Catalonia’s Volcanoes

Catalonia’s Volcanoes

When you think about Catalonia, what comes to mind? Sightseeing vacations in Barcelona, enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city? Luxury villas with private pool on the Costa Brava? How about… volcanoes? While we often think of Catalonia as being a very coastal and seaside-y place, it’s important not to forget about the region’s other side; the side that’s a bit wild, a bit unkempt, and very, very unpredictable!

Volcanoes in Catalonia

It is understood that there were once around 30 volcanoes in and around the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, but today there are just 4 which remain visually identifiable as volcanoes, with the rest having been absorbed into the local woodland. Book a Catalonia vacation rental in the small town of Olot for a chance to see the volcanoes — Montolivet, Montsacopa, Garrinada, and Bisaroques — in person.

A Symbol of Catalonia

Of these 4 volcanoes, Montsacopa tends to be the most popular amongst visitors on holiday in Spain. That’s because this volcano is one of the best preserved in the region, with the classic cone and crater structure. There are numerous hiking and biking trails all across the volcano — and the other local volcanoes — but don’t worry; there hasn’t been any volcanic activity here for around 12,000 years!

Volcanic Weather

Due to the many volcanoes and mountains in the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park area, the weather here isn’t quite stereotypical for Spain. It tends to be very hot, very wet, and incredibly humid, which can make it a little uncomfortable for some people. If you want to learn more about Catalonia’s volcanoes without hiking them in the heat, why not visit the Museum of the Volcanoes in Olot? This is a great place to understand more about volcanic activity, and how it has affected the flora and fauna of the region.


Cycling in Catalonia

If your idea of the perfect holiday involves more than lounging around your rented villa with pool in the Costa Brava, then you will be pleased to know there are some exceptional cycle routes in the area too. From the city of Girona to rural villages and coastal cycle paths, there are perfect tours for cyclists and mountain bikers, and beginners to seasoned riders. 

There are kilometres of old railway tracks and greenways awaiting, allowing you to participate in a healthy and exciting family activity. Take a backpack with a picnic or enjoy a tapas lunch in one of the charming villages en-route, you will see more of the picturesque Catalan countryside than you could ever imagine – especially if you are usually the designated driver. In addition to an abundance of fresh, clean air you can enjoy kilometres of lush, green countryside, natural parks, rugged coastline and medieval hilltop villages.

Plan your route accordingly, if you are an experienced cyclist but your travelling party only indulge once or twice a year, choose a route which is suitable for everyone. The terrain needs to be taken into account as well, flat cycle paths are great if you are touring with children, with plenty of stop off points for a beverage and a bite to eat on the way.

If mountain biking is more your thing, leave your Costa Brava vacation rental and head for the Girona Pyrenees area, there are spectacular natural parks, quaint mountain towns, you can also indulge in some downhill biking. Follow the B roads which link the towns of Girona and head off on your merry journey.

If you didn’t arrive at your family villa in Spain by car there are plenty of areas locally where you can cycle along the coastline, and there are places where you can hire bicycles for all the family. Check before you arrive so that you can plan your routes and discover the best that Catalonia has to offer cyclists.


4 Awesome Places in Barcelona for Tapas

Tapas are one of the staples of Spain. They aren’t a specific food, but rather a small portion of many different kinds of foods – almost like samplers. But many people, tourists and locals alike, enjoy tapa hops, which is like bar hopping (and often does include alcohol), where you head to different bars and restaurants to try a variety of tapas. Some of these may even be near your holiday rental. To help you on your tapa journey, here are four awesome places where you can find delicious tapas in Barcelona!

1. Guru Bcn Food & Cocktails

This Asian-style restaurant and bar may be dimly lit, but it is still warm and welcoming and makes a perfect stop for your tapa hop. You’ll find Guru Bcn Food & Cocktails in the Gothic Quarter of Old Barcelona. Expect Mediterranean flavors from these tapas, and make sure you grab a delicious cocktail or two as well! Whatever you order, it is certain to be delicious and an amazing gastronomic experience.

2. Palosanto

The tapas at Palosanto are from a variety of European cuisines, so expect a unique experience each time you go. This adorable rustic and French-country-style café makes another excellent stop on your tapa tour. The staff is friendly, the sangria delicious, and every dish a tasty work of art. It is a small place so you may want to make a reservation, but it is well worth the wait!

3. 9 Nine

If you want great, meaty tapas look no further than 9 Nine, which is a steakhouse and also includes Mediterranean and International cuisines. Every dish is served with flair and pizzazz. The interior is elegant and modern with a wall of wine. Make sure you get a glass of wine or two to go with your delicious tapas! You may also want a lemon sorbet to clear your palate before moving on to your next tapa stop.

4. Sensi Bistro Barcelona

A rustic yet bright and fun Spanish café awaits at Sensi Bistro Barcelona. Spanish, Mediterranean, and European cuisine make up the menu and the restaurant can be found in the Gothic Quarter of Old Barcelona. The best tapas are the truffle ravioli, so don’t miss out! Their dessert and wine are excellent as well.

We hope you enjoy your tapa hop! Get a taste for Spain and a feel for the culture as you try all new experiences, like your rental villa or apartment that makes you feel right at home!


Have you heard of Tossa del Mar?

Although it may not be the largest town on the Costa Brava coastline, Tossa del Mar is arguably one of the most majestic and impressive. Not only is it home to three beautiful beaches, but it also has a dominating castle, quaint old town and an altogether relaxed vibe.

The town centre is bustling and vibrant, with friendly bars and plenty of shops selling souvenirs. The restaurants cater for all ages and tastes, and there is always room to sunbathe on one of the beaches. If you are looking to get out of your villa with a private pool on the Costa Brava for a bit, look no further than these activities.

Explore the old town

The old town is known as Vila Vella, and is the only fully surviving Medieval fortified town in along the coast of Costa Brava. Plus, it boasts stunning views of the sea below. Stepping through the walls you will find yourself in a maze of cobbled alleys, with many bars and restaurants to enjoy.

Castillo de Tossa del mar

The castle that stands perched on the hill is the town’s most impressive feature. You will need to climb a winding path to reach the summit, but when you do you will be rewarded with some beautiful views of the beaches and town. If you don’t fancy the climb, you can always hop on the little land train to take you to the top.

Dog walking

Located just a short walk outside of the town lies the Tossa del Mar animal shelter, and you will certainly hear when you are getting close thanks to the chorus of barking! The shelter is always looked for people to help walk their pooches, and the surrounding area is a great place to go for a stroll with a rescued dog by your side.

Water sports

Although Tossa del Mar is a sleepy little town most of the time, it certainly has its fair share of water sports. Adrenaline seekers can hop on the back of a banana boat, while those that fancy something a little more relaxing can hire a kayak or take to the water on a glass bottom boat.


Blanes Botanical Gardens!

Blanes is Home to arguably one of the best botanical gardens in Europe. If you have a Spain holiday rental around the Blanes area then this is definitely something that can’t be missed.
Marimurtra Botanical Garden

The garden itself is perched on a mountain top, therefore offers spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea. It was first created in 1920 by the German businessman Carl Faust, and since then has expanded greatly. Overall the gardens cover around 15 hectares with over 4000 different plant species for you to enjoy. Faust decided to dedicate much of the plant life to Mediterranean and sub-tropical flora, as well as a range of cacti, plants endemic to Catalonia, and beautiful plants from regions of central and southern America.

If you rent a villa in Costa Brava in the town itself, it is possible to walk to the attraction, with the gardens located just 1.5km from the city centre. It is open every day and charges just a small entrance fee. Once you are there you should be prepared to do a little bit of climbing, as due to its location there is a lot of steep slopes and long flight of steps that lead up to the Linnaeus temple.

Many people choose to combine their visit to the gardens with exploring the coves below, before retiring back to their vacation villa in Spain ready for a nice long siesta!

Pinya De Rosa

Pinya De Rosa is the second botanical garden in Blanes, and has officially been declared a de interes nacional. Covering around 50 acres, it contains over 7000 tropical species of plants such as cactuses, palm trees and aloe vera plants. These gardens are perfect if you are visiting off season due to their staggered flowering throughout there year, so there will always be something to see.

Again these gardens are open all day every day for just a small fee, plus if you are driving from your catalonia holiday rental, there is free parking available.


Things to do on a rainy day in Majorca!

Although renting a villa in Spain will get you on average around 300 sunny days, there will be that odd time when it rains. If you have a Mallorca holiday rental, you shouldn’t let this get you down, take a break from the beaches for the day and see what else the island has to offer.
• Visit the caves – Mallorca is home to several large caves, the biggest and most well-known of these are the Coves del Drach, which features huge chambers and even an underground lake. Every day the cave is host to a concert of classical music which is performed by musicians on a lit up boat, which proves to be quite a magical experience. Other caves include the Coves de Campaner of Coves de Arta.
• Spa Trips- Although you can get a villa with a private pool in Spain, there is nothing better than indulging yourself at one of the many spas, many of which offer hydropools, jacuzzies, saunas, indoor pools and a range of treatments. Rent a villa in Majorca in Pollensa or Son Brull to get treatments using only natural products.
• Visit Historic Buildings- There a huge range of historic buildings that are scattered across the whole of the island. The many castles, monasteries, palaces and estates reveal Mallorca’s fascinating past.
• Shop until you drop- If you have a Mallorca holiday rental in Palma, then you have a range local and international shops right on your doorstep. Alternatively head to Fan Mallorca, the island’s biggest shopping centre that is located just 5km from the capital.
• The pearl factory- Mallorca is famous for its artificial pearls, and you can find the Majorca Factory Shop located in Manacor. You will be treated to a guided tour which will show you the production process, view the exhibition space and then get taken to the gift shop where you can buy a souvenir to take back to your Mallorca holiday rental.
• Wine tasting- Just because the sun isn’t shining, it doesn’t mean that you can’t taste some of the delicious local wines on offer. Why not enjoy a guided your of Bodega followed by some wine and tapas.


5 Restaurants in Barcelona that Offer Local Cuisine!

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Barcelona is not just a beautiful city with hundreds of things to do. When you’re ready to take a break from your beautiful rental villa, why not check out these five restaurants that offer cuisine local to Barcelona, so you can truly get a taste of what this city has to offer?

1. Cera 23

If you’re looking for a place to find amazing tapas or to go on a special occasion, Cera 23 is the place for you. The restaurant is intimate, elegant, and relaxing, and the staff is friendly and inviting. Though the menu is small, each dish is made with care. Delicious flavors, unique presentation, amazing cocktails, and delicious desserts await you at Cera 23.

2. El Xampanyet

El Xampanyet offers a unique dining experience in Barcelona with a delicious food bar. Just go up to the counter and order what looks good to you! They do, of course, also have a drink bar with nice cold beer and cocktails. The restaurant is a bit tight and cozy, but friendly and vibrant. If you want to be around people, this is the place to be.

3. Tosca Palau

A traditional restaurant with plenty to offer, Tosca Palau’s menu is large enough that you are certain to find something for everyone. If you want tapas and wine, you’ll want to head to this restaurant. With friendly staff, large open windows, and a great atmosphere, Tosca Palau’s makes a great stop before you venture on to your nighttime activities.

4. La Cova Fumada

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Looking for an authentic Spanish dining experience? Look no further than La Cova Fumada. You will be seated with other diners, so you can get to know the local people or other tourists. The cuisine is like eating a family recipe passed down from generation to generation. Each dish is amazing and you’ll want to try more than one. They have plenty to offer, including alcoholic beverages, and you definitely will not be disappointed.

5. La Peninsular

Craving seafood? La Peninsular is certain to satisfy your craving! They offer some of the best and most authentic Spanish seafood dishes in Barcelona. Their restaurant is fun, family-friendly, and casual.
We hope you enjoyed the local cuisine that Barcelona has to offer! Now you can return to your amazing vacation rental, or continue on with your night (or afternoon) in this awesome city!


Film Locations in Barcelona & Surrounding Areas

You don’t need to travel to Hollywood to see some famous TV and movie locations with your own eyes. Barcelona is actually one of the most filmed destinations in the world thanks to its sunny weather, great lighting, and, of course, it’s fascinating architecture. Filming in Barcelona is also relatively easy, with a range of permits on offer enabling filming at some of the city’s most notable sights, including thoroughfares, municipal markets, cemeteries, and a number of parks, gardens, and beach locations.

Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona showed off some spectacular Spanish properties (which left many viewers wanting to buy a home in Spain!), but it is, perhaps, most well known for the sightseeing scenes at Sagrada Familia and Casa Mila. These are two top film locations in Barcelona, and are very easy to visit during your trip. Sagrada Familia is famous for its unfinished facade, while Casa Mila is well worth visiting for its highly unusual blend of geometric design and asymmetrical twists: another Gaudi masterpiece!

If you’re a lover of older cinema, you may be surprised by how much Catalonia has changed in recent years. The Passenger, a Jack Nicholson film released in 1975, shows a much darker side to Barcelona than we’d see if we were to visit today. Gone is the unkempt, sparse, almost seedy Las Ramblas from the film, replaced with a much brighter, airier, and cosmopolitan street that’s fast become one of the city’s top places for shopping, eating, and drinking. Barcelona has evolved significantly within the past 30 years!

Recently, filming in Barcelona has enjoyed a new surge, and Catalonia has hit the headlines for featuring in what is arguably one of the hottest shows of the century: George R.R. Martin’s Games of Thrones. It comes as no surprise, really, as Catalonia is filled with historic castles, stunning nature, and cobbled medieval villages that look just like the fairytale kingdoms of Westeros. If you fancy laying your eyes on a Game of Thrones filming location, head to Girona, where the cast have been spotted hanging out!


Football Fever in Barcelona

Four years have flown by, and suddenly football Fever is upon us again with the arrival of the World Cup. No matter where people are on the earth, there will be people frantically searching for that ultimate place to watch the game, one that not only has big screens, but also a fantastic atmosphere. If you have a Barcelona holiday rental while the world cup is on, then fear not, there are plenty of places where you can catch a match.

CocoVail Beer Hall

This venue not only offers 6 flat screen TVs to capture the action, but also surround sound, resulting in an electric atmosphere. There are 24 craft beer taps, and plenty of delicious food, plus they do some great food and drinks deal for larger groups to get in the mood.

Belushi’s Bar

This bar is a favourite not only for travellers, but also for locals who want to watch live sports. There are over 10 TVs, plus a projector, so no matter where you sit, you are sure to have a great view. During the World Cup the bar is running some great promotions, or you can book a World Cup package in advance.

Wild Rover

If your vacation villa in Barcelona is near Last Ramblas, then this classically Irish pub is perfect. Every single match is screened on 2 projectors and 6 large TVs, all but the Spanish matches with English commentary.

Shenanigans

Although still located in the heart of the city, this bar is a little less well known for tourists, which means that you are much more likely to find a seat and be able to watch your match in ultimate comfort. There are 5 TVs, 20 different types of bear and a delicious food menu, its likely this bar will not stay hidden for much longer!


June events in Barcelona

June is the month when Barcelona really starts to come alive for the summer with a huge range of events and celebrations to kick off the season. Booking a family villa in Barcelona just before the mass of summer tourists flock in is a wise move as the city exudes a festive atmosphere and gorgeous weather.

Sant Joan

On the June 23, Barcelona residents celebrate the festival of Sant Joan. On the night itself the street lights up with a huge display of fireworks and bonfires all over the city, but especially on the beaches. It is not unusual for these displays to last until the early hours of the following morning. You can enjoy the spectacle from the comfort of your Barcelona accommodation while sampling a glass of cava and piles of coca, a type of seasonal bread that is topped with candied fruits.

Pride Barcelona

One of the most colorful events on the Barcelona events calendar is the Pride Festival, a 10-day festival where Barcelona shows its gay pride. You can find parties, concerts, and more, all topped off with a spectacular parade.

Sonar

This three-day international music festival is a must-see for anyone who loves electronic music and contemporary arts. The festival is celebrating its 25th year and the days include record fairs, art displays, exhibitions, and conferences, while at night concerts and DJs perform at multiple venues just outside the city.

Musica als Parcs

Another great reason to have a Barcelona vacation rental in June is the free al-fresco concerts that run throughout the summer in some of the city’s main parks. There’s jazz, various classical music, and bands, so pack a picnic and enjoy a few blissful hours under the sun.

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