City breaks don’t have to be expensive. Just minutes away from your Barcelona holiday apartment are many things you can do for free and here are some of our suggestions:
- A visit to Montjuïc’s parks has the potential to satisfy all of your cultural, artistic and botanical leanings. There is so much to see that we cannot describe it all but here’s one thing you should do and one you shouldn’t whilst in Montjuïc’s parks: you should make time to admire the sheer scale and elegance of the Teatre Grec; and, you shouldn’t miss the Magic Fountain’s evening performance.
- Whilst in the Montjuïc area, feed your artistic spirit further at the CaixaForum. In 2002, this stunning former textile factory was redeveloped into an acclaimed centre for the exhibition of contemporary art.
- A meander in the stunning Parc Güell is a perfect way to relax. Amongst all the flora and fauna are some spectacular stone and architectural structures and from the highest point in the park you will have unsurpassed views across the city and the bay.
- No visit to Barcelona is complete without a stroll down Las Ramblas. This bustling pedestrianised street has plenty to see that won’t break the bank as there are always plenty of live performances along its length. There is also a permanent piece of artwork by the acclaimed surrealist artist Joan Miró – see if you can find it whilst your there.
- 5 Turn off Las Ramblas towards the Barrio Gotico and you can lose yourself in Barcelona’s beautiful Gothic Quarter. A labyrinth of medieval streets and squares that architecturally are unlike anything you have seen before.
- Discover the city’s Port Vell (Old Port), transformed from dereliction ahead of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics this beautiful yacht basin and entertainment centre is a tourist ‘must see’ and is the beating heart of the Barceloneta area. If that sea breeze is calling you, the stunning golden sands of Barcelonetta Beach are right there for a bathe – either in the sun or the surf.
- Relax in the Parc de la Ciutadella. At 30 hectares in size this green haven in the centre of Barcelona is half as big again as Green Park in London – so as busy as it can become, you can always find a peaceful spot for a picnic or just to chill-out.
- A reverent wander through Barcelona’s stunning cathedral will leave you feeling uplifted in mind and spirit. The neo-Gothic façade and gargoyle inhabited roof enwrap one of the most breathtaking cathedral interiors of its age.
- Take advantage of free museum days in Barcelona – some museums are free every day but others that normally charge for entry have free open days (often on Sundays). Always check in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Saunter along Passeig de Gràcia and you might just start to feel guilty for enjoying Barcelona’s most expensive street for free. This avenue is one of the most important shopping and business areas in the city but the thrifty tourist will be more interested in the architecture. Look for La Pedrera (featured in our ‘Quirky and Distinctive Buildings Around Europe’ post), the equally quirky Casa Batlló and the other houses that form the Illa de la Discòrdia.
We hope we have convinced you that Barca-on-a-budget is possible? You can watch your budget further, without compromise, by booking your holiday rental from Loving Apartments.
Spring is the perfect season for a weekend city break or long holiday in Europe. The climate is mild enough to explore at your leisure without sweating profoundly, yet warm enough to sit out and enjoy a coffee or glass of chilled cava in the spring sun. Flora and fauna come alive in the various parklands dotted around the city, creating some colourful and vibrant photo opportunities. All in all, spring is a lovely time to visit Europe, and here are just a few cities that are particularly dazzling during this flourishing season.
1. Barcelona – Not that Barcelona requires spring shades to brighten up its already colourful exterior, but it certainly looks beautiful during the season. Its dormant beaches come alive in March with people strolling along the promenades and sand, and some even daring to dip a toe in the still chilly waters. Wildlife is in full bloom in Barcelona’s Guell Park, and Parc de la Ciutadella, and you can admire over 2,000 types of roses at the Cervantes Rose Garden in the heart of the city. Enjoy a drink on the balcony of your Barcelona apartment, or soak up the rays on the terrace of one of the city’s many cafes and bars. If you’re visiting over Easter, be sure not to miss the Easter parade outside Plaça Sant Agustí that takes place on Good Friday.
2. Paris – Spring is a desirable time in Paris for those travellers looking to capture the city’s iconic landmarks in their most idyllic setting – surrounded by colourful flowers, adding a splash of colour for picture-perfect photographs. Enjoy the spring sunshine cruising down the River Seine admiring some of Paris’ much-loved landmarks, such as Invalides, The Eiffel Tower, and The Louvre. Stroll around Jardin des Tuileries – a spectacular and impeccably maintained garden located in the centre of Paris.
3. Budapest – Already considered one of the most attractive cities in Europe, spring only accentuates Budapest’s existing beauty. Budapest has some exquisite architecture that can be explored on foot, or by meandering down the River Danube on a lunch or dinner cruise. Visit an outdoor thermal spring, in spring, and see if you experience any of the therapeutic and healing capabilities they are believed to have. The tranquil haven of Margaret Island is a fantastic place to visit in fine weather, with calming water fountains and a variety of flower gardens, which are especially impressive during spring. This car-free oasis can be reached from mainland Budapest apartments by crossing over bridges on either end of the island. A horse drawn carriage ride can be a special way to explore the island fully.
Barcelona is a vibrant city all year round, with a chocker-block events calendar, ranging from music festivals to sporting events, and fashion shows to street parties. Organising your city break around a key event can make your trip even more rewarding, and enables you to mingle with both locals and tourists who share the same passions as you. Whether it’s spring, summer, autumn, or winter, Barcelona is sure to offer an event that will catch your eye, and if you need a bit of inspiration, then check out these top 5 events held in and around the city.
1. Sonar Music Festival – Thousands of music enthusiasts flock to Barcelona for Sonar, which is one of the most popular electronic music festivals in Europe. Taking place in June, visitors can enjoy the warm climate, and sizzling summer sounds from the many concerts held over this 3 day event. The 2012 line-up includes international DJ’s and bands, including Fatboy Slim, Friendly Fires, The Roots, and Richie Hawtin, to name just a few. And it’s not just music that is on offer at Sonar. Officially intended as a music and multimedia festival, the event represents all aspects of the modern arts with a cinema and exhibition area. This year’s festival is taking place from the 14th-16th June with a 3 day festival pass costing €155. Visit the official Sonar website for more information.
2. La Mercè – Barcelona’s summer season certainly goes out with a bang, with an extravagant city party, celebrating the transition from summer to autumn. The origins of the festival dates back to 1902, with the festival being held in honour of the Patron Saint of Barcelona. This illustrious festival sees both locals and tourists taking to the streets throughout Barcelona to see a fantastic spectacle of fireworks, parades, fire running, and human towers. La Mercè Festival is usually held in the 3rd or 4th week of September; however the dates are yet to be announced. This delightful festival is free to watch and is a great visit for anyone staying in Barcelona holiday apartments.
3. Barcelona Grand Prix – Held around 30km outside the centre of Barcelona, at the Circuit de Catalunya, visitors tend to stay in Barcelona when visiting the Grand Prix, to get the best of both worlds. This year, this fast paced motor event is being held from the 11th – 13th May with the qualifying races taking place on the Friday and Saturday, and final race on the Sunday. Barcelona’s warm dry climate provides perfect conditions for the race, with the last wet course reported in 1996! Visit the official website for race information and tickets.
4. Grec Festival – Barcelona’s Grec Festival is a celebration of performing arts, and a great summer attraction for visitors to the Catalan capital. Now in its 36 edition, this popular event fuses dance, music, theatre, and acrobatic performances, in all-round recognition of Barcelona’s artistic and expressive culture. The Grec festival takes place throughout July, in a variety of venues, however, the main venue will be the open air Teatre Grec, located on Montjuïc hill. The 2012 schedule has yet to be released, and you can visit the organisers website to keep up to date with developments.
5. International Jazz Festival – Cool rhythm and beats can be heard throughout Barcelona through October and November, as the International Jazz Festival descends on the city. Barcelona is a diverse city of music, welcoming a variety of genres with open arms. Jazz is a popular choice, and during this month and a half long event, various venues will showcase worldwide talent. Previous years have seen the likes of Jimmy Cobb, Paolo Conte, and Wayne Shorter take to the stage, and now in its 44th year, it just keeps getting bigger and better. Individual tickets are required for each event, and the schedule can be found here.
These popular events attract visitors from far and wide, and can increase the visitor numbers in Barcelona significantly. If you’re planning on attending an event, it’s wise to book Barcelona apartments well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Barcelona has a strong music culture, home to many international dance and rock festivals and local music events. And it’s not just the summertime that music fans descend on Barcelona to enjoy a fiesta or two, with events being held all year round. The International Jazz Festival, now in its 43rd year, shows that jazz will continue to be a popular genre in this music-orientated city.
The International Jazz Festival is taking place from October 20th – December 1st in a selection of venues across the Catalonian capital. This annual event never fails to disappoint, featuring some of the world’s finest jazz musicians, taking to the stage for over 75 performances. Unlike many festivals that are contained to one location, the International Jazz Festival will be held in 15 venues around the city, including Harlem Jazz Club, L’Auditori and the Palau de la Música. Performances are available on an individual ticket basis, which gives visitors the flexibility to incorporate a few gigs into their city break, and explore both Barcelona’s city sights and the wonderful music on offer.
A highlight in the 2011 programme is the partnership between the Barcelona and Italian Umbria Jazz Festivals to perform ‘Top Italian Jazz’. This collaboration will see additional top musicians performing in Barcelona, such as trumpeters Palo Fresu and Enrico Rava, and pianist Stefano Bollani. Each year, the festival also provides family concerts and exhibitions and evening events to incorporate wine tasting or an evening meal into the package.
To check out the schedule for the International Jazz Festival visit the official website here. The International Jazz Festival is a great event to visit on your city break to Barcelona. To view the selection of budget to luxury Barcelona apartment rentals click here.
Sometimes it can be hard to find activities for the whole family while travelling. We’ve found a great solution for parents taking a trip with children to Barcelona—Barcelona Aquarium.
Barcelona Aquarium is located at Port Vell on the Mediterranean Sea. The aquarium is made up of 35 individual tanks, including a tunnel equipped with moving walkway. Several activities are available for children of all ages, including workshops, classes, and tours. Kids will also love seeing sharks, clown fish, and hundreds of other species of aquatic creatures in the tanks.
The Barcelona Aquarium is open Monday through Friday from 9:30am-9:00pm. Weekends and holidays the aquarium is open from 9:30am-9:30pm. Extended summer hours in July and August are from 9:30am to 11:00pm.
Tickets cost €17.75 for adults and €12.75 for children. If you prepay for your ticket online you can save money and avoid the queue when you get there, which is ideal for families with young children.
When it comes to accommodation in Barcelona, renting a self-catering apartment is perfect for your family. Cook your own meals to save money on dining out and have your own room separate from the kids. You can choose from a variety of apartments, from budget to luxury, and even search for apartments nearest the Barcelona Aquarium. Check out our list of apartments in Barcelona and have a fantastic trip!
Santa Maria del Mar is a beautiful Catalan Gothic style church in Barcelona, Spain. Everyone staying in a Barcelona apartment needs to allow time to see this beautiful sight. Santa Maria del Mar was constructed between 1329 and 1383. Most churches built during the time period took over a century to complete and because of this, different portions of the church were built in different styles. Taking only 55 years to build, Santa Maria del Mar is regarded as one of the purest Catalan Gothic structures, varying little in architectural style. This is despite retouching due to fire and earthquake since it was first built.
The buildings bordering the church make it difficult to take in a full view of the exterior. Inside the church is spectacular with light drowning out the building and an elegant nature, but the outside of the structure is still worth a look. The best spots to view Santa Maria del Mar ‘s exterior are from Fossar de les Moreres and Placa de Santa Maria.
Another hint—check for special events. Saturday is a high traffic day for brides, so check that there aren’t any weddings. The church is also a popular venue for classical concerts. Look in advance to see if you can get tickets, otherwise you won’t be admitted into the church at that time.
Regular entrance hours are Monday through Saturday from 9am-1:30pm and 4:30-8pm and Sunday from 10am-1:30pm and 4:30-8pm. Here’s how to get there: take the Metro L4 to Jaume I or one of the following buses: 17,19, 40, and 45.
Give yourself at least a half hour to see Santa Maria del Mar church. Make a day of it if you have the time by choosing to explore the surrounding area of El Born, a trendy part of town that has fabulous tapas bars, cafes, and boutiques. Santa Maria del Mar is sure not to disappoint.
Loving Apartments is offering hot deals on apartments in Barcelona. Don’t forget to frequent our Facebook page to view updated and upcoming deals. We offer quality apartments located near Santa Maria del Mar, as well as near several other top Barcelona attractions.