Outdoor Adventure Travel Guide to Barcelona

Whether you’re a foodie looking for new recipes, an architect looking for inspiration, a photographer looking for a new subject, or a thrill-seeker in search of a new adventure, there’s something for everyone in Barcelona. The capital city of Catalonia, which is also Spain’s second largest city, is quite incomparable because of its stunning architecture and historic sites like the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila. But apart from these must-see heritage destinations, Barcelona also has adrenaline-inducing outdoor activities. Here are some of our favourites we want to tell you about:

Rowing at Parc de la Ciutadella

To get you warmed up for your outdoor adventure in Barcelona, start by renting a rowboat at Parc de la Ciutadella. The park is a green oasis in the heart of the city and it’s well-known for its inviting and relaxing atmosphere. A small rowboat can be rented for half an hour at a time and will allow you to go around the green lake. You can also feed the ducks at the lake in between rowing. And since the site is vast, Conde Nast Traveler also recommends that you stop by Barcelona’s city zoo and regional parliament—all within the park grounds.

Cycle through the Montjuïc Route

The Montjuïc is home to attractive landmarks like the Joan Miró Foundation, the Olympic Stadium, and the Montjuïc Castle. The biking route begins at Plaça d’Espanya and heads down Av. Reina Maria Cristina. It turns right towards Av. de l’Estadi, which takes you up a gentle climb. If you want a more challenging hike, you can turn left to C/Leida and the Passeig de Santa Madron. You can also go around the Olympic Stadium and then head to Montjüic Castle through Passeig del Migdia. There’s also a hidden outdoor bar at the back of the castle in case you need some refreshments.

Windsurfing the Catalonian Coast

There’s nothing like the windy coves on the northern coast of Barcelona, especially when the conditions are right, with the closest beaches 15 minutes away from Las Ramblas. The seaside neighbourhood of La Barceloneta is one of the local beaches that is popular with thrill seekers, and Barcelona N’ Do says it’s one of the most famous beaches in the city. In the south of Barcelona, you can go to the small bay of Garraf, which is considered one of the most picturesque surf spots in the city. If you like small waves, Garraf is a perfect choice.

Try out Bossaball at Swimming Club Barcelona

The Bossaball court looks more like a water park ride than an actual sporting venue, but it’s a very serious sport despite it being one of the world’s weirdest games. The best way to play it is at the beach with live music – it is as exhilarating as it is challenging. It originated in Spain in 2005 and is played on an inflatable court featuring a trampoline on each side of the net. The trampoline allows the players to jump high, spike the ball over the net and earn points. It’s quite competitive and literally breathtaking as it’s very acrobatic and physically demanding. In Barcelona, you can try it at Club Natació Barcelona, which is just a few kilometres away from some of the best Barcelona vacation rentals/

Hike to the Bunkers del Carmel

From your vacation rental in Barcelona, walk up Parc del Guinardo until you reach the top. It may be a little tiring, but once you get to the bunkers at the top, it will definitely be worth it. Bunkers del Carmel is said to be one of Barcelona’s best-kept secrets, but today it has become well-known for the jaw-dropping panoramic views it affords of the city. You can also access the bunkers via the Carrer de La Gran Vista and follow it around until you come by Carrer del Panorama where you’ll find the famous arbre del l’amour.

Next time you visit Barcelona, we encourage you to go on a food trip so you can get a taste of the local bestsellers and traditional recipes. You should also visit the Font Magica located just below the Palau Nacional, to watch its impressive show of water, music, and light. No matter where you are and what your interest is, there’s something for you in Barcelona. Finding places to stay wouldn’t be a problem, too, as there are a lot of Barcelona villas with pools waiting for travellers like you.

Piece specially submitted to catalunyacasas.com

Submitted by: JBroadbent


4 Gorgeous Churches and Cathedrals in Costa Dorada

Whether you are religious or not, the amazing churches and cathedrals that you can find in Costa Dorada are gorgeous examples of incredible architecture and artwork that you won’t want to miss. Many of them probably aren’t far from your holiday rental

Iglesia de Santa Maria

Built between the 15th and 16th centuries, this amazing church is a lovely view of the Gothic architectural style and a must-see for anyone in the Prades region. While the church is small, it offers beautiful architecture and artwork. It’s also a great place to visit during the Christmas holidays. You’ll also want to check out the square where it’s located and see more examples of beautiful, historical architecture and artwork.

Parroquies de st. Joan

This gorgeous church is a must-see if you are in the province of Tarragona. It has the highest bell tower in Catalonia that offers a spectacular view that you won’t want to miss. A beautiful altarpiece is the focal point of this church, but you can also check out the amazing architecture, ancient pottery from the Battle of Trafalgar, and the machinery from the working clock.

Church of San Miguel

A fascinating church named after the archangel Michael, it’s main attractor is the Christ statue located on the very front of the church. Many visitors like to stop and stare up at the magnificent sight. Not only is a beautiful piece of architecture, the church also has a lot of history. It was built over 200 years ago and was once the home of a noble. The church is one of the largest buildings in a relatively small city and because it was built over a span of many years, its style is a little eclectic, which adds to its charm.

Capilla de Santa Tecla

This is a tiny chapel located off a narrow street. You’ll find it when you see the arch that goes over the street. The church is dedicated to its patron saint, Santa Tecla, and there are many chapels devoted to this saint throughout the city. It has a beautiful blue ceiling and is made of local stone.

We hope you found some peace and respite within those hallowed walls. If nothing else, you may have escaped some of the crowds who are also enjoying the beautiful city of Costa Dorada. Now you can head back to your rental villa or apartment and send off all those gorgeous photos you took so that others can enjoy!


Experience The Semana Santa Piety In Barcelona

Spain has always been the cradle of Christianity ever since the religion came over tot eh continent of Europe. Several traditions have developed over the centuries that have been an integral part of the local culture. The celebration of the Holy Week or the Semana Santa is one such that is fraught with a lot of religious sentiments that accompany the parades and the processions. It is the perfect time to experience the piety of this week that begins on the Sunday from your rented villa in Barcelona, prior to the week of Good Friday till Easter Sunday in Barcelona.

The processions and piety

The best way to explore is of course by going around the city on foot as you visit the most famous Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia or even the other magnificent churches. There are several brotherhoods of the lay people that take out processions to mark the penitence of the Holy Week that is a part of the forty days of penance in Catholicism.

Those that participate in the procession wear interesting costumes that cover the entire face and the body in the indigo cloth leaving only two small holes for the eyes to see.  The cone shaped cap signifies the union with Divinity in the heavenly abode and the color signifies the Passion and the pain of Christ with which the Christian penitent identifies during this time. They also carry wooden figure from the Biblical verse with them to portray the life of Christ especially His Passion.

The celebration of the Passion

Maundy Thursday or the day before Good Friday is the time when you can witness the elaborate services in the Cathedral and the churches. The tradition of the priest washing the feet of the lay people signify the humility and the service of Chris who finally lay down His life for them.

Most churches will be decorated for the adoration of Christ from the Good Friday after the service till the Easter Sunday celebration that is filled with joy to signify the Resurrecting of Christ from the dead. You will do well to find out the specific timings of the Good Friday services in the individual churches. All establishments in Spain will be closed during this period except for the eateries.

The Easter Goodies

You will find a lot of Eater goodies in the market during this time that are typical to the Catalonian traditions. Apart from the traditional Easter eggs, there are the La Mona da Pascua that is a richly decorated with the chocolate eggs and the chicks to signify the new life of the Risen Christ. Godfathers gift them to the godsons as a part of their lesson in Christianity. There are also the Pestinos that are deep fried pastries coated with honey and sugar.


The Gothic Quarter And Five Magical Legends of Barcelona

When staying in your villa in Barcelona you will have to explore the place like the locals that will give you the insight to the rich local cultures and the legends that are a part of their rich traditions. There is plenty to explore that you can only undertake when you plan for an extended stay in one of the inexpensive rented accommodation.

A gaggle of geese

Go to the Barcelona Cathedral is the home to a gaggle of thirteen geese that are a symbol of the tragic past of the Church. Santa Eutalia, the patroness of the city, was killed at the age of thirteen. Going to the Cathedral at noon or afternoon will give you free entry!

The magic fountain

The Magic Fountain that is the Canaletes Fountain is situated on top of Las Ramblas and is also decorated with the shield of Barcelona while being topped by an iron lamp. Drinking water from the fountain will assure your return to the city. It is also the place where FC Barcelona come and celebrate their victories.

The lucky turtle

Go to the Casa de l’Ardiaca that is the wall outside the Cathedral and you will find the little turtle patting whom is said to being in luck. He sits pretty on the stone rectangle that was a former mailbox of a lawyer’s home. The story of the birds around is to depict justice that is free and unbound and the tangled ivy, and the turtle indicates the slowness of the process. When you enter the Casa de l’Ardiaca, there are several Roman aqueduct that you can see those that once ran through the city. There are also several exhibitions and public archives.

The spitting Gargoyles

The Spitting Gargoyles are those that are jutting out of the walls of the Cathedral and include the lions, elephants and unicorns and some eternal monsters. When the Corpus Christi were passing by they spat, and now they are punished as the plumbing on the walls of the cathedral.  When it rains they actually spit and drench the passersby – so be careful.

Sant Jordi and the dragon

Sant Jordi and the Dragon is best found in the Gothic Quarters where there are several statues of St. George, the patron saint of the city. He stabbed the dragon, and there are several reliefs like the one in the Carrer del Bisbe. A subtle image that you will come across is on the top of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo that is said to be inspired by the skin of a dragon. April 24th is he day of the saint with many celebrations in the country.


The Best Places for a Romantic Meal in Barcelona

Barcelona is a romantic city by nature, with ancient medieval quarters, bars overlooking rooftops, picturesque gardens and views over the Mediterranean it’s hard to beat. But what about when you want to find somewhere special to enjoy a meal? If you have a romantic dinner for two in mind and want to take a break from your Barcelona holiday rental, here are a few ideas of the best places to whet your appetite.

Con Gracia

Con Gracia are passionate about cooking, they believe in culinary creativity and serving dishes which not only taste incredible, but also look pretty fantastic too. It may not be the cheapest restaurant in town, but it’s popular and that can only be a good sign. With superb reviews across the board Con Gracia looks like it’s here to stay. The chefs tasting menu is perfect for a romantic special occasion with several courses on the menu to try in an intimate and relaxing setting.

Tram Tram

Tram Tram is a very charming restaurant nestled on Carrer Major de Sarria in Barcelona. Couples can enjoy outdoor courtyard dining in the summer months. The emerald vine covered walls and brightly coloured plants in decorative pots bring this restaurant to life making it a wonderful choice for a romantic rendezvous. The cuisine is Mediterranean with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce with a creative twist and if you wish to dine indoors the interior is just as inviting as the courtyard, it’s light and bright with intimate tables and a contemporary ambiance. The food is exquisitely presented and it tastes as good as it looks.

Mayura

If you prefer your dining with an Asian twist, Mayura in Barcelona’s Eixample district will definitely tantalise your taste buds. Serving contemporary Asian, Indian and Vegetarian cuisine it’s the ideal restaurant in which to enjoy a sumptuous dinner and cocktail while listening to tasteful lounge music. Diners can relax in the exotic atmosphere which is lit by lanterns and candles – it simply exudes romance.

 

Antigua

Tucked away in St. Gervasi-Santalo is Restaurant Antigua, a tasteful, authentic restaurant with exposed brickwork illuminated by subtle candlelight. This restaurant offers refined, Mediterranean cuisine with an innovative edge and offers intimate dining at its very best.

Whatever your gastronomic passion Barcelona has it catered for, don’t feel you have to cook each night in your Barcelona villa there are many romantic restaurants in the city waiting to be discovered.


SPRING 2019 FREE STAYS IN SPANISH VILLAS WITH POOLS

Catalunya Casas (catalunyacasas.com), specialists in villa rentals in Catalonia, North-eastern Spain, are offering free 2 night stays in April, May, and June for selected villas. All villas come with pools and gardens and are located within an hour of Barcelona or Girona.

We Specialise in Memory-Making!

Charming Villa La Juncosa for 8 guests only 20km from the beach!

Enjoy a spacious patio, a cozy home and the wonders of Tarragona in this 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom villa in the Costa Dorada hills. Costa Dorada has a total of 216 kilometers of golden sands with crystal clear aquamarine waters. These lowlands between the coast and the mountains enjoy an extensive natural landscape with villages and quiet farms surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, almonds and orchards.

Joyful Villa with stunning views of the Monserrat National Park!

Enjoy peace, tranquility and stunning views of the Monserrat National park in this 4-bedroom villa for 8 guests. Take advantage of the warm Mediterranean sunshine in your delightful garden with private pool and views of the luscious forests and majestic mountains of Montserrat. Guests of villa Castellbell can take full advantage of the many hiking trails and mountain climbing activities that the region has to offer, yet easy access to the heart of Barcelona.

Villa Gloriosa de Santa Coloma for 8 guests, 30 km from Costa Brava beaches!

Hidden in the forests of Girona, this three-bedroom villa welcomes six guests for a truly relaxing and rejuvenating vacation. Enjoy moments of peace on the porch of your villa while the children play on the playground in the front yard or participate in a game of foosball on the porch. Indoors, treat your family with a home-cooked meal in a fully-equipped kitchen, where you will have access to the same appliances as your own home.

Villa Mas Borras, nestled in the hills of Costa Dorada, only 3km from the beach!

After exploring the nearby beaches of Costa Dorada, take a dip in your own private pool and enjoy home-cooked meals prepared on the outdoor barbecue as you sip rioja under the setting sun. Two bedrooms welcome 5 guests in one double bed and three single beds.

Casa Cunit for 8 guests, just 5 minutes from the glimmering Mediterranean Sea

Enjoy this fantastic getaway in the heart of picturesque Costa Dorada, just a few minutes walk to the beach! Relax with a glass of rioja on the terrace before a late afternoon dip in your private pool and dinner on the barbecue.

*Rules to qualify for a free stay in any one of the above properties:

1) Pick your dates based on the availability – 2 nights between April and June 15 2019 (see property occupancy calendars in the above links).

2) Agree to pay only the cleaning costs (variable dependant on the villa and listed in the above links), taxes (0,90 per night per adult), and any extra services required (see our guest services page)

3) Email this information to our reservations department at myperfectvilla@catalunyacasas.com along with your name, address, and total number of guests.

4) Confirm that if you and your guests enjoy your stay you will leave us a positive testimonial.

5) Enjoy your free stay!

For further inforamtion on any of these villas, contact the team at Catalunya Casas on +34 674 396 872 or visit www.catalunyacasas.com

Catalunya Casas press contact:

Dawn Buckler

Tel: +34 610 476 501

Email: dawn@catalunyacasas.com

About Catalunya Casas:

Catalunya Casas specialises in hand-picked, exclusively managed family villa rentals (with pool and garden!) that are close enough to Barcelona to enjoy all the benefits the city has to offer, yet far enough ‘off the beaten track’ where guests have the opportunity to enjoy and experience the real Catalonia/Spain. Catalunya Casas prides themselves on personalised and unbiased vacation recommendations, unique (gastronomical, adventure, cultural) activities and exceptional service.

About Catalonia:

Catalonia is a region of north-eastern Spain, stretching all the way from the sandy Mediterranean beaches of Costa Dorada in the south, to the historic coastal villages of Costa Brava in the north. Catalonia is also home to regional capital and world-class city, Barcelona.

www.catalunyacasas.com

Telephone: +34 93 002 8742

Email: myperfectvilla@catalunyacasas.com

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Shopping in Barcelona

Looking for some unique gifts and souvenirs to bring back for friends and family from your Baecelona holiday rental? You’re in luck! Barcelona is one of Spain’s best shopping destinations, with many great stores to check out. Here are just some of the best shopping locations in Barcelona that are perfect for browsing:

 

Barcelona Malls

 

If you like to have everything in one place, then La Maquinista is the ideal solution. One of Catalonia’s biggest malls, La Maquinista is home to more than 230 shops, giving you a fantastic selection. It’s here that you can find big international brands, like Adidas, Calvin Klein, and Foot Locker, interspersed with Spanish brands like Cortefiel, Dormity, and Furest. There’s also some small supermarkets, like Carrefour, which is great for picking up supplies and ingredients to make dinner at your villa in Barcelona.

 

Top Brands

 

For those who love top brands, it’s time to take a stroll along Passeig de Gràcia, which is one of the best locations in Barcelona for high end products. Chanel, Gucci, Boss, Mango, Guess, Burberry, Cartier, and Stella McCartney all have stores along this stretch of road, so there’s lots of places to choose from. Shopping is thirsty work, but don’t worry — there’s plenty of cafes and restaurants here, too! If you make it all the way to the end of this long street, you can relax in the beautiful Salvador Espriu gardens.

 

Small Stores

 

If you much prefer smaller, more local shops, then take a walk down Carrer de Verdi, which has a reputation for being one of Barcelona’s most quirky, unusual, and offbeat streets. You won’t find any high end brands here, but what you will find is a range of stores that allow you to make your own jewellery by selecting different beads and gems, shops selling handmade sweets and treats, all manner of recycled wood furniture, and accessory shops which are ideal for picking up some presents!


Holiday in Spain: What You Need to Know Before You Go to Barcelona!

Most people agree that Spain is one of the best holiday destinations in the world. And they are correct for many reasons. If you are planning to take a vacation and heading to Spain, more specifically Barcelona, you should know a few things. This will not ruin your holiday experience. On the contrary, this will enhance your holiday Spain experience because you will be well informed.

Forget Queuing

Typically, queuing makes everything run smoothly, in an organized manner. However, in Spain, queuing is not common. The only place you will find queues is in tourist attraction sites. Even at these places, someone will jump queue unapologetically. Do not mind pushing and shoving, with a smile on your face. Everyone does it anyway. If you are going to Barcelona during the high season, prepare your elbows.

Be Polite but Do Not Overdo It

You are used to saying the words ‘thank-you’ and ‘please’ most of the time, which is okay. These words come automatically without giving much thought. In Barcelona, you will have a different experience. Please note that people in Barcelona are not rude. It is only that they do not use these words unless they mean them. Therefore, use your word ‘sorry’ sparingly. When you are looking for your Barcelona accommodation, be polite but do not overdo it.

Stay Alert

There are many pickpockets in Barcelona. Do not drop your guard once you arrive in this beach city because pickpockets will ruin your holiday experience. You can lose your camera, wallet or any other valuable item within a blink of an eye. All you need to do is stay alert because most pickpockets distract you first before stealing from you. Your holiday in Spain will go smoothly if you avoid suspicious characters who engage in vague conversation. They want to confuse you before taking off with your stuff.

Prepare for a Laidback Environment

You will feel like screaming in frustration if you are accustomed to fast services. You are on vacation anyway so slow down. Everything is laidback in Spain. It will take some time before you get seated in a restaurant (even if you have made a reservation). When you rent a villa in Barcelona, you can practice patience and adjust to this laidback lifestyle. Make sure you allocate extra time for everything you do if you do not want to yell in frustration.

No Shopping on Sundays

You will not rest because you want to; circumstances will force you to. Most restaurants and shops do not open on Sundays. It is a Spanish tradition and perhaps the only thing you will accomplish on a Sunday is booking a villa in Barcelona.


Barcelona’s Tallest Buildings!

Although Spain is known for its wonderful weather, glorious beaches, and luxury villas with private pools in Barcelona and other popular resort destinations, it’s not exactly famous for its skyscrapers. However, there are certainly a few buildings of note in the country, with Barcelona itself boasting some impressive structures that are well worth visiting. Here’s a guide to Barcelona’s tallest buildings above 100m:

  • Torre Mapfre — 154m

Located in the Port Olímpic area of the city, Torre Mapfre is an office building home to many different firms, spread across 44 floors. However, it’s most famous for featuring Spain’s highest helipad. If you’re staying in a Barcelona holiday rental nearby, it’s worth popping out after sundown to see it all lit up.

  • Torre Agbar — 144m

Opened in 2005, Torre Agbar is one of the newest skyscrapers in Barcelona. Primarily an office building, the unusual (and somewhat phallic!) design of the building is considered to be a prime example of modern ‘high tech’ architecture. Again, slip out of your Barcelona villa at night to enjoy the illuminations.

 

  • Diagonal ZeroZero — 110m

Yet another example of high-tech architecture, Diagonal ZeroZero is another looming office building that can be seen from the streets of Barcelona. With 25 floors in total, this building holds a prime location in Barcelona, overlooking the stunning coast and close to some of the city’s most beautiful beaches.

The Skyscraper that Never Was

While we’re talking about Barcelona skyscrapers, let’s spare a thought for the 148m tall Torre La Sagrera: the Barcelona landmark that was never built! Designed by Frank Gehry, the proposed office building was supposed to me much more than just a structure; it was anticipated to become the hottest location in Barcelona, with a public park, transportation museum, and other attractions built in the grounds.


Guell Palace – 3 Things that you probably don’t know!

1.The first and (most important!) thing that you may not know, is that you can visit for free Pallau Güell every first Sunday of the month!

2. This palace was actually the house of Eusebi Güell, the good friend of the architect Antoni Gaudí, which was the one who designed the palace as well.

3. It has the title of the world’s first Art Nouveau building and features a darker palette with an explosion of color on the roof. (Specially recommended to visit during sunset hour).

Photographer : Elina Aktipi

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