Spain’s Catalonia region is famous for its centuries of history and is home to some of the best-preserved Medieval towns and villages in the world. If you’re interested in delving back even further into the region’s history to learn more about the Greek and Roman eras during your holiday in Spain, check out some of Catalonia’s ancient ruins. From historic walled remains to first-century racecourses, the Catalonia region has plenty to uncover. Here are three of the region’s best-preserved ancient ruins that are open to the public.
The old town of Empúries was founded in 575 BC by the Greeks, although the town was eventually taken over by the Romans. Excavations on the town began in the 1900s, and today it’s possible to see old homes, temples, walls, and mosaics, and there’s even the Museum of MAC-Empúries which provides stories behind the ruins. However, the highlights are the gardens, where you can learn more about traditional Roman medicine, and the underground crypt, which has only recently opened to the public. Book a Costa Brava vacation rental to stay near to Empúries. If you enjoy pleasant strolls, then stay in L’Escala and take the pedestrianized coastal path right along the water to the town.
Built in the second century, the Tarragona Amphitheatre is one of the main attractions in this old town, which was once a thriving Roman colony known as Tarraco. Taking on a traditional Colosseum appearance, it is believed that the amphitheatre could once hold up to 15,000 spectators at a time, making it one of the largest in Europe. When Islam arrived and Catholicism dwindled as the primary religion in Spain, the amphitheatre was abandoned, and over the years it has housed a church and has been used as a prison. Luckily for those taking a vacation in Spain, the theatre was somewhat recovered in recent years, and today is a remarkably well-preserved site.
Another great location in Tarragona is Circ Roma, or the Roman Circus. Built in the first century, this was the place to see and be seen, and played a major role in the world of leisure during Roman rule. Somewhat of an ancient alternative to the modern Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the Roman Circus was the best place in Catalonia to watch fast-action chariot races. Perhaps one of Catalonia’s best preserved ruins, remaining inscriptions have led experts to believe that the racetrack remained in use until the fifth century, when it was abandoned. A part of the track is still very much intact, making it an amazing place to explore. Tarragona is easy to reach from most villas on the Costa Dorada, but it’s also just a one-hour drive from Barcelona, too, making it a top choice for a day trip during your Barcelona holiday.
If you love taking part in local events, then where is the best place to take a holiday in Spain? Many people would book a villa in Barcelona for events such as the Barcelona Carnival and La Mercè, but there’s actually another popular destination that’s giving Barcelona a run for its money: Tarragona.
Tarragona holds a number of annual festivals that really are great fun! See below for just a few.
Like Breda, Dresden, and Miskolc, Tarragona also hosts its own Dixieland festival, dedicated to classic, New Orleans-style jazz. The city has been hosting the events since 1994, with festivities taking place annually during the weekend before Easter. Keep in mind that the music carries on well into the night, so if you book a Spain villa near to any of the venues, such as the Premium Music Club or the Bar del Teatre Metropol, you may want to pack some earplugs in your luggage if you’re an ‘early-to-bed’ kind of person!
The Tarragona International Fireworks competition is one not to be missed! Usually taking place at the end of June, the world’s most talented fireworks designers and routine coordinators gather in the city to show the world just how it’s done. The main festivities take place on Playa del Miracle Beach, but the real beauty of this festival is that the fireworks can be seen from anywhere; from a local restaurant, from your luxury vacation rental in Spain, or from practically anywhere else in the city and surrounding areas.
The Santa Tecla festival in Tarragona lasts for a whopping 10 days, and there’s always something new to see and enjoy. The festivals typically includes movies, sports events, parties, music, and dance, but it is most famous for its human towers which are truly a sight to behold. Santa Tecla is one of just two Catalonia festivals that have been given declarations by the Spanish Government. The festival is considered to be of national and tourism interest, and is one of the hottest events in the calendar.
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.
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!
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!
While on holiday with family and friends, children can get restless, and sometimes the beach isn’t enough to compete with their tireless spirits. Parents, you are in luck! We are providing a list of activities that both children and the adults can enjoy together. It is like watching one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Amusement Parks are obvious entertainment options that offer kilometers of thrilling attractions. One of the notable amusement parks in Catalonia is PortAventura. This adventure park in Salou, Costa Dorada, is both a theme park and a water park, all in one. At the Costa Caribe Aquatic Park inPortAventura, you can go water rafting, slip and slide downs water slides, or spend the day lounging by the water. Its one-hour distance from Barcelona makes it an accessible day trip destination.
If you´re keen to explore other water parks to keep cool under the Spanish sun, you might consider Aquopolis Costa Dorada or Water Worldin Lloret de Mar. Both parks have various rides and attractions for all ages and offer ultimate refreshment during the hot summer days.
Lovers of the outdoors will enjoy Arbre Aventura Park and Gnomo Park. For children with adventurous spirits, Arbre Aventura Park has zip lines, suspension bridges, balance logs, and networks connecting between trees to challenge your athleticism. Gnomo Park is a movie-themed park set in a pine forest with obstacle courses, indoor playgrounds, and even film screenings.
For calmer days, the city of Barcelona has abundant attractions that will bring out children´s curiosity and wonderment.
The Barcelona Aquarium and the Barcelona Zoo are perfect for exploring and snapping photos with the animals. Those with a sweet tooth and imaginative spirit will delight in the Chocolate Museum. If the history of chocolate is not educational enough for you, there is also CosmoCaixa Barcelona, a hands-on science museum that features exhibits like the “Flooded Forest” and the “Room of Matter.
Regardless of what you choose to do, take advantage of this precious time with your family as you create memories that will last a lifetime!