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.


Finding that perfect souvenir in Mallorca!

Sometimes it is nice to take a little something home with you when you have a great holiday abroad. Not only will it remind you of what amazing memories you made, you can also find some stunning high-quality goods to fall in love with.

Majorca Pearls

Mallorca is known for its pearls, but not those that you would typically find in the sea. The island features a number of top brand pearl manufacturers, such as Orquídea to Majórica, all of which have factory shops located inland. Some of the shops will even have their factories open, so you can go and see the pearls being made before heading to the shop.

Traditional Sausages

If you are a foodie, you should not leave the island before snapping up some traditional Mallorcan sausages, which are known locally as ‘Sobrasada’. The sausages are made by families across the island, so you shouldn’t have to travel too far from your Mallorca holiday rental to find them. The sausages are cured so should be fine for travel!

Leather Goods

Leather goods are world famous in Mallorca, with many leather outlets scattered across the island. You will be able to find some high quality good such as jackets, belts and hand bags. For some of the best quality products, you should head to Inca, which is located between Alcudia and Palma, and is often dubbed as the ‘city of leather’.

Coloured Pottery

In the Mallorcan region of Marrattxi, which is located around an hour away from Alcudia, you will find an area that has a strong tradition of pottery making. Shopping for this pottery is an experience itself, as spending an afternoon wandering around the area’s quaint markets can be extremely relaxing and interesting. From colourful pots and vases to some more unique items, you are sure to find something you will fall in love with.


The bridges of Catalonia

If you can’t decide whether to take a holiday in a historic destination or stay in a modern environment, why not do both? When you take a holiday in Spain, you’re combining the old and the new, as clearly evidenced by the spectacular bridges of Catalonia. Here are some of the region’s oldest, and newest, crossings.

Besalú Bridge

Catalonia’s Historic Bridges

Besalú Bridge
Believed to have been built sometime between the 11th and 14th centuries, this unusual L-shaped arch bridge crosses the Fluvià river and is one of the most photogenic bridges in all of Spain. This medieval, castle-like bridge looks even more amazing at dusk when it lights up with hundreds of twinkling lights.

Old Bridge of Vilaller

Located in the Province of Lleida, this is a classic three-arch bridge, although only one remains today. Built in the 17th century, two arches collapsed in August 1963, falling into the Noguera Ribagorçana. If you’re wondering why it hasn’t been rebuilt, the bridge is now a protected local cultural heritage site.

Pont del Diable

Also known as ‘Devil’s Bridge’, this unusual arch bridge was constructed in the 13th century at the site of an old Roman structure. The views of the Llobregat running underneath are fantastic, but the real amazement is how the bridge is a massive contrast to the modern flyovers and overpasses of Martorell.

Catalonia’s Modern Bridges

Sant Feliu Bridge
If you rent a villa on the Costa Brava, be sure to check out this modern bridge, built in 1998. While the steel frame isn’t much to look at, it has been nominated for a number of prestigious engineering awards. The bridge connects Sant Feliu Square with Deveda Park, which is one of the best parks in Catalonia.

Sant Feliu Bridge

Sant Boi Bridge
Crossing the high speed railway between Barcelona and Madrid, this bridge is located close to the airport, so you may see it if you stay for a night at the airport before or after your holiday in Barcelona. Measuring 870m in length, this bridge crosses the Llobregat and has an eye catching steel frame.

Vilafant Bridge
If you book a Spain holiday in Girona, it’s well worth taking some time to visit Vilafant and its bridge. Constructed in 2011, this is one of the most contemporary bridges in Catalonia, made from stainless steel and incorporating geometric shapes. It crosses the train line between Barcelona and France.


Barcelona: Catalonia’s ‘Smart City’

Catalonia may appear to be a very quiet and historic part of the world ― and it is! ― but it also is one of the most technologically advanced hubs in Europe and is considered to be one of the world’s only ‘smart cities’. Along with destinations such as Amsterdam, Madrid, Manchester, and Stockholm, Barcelona is changing the way we live, work, and take holidays.

Image from barcinno.com.

What is a Smart City?

A smart city is a city that makes use of digital technology to improve everyday life for both residents and visitors. At some locations in Barcelona, for example, you may notice that live traffic data is transmitted to road signs to provide drivers with up-to-date, real-time information to help them determine the most efficient route. Another example is in in Stockholm where snow clearance data can be transmitted.

Smart Barcelona

How can technology help visitors have a safe and enjoyable holiday in Barcelona? The city’s ‘smart’ street lamps that illuminate when the sun goes down help improve safety in the city at night, and urban development programmes help make cities like Barcelona a great place to explore and discover.

View from Parc Guell.

Barcelona is home to an impressive fibre network which allows for excellent internet connectivity for residents and visitors, especially in the city. Many villas in Barcelona are able to offer their guests a fast and reliable internet service, although some properties in the rural parts of the region are still working to make the connection as efficient as that in the city, and have made tremendous strides in recent years.

Old & New

Catalonia is a fascinating mix of old and new, combining tradition with the latest technological advancements. This makes it one of the most interesting places to take a holiday in Spain, and allows you to enjoy a touch of history and culture while staying in a very modern and contemporary environment.


This autumn, stop by the Platja D’Aro Beer Festival!

If you’re staying in a villa on the Costa Brava in October, there’s one very important cultural festival that you shouldn’t miss. Although it’s officially known as the Autumn Festival, this big Catalan event has become much better known as the ‘Beer Festival’ thanks to the high number of international beers on tap.

Activities 

As well as sampling more than 30 international beers, there are plenty of other activities at the Autumn Festival. One of the biggest draws to the festival is the range of artisanal produce which is available to sample and purchase (and which is great for enjoying back at your Costa Brava vacation rental at the end of the day!). There’s also live music in the form of brass bands and orchestras which you can dance along to. Don’t leave the festival without picking up a Beer Festival commemorative drinking mug!

Where to Stay

The obvious answer is to rent a house in Spain in the Platja D’Aro area, although the region can become quite crowded around the time of the festival. Thus, any villa on the Costa Brava would do, especially in the nearby towns of Palamós to the north and S’Agaró to the south.

Exploring Platja D’Aro 

Even if you’re not a beer fan, Platja D’Aro is still worth exploring. This beautiful seaside town is home to one of Catalonia’s best beaches, offering fantastic swimming opportunities. It’s also home to the Magic Park amusement park with adrenaline-pumping rides! If you’d prefer a calmer, more relaxed holiday in Spain, then strolling the beachside Passeig Maritim is the ideal activity as it is flat enough walk to walk for any age and any activity level.


How to reach the summit of Barcelona’s Montjuic mountain

You’ve seen the towering castle from the streets of Barcelona that rests atop the city, but how do you reach the summit of Montjuic? Luckily, the castle that stands at the top of the hill is actually very accessible, and there are a number of different ways to get there. The best way will depend on your budget and fitness level. Here is a brief look at the different transport options.

By Funicular

A fun way to travel, the funicular is also very convenient as it connects to the city’s metro system at Paral-lel Station and takes just two minutes to reach the summit. If you’re staying in a family villa in Barcelona with the kids, they will love taking the funicular, which is a train car that travels up and down the hill.

Cost: A single journey costs just 2 Euros.

By Cable Car

Another fun way to travel, the cable car offers spectacular views of Barcelona (can you spot your villa in Barcelona from way up here?). Departing close to the funicular, the cable car is convenient but more costly than the funicular. This method of travel is not recommended for travellers who are afraid of heights!

Cost: 12.50 Euros for an adult return, or 9.00 Euros for a return ticket for children aged 4 – 12.

By Bus

The local Barcelona bus 150 departs from Plaça d’Espanya and travels up the hill to the castle. If you’re not confident taking the bus on holiday in Spain, don’t worry — the castle is the last stop on the line so it’s easy to know where to get off! This isn’t a very exciting option, but it is a very cost-effective one!

Cost: A single bus journey (valid to the end of the line) costs 2.15 Euros per person.

By Taxi

Taking the taxi can be more expensive than taking the bus, but the advantage is that you can travel on your own schedule (perfect if you’re with young children), and you have a bit of added privacy, too. However, keep in mind that a taxi isn’t the most interesting or fun way to travel to the summit.

Cost: Cost will vary depending on your starting point, but this is probably the most expensive option.

By Foot

Feeling fit? Why not walk to the top? The best way is to leave from the funicular station and head up through the park, taking the winding footpath to the summit. The walk should take between 20 and 30 minutes, although it can be steep in parts. You can rest your legs at your Barcelona vacation rental afterwards!

Cost: Free!


Park Güell to Sagrada Família: The scenic route

Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell and Sagrada Família are two of the top attractions that cannot be missed on a holiday in Barcelona. Separated by just 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometres), many visitors choose to walk between the two sights, and the fastest and most direct option is along Carrer de Sardenya, taking the curved Ctra. del Carmel at the Park Güell end, where you can exit the park near the Mirador Virolai observation deck.

However, while this may be the fastest route, it’s not the most scenic. For those who really want to make the most of their Barcelona vacation, take a slightly longer route that takes you past some of the city’s most fascinating sites and interesting spots. The scenic route takes you through the beautiful Gràcia neighbourhood for a glimpse into local life.

Here’s your guide to walking the scenic route between Park Güell to Sagrada Família:

Instead of leaving Park Güell via Ctra. del Carmel, take the other exit, which brings you out onto Carrer d’Olot, and then onto Carrer de Larrard. Heading south, your first stop should be the Gaudí interactive museum, where you can learn more about the architect’s life and works.

Keep walking until you hit Travessera de Dalt, and cross over almost directly to get onto Carrer del Torrent de les Flors. This will bring you into the heart of Vila de Gràcia, home to a large number of Barcelona villas.

If you’re feeling peckish, there are some tapas places in the area. If not, turn to stroll through the pretty Plaça de Rovira i Trias park and gardens. Turn south at the end of the park, and then head along Carrer de les Tres Senyores, past the Hideout Bar which is a good place to stop for a break and a cerveza.

By turning south at the dance school, you’ll find yourself staring at the stunning Parish Church of St. Joan and the grand Virreina Palace. This baroque-style building was built in the 18th century for Manuel d’Amat i de Junyent, a celebrated Spanish military officer.

Turn at Carrer de l’Or, and then onto Carrer del Torrent d’En Vidalet. Stop for a drink at the Elephanta bar — it may seem basic, but they have more than 40 gins on offer, and more than 40 teas, too! Turn onto Carrer del Terol for shopping and a peek at the old evangelical church.

Enjoy a stroll through Plaça de la Revolució square, and then join Plaça Vila de Gràcia park by walking along Carrer de Ramón y Cajal and Carrer de Mariana Pineda. By walking through the busy shopping district here, you’ll find peace and relaxation at the Salvador Espriu Gardens.

Once you’re at the end of the gardens, you’re on the home stretch! It’s a straight route along Avinguda Diagonal and Carrer de Provença to the Plaça de la Sagrada Família. The walk should take roughly an hour; you can put your feet up at your Barcelona villa at the end of the day! 

 


Group holidays in Catalonia: Where to stay

With plenty of attractions for both young and old, beautiful places to relax, and a nightlife that really is second to none, it’s really no surprise that Barcelona is a top choice for group holidays in Spain. Whether you’re taking a vacation and bringing the whole family with you, or planning an energetic getaway with a group of friends, Catalonia is one of your best options.

For group travel, there are a few extra considerations to take into account when choosing your Barcelona accommodation. Here are some things to think about before booking.

Location

Ask yourself why your group is taking a Barcelona holiday: for the beaches? The bars? The city sights? To really make the most of your trip, it’s best to find a villa in Barcelona that is relatively close to what you want to enjoy. You should also consider whether you plan to rent a car or not, as this will help guide your villa selection.

Restrictions

Keep in mind that some Spain vacation rental owners may have restrictions surrounding group travel, especially for hen and stag parties. Always check that your accommodation welcomes large groups and whether there are extra conditions or security deposits for groups of younger people.

 Size

Although you may be excited about spending time with your close friends, remember that being too close can be a little claustrophobic! Make sure that your Barcelona villa has plenty of space for you to enjoy each other’s company but also to acquire some peace and quiet.

 On-Site Facilities

If you’re travelling in a large group, you may not wish to spend every night dining out. If this is the case, consider a Barcelona vacation rental with a full kitchen so that everyone can cook their own dinners and you can save money on your dining budget,

Design & Layout

If your group includes people of all ages, consider the layout of the property. Can you put the kids to bed and socialise in the evening without waking them up? Family villas in Barcelona may be a good choice.

 


The best picnic spots in Barcelona

Despite the plethora of great restaurants in Barcelona, it can get a bit pricey to dip into your travel budget every time you want a good meal. Luckily, there is an alternative: a picnic! Here are some of the best picnic spots in Barcelona.

Parks

A nearby park is one of the best places to enjoy a picnic on a sunny day. Parc Cervantes is a great choice, with a large picnic area located near the entrance, set amongst the beautiful rose garden. Another good choice is the top of the Joan Brossa Gardens, where you can enjoy a great view of the cable car heading up to Montjuic. Piknic Electronik parties are held here on Sundays during the summer.

Your Barcelona Villa

There’s no need to venture too far from ‘home’ for your picnic; how about enjoying your picnic food at your villa in Barcelona where there are no crowds and no fuss. You’ll enjoy your picnic even more if you book a luxury villa with private pool in Spain!

Beaches

For a seaside picnic, there’s nowhere better than Barceloneta beach, which is one of the biggest beaches in the city, so you’ll always find somewhere comfortable to lay out your blanket. However, it’s also one of the most lively beaches, too, so you’ll have plenty to look at while you’re relaxing with your sandwich.

What to Eat

Local to Catalonia, the ‘Coca’ is a type of savoury pastry that’s enjoyed all across the Mediterranean. The Coca is quite similar to a pizza, topped with nuts, cheeses, and meats. If it’s fresh sandwiches that you’re after, Catalonia actually has a great local sandwich chain, Pans & Company, which has a number of locations in Barcelona. Alternatively, if you wanted to make up your own picnic using local ingredients, head to La Boqueria market in the morning for a range of fresh produce.


Hiking along the Costa Brava

If you love nature, the great outdoors, and keeping active, then rent a villa on the Costa Brava, where you’ll have easy access to one of Spain’s most spectacular hiking trails: Camino de Ronda. Considered to be Costa Brava’s ‘hiking gem’, the path travels all 136 miles between Blanes in Catalonia to Collioure in France, and is a great alternative to the much longer 450-mile Camino de Santiago Frances Trail.

Camino de Ronda — Day Hike

For many visitors to Catalonia, hiking the entire 136-mile trail may be a bit too much. However, the good news is that it’s possible to just walk a small section of the path in one day, which can give you a great taste of the coastal path. Start in Calella de Palafrugell and walk up to the lighthouse in Llafranc before walking back again. In some places, the trail goes right along the beach for amazing views.

Camino de Ronda — Through Hike

Travelling all the way between Blanes and Collioure is a big journey, but it can be done! If you find it difficult to pack lightly, consider arranging for luggage transfer through a company in Spain. These companies drive your bags from one villa in Spain to another, so you can enjoy a lightweight walk in the day but still have all your little luxuries waiting for you at your destination.

Why Walk the Costa Brava Trail?

There are many wonderful things to see in Catalonia, but it’s impossible to see them all from your Spain holiday rental. By taking a walk away from the main tourist destinations, you’ll stumble across hidden beaches and secret coves, tiny fishing villages and inland beauty spots; all places that you wouldn’t have found if you’d stayed in the more well-known places.

Camino de Ronda Accommodations

The great news is that the Camino de Ronda trail runs right through a number of popular resort destinations, including Lloret de Mar, Tossa del Mar, and Cap de Creus, which means that there’s a wide range of Spain holiday rentals available along the track. This allows you to really take your time, walk at a pace that’s comfortable for you, and really make the most of the incredible sights along the way.

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