All about the Costa Dorada

Located in the Province of Tarragona and stretching all the way between the towns of Cunit and Alcanar, the Costa Dorada is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The Costa Dorada includes notable destinations such as Salou, Cambrils, and L’Ampolla, making it a top holiday destination in Spain.

The Golden Coast

‘Costa Dorada’ translates as ‘Golden Coast’ because the area is well known for its expanse of golden sands. There are heaps of great beaches along the Costa Dorada, including Cunit Beach, Tarragona Beach, and La Pineda Beach, and many people book a Costa Dorada vacation rental overlooking the shores. The region of L’Ametlla de Mar is even commonly referred to by its nickname — ‘La Cala’, or ‘The Beach’.

Where to Rent a Villa on the Costa Dorada

Despite the region’s name, there’s actually more to the Costa Dorada than just the beaches; the area is much more diverse than it gets credit for! Here’s a glimpse into the very best destinations:

Calafell

This is the place to go for a stunning villa with private pool on the Costa Dorada. It’s very much your typical beachfront town, with great swimming, sunbathing, and relaxation opportunities nearby.

Ametlla

If you don’t fancy cooking anything up in your Costa Dorada holiday rental, then consider Ametlla. As a popular fishing town, Ametlla has some of the very best seafood restaurants in all of Catalonia!

Cunit / Vila-Seca

These two small towns located on the Costa Dorada are bursting with history and culture, and still maintain some old architecture and ruins that can be traced back to Catalonia’s first settlers.

Tarragona

If you’ve enjoyed a holiday in Barcelona in the past, then you’ll love Tarragona. Although a little quieter than Barcelona, there’s still a busy, bustling city atmosphere here with shops, bars, and activities.

Salou

Salou is home to one of Europe’s most famous theme parks: Port Aventura (and now Ferrari Land, too!). If you’re travelling to Spain with kids, then a Salou villa on the Costa Dorada is the perfect choice.

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A guide to Barcelona’s beaches

For such a compact city, Barcelona has a plethora of beaches — 10 in fact! The good news is that there’s really no need to pick just one. Barcelona is a very walkable city, so no matter where your Barcelona holiday rental is located, you should be able to make it to a few different beaches during your trip. See below for the best beaches in Barcelona that you can’t afford to miss out on!

 

Somorrostro. If you’re staying in a Barcelona villa near the city, this beach is one of the most convenient. This is a great ‘all round’ beach, and it’s especially good for kids thanks to the Beach Centre educational facility, which organises all sorts of activities during the summer.

Mar Bella. This beach is located a little out of the city centre towards Sant Marti, and it’s one of the only beaches with a designated nudist area. Although primarily suitable for adults, children are welcomed at the Bac de Roda end of the beach, where there’s a playground.

Sant Sebastià. At 660 metres in length, this is one of Barcelona’s longest beaches, ideal for those wanting to take a stroll along the golden sands. It’s a firm favourite of the locals, but visitors are welcome to enjoy the bathing areas and playgrounds, or simply chill out on a lounger.

 

 

Why Visit a Barcelona Beach?

From swimming to sunbathing, and everything in between, Barcelona’s sands offer visitors that classic beach experience. Many of Barcelona’s beaches also have chiringuitos (beach bars), which you may also hear referred to by the Catalan name; guingueta. The beaches are a place to relax, unwind, have fun, keep fit, socialise, and enjoy some traditional Spanish refreshments. What more could you ask for?

Considerations

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve booked a big family villa in Barcelona for the summer, or you’ve decided on a winter Spain holiday, Barcelona’s beaches are lovely all year round. However, just keep in mind that if you’re visiting outside of the main summer season, some beach facilities may be closed.

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Summer festivals in Catalonia

The Catalans love their festivals! They fully immerse themselves in the wonderful spectacles, firework displays, street parades and party atmosphere. Many famous festivals such as Easter parades, town fiestas, Saints´ days, and flower displays can be enjoyed all over Spain. Specifically, the region of Catalonia has its own incredible festivals held throughout the year. Here are a few dates to put on your calendar to ensure you reserve your vacation rental in Spain and don’t miss any of the fun!

 

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JUNE

In the coastal resort town of L’Estartit you can enjoy a wonderful Catalan folk music and Sardana dancing festival held between the 15th and 17th of June. It’s a wonderful way to experience the local music and dancing as all the residents take to the streets to enjoy the party atmosphere.

Also held around the 23rd June in all major towns and villages on the coast is the festival of Sant Joan, a summer solstice celebration where bonfires are lit on the beaches and in town squares, firework displays go off over the sea, and music echoes through ancient streets all through the night.

JULY

One of the most popular festivals you shouldn’t omit when visiting Catalonia is the Habanera. Named after a genre of music brought back from the Caribbean by sailors from the region, these are traditional fisherman songs which are sung in the Costa Brava villages. Every first weekend in July ,the Habanera comes to life in the pretty village of Calella de Palafrugell. Fisherman sail into the picturesque bay on their boats singing sea shanties – a warming drink of cremat (rum set alight) is offered on their arrival to the shore.

The evenings are spent on the sandy beaches and in local bodegas, dim lights illuminating the boats as they continue to sail into the cove. Songs are sung and visitors are more than welcome.

 

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AUGUST

If you are staying in the region during the month of August, head to see the Habaneras at Portbou, Sa Riera and other areas along the Costa Brava. In L’Escala during the last weekend of August you can enjoy the Festival of Giants – men and women dressed as giants parade the streets in a weekend full of fun and laughter.

SEPTEMBER

The myriad of festivals continue into September. Take a trip to Begur where the Indianos Colonial Fair occurs. During the 1800s many people of Begur began a pilgrimage to the new world to seek their fortune. Many townsfolk remained there building business and colonial mansions where they settled with their families. This festival celebrates the town’s ancestry connection with the Caribbean island of Cuba and the people who left from Begur to experience a different slice of life.

In the beautiful coastal town of Cadaques you can enjoy the summer festival, Catalan folk dancing, music, activities and games for children and plenty of firework displays.
The Catalan National Holiday is held on the 11th of the month in most towns and villages across all of Catalonia. The date commemorates the end of the siege of Barcelona by the Spanish.

If you are planning on reserving a Costa Brava vacation rental, this summer these are just a few of the local events you won’t want to miss.


Cool off in Catalonia´s best water parks

Catalonia, Spain is famous for being family friendly, and their many water parks are no exception. A plethora of attractions await from dolphinariums (dolphin aquariums) to swimming pools and kamikaze water slides.  If you are renting a villa with private pool on the Costa Brava or you are staying in a Costa Dorada vacation rental you have many options when it comes to finding a water park to visit in your area. Here is a short guide to the water parks within traveling distance from your villa in Spain.

 

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Costa Brava
Marineland Catalunya
Marineland Catalunya is one of the most popular water parks on the Costa Brava. Located in Palafolls near the seaside resort of Malgrat de Mar, Marineland will keep all of the children (and adults) entertained throughout the day. There is a free shuttle bus which runs from the popular towns of Lloret de Mar, Blanes, Malgrat de Mar, Santa Susana, Pineda and Calella. Expect to see exciting dolphin shows, a myriad of exotic birds, sea lions and a wide selection of water slides and wave pools. If you have a child celebrating a birthday during your trip, let the park know in advance and the park entertainers will organise something special for the birthday boy or girl!

AquaBrava
The AquaBrava waterpark is located in Roses in the northern Costa Brava, while Marineland caters for the south of the area, Aquabrava is perfectly located to visit if you are staying near L’Estartit, Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell. The park hosts 19 amazing rides with wild rivers, relaxation pools and twisting, undulating water slides. Their newest attraction is the Cobra water ride, which will take your breath away! For younger children there is also Tropic Island and Kids Lagoon, perfect for the toddlers in your family.

Costa Maresme
Illa Fantasia
Illa Fantasia is a vibrant water park set on the Costa Maresme, approximately one hour north of Barcelona by train. With more than 20 water slides and three huge swimming pools, you will find many places to chill out and cool down during the hot summer days. Adults can lounge in the sun or under a shady canopy as the kids hit the water slides. The park´s picnic areas make it easy to bring your own food prepared in your Barcelona holiday rental, so there is no need for any additional expense. There is also a supermarket right next to the park if you wanted to shop for some essentials just before you enter the park.

Costa Dorada
Aquopolis
Aquopolis is located in La Pineda near Tarragona, and you can travel here from Cambrils, Salou and Sitges via bus. If you seek high excitement check out the Hurricane, Boomerang and the Black Hole which is a wild water slide in the dark! If you have a competitive streak, challenge the family to a speed race where you can all compete against each other on the water slides. There are also many relaxing wave pools and river rapids to enjoy together. The children’s mini park caters for the tiny tots, too.

With the plethora of water parks located up and down the coastline in Spain, you will definitely find one close to your Spain vacation rental!


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!


More than just a beach: Barcelona’s best July festivals!

Think summer in Barcelona means only sun and beaches? Think again! Barcelona has much more to offer in than just sand and salty turquoise water. A plethora of unmatched music festivals, an open-air cinema, a start-up fair, a motorcycle festival, and even a tap-dancing festival take place in the Mediterranean city come July.

The vast selection of music festivals held in Barcelona is sure to strike a chord with almost anyone. The shows range from rock and reggae to hip hop and electronic, drawing crowds from all over Europe, and even the world! From mid-July to mid-August, the Cap Roig Festival in the province of Girona features more than 20 national and international musical artists including Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, and Sting.

Festa Major Gracia
Street festival in Barcelona

Festival Cruïlla is another massive music festival from July 10 to July 12 that caters to all musical tastes: reggae, hip hop, punk rock, electronic, you name it! It certainly takes the gold medal for the most well-rounded music festival in Barcelona.

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Hard Rock Rising Barcelona will take over the city on July 24 and 25, and will feature more mainstream acts including Kings of Leon, Robbie Williams, and Lenny Kravitz.

If you’re searching for more than just music, there are plenty of cultural festivals including Festival Grec (throughout the month of July) and Festival Castell de Peralada (July 10–August 6). There are even some themed festivals that cater to a passionate niche crowd: Harley Davidson hosts The Harley Days the first weekend of July that occupies Plaça d´Espaya, and it´s open to the public for free!

If you’re searching for a more relaxing way to unwind in this exciting city, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evening from July 3–August 7, the castle atop Montjuïc opens its gardens and hosts a cinema night, setting the perfect scene for a peaceful family outing.

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This brief list is just a taste of what Barcelona has to offer during the summer month of July. If you’re heading to Catalonia this summer, the opportunities for outdoor enjoyment will not disappoint.


Barcelona’s can’t-miss annual events!

Spending your holiday in Barcelona in this year? Don’t miss out on these exciting events that appeal to every taste.

 

Although this year’s Congress has already passed, next year’s Congress plans to be bigger and better than ever. More than 93,000 attendees descended upon the event that was held at both Plaça Espanya and Montjuic. Exhibits and speakers from companies like Accenture, Lenovo, and IBM informed guests of the latest in the world of mobile communication as well as what is in store for the future. You must see these 7 wonders of the world.

 

The race begins and ends just below the picturesque Montjuic Park, a hillside park that overlooks the city and the Mediterranean Sea. The course takes runners past Barcelona’s most famous sights including Camp Nou (FC Barcelona’s football stadium), Gaudi’s masterpiece La Sagrada Familia, and the boardwalk of the Mediterranean beaches.

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La Playa Barceloneta

On the heels of the Festival of Sant Joan is Barcelona’s Gay Pride festival that spans multiple days and features a parade, a high-heel race, parties, and concerts.

 

Located approximately 30 minutes outside of the city of Barcelona, the Circuit de Catalunya is abuzz during this annual event that attracts Formula 1 fans from all over the world.

 

Since 1994, Sonar has brought together music and technology, performed by international musicians, DJs, and other artists for an audiovisual experience like no other.

 

The Strokes, Tori Amos, and Damien Rice are just a few musical acts who will be appearing at this multi-day music festival in Barcelona.

 

The shortest night of the year is one of the most colorful and exciting in Barcelona. The ‘Nit del Foc’ (Catalan for ‘Night of Fire’)  kicks off the summer season in the Catalan capital. Residents and tourists head to the beaches where all-night fireworks light up the sky over the Mediterranean and musicians play along the boardwalk.

 

During this multi-day, mid-summer festival, the streets of the Barcelona neighborhood known as Gràcia fill with pedestrians who admire live music and the street decorations contest put on by local businesses. All decorations are made from recyclable materials, and the results are truly incredible!

Festa Major Gracia
Festa Major Gracia

Barcelona’s last festival of the summer kicks off a new season with more than 500 events and activities including parades, street concerts and performers, and the Fire Festival complete with fireworks and a ‘Fire Run.’


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!


More than a holiday home: Private home rentals for your corporate needs

Renting a home for your family holiday is a growing trend as the evidentiary benefits of private rentals outweigh cumbersome and expensive hotel stays. However, another reason for renting private homes is swiftly gaining popularity: corporate long-term stays.

Corporate extended-stay rentals are on the rise as companies learn about the advantages of cheaper and more convenient lodging options for their staff events or relocating employees.

 

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Corporate housing allows you to feel more comfortable during your retreats with the options to prepare your own home-cooked meals, save money on dining out at expensive restaurants, and even bring along the family if the stay needs to be extended.

Rather than crowd into one room with your colleagues, spread out into separate bedrooms—maybe even with your own bathroom!—for privacy if you have pressing assignments.

Avoiding large hotel chains takes away the stress of booking and organizing, dealing with impersonal staff who are responsible for thousands of reservations, and having to rely on predetermined times to enjoy your morning coffee or room service. Instead, receive personal and friendly communication from your corporate housing rental agent and work at your own pace with snack and coffee breaks at your leisure.

 

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The remoteness of some of these private homes ensures that you will really get to know the town your are visiting. Hotels like to be located in the middle of tourist heaven, but home stays can put you up close and personal with the real local scene. You’ll have the opportunity to learn what everyday life would be like if you plan to relocate in the future. You may even make some local friends who can help you learn the language or show you the town’s best restaurants!

The next time you’re in charge of reserving housing for your business conference in or near Barcelona, Spain, or if you’re looking for temporary housing while transitioning to a new career, consider contacting Catalunya Casas for an out-of-town stay that feels just like home.


Garriguella

Garriguella

Forty miles (64 kilometers) north of Costa Brava is Garriguella, the perfect place to discover more about the region of Catalonia. Many of Costa Brava’s highlights are near Garriguella, including La Vinyeta and the Sant Pere de Rodes Monastery.

For a tour of the nearby historic sights, be sure to visit the Santa Maria de Castello D’Empuries in Castello d’Empuries. The cultural life and retail therapy of Figueres and Girona are an easy drive from the town.

 

 

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