Day Trips from Barcelona – 5 Medieval villages in the Empordà 

There’s no doubt that Barcelona is a vibrant city with plenty of sights to see, but if you feel like escaping the city for the day, Catalunya has unlimited opportunities for scenic day trips from Barcelona. If you’re into Game of Thrones, or just a lover of all things medieval than look no further than a day trip from Barcelona to the beautiful region of Empordà. Nestled between Sant Feliu de Guíxols and the French border, you may have heard of one of the most famous towns there, Figueres, birthplace of Salvador Dalí and one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona. However, this region has much more to offer, head into the quieter parts where you will find a number of medieval villages to explore.

The fact that the region is just a short hour and forty-five-minute car journey from the city centre make it the perfect day trip from Barcelona. Make a whole day out of it by hiring a car and exploring a couple of the exciting options we lay out below, stopping for a spot of lunch at the location of your choosing – this region has plentiful delicious restaurants.

For your choice of the best day trips from Barcelona, choose from the following list.

Our five favourite medieval villages in the Empordà:

Peratallada

Situated east of Girona city, Peratallada is often considered to be the most beautiful town in Catalunya, due to its authentic medieval streets. A visit here will seem like you’ve entered a fairy tale, as you wander through the pebbled streets and marvel at the stone houses and the fortress around the town that remains to this day. Full of hidden treasures, Peratallada also houses the Peratallada castle, dating back to the 11th Century. Once you are done exploring the town, make sure not to miss Gelats Angelo, an artisanal ice cream shop where you will be sure to have a gourmet experience. For the braver amongst you, it’s even possible to try ice cream flavours such as anchovy or cheese.

Day Trips from Barcelona -Peratallada

Monells

If you are into cinema, you may recognize this town from the movie “8 Apellidos Catalanes”. Just 20 minutes away from Peratallada, the medieval town is built around a former castle, of which only one wall now remains. Take a leisurely stroll through its winding streets until you reach the magnificent porticoed Jaume I square, the centre of an important market in medieval times.

Day trips from Barcelona - Monells

Pals

Known as one of the most charming villages in the region, the historical centre of Pals has been well conserved thanks to a local doctor who ensured it was declared a Site of Historical Interest. Throughout the town you will find a number of historical landmarks, including the “Torre de les Hores”, a circular Romanesque tower, where it’s possible to take a tour for free, and the “Església de Sant Pere”, which exhibits a curious mix of different architectural styles. Not only can you explore the medieval points of interest in Pals, but the town is also famed for its gastronomy.

Day trips from Barcelona - Pals

Palau-Sator

Another place to stop on your day trip from Barcelona is the small quaint town of Palau-Sator. Here you can explore sites such as the “Sant Julià de Boada” shrine, one of the most interesting pre-Romanesque monuments in the region, dating back to the 9th century. Palau-Sator is also a great place to stop for lunch on your day trip, due to its variety of highly-rated restaurants. Try Mas Pou for some traditional Catalan cuisine amongst beautiful countryside settings.

Palau Sator (1)

Madremanya

For a rural escape amongst the mountains try heading to Madremanya for your day trip from Barcelona. More than just a beautiful medieval city, Madremanya lies at the foot of the Gavarres hill, making for some spectacular scenery. Thought to date back to 1053, the village oozes history and is the perfect place to hire a bike so you can take in everything this charming town has to offer.

Madremanya

So, if you’re looking for an escape from the bustling city of Barcelona, why not escape to the beautiful countryside on one of these day trips?

Panellets recipe step by step – La Castanyada tradition

October 31st may be famous around the world for being Halloween, but in Catalunya that day holds a different, special significance. It is a day that is known throughout Catalunya as “La Castanyada”, getting its name from the tradition of eating fire-roasted chestnuts – otherwise known as “castanyes”. Directly after this, on November 1st, is “Tots Sants”, a national holiday to celebrate the lives of those who have passed away.

During these autumn months, as the leaves start to turn brown and fall off the trees, and a chill starts to spread through the air, you will notice little stands popping up around the streets of Barcelona. It is here on these stands you can find street vendors known as “Castanyeres” selling “castanyes”, as well as “moniatos” – fire roasted sweet potatoes.

However, the most famous and traditional cuisine to eat around this time, and especially on “La Castanyada” itself are “panellets”. These are similar to small cakes that are made from marzipan, which is essentially sugar and almonds, and then coated with a topping of the bakers’ choice, although the most traditional topping is usually pine nuts.

Of course, it is possible to buy “panellets” all around the stores in Barcelona, but if you want to make the tradition your own, we’re here to give you the best, and tastiest, “panellets” recipe, so you can try it out for yourself. While there are many different varieties of “panellets”, our recipe uses the classic base of almonds, but be sure to check out other types and recipes!

Panellets recipe step by step:

Ingredients

  • 200g raw ground almonds
  • 200g sugar
  • White of 2 eggs
  • 75g of pine nuts
  • Lemon zest
  • 1 egg yolk
  1. Add the sugar, ground almonds, lemon zest and egg whites to a bowl together
  2. Use a fork to mix these ingredients together. Once they start to form a paste start kneading them with your hands until a thick and even paste is formed.
  3. Break off pieces of the dough you have made and roll them into small balls, placing each completed one on a piece of baking parchment on a baking tray.
  4. Place the pine nuts on each “panellet” and gently push them in so they stick on the surface until covered and then paint with the whisked-up egg yolk for a lovely golden finish.
  5. While you are doing this pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  6. Once all the “panellets” are covered, place the tray in the pre-heated oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the “panellets” are a golden-brown colour.
  7. Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool.
  8. Enjoy your delicious homemade “panellets”!

If you want a full festive feast, you could even invite your family and friends round on the day of “La Castanyada”, and eat your homemade “panellets” alongside roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes to help you embrace the autumn chill!

10 safety tips to avoid being pickpocketed in Barcelona

Like any major city, when visiting Barcelona, it is important to be careful with your belongings. In general Barcelona is a safe city and most tourists are able to visit without any problems at all. However, you may have heard stories of Barcelona’s famous pickpockets. Getting your valuables stolen on holiday can always be a bit of a nightmare and leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth. But all of this can easily be avoided if you follow our simple guide of safety tips below.

10 safety tips to avoid being pickpocketed in Barcelona

  1. Always be aware of your belongings! When you’re sitting out on a terrace try and keep an eye on your stuff and never leave your phone or wallet out on the table, as that’s easy territory for pickpockets.
  2. Be extra vigilant on the metro – this is where a lot of pickpockets operate and trust us they know what they’re doing! People can try to distract you whilst the pickpockets do their work. If you have a backpack make sure you keep it in front of you.
  3. Other places to take extra care of your belongings are in general in places where there are agglomerations (the Rambla, queues for attractions, the beach, the metro, etc)
  4. Not leaving your belongings unattended is a rule of thumb actually. Never leave your bag out of sight, even in a fancy bar or restaurant. A good tip is to trap a handle of your bag on a chair leg so it is not easy to snatch away.
  5. Pickpockets will automatically try and target tourists, so try to dress and act in a way that doesn’t too obviously attract attention to the fact that you are one. We’re not saying you have to speak Catalan or Spanish (in fact you will hear all sorts of languages whilst you’re here) but try to blend in and dress in a similar way to the locals.
  6. This also applies to stopping in the middle of the road to look at a big map for example. Not only does this immediately draw attention to you as a tourist, it also makes you an easy target for pickpockets.
  7. Be wary of people who approach you in the street. Unfortunately, someone can distract you in order to take your belongings. This can include anything from people offering you club entry or even street performers.
  8. There’s nothing wrong with having a few beers or glasses of wine on your holiday, but if you’re planning on drinking make sure you still have your wits about you. Pickpockets will take advantage of drunken people, especially around the Las Ramblas and Gòtic areas.
  9. It’s always a good idea to keep some cash in separate places on the off chance you do get pickpocketed so you’re not left without any money at all.This is an important one to know anywhere you go, but try and remember the emergency numbers. In Barcelona the number for the local police, Guardia Urbana, is 092, or you can also call the Mossos d’Esquadra (112), as both deal with cases of theft. However, if you don’t speak Spanish it’s better to call the Europe wide 112 number as they speak a variety of languages and can be dialled from most international mobile phones.
  10. If you want to report the theft, you can check the list of police stations you can go to on this handy link.

With all that being said, these are just tips to keep in mind when visiting Barcelona.

Barcelona is a beautiful and wonderful city, and in fact, most of the people you meet here will be friendly and more than happy to help you in any scenario. Stay vigilant but also don’t forget to enjoy your trip to Barcelona!

Revetlla de Sant Joan in Barcelona 2018 – The most magical night

Come to Barcelona on the eve of the 23rd June and you won’t be able to miss the spectacular celebrations happening for the Revetlla de Sant Joan. Considered to be one of biggest holidays of the year in Barcelona, the streets come alive with people and the constant crack of fireworks spiralling overhead throughout the city.

The origin of the Revetlla de Sant Joan

Whilst the actual holiday falls on the 24th June, a bank holiday in Catalonia, the celebrations all happen the night before. This is in order to celebrate the longest day of the year – otherwise known as Summer Solstice and considered to be the start of summer. Summer Solstice has always been an important tradition dating back to ancient Pagan rituals when people believed in the spiritual importance of both fire and the sun. Here in Catalonia we combined that with the celebration of the birth of Sant Joan, meaning it is still marked by symbolic customs.

As well as fire, people believe in the special powers of water and herbs on this night. For this reason you may see people going for a midnight dip in the sea as it’s thought to keep you healthy all year round. Herbs are also thought to become more powerful in their curative features on Sant Joan, especially Thyme, Rosemary and Verbena.

A night of firecrackers and bonfires

As mentioned above, fire is believed to have an extraordinary power on this night of the year, being thought to chase away evil spirits. This means the city comes alive with loud firecrackers and bonfires going on until the early hours. In fact, each city neighbourhood creates their own bonfire in which they throw old furniture, another old tradition that is thought to bring you good luck over the year. In the days leading up to the Revetlla de Sant Joan, little firecracker stands pop up all over the city for people to buy their supplies.

Celebrate la Revetlla de Sant Joan 2018 in Barcelona

Whilst there are many celebrations happening throughout the city, the neighbourhood of Barceloneta has an especially wide array of activities. Here you will find people partying until dawn, amidst an array of live music, banging firecrackers and bright burning bonfires. Beach bars set up temporary stands for revellers to stock up on food and drink over the night, and you can also find activities around the neighbourhood. These can include anything from fireworks displays with “diables” (dancing devils) and “dracs” (dragons) to beautiful orchestras getting people in the mood for a great night. If you head down to Barceloneta beach you can be guaranteed to find plenty of things to entertain you for the night.

Revetlla de Sant Joan - Where to celebrate it

You can check the program of Revetlla de Sant Joan 2018 in Barceloneta here

Don’t forget to try the Coca de Sant Joan!

To mark the occasion, people eat Coca de Sant Joan, the traditional food of the celebration. A cake that can be topped with a variety of different things including candied fruit, pine nuts or crackling.

Sant joan in Barcelona 2018 - Coca de Sant Joan

There’s no doubt about it, the Revetlla de Sant Joan is one of the most magical nights of the year to be in the city of Barcelona. If you want to make that night even more special why not check out www.bizflats.com to book yourself the perfect accommodation in Barcelona.

 

Sónar 2018: Where music meets technology

Have you got your tickets for Sónar 2018? is one of those questions that you’re bound to have been asked lately. As a city, Barcelona has a deep love for music and partying, and therefore it’s no wonder that Sónar, a global reference for music festivals, is considered one of the most highly anticipated social events in the Catalan city. 

What will you find in Sónar 2018?

Founded in 1994, Sónar is a three-day electronic music festival dedicated to creativity, technology and business. It is well known as a reference for international festivals by combining a carefully curated cultural offering, and mixing in avant-garde experimentation with electronic music and latest technology trends.

The 2017 Barcelona edition attracted over 123,000 attendees from over 100 countries. The festival is hosted in two different locations in the city: Sónar by Day is hosted in the city center at Plaça Espanya in Fira Montjuïc, and Sónar by Night is hosted a little further out at Fira Gran Via L’Hospitalet. 

Sónar 2018 - Sonar by night

Sónar 2018 coincides with the festival’s 25th anniversary, and is sure to be a big one! To be hosted 14th June to 16th June 2018, big headliners have been announced already, such as Diplo, Gorillaz, Black Coffee, Amp Fiddler, Tony Allen, Thom Yorke, and more, for tickets and the full line-up click here. Also, keep an eye out for the immersive exhibition, which showcases the festival’s visual history in their 25-year journey so far.

Apart from raving to music by DJs and enjoyment, there is also a massive business and educational aspect to Sónar 2018. If you’re an industry insider, these may pique your interest: discussion panels by notable speakers to share the latest insights and developments. MarketLab, where creators can show the latest innovative technology projects they have developed; workshops and demos for those curious to learn more about music and technology. Networking events so that artists, investors, and start-ups can meet. You can see the organisors of Sónar take music and partying very seriously, and their passion for technology and business shines through.

sónar festival 2018

What else can I do while in town for Sónar 2018 ?

With so many people in town, clubs and nightlife outside of the festival always have lots of events and performances on too, keep your eyes peeled for posters and flyers around town.

If you’re passionate about art, then a visit to MACBA to check out the latest contemporary art exhibitions is a must, or any of our other world-class museums, check here our recommendations for art lovers.

Only in town for a few days and are short on time? You’ll want to squeeze the most out of it with our 3-day and 5-day Barcelona guides, to make sure you tick off all the most important monuments and sights, like Park Güell, Sagrada Família and more.

And lastly, to make the most out of your trip for Sónar 2018, you’ll want to make sure you’re staying in some centrally located accommodation so that you can travel with ease within Barcelona. Check out our full online offering now at http://www.bizflats.com

Trencadís  – What is it and where can I find it in Barcelona?

Trencadís may not be a word that you’re not familiar with, but if you’ve visited Barcelona before, you will certainly have seen it around you in the streets, in buildings, in parks, in souvenir shops… These mosaics are an explosion of colour, each little piece uniquely different in shape, pattern and colour scheme, yet when pieced together they come and form one cohesive and magnificent artwork. Not to mention, Trencadís is absolutely captivating when glittering under the Barcelona sun, as the light bounces off the tiles and brings the vibrant colours to life. It is no wonder that this technique has become synonymous with Mediterranean culture and design.

trencadís

What is Trencadís?

Trencadís is a Catalan term that literally means “chopped” and is the name for this artistic method that was popularised in 20th century Catalan modernism by artists like Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol, Trencadís is a mosaic-like effect, achieved by cementing together random shards and pieces of broken chinaware, piece by piece like a jigsaw. Sometimes other materials are used, like glass, buttons or shells. In French, this technique is known as “pique assiette”, which translates to “plate thief”, perhaps referring to the use of recycled or “scrounged” materials – in other words, materials that ceramic factories often discarded.

What is the origin of the Trencadís?

Well, legend has it that Gaudí was visiting the ceramics workshop of Lluis Bru, and when he saw how tediously slow he was putting the pieces together, the impatient Gaudí simply grabbed a tile, shattered it into a hundred pieces on the ground, and stuck them on by the fistful, exclaiming “We must do it like this or we’ll never finish!”. Whether or not the story is true, it is true that the Catalan architect certainly used the innovative craft extensively and transformed it into one of his most signature techniques, which he applied in many of his architectural creations in Barcelona.

Where can I find Trencadís in Barcelona?

One of the most famous examples of Trencadís is brought to life, in the form of the world-famous mosaic, affectionately known as “El Drac” that majestically lazes on the steps in Park Güell. Also, the pavilion seating area in Park Güell, where you can get a panoramic view of Barcelona, is adorned in multi-coloured mosaic tiles, and is a popular photography point for visitors of Barcelona. Throughout the park you’ll find the distinctive artform of Trencadís-covered spheres, columns, and buildings too. The colors that predominate in the work are blue, green and yellow, which for Gaudí symbolized Faith, Hope and Charity.

trencadís

One of Gaudí’s other Trencadís masterpieces is Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia, which when illuminated during the nighttime almost comes alive with magic, glowing and shimmering in the dark. Even the stone benches that line the luxurious shops on Passeig de Gràcia are covered in the signature mosaic tiles.

In Sant Pau, mosaics were used everywhere to introduce floral motives into the hospital, and can be found in murals, on the ceilings, floors and walls. On the floor of Parròquia de Sant Pacià, a geometric design of marble mosaic lies on the floor, created by a young Gaudí.

With Trencadís found on many different architectural creations in Barcelona, just keep your eyes peeled while wandering around, and you’re sure to stumble upon another mosaic-covered beauty. Did you find any that we missed out? Let us know!

English Cinemas in Barcelona – Barcelona Travel Guide

Visiting an English cinemas in Barcelona may just be the perfect downtime activity during your trip. As much as we love exploring the city, between sightseeing, tapas bar-hopping, or  running all around Barcelona, it can be nice to rest your feet, sit back and relax while watching a film. Or perhaps there just so happens to be a rainy day during your trip (whilst it is rare in Barcelona but believe it or not, it does happen!!), you may be looking to stay dry indoors while still being semi-productive with your time. Or perhaps you so happen to be here in town while your favourite blockbuster film is about to be released.

You may be surprised to hear that we have English cinemas in Barcelona! Indeed most Western films, whether shown on television or on the silver screen, are dubbed over with Spanish or Catalan voiceovers – which could perhaps explain why generally speaking our English isn’t the best, as we never really get exposed to the language.  But for those looking to hunt down the ‘V.O.’ ‘versión original’ of Western films, there are a handful of places you can check out. Keep reading for our recommended list of English cinemas in Barcelona!

English cinemas in Barcelona

Verdi HD & Verdi Park HD

These two sister cinemas are located right next to each other on the ever-popular Carrer Verdi in Gràcia, with many restaurants and cafes nearby, perfect for a post-cinema film discussion over a glass of wine and some tapas. They show many independent “art house” films in the language they were originally produced sobra   including English and other languages.

Carrer de Verdi, 32, 08012 Barcelona
Carrer de Torrijos, 49, 08012 Barcelona

Yelmo Cines Icaria

This cinema is located right near the beach on La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou, in El Centre de la Vila shopping mall. It’s well equipped with over 15 screens and it is perfect for having dinner on the beach after a film.

Carrer de Salvador Espriu, 61, 08005 Barcelona

Cinema Maldà

Calling all the cinephiles! If you’ve got a whole day to spare, why not head to watch films back-to-back at this cinema? You’ll definitely be getting the most bang for your buck with its unique pricing method, which charges by the day.

Carrer del Pi, 5, 08002 Barcelona

Balmes Multicines

This modern and comfortable cinema is located in the upper part of the city and shows all the most popular films in their original language, with a full food bar for the essential snacks and drinks during the film.

Carrer de Balmes, 422-424, 08022 Barcelona

Renoir Floridablanca

A quick walk from Plaça Catalunya, this cinema is perfect for those in the city center, looking to watch a V.O. film.

Carrer de Floridablanca, 135, 08011 Barcelona



Phenomena

This retro style cinema takes you back in time, with its royal red carpets and red curtains. Their wide-ranging selection even includes some retro Japanese anime films like “Akira”.

C/ Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 168, 08025 Barcelona

 

English Cinemas in Barcelona - Phenomena

 

Cinemes Girona

Located in Gràcia, this cinema frequently participates in film festival screenings, such as the Asian Film Festival or the American Film Festival.

Carrer de Girona, 175, 08037 Barcelona

Filmoteca de Catalunya

In Raval neighbourhood, this cinema is dedicated to screening educational documentaries on a wide range of topics, and even have regular exhibitions.

Plaça de Salvador Seguí, 1-9, 08001 Barcelona

Have you visited any of these English cinemas in Barcelona before? What are the latest V.O. films that you want to watch? Leave you comments below and help us to learn more!

Primavera Sound: Next destination Barcelona, capital of music

Primavera Sound is an unmissable event in Barcelona. In our eyes, the arrival of summer in Barcelona is marked by a few things: rising temperatures and glorious blue skies, Ciutadella Park and Barceloneta slowly starting to fill up with sunlight lovers soaking in the rays, dinner times getting pushed back later and later as the days get longer, and the streets coming alive with life. The inauguration event to officially kick off summer? Well, we like to think that that’s Primavera Sound Music Festival.

Primavera Sound

What is Primavera Sound?

Primavera Sound is one of Europe’s most popular music festivals, and is hosted annually in Barcelona. This year it’s to be held May 30 – June 3, 2018, and over 190,000 partygoers are expected. The organisers of Primavera Sound pride themselves on carefully curating a mix of music styles and genres, with performances by both well-established artists and smaller acts that are just emerging, so that the audience can jam out to their favourites and also discover new music. El Pais says the music festival is “an integral part of Barcelona”, and La Vanguardia even went so far to rate it as “one of the best festivals in the world”. This year’s line up for 2018 was recently announced, and includes big headliners like Björk, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Migos, Arctic Monkeys, Lorde and A$AP Rocky.

Apart from the music, the location of the music festival plays a key part in the experience. The home of Primavera Sound is Parc del Fòrum, a massive waterfront park that overlooks the sea. With the glorious warm weather in May, there is no better feeling than swaying with the crowd, friends by your side, Aperol Spritz in hand, and watching the sun set on the Barcelona coastline, with the cool sea breeze in your hair… We already can’t wait.

What else can I do while in town for Primavera Sound?

Now that we’ve convinced you to come to Barcelona for Primavera Sound, you may be wondering what other things you can do while you’re here in the beautiful city of Barcelona, and to take full advantage of your travels here. Well, you’ll be spoilt for choice! No matter what you like there’s something for everyone.

For the foodies, you may wish to explore the rich gastronomic scene – plus all that dancing at Primavera Sound is sure to leave you with a great appetite. Perhaps a visit to the famous La Boqueria market on La Rambla? Or tapas-bar hopping in the well-known El Raval neighbourhood? Or you could take advantage of the beautiful weather and have a paella by the sea in one of our many beachside “xiringuitos”.

For those knowledge-hungry visitors, a visit to one of our world-class museums cannot be missed. Whether it’s arts or history, there are a huge variety of educational museums all around Barcelona.

And of course, there are a few historical sights that must be checked off one’s bucket list while in Barcelona, even if your legs are sore from dancing all day and night: a visit to Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, or a stroll through the scenic Park Güell will complete your Barcelona trip. If you’re really squeezed for time during your trip here for Primavera Sound, check out our three-day and five-day travel guides.

Are you attending Primavera Sound this year? What acts are you most excited for and what other things do you plan on doing in Barcelona? Let us know if we’ve missed anything!

To buy tickets and view the full-line up, visit the official Primavera Sound website… Be warned tickets sell out fast, so get yours before it’s too late!