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.


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!


Attention shop-a-holics: Barcelona’s best shopping!

One of the must-do´s when you travel, especially on a Barcelona holiday, is to check out the local shopping scene. That being said, there are many tourist-oriented shops that tend to be rather overpriced, gaudy, and incredibly generic. We know that on your Barcelona vacation, you want to have the most authentic shopping experience possible, so we´ve put together a great list of some of the best shops in Barcelona, organized by neighborhood. Be sure to check them out soon though, because due to the rising cost of rent, 2015 may be the last year that these gems stay open for business!

There are plenty of neighborhoods in the city of Barcelona that are worth exploring. In the old city (Ciutat Vella), La Boqueria–one of the most amazing food markets in the world–is located just off the busy thoroughfare of La Rambla. At the open-air market, food lovers can unite and enjoy some of the freshest Spanish foods available. Just across La Rambla is the old and beautiful neighborhood of Barri Gótic where there are plenty of interesting and one-of-a-kind boutiques in Barri Gótic. Cereria Subirá is a 250-year-old candle shop that has truly stood the test of time.

La Boqueria
La Boqueria

If you´re a music lover, El Raval is your dream neighborhood come true. The area on the south side of La Rambla is full of local music shops, but the biggest one is Discos Castelló, which is filled to the brim with some of the world´s best vinyl. If you feel like pampering yourself, Les Topettes has the finest bath and body products.

La Ribera used to be a textile district, but now it is home to artisan boutiques that make their products on an upstairs mezzanine, ensuring the utmost authenticity.

If you happen to be near the beach, you´ll be sure to find some treasures in the crafts market in Port Vell in Barceloneta!

Passeig de Gracia
Passeig de Gracia

If you want the ultimate luxury experience, L´Eixample has the higher-end retail, such as Armani, Chanel, and Gucci. Even futher into the neighborhood of Grácia, you can find incredibly unique clothing stores such as Érase Una Vez, and Mushi Mushi among many other local boutiques.

There are countless stores that are worth visiting during your Barcelona holiday, but unfortunately, they won´t be around forever. Take this chance and check them out while you still can!

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