How is Easter Week celebrated in Barcelona?

Just like many places around the world, Easter Week in Barcelona is an important time of year at which locals get together with friends and families to celebrate many a festivity.

Easter Week is celebrated across the country, from the largest cities to the smallest villages, yet in Barcelona you’re sure to experience celebrations like no other with a long line of typical Catalan traditions.

So if you’re thinking of spending Easter in Barcelona, here are a few useful tips to make sure you don’t miss out on the most typical events and cultural traditions.

This year Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday, 5thApril, 2020 ending with Easter Sunday on 12thApril and Easter Monday on 13thApril. Restaurants and bars tend to be open to cater for family meals, but don’t forget that shops and museums will be closed over Easter weekend.

Palm Sunday is most likely the most important of all Holy Week in Barcelona. We recommend you head to the Gothic quarter and catch the “La Burreta” (donkey) procession that commemorates Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem. 

Keep an eye out for the olive and palm branches carried by children to the local churches to be blessed. You’ll also see them hanging from doors and balconies to ward off evil spirits.

Good Friday is another important date in the liturgical calendar. The Cathedral of Barcelona, and many other local churches, will commemorate this day and the Stations of the Cross with a Via Crucis mass.

When it comes to food, Easter wouldn’t be Easter without its sweet and savoury delicacies. In between exploring the city and its Easter customs, we recommend taking a break and recharging your batteries with the best of Catalan cuisine.

“La Mona” is a local Easter cake typically made from chocolate and decorated with small figures and animals, chocolate eggs and other sweet treats. Today these cakes are true works of art, but they were originally made from a round sweet brioche and topped with hard-boiled eggs with its tradition dating back to Roman times.

Be sure to drop in to a local bakery to marvel at these fantastic creations or pick one up and try it for yourself!

What’s more, as it is Christian tradition not to eat meat on Good Friday, make sure you also try the typical cod dishes served at local restaurants. Our favourite is the salted codfish in a vegetable sauce, bacalao con sanfaina.

If you’re spending the whole week in Barcelona, we’d also recommend day trips to the villages of Cervera or Verges with processions that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. From Cervera’s skeletons that dance the “Dance of Death” to the Verges Procession in which the entire village takes part, be prepared to be amazed.

So however you decide to spend Easter Week in Barcelona, why not stay at one of our centrally located flats to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

A Guide to Barcelona’s Civil War Bomb Shelters

Almost 82 years on, you’d never know that Barcelona was once the target of repeated and systematic airstrikes during the Spanish Civil War. 

It’s 16 March, 1938, and 41 hours of non-stop bombing is about to be unleashed on the city. Over three days, there were 670 deaths and 1,200 wounded during the Bombing of Barcelona by the Italian Aviazione Legionaria Italiana, upon the orders of General Franco and Mussolini. 

With attacks every three hours, the panic and terror was real. Luckily, over 1,400 bomb shelters were constructed in the city primarily by Barcelona’s very own citizens. Men were tasked with the construction, whilst women and children excavated the labyrinth of underground tunnels.

Despite over thousands of air-raid shelters being built, still many of Barcelona’s population struggled to find shelter. In these cases, the metro tunnels and stations were also used as makeshift shelters, with the station at Universitat being an example of this. 

We propose an alternative route that is often overlooked by tourists and locals. If you’re looking for route that will open your eyes to Barcelona’s history, this is it!

Refugi 307

One of the largest and most fascinating shelters in the city, Refugi (Shelter) 307 is located at the foot of Montjuïc mountain. It was the neighbourhood of Poble Sec that was one of the city’s most badly affected areas.

Get ready to discover over 400 metres of narrow tunnels with space for up to 2,000 people, plus a kitchen, bathroom facilities and even a pharmacy.

There are guided visits ever Sunday morning at 10.30 in English, 11.30 in Spanish and 12.30 in Catalan. Tickets are €3.50 and prior booking here is necessary.

Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 175

Refugi Antiaeri de la Plaça del Diamant

Around 90 shelters were built in the neighbourhood of Gràcia, with the Plaça del Diamant Air-raid Shelter being the most well known, with 250 metres of tunnels and capacity for around 200 people. 

It was discovered in 1992 during the construction of a power station in the square, thanks to which it was restored and opened to the public in 2006. 

Guided visits include a tour of the underground shelter with actors playing the roles of locals seeking shelter in order to survive the bombing. Visits in Spanish and English (upon request) are every second Sunday of the month and can be booked here

Plaça del Diamant

Refugi del Palau de les Heures

Despite being the smallest air-raid shelter on our tour, this one is, without a doubt, the best preserved. Discover its 40 metres of tunnels lit by the same lights that were used over 80 years ago, thanks to its restored electrics system.

Located at this stunning palace in the north of the city, the shelter was constructed specifically to protect the then President of the Government of Catalonia, Lluís Companys. Visits can be arranged by contacting the University of Barcelona, the current owners of the building. 

Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron, 171

Bomb Shelter Barcelona- Palau de les Heures

An additional tip to complete the tour: One of the most devastating events during the attack was when a bomb was dropped on the corner of the streets Balmes and Gran Vía, hitting a truck filled with TNT. Today, you can visit a cross in the place where it fell in memory of those killed and wounded during these days that Barcelona will never forget. 

Let yourself be amazed by these never-ending underground tunnels beneath the streets of Barcelona.

Barcelona is replete with history, don’t miss it on your next visit!

6 Curious Facts about the History of the Sagrada Família

Over the years, Barcelona has become synonymous with Gaudí’s Sagrada Família: its magnificent yet unfinished towers, its captivating sculpted exterior, its light-filled interior…

The Sagrada Família has been bringing people from far and wide to Barcelona for decades, yet what is it that fascinates visitors so?

Have you ever wondered why Gaudí built the Sagrada Familia? And when, after over 100 years, it will eventually be finished?

In this article we explain these six curious facts about the history and the construction of the Sagrada Família that are sure to make you even more curious about it.

Gaudí did not lay the Sagrada Família’s first stone

It was in 1881 that the Saint John Devotee Association (Asociación de devots de Sant Josep) bought a plot of land measuring 12,800 m2 on which to build the temple. However, it wasn’t until 19 March, 1882 that the first stone was laid – not by Gaudí – but by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano. In fact, Gaudí inherited the project from said architect in 1883 with a much more aspiring outlook than his predecessor.

Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano - Sagrada Família

Gaudí dedicated 43 years of his life to the Sagrada Família

As we have mentioned, Gaudí’s plan for what would be the Sagrada Família was highly ambitious. His original plans were for a temple with 5 naves, 3 facades, 18 towers. This would be, by far, his most ambitious project to date, and also the one he sought the most perfection in. From the year 1914 onwards, Gaudí stopped all other work and focused exclusively on the Sagrada Família.


Gaudí lived only to see the construction of the Nativity Façade

The Sagrada Família boasts three façades, each dedicated to a moment in the life of Christ: his birth, his suffering and resurrection and his eternal glory. It was in 1925 that he managed to finish the bell tower of the Nativity Façade, a mere year before his tragic death.

Gaudí knew that he would never see the Sagrada Família finished, therefore he left dozens of plans, sketches and instructions so it could be finished exactly how he had imagined. However, this information was tragically lost and burnt during the Spanish Civil War.

Nativity façade, 1899. Author: Aleu

The temple represents the life of Jesus and will be the tallest building in Barcelona

With the construction of the Sagrada Família, Gaudí’s wish was to represent the life of Jesus. The soon-to-be 18 towers will be dedicated to his disciples, the four Evangelists and the Virgin Mary. The tallest tower of all, scheduled to be finished in 2022, will be dedicated to Jesus Christ and topped by an impressive cross. 

With this, it will reach a total height of 172.5 metres, becoming the tallest building in the city of Barcelona. What’s more, it will also take the title for the tallest church in the world.

There are no straight lines in its architecture

In the entirety of Gaudí’s magnificent temple there is not one straight line. This masterpiece is an imitation of nature at its purest – from columns that emulate trees to an abundance of diverse flora and fauna. It was Gaudí himself who said: “The straight line belongs to men, the curved one to God.”

It will be finished in 2026 to coincide with the centenary of Gaudí’s death

A mere 144 years since it was started, the Sagrada Família is scheduled to be finished in the year 2026, marking one hundred years after Gaudí’s death in 1926. However, just because the construction is finished doesn’t mean that the temple itself is finished. There is still many a decorative element to add!

This date will be considered even more special if Gaudí obtains sainthood from the Catholic Church, the proposal for which was initiated in 2000 by an association of his devotees.

So, whether your visiting the Sagrada Família for the first or umpteenth time, we hope these interesting facts will open your eyes to the history behind it. 

The Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Barcelona

Whether you’re a supporter of veganuary or a long-time vegan or vegetarian, or simply a lover of everything nutritious and green, Barcelona has a plethora of options for you.

We’ve compiled a list of Barcelona’s best veggie spots where you can care for your body inside and out. 

vegetarian restaurants in barcelona

The Green Spot – Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 12

Located in the neighbourhood of La Barceloneta, the interior design of this vegetarian restaurant is almost as beautiful as its imaginative dishes. Boasting creative and fusion cuisine that will make even a non-vegetarian’s mouth water, everything is made with fresh and natural ingredients. 

Teresa Carles – Carrer de Jovellanos, 2

It is no wonder that the Teresa Carles restaurant is one of the most popular veggie spots in the cultural hub that is Barcelona. Be prepared to be blown away by contemporary, innovative dishes that take inspiration from Catalan cuisine. We think it will completely change the way you think about the plant-based approach.

Flax & Kale – Carrer dels Tallers, 74b

Just around the corner from Teresa Carles is its sister restaurant, Flax & Kale. Created with the same innovative spirit, this flexitarian restaurant offers something for everyone. Think raw food, super food, gluten-free and vegan. Drop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner or grab a freshly squeezed juice to take away – you won’t regret it.

Sésamo  – Carrer de Sant Antoni Abat, 52

This quaint and cosy vegetarian restaurant is located in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Sant Antoni. Although the menu is not that extensive, you’ll find roasted vegetables, stuffed pasta and homemade desserts. We’d recommend booking a table to avoid disappointment.

Veggie Garden – Carrer dels Àngels, 3 and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 60

This vibrant and colourful space is perfect for those on a budget and with a hearty appetite. The daily set menu is extremely affordable and boasts delicious Indian- and Nepalese-inspired options, including dahl, thalis, curries and spiced vegetable dishes. Tuck in!

L’Hortet – Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 32

A family-run restaurant located in the area of Raval, l’Hortet offers a feast for body and soul. The restaurant opens only at lunchtime during the week and for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. Get there early to enjoy their delicious daily three-course set menu, with hearty vegetarian creations–from veggie meatballs, soups and stews–and a colourful salad bar. What’s not to love?

Café Camelia – Carrer de Verdi, 79

This light-filled café-come-restaurant serves vegetarian and vegan delights all day long. Choose from curries, burgers, a range of tasty snacks and sweet treats. Located in the quaint neighbourhood of Gracia, Café Camelia is a cosy spot to enjoy a peaceful coffee or tasty meal after a long day sightseeing. 

We hope you enjoy this selection of colourful, innovative plant-based alternatives.

6 parks in Barcelona to reconnect with nature in the city

The holidays have been and gone and what better way to kick-start the year than reconnecting with nature.

If you’re anything like us, your New Year’s resolutions will be to stay in shape, get fit and spend more time in the great outdoors. Yet it’s often hard to take time out of our busy schedules to get out of the city and head to the mountains or the beach.

Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list of six parks in the heart of Barcelona where you can reconnect with yourself and nature without leaving the city.

When it comes to parks and Barcelona, many of us immediately think of Parc Güell, however, Barcelona has much more to offer. From secret mazes to charming parks with sea views, keeping your New Year’s resolutions has never been so easy!

Laberint d’Horta

This historical garden is perfect for young and old alike. Get lost in its enchanting cypress-tree maze or wander its romantic gardens with hidden ponds, pavilions and sculptures. The oldest park in Barcelona can be visited at any time of year, but is especially magical in the autumn.

Passeig dels Castanyers, 1

Parc de la Creueta del Coll

This expansive park offers three hectares of green space, flora and fauna to explore. Located in Gràcia, it is particularly popular in the summer thanks to its large family-friendly outdoor swimming pool. What’s more, with picnic areas, play parks, toilets and locker rooms, it makes for the perfect family day out.

Passeig de la Mare de Déu del Coll, 77

Turó Park

One of Barcelona’s most emblematic parks, discover art, architecture and nature all in one place. Unwind and relax on a Sunday afternoon with a book under one of its shady trees or go for a stroll around its many peaceful trails and paths.

Avinguda de Pau Casals, 19

Jardins de Joan Brossa

Named after the renowned Catalan Poet, Joan Brossa, this park was once home to the Montjüic theme park. This now expansive green area boasts beautiful gardens that bloom in spring and summer and three play areas for children. Don’t miss the fantastic views over Barcelona and its coastline.

Plaça Dante – Avinguda Miramar

Parc de la Ciutadella

Another of Barcelona’s most popular green spaces, the Ciutadella park is located in the old quarter of the city. To get there, take a walk through the magnificent Arc de Triomf and inside the park discover its cascading waterfall, artificial lake with rowing boats, the “Three-dragon” Castle, the city zoo and much more.

Passeig de Picasso 21

Parc de Cervantes

If you’re looking to escape the crowds and discover a side of Barcelona that even many locals don’t know about, head to Parc de Cervantes. You’ll fall in love with its over 2,000 kinds of roses scattered around the park and adorning trellises. It makes for the perfect plan on a lazy Sunday afternoon. 

Avinguda Diagonal, 706

What better way to welcome the New Year than with a breath of fresh air. Unwind, stroll, relax or play in the heart of the city. 

What’s your favourite park in Barcelona to relax and reconnect with nature? Let us know!

8 Best viewpoints in Barcelona

Barcelona is a beautiful city that is full of many interesting and peculiar sights, but one of the best ways to see Barcelona and truly be able to appreciate it is from above. Here we’ve compiled a list of the eight best viewpoints in Barcelona, so you can truly appreciate this wonderous and vibrant city in all its glory, taking in its unique skyline.

Mirador d’Horta

On the road from Cerdanyola to Horta, you will find this little observation deck with a sweeping view of the city to the left, and the district of Horta right in front spreading all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. One of the quirkiest features of this dazzling spot, and one of the best viewpoints in Barcelona, is a little wooden swing – if you get the angle just right you can take an original looking picture where it looks like you’re swinging out over the whole city.

Mirador de Colom

You may have seen the giant Columbus Monument that stands proudly at the end of La Rambla, but did you know you can actually go up it? Built in 1888 in tribute to Christopher Columbus, the column houses a lift that will take you up 51 metres to the top for just €5.40. Based on the columns positioning, you will get a unique view of the city, with the mountain of Montjuïc to one side, the Olympic Marina to the other, and the bustling craziness of La Rambla and the Gothic quarter behind you.

Mirador de Sarrià 

Collserolla park, the natural beautiful hilly park that surrounds Barcelona is an area you should visit if you want to get away from the city for a breath of fresh air. It is at the gateway to this park that you will find Mirador de Sarrià, for a spectacular view of the sprawling metropolis framed by nature. About 250 metres high, this viewpoint takes a little walking but there is also the option to take a cable car up to enjoy the view. Once you are up there it is worth exploring the rest of the natural park as well for a nice day trip without leaving the city.

Mirador Torre de Collserola

If you’ve ever looked up toward the magical site of the Cathedral that sits at the top of Tibidabo, there is no doubt you have also seen the telecommunications tower that stands just to the side of it. The tower stands at 288 metres tall, making it the highest structure in the city. That combined with the fact that it’s high up on a hill above Barcelona, you can just imagine the kind of views it provides. Climb to the tenth floor to reach the observation deck where you can enjoy these spectacular views for just €5.60. 

Mirador Turó de la Rovira

More commonly known as Bunkers del Carmel and known to be one of the best viewpoints in Barcelona, this is a fantastic viewpoint of the city to go and relax with some drinks and snacks. A beautiful vista of the city laid out in front of you, the relaxed atmosphere here, where you may find yourself surrounded by locals, is the perfect spot for a date – as long as they’re not put off by the short climb. Mirador Turó de la Rovira is also not a place short of history as it contains the remains of an anti-aircraft bunker that was used to defend Barcelona from air attacks during the Spanish Civil War, as well as the remains of a shantytown, that was closed in 1990.

Mirador from the Castle of Montjuïc

An old military fortress that stands atop Montjuïc mountain, with roots dating as far back as 1640, the view from the top is almost as spectacular as the location itself. Some 173 metres above sea level, from here you can see the city and sea stretching in front of you in all its glory. If you don’t fancy the climb up the hill, don’t worry as there are fun cable cars you can get to the top.

Mirador at Las Arenas

Located in Plaça Espanya, you will find Las Arenas shopping mall, its unique round structure because of its former incarnation as a bull fighting arena. Rather than just shopping here, the mall also has an option to take a lift up to the roof for an interesting 360-degree view of Barcelona. If you want a more relaxed visit you can visit the first floor of the viewpoint which hosts a number of bars and restaurants, which allow you to enjoy the view while having a drink or even dinner. 

Mirador at Jardins de Miramar

Another viewpoint that stands atop Montjuïc is the Jardins de Miramar. From here you can see all of the city sights starting with the neighborhood of Poble Sec located just below the mountain and then spreading all the way to the outer edges of the city. This spot can be especially nice at sunset on a clear day when the setting sun casts a golden hue over the city. If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, why not stop off at Terraza Martínez, a trendy Mediterranean restaurant that’s the perfect location for lunch or a drink with a view. 

Whatever it is you’re looking for, be it a viewpoint set in a beautiful natural setting, or a place to relax with a drink and take in the beautiful city, with our list of the best viewpoints in Barcelona, you can be sure to have an amazing experience. 

First Dip of the Year in Barcelona

What better way to welcome in the New Year than a bracing dip in the Mediterranean? Since 1996, hundreds of bold bathers have flocked to Platja de Sant Sebastià for the first dip of the year (Primer Bany de l’Any). Why not join these brave souls on January 1st 2017 at midday as they charge into the sea, clad in only their swimming costumes and the occasional Santa hat?!

The event, organised by el Club Natació Atlètic-Barceloneta, is totally free and is a sure-fire way to rid your cobwebs from the night before! And, if the prospect of an icy dip is a little daunting, you can register at the club´s reception prior to the event for a hot shower afterwards. This is a brilliant affair and a far better alternative to a day spent hibernating under the duvet, cradling a packet of Alka-Seltzer to nurse your hangover.

Whilst not for the faint-hearted (medically speaking), proponents of icy dips claim that the health benefits are numerous. Swimming in cold water can help your immune system, improve libido and boost circulation. Some even claim to experience a natural high so surely that´s reason enough to tempt you!first-dip-of-the-year-in-barcelona

  • Join Europe´s Popular New Year´s Day Tradition

By taking part in Barcelona´s Primer Bany de l’Any, you’ll join the tradition of thousands of people who mark the start of the New Year with a dip in the sea, rivers or lakes and, with an average water temperature of 13 degrees in January, Barcelona provides a comparatively gentle winter bathing experience!

For over 30 years, bathers have braved the freezing waters off Barry Island (Wales) for a New Year´s Day swim and in Edinburgh (Scotland), locals take part in the Loony Dook –  an icy plunge into the River Forth where the water is decidedly chilly! Similarly, in Rzeszów (Poland) bathers refuse to be deterred by the bitingly cold waters year on year.

first-dip-of-the-year-in-barry-island

The Netherlands boasts over 60 locations for a New Year´s Day plunge, and insist there is no better way to start the year. With a whopping 25,000 participants each January, the Dutch are arguably the champions of this watery tradition. The largest scale event is the annual nieuwjaarsduik in Scheveningen which welcomes approximately 10,000 swimmers.

first-dip-of-the-year-in-the-netherlands

So, what are you waiting for?! Get 2020 off to a great start and make this January 1st a day to remember by heading to Barcelona for a New Year’s Day dip!

Christmas Bath in Barcelona

The Three Kings Day 2019 in Barcelona

The Three Kings Day 2019 is one of the highlights of the Barcelona Christmas Season.  Its name in Catalan is Dia dels Tres Reis d’Orient, and is also known as The Epiphany in religious terms, and happens on the sixth day of January.

It is a major event in the Catholic Church’s Nativity agenda. Three Kings Day marks the arrival of the Three Wise Men of the Orient to the birthplace of Jesus at his stable in Bethlehem.  They came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the newborn messiah, but in Barcelona, they arrive to give gifts to the city’s inhabitants.

For local kids here in Barcelona, Three Kings Day is even more special, as the focus of the day is on them and not really the grown-ups.  Rather like the traditional Father Christmas character in Northern Europe, children only receive gifts if they have been good all year long!  The city’s children also have to write a letter to the King’s Pages ahead of the Three Kings arrival to ensure they get the gifts they desire.

On the 5th of January, the Three Kings arrive in Barcelona with a spectacular street parade called La Cavalcada dels Reis d’Orient – which is a procession to symbolise the arrival of the Three Kings into Bethlehem mounted on their camels, each bearing their gifts for the baby Jesus.

Three Kings Day 2018

This year, they will arrive by boat at 4:00pm at the Moll de la Fusta.  After a welcome statement by city officials, the Three Kings begin a parade along the city streets.  This year, the Three Kings parade starts on avinguda Marquès de l’Argentera at 6pm, snaking its way through the city, finishing at the Magic Fountains of Montjuïc at around 9:00pm. Check here their route.

The Three Kings parade features the Three Kings in their carnival style float among a whole collection of other floats and musical attractions, where the performers are laden with candy and sweets to throw at the children who catch them, normally in umbrellas that are held upside down.


After the parade has finished and before the children go to bed, they have to prepare some food and water for the Three Kings and their camels to take refreshment.  Normally unable to sleep with excitement, contemplating the next morning, the children will eventually settle to sleep and wake early the following morning, when they can see and open their gifts on Three Kings Day.

After the morning’s activities are over, the whole family will settle down for a very special lunch.  It is normally a four course sitting and traditional menus will begin with a buffet of tapas followed by a special soup and then a third course of meat or freshly cooked fish.

Then the pièce de résistance is served – Tortell de Reis (King’s Cake) – a puffy, circular, marzipan sponge cake filled with cream, resembling a King’s crown.  In fact there will be a crown in the centre and the cake is topped off with dried fruits symbolizing a crown’s jewels.

But the King’s Day tradition doesn’t stop there, because inserted into the cake are two objects – a bean and a figurine of the baby Jesus.  Whoever recovers the figurine gets to wear the crown and is called King for the day (also signaling that that person will have a very lucky year) and whoever gets the bean unfortunately has to pay for the cake!

As you can see, Three King’s Day 2019 will be a very special day indeed for the city’s children. So why not make your stay in Barcelona just as special by renting a luxury apartment during your stay.  We have a wide selection of apartments to rent all over the city, so why not opt for one on the Three Kings parade route?  See here for our selection of beautiful places to rent during these unique celebrations.