499, the world’s oldest printing press still runs to this day.

 

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The monastery itself has an intriguing history which is ready to be uncovered. It is home to the Virgin of Montserrat also known as the black virgin – Catalonia’s favourite saint. The Escolania Montserrat Boys’ choir sings here; they are one of the oldest in Europe performing during religious ceremonies in the basilica. The school choir sings daily in the basilica around midday in front of visitors and pilgrims from around the world, try to make it there if you can it is an experience which will remain with you forever.

 

The historical references from the monastery range from the Spanish Civil War to the era of Franco and today Montserrat Monastery is seen as a symbol of Catalan Nationalism. It is definitely worth a day trip outside of your vacation rental in Spain to visit the magnificent interior and exterior architecture and take in the most spectacular views of Catalonia that you will ever see.


Cava: Meet Catalonia’s sparkling star beverage

Italy has prosecco, France has champagne, and the United States has sparkling wine. Spain’s own version of this bubbly beverage — known as cava — rounds out the list as a sparkling treat to be treasured during your next visit to Catalonia.

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The alcoholic drink grown from grapes can (technically) only be called ‘champagne’ if it is produced in the region of France with the same name. Thus, various countries in the world that bottle their own versions have also adopted their own nomenclature.

Catalonia’s signature beverage was first produced as a sparkling wine in 1872. It is grown and nurtured in eight different growing regions in northeastern Spain, including Catalonia in which there are 11 districts of origin. One of these districts, Penedès, is responsible for producing 95% of the nation’s cava.

Spain makes every attempt to produce its cava using only Spanish grapes, but French varieties make appeareances every now and then. The three grapes that are used in cava production are macabeu, parellada, and xarello, all of which are white grapes.

Cava is grown from grapes, just like wine.
Cava is grown from grapes, just like wine.

In order to be considered cava, the wine must be produced using the traditional méthode champenoise, (or in Spanish, the método tradicional) which involves a second fermentation period that takes place in the bottle.

The sparkling beverage — available in both white and rosé varieties, the latter of which is mixed with a darker Spanish grape called Garnacha — is often served at special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, and baptisms. Spain’s most famous cava producers are Freixenet and Codorníu, both of which offer tours and tastings at their facilities in Catalonia.

To learn more about these excursions and how to reserve your place on a cava tour, visit the Attractions page on our website.


Fun family activities during your Spain holiday

While on holiday with family and friends, children can get restless, and sometimes the beach isn’t enough to compete with their tireless spirits. Parents, you are in luck! We are providing a list of activities that both children and the adults can enjoy together. It is like watching one of the 7 wonders of the world.

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Amusement Parks are obvious entertainment options that offer kilometers of thrilling attractions. One of the notable amusement parks in Catalonia is PortAventura. This adventure park in Salou, Costa Dorada, is both a theme park and a water park, all in one. At the Costa Caribe Aquatic Park in PortAventura, you can go water rafting, slip and slide downs water slides, or spend the day lounging by the water. Its one-hour distance from Barcelona makes it an accessible day trip destination.

 

If you´re keen to explore other water parks to keep cool under the Spanish sun, you might consider Aquopolis Costa Dorada or Water World in Lloret de Mar. Both parks have various rides and attractions for all ages and offer ultimate refreshment during the hot summer days.

 

Lovers of the outdoors will enjoy Arbre Aventura Park and Gnomo Park. For children with adventurous spirits, Arbre Aventura Park has zip lines, suspension bridges, balance logs, and networks connecting between trees to challenge your athleticism. Gnomo Park is a movie-themed park set in a pine forest with obstacle courses, indoor playgrounds, and even film screenings.

 

For calmer days, the city of Barcelona has abundant attractions that will bring out children´s curiosity and wonderment.

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The Barcelona Aquarium and the Barcelona Zoo are perfect for exploring and snapping photos with the animals. Those with a sweet tooth and imaginative spirit will delight in the Chocolate Museum. If the history of chocolate is not educational enough for you, there is also CosmoCaixa Barcelona, a hands-on science museum that features exhibits like the “Flooded Forest” and the “Room of Matter.

 

Regardless of what you choose to do, take advantage of this precious time with your family as you create memories that will last a lifetime!

 


Adventures and Activities

We hope you are looking forward to your vacation and we want to ensure you have a wonderful time and experience all of the wonders of Catalonia. For this purpose, we offer an abundance of extra services for your enjoyment.

We have partnered with a variety of popular tourist attractions (zoo, waterparks, theme parks, etc.) where you can purchase discounted tickets directly from our website; however we also pride ourselves on catering to the ‘anti-tourists’ of the world. For this reason if you are interested in a private wine tour, cooking classes in your villa, private flamenco lessons, a magic extravaganza for the kids, or even Spanish lessons for your beloved pet(?), we can arrange it! The only limit is your imagination and our dedicated concierge team will gladly help you personalize your villa rental experience. Some popular and most requested services are listed below; however should any other variety of possibilities tickle your fancy please contact us directly here to make your vacation memorable.


Catalan custom: Mushroom hunting

The summer season has passed in Catalonia which means mushrooms have begun to sprout all over the Spanish hills. These edible fungi help usher in the ages-old Catalan custom of mushroom hunting.

Throughout Catalonia during this time of year, bolitaires (or mushroom hunters) take to the fertile fields to hunt for and collect mushrooms after the summer harvest. Catalans have passed down the tradition through generations as groups head out–baskets in tow–for early morning weekend rummaging.

A few varieties are known to grow in the region (including ceps and trompetas) and serve as complementary ingredients to a number of dishes like omelettes, soups, and salads.

 

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New to gathering these treasured trumpets? The government of Catalonia has issued information regarding how to properly gather mushrooms; how and whether you need to obtain a mushroom-gathering permit; and further information about mushrooms themselves, including which are safe to eat, which may be poisonous, and helpful nutrition facts.

If you plan to visit Catalonia in the fall, grab a basket and enjoy this community-building tradition among the lush forests of northeastern Spain. If you can’t make it to the countryside, heaps of Barcelona’s markets (like La Bouqueria) sell varieties of the plant so you’ll have no shortage of the nutrient-rich Catalonian wonder. Happy hunting!

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