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.


4 Restaurants in Costa Brava with Stunning Views

You picked your rental villa in Costa Brava specifically for its stunning views, so why should you expect anything less from your dining experience? These four restaurants all offer amazing views of Costa Brava and/or the ocean that you don’t want to miss!
#1. Talla
With stunning views of the bay on top of a steep hill, Talla offers beauty and delicious dishes! Their menu consists of Mediterranean, Spanish, and European cuisine, each one a work of art. Though the inside seating is cozy, the real reason to visit is the bright and fun outdoor seating where you can enjoy the view and the cool, delicious breezes off the bay. People-watch, watch the boats come in and out of the bay, and relax.

#2. Restaurante Pizzeria Da Giovanni
This Italian and Spanish restaurant not only offers an amazing view of the bay, but a stunning look at the muralla medieval, or medieval wall. Though the restaurant itself is simple, the views and delicious food more than compensate for the mall-style dining area. They offer many traditional Spanish and Italian dishes but are best known for their paellas and tapas.

#3. La Blava
This former fishing house is on the beach, giving you one of the best beach views in Costa Brava! The style of the house is decidedly Mediterranean with a hint of Greece and features an open, yet intimate atmosphere that you are sure to enjoy. They offer simple Mediterranean cuisine with only fresh, local produce. They bring to light the essence of the Mediterranean diet through vegetables, rice, fish, and olive oil mixed in creative and delicious ways.

#4. Tapas del Mar
Traditional Mediterranean cuisine pairs with gorgeous views of the Costa Brava sea and mountains in Tapas del Mar. The food comes from family recipes that the chefs want to share with you so that you will hopefully enjoy them as much as their families always have. The chefs welcome you personally, and the restaurant itself is intimate, modern, and beautiful. They use local produce and try to keep their meals simple yet absolutely delicious. You are certain to enjoy any meal here and you’ll probably want to try them all!

Now that you’ve satisfied your eyes and your stomach, you can return to your gorgeous Costa Brava holiday rental for a quiet, relaxing evening.


Costa Brava’s most beautiful museums

If you found your vacation rental in Costa Brava, the next step is to decide how you want to spend your time in this gorgeous, peaceful region of Catalonia. When planning your stay, here are four of the area’s top museums to give you something to ponder, plus a bit of information about each to help you make an informed decision.

Ruins of Empuries

This unique experience is called the Ruins of Empuries, which was part of both the Greek and Roman civilizations. It has more than 2,500 years of history to explore in this ancient once-city. You’ll find ruins of homes, factories, streets, an amphitheatre, a forum, a basilica, and plenty of statues, mosaics, and artwork. You can check out the Greek god of medicine statue, Asclepios, the Greek wharf, and the Archaeology Museum. Plus, this amazing historical site is surrounded by picturesque beaches with gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Museu d’Historia de la Joguina

If you’re interested in historical toys, and especially if you have children, you are certain to love the Museu d’Historia de la Joguina. But this museum isn’t just for kids! It is located in a beautiful 19th-century home with gorgeous stained glass windows, amazing architecture, antique furniture, wrought ironwork, and a special glimpse into the life and times of 19th-century living.

Museo del Far de Tossa

There is so much to see in the seaside town of Tossa de Mar, and the Museo del Far de Tossa is no exception. It is located in the lighthouse at the top of the hill and offers not only the history of the lighthouse, sea travel, and Tossa de Mar, but also a gorgeous view of the sea and the surrounding town and beaches. You can also walk the beach, check out some of the shops, grab some delicious food, or just explore the area and take amazing pictures to help you remember your trip.

Tossa de Mar

The Municipal Museum

The Municipal Museum is one of the best art museums in Costa Brava. Not only will you enjoy the art, but you’ll love the gorgeous views. Head there for sunset and grab some amazing photos!

Now that you’re more informed about the historic region that is Costa Brava, you can plan educational and scenic day trips from your gorgeous rental villa in Costa Brava and leave with a new appreciation for Catalonia.


What to do in Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar is one of the most popular destinations for people booking a holiday in Spain, and it’s easy to see why. As one of the best coastal resorts in Catalonia, this former fishing town thrives on tourism and features a number of beaches, seafront activities, and watersports centres to entertain visitors.

But what if the beach isn’t really your thing? What if you want a vacation in Spain that’s less about the sunbathing, and more about Catalan history and culture? Is Tossa de Mar still a good choice? Yes!

There’s so much more to Tossa de Mar than just the beach. Here are a few of the town’s attractions:

12th-Century History

In the 1100s, Tossa de Mar became a walled city, and parts of this historic wall still remain today. A section of the wall is open to pedestrians and offers breathtaking views in every direction as it weaves around the edge of the town. Remember: it’s old, and some of the terrain can be quite uneven in certain places.

Hollywood Glamour

Think there’s only good film locations in Barcelona? Think again! The 1951 British drama Pandora and the Flying Dutchman starring Ava Gardner was filmed in Tossa de Mar! The castle and beach areas look just the same today, although the overall landscape has certainly changed during the past 60 years!

Museums

The town’s main museum is the Municipal Museum, and it’s a great place to learn more about the history of Tossa de Mar. It is located in the Old Town and is home to everything from painting and mosaics to glass works and sculptures. It’s compact, but only costs a few euros to enter.

Roman Ruins

If you’re interested in seeing what a villa on the Costa Brava used to look like, then be sure to visit the Roman Villa of Ametllers. Discovered in 1914, the ruins are believed to date from somewhere prior to the 6th century. This villa in Spain tells us a great deal about Roman-Mediterranean farming of the time.

 

 

 

 


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.

balcony-close-up

 

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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