A visit to a Barcelona Christmas Market is the best way to sample the city’s Christmas Spirit. The oldest one in the city is the Fira de Santa Llúcia – situated in front of the Barcelona Cathedral at Avinguda de la Catedral. It’s right in the centre of city and full of seasonal hustle and bustle, while brimming with traditional Catalan Christmas trinkets and decorations for house and garden.
This Barcelona Christmas Market was created to celebrate the feast day of Santa LLúcia on December 13, but has now grown into a major part of the city’s Yuletide celebrations. This year, it runs from November 24, through to December 23 while also celebrating its 231st anniversary.
What to find in this Barcelona Christmas Market
There are over 250 stalls which are arranged in 4 distinct sections; Nativity Scenes & Figurines, Greenery and Plants (which includes fresh mistletoe for romantic visitors), Crafts & Fabrics and Traditional Musical Instruments.
It still is a very traditional Christmas market, but over time the Fira de Santa Llúcia has grown and grown. Today, it supplies additional products like toys and games for the children as well as decorations, hand crafted gifts and artisan products. Expect to see the traditional specialty on display, turrón, a baked cake of nougat made of honey, egg white and sugar with toasted almonds, or nuts with a rice paper coating. Buy two, so at least one gets to make its way home with you!
Among the many religious and more modern gift ideas, a few of the more traditional decorations items are on display and for sale. However, no Barcelona Christmas market would be complete without the infamous Caganer figures, a key fixture for the Catalan nativity scene, referred to as ‘El Pesebre’. This normally depicts a peasant defecating and the Caganer’s exact origins are pretty much unknown. But there he is, often hidden away in the far corner of a nativity scene, typically nowhere near the manger or main characters. The Catalan tradition is to have children find the hidden figure.
This leads to another fascinating tradition… the Tió de Nadal or Christmas log. The children will recite a famous song about el Tió de Nadal and before beating the Tió all the kids have to leave the room to pray, asking for the Tió to deliver a lot of presents. This makes the perfect excuse for the relatives to do the trick and put the presents under a blanket behind the Tió while the kids are praying. The Tió is not for large gifts, as they are brought by the three Kings on January 6th, but they are used more for smaller, communal gifts, treats and dried fruits that are shared by the whole brood… all of which are on offer at this Barcelona Christmas market.
How to get to Fira de Santa Llúcia
Due to the traffic jams during christmas holidays, we recommend you to get there using public transport. If you take the Metro, you can stop in Jaume I station (L4) and walk 3 minutes until the Cathedral.
Also you can stop in Plaça Catalunya, go down Portal de l’Àngel and have a walk in the main shopping street of the city until you get to the Cathedral (10 minutes walking)
The best way to discover this Barcelona’s Christmas Market is to rent a beautiful apartment in the city centre close by all the Christmas action, then please see our apartments in Barcelona here and book your festive vacation in Barcelona with us.
Are you willing to find Street Art in Barcelona? Barcelona is certainly famous for its contemporary arts, especially modern street art. It is prolific throughout the city whether it’s illegal graffiti or commissioned pieces by some of the city’s famous artists like El Pez, who now tours the world painting large murals in every continent.
It’s not just spray-paint art though. Today’s street art uses anything and everything to display a message or communicate a feeling. The most common forms of Barcelona’s Street Art are just as likely to be mosaics or stencils and some even use recycled materials collected from the street’s refuse.
It changes every night too! The best place to view some of the best and more historic street art pieces on your Barcelona trip are actually on shop shutters. But they are normally only visible at night after the shops shut, or on a Sunday. Below we have suggested some areas in the city where you will see major pieces of Barcelona’s Street Art work… maybe even in action!
Barcelona Street Art in El Raval
If you take a trek through this district, Barcelona’s Street Art is everywhere. A good place to start is the MACBA – the Barcelona Contemporary Museum of Modern Art – but no need to go inside, just scout around the surrounding area to see really fantastic pieces of work! There are also a lot of older pieces as you move deeper into the Raval district.
Street Art in Jardins de les Tres Xemeneies
Easy to find, just head to the where you see the 3 big chimneys breaking the skyline on Avinguda del Paral-lel . Art creation is actually encouraged here, so you are allowed to paint, so you should be able to see and talk with some of the artists as they paint. Head further down Paral-lel where it meets Plaça de les Drassanes, you will find another public park space called Jardin Walter Benjamin. Artists can paint legally here as well and there are always new and interesting murals on display.
Street Art The Gothic & Born Quarters
Start at Carrer Ataulf (with Carrer Templars) and then head into Carrer Milans. By just walking along these two streets alone, you could potentially take hours to see all the art within them. There are also some old treasures by legendary Barcelona Street Artists El Pez, Kram & Bombzone. The Born is nearby. Just cross Via Laietana and head down to Carrer de l’Argenteria. The art is not only on the street, visit some of the local galleries that exhibit and sell work by Barcelona’s street artists.
Street Art Walking Tour
There is even a world famous Barcelona Street art walking tour – the Barcelona Street Style Tour. It has reviews by virtually every newspaper culture section on the planet. We highly recommend it! Also it’s free, but if you feel the tour gave good value, you can always donate when it ends. You would expect to pay about €8-10 for any informative and enjoyable walking tour. They even have an additional bicycle tour that takes you to Poble-Nou, where some of the city’s largest murals are.
Barcelona’s Street Art brings many visitors and artists to the city every year. To make your stay more enjoyable, why not see our selection of holiday rental apartments in the areas mentioned above to be right in the middle of all the action.
Today Casa Vicens open its doors to the public for the first time in its 130-year history. The opening is one year over schedule due to some painstaking restoration work, but definitely worth the wait.
Casa Vicens, the first home designed by Gaudí
The building is the first home designed by the great Modernist architect Antoni Gaudí. The house was finished in 1885 and has always been a family home or summer house. It was commissioned for a local merchant Manel Vicens i Montaner. After he passed away, his widow sold it to the Jover family in 1899 and they resided in it, handing it down the family through the years.
In 2014 Casa Vicens was bought by MoraBanc & Amura Capital investing €4 million to bring the building back to its former glory. The restoration process began in 2015 and fully conserves all the original features and rooms. The figure for the actual purchase of the building is undisclosed.
Discover Casa Vicens
The new museum will pay homage to the famed architect and visitors will also learn more about Gaudí’s background; his life before designing Casa Vicens, his intellectual influences and his inspiration both during and after his studies.
The ceramic glaze brickwork on the exterior is influenced by Arabic and Medieval styles, also incorporating Gaudí’s personal decorative and symbolic themes. These were only discovered after removing a layer of white paint used to cover some of the original decoration and papiermache artwork.
The house retains a gallery, dining room and a smoking room which adjoin the gardens and newly installed side entrance all on the ground floor. The main façade features the reconstruction of the original fountain with its circular base for collecting the water, a main body and metal structure. As a result of various works over the years, the whole piece had disappeared, so the reconstruction of the fountain is based on photographs.
The first floor of Casa Vicens is home to a permanent collection of Gaudí’s papers where visitors can discover several original pieces of his thoughts on architecture. Anyone who knows Gaudí’s work will be aware that he rarely wrote about his opinions on architecture and design, so these are special treats for enthusiasts indeed.
There is also a live audiovisual projection about the architect, and depending on what time of year, there will be temporary exhibtions and other activities dedicated to different parts of Gaudí’s life and work. Apart from Gaudí’s social, cultural and artistic context, visitors will be able to find out more about his projects prior to building this house – such as school projects, his city projects, religious projects and his first building and furniture designs.
Casa Vicens is a Unesco World Heritage Site, named among other works he designed such as the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, Park Güell, Palau Güell, Palau de la Música and Hospital de Sant Pau. It is located in the western part Gràcia and it is expected that approximately 150,000 people will visit the museum every year.
La Roca Village is a shopping concept operated by multi-national luxury retail group, Chic, who boast 11 such sites at cities like London, Paris, Munich, Shanghai, as well as several in Spain. More of a Spanish architecture styled village than a shopping mall, La Roca Village is treasure trove of more than 130 outlets by top brands such as Moncler, Michael Kors, Armani, Boss, Gucci, Hackett, Jimmy Choo or Versace, all brimming with luxury articles available at low prices, sometimes saving up to 60% off high street prices.
Located in the region of El Vallès Oriental on the outskirts of Granollers – a large industrial town just outside of Barcelona where the famous Montmeló Formula One track is – La Roca Village offers a great day out for young couples, groups, singles or families. It is a tourist destination in its own right due to the stunning design and innovative experience.
It’s open seven days a week, 10am till 9pm, but normally closed for holidays such as Christmas Day, King’s Day… check their website before planning your day trip. Private shopping services include an all-store baggage-guarding scheme and even a personal adviser service for complete makeovers. There are more additional activities such as a gift card services.
There are plenty of fine eating establishments scattered around the shopping village with food for every taste with a beautiful play area for younger ones at its centre. So how do you get there?
How to get to La Roca Village by Car
La Roca is easily accessible from the “Autopista del Mediterráneo” or AP7. This motorway stretches all the way from the Spanish/French border in the North connecting through to Valencia and Vera in the southern part of the peninsula. Leave the AP7 Motorway at Exit 12A (Cardedeu) and follow the signs for Centre Comercial (GPS Lat. 41.610694, Long. 2.343342). Prices for small to medium car rentals from leading companies such as Europcar, for example, start from 29 euro per day.
How to get to La Roca Village by train
Very regular services from City’s main rail station Sants connecting to Granollers, the stop near the shopping village, every 30 minutes. From there, regular bus services or taxis will help you complete your trip with a 5-minute journey to the shopping complex. It’s a well-trodden path to La Roca, so this is an easy option basically door-to-door.
City Centre Coach
The most direct way is by the Shopping Express shuttle bus – operated by La Roca themselves and pre-booking is advised due to limited seat numbers. Return trips cost €20 each for adults, children 3-12 at €10 and children under 3 travel for free Passeig de Gracia, 6. Usually by booking online, there are also plenty of discount opportunities in the shops, cafeterias and restaurants on offer.
Sagales, a local coach service, also operates a direct route and has extra stops at the Mango Outlet and Nike Factory Store. Children under 4 travel for free and adult returns are €20 at the departure point on Carrer Casp, 34. Again, pre-booking is advised and will also earn you some further discount on your travel ticket costs.
If shopping is your thing, then Barcelona is definitely your place. Find your ‘base camp’ from our selection of fine rental apartments throughout the city, and shop till you drop!
La Castanyada 2017 is here! La Castanyada is a custom of eating roasted chestnuts and panellets (traditional Catalan sweets) during the 1st and 2nd of November.
This is a custom held deep in the hearts of Catalans since we are children. We observe this day in school years, not falling foul to the Halloween pageant and its pumpkin lanterns. This tradition has been going for much longer and is hosted by the Castanyera – a kind of mythical good lady witch – who would sit behind her charcoal fire roasting chestnuts for everybody in her peasant rags. Some of the traditions have also been borrowed from traditional funeral offerings that have long been forgotten in the passage of time.
Eat Roasted Chestnuts in La Castanyada 2017
La Castanyada 2017 is the survival of those traditions in a more modern form that pays homage to all of the Catalan Saints (1st November) and the Day of the Dead (2nd November).
The first day of La Castanyada would begin with the churches beginning a non-stop ringing of bells to warn the citizens on the arrival of the time to pray for their deceased. The chestnuts are said to have been roasted for the bell-ringers who would be working all day, and that the chestnuts and sweet pieces were to replenish their strength and stave off the cold while they took turns to rest.
According to some sources, the tradition became more widespread across Catalunya and other regions of Spain and Portugal during the Eighteenth Century. So if you are visiting Barcelona during this time, La Castanyada 2017 will be right on your doorstep, as virtually every street corner in the city will host a stall roasting chestnuts and sweet potatoes (moniato) for you to buy and eat right away in hot portions.
Try the Delicious Panellets in La Castanyada 2017
The best ones are almond-flavoured, candied fruit that are coated in pine nuts and are a typical meal for the La Castanyada 2017 celebration. The origins of this part of the tradition are somewhat lost in history, but some ideas hint that this custom is linked to the blessing of loaves, which were deposited as an offering to family tombs in honour of the memory of the ancestors and also as food in their journey to the beyond.
La Castanyada 2017 with all its beautiful tasting chestnuts and sweets is actually a communion celebration to worship deceased relatives. Traditionally, while there will be many roasted chestnut vendors on the streets, it is not really a street-style festival. It’s actually a very private moment for the Catalan family as they spend time together and pay respect to their lost ones. In fact during La Castanyada, families would normally go to the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of their deceased family members and then spend the rest of the day at home, together.
However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be things going on the city. Barcelona is one of the most vibrant places in Europe. If you are looking to stay here during this time, or anytime even, we have a fantastic choice of holiday rental apartments to ensure that your trip is pleasant and comfortable. Check our selection here.
f you spend 4 or 5 days in Barcelona you can also plan several Barcelona day trips that you will love, for example a day out in Sitges.
Located just a short way outside Barcelona, to the west and taking a 40-minute journey on the local rail service either from Franca, Sants or Passeig de Gràcia rail stations, is the romantic and historic village of Sitges, a perfect destination for any Barcelona day trip.
This Barcelona day trip couldn’t be easier to do. It will cost approximately €9 Euro (day return) on the train, usually 4 every hour, dropping visitors off at one of the most beautiful and fabled villages situated on the Catalunya’s Costa Dorada. Simply alight and stroll into the town from Sitges rail station, the stunning beaches are not too far away. There is so much history here, so where do you start?
Foremost, Sitges is famous as a party town. The first ever Pacha nightclub in the world – created 10 years before Ibiza – was founded here. But let’s not forget it’s annual Carnaval – one of the biggest in the world – its frequent fiestas, major film festival or the Corpus Christi.
Going even further back in time, the Romans occupied the village and it was a major point of trade and festival. In fact, according to the Museu de Sitges, “since ancient times, the site of Sitges has been associated with a small Roman town mentioned in classical sources called Subur.” Basically after the centurions were paid in salt (from Las Salinas in Ibiza) they took a short cruise to Sitges to spend their wages in true soldier fashion.
Pretty much, this is still what happens today, and Sitges now occupies an even more special place on the global map – the pink map to be precise. Best described as poly-sexual, Sitges is probably the world’s number one destination for the LGBT community.
The most famous street is Carrer del Pecat (Sin Street) as it is known here. Its real name is Carrer Primer de Maig de 1838, and it is here where artists such as Dali and Picasso used to meet and hang out in their younger years during the 1960’s.
At the bottom of Carrer del Pecat is the beach, one of 17. This one is called playa de la Ribera and home to El Chiringuito… quite literally the first ever chiringuito built in Spain. Turn to the right and walk up the beachfront a little way and you will come to a fine beachfront restaurant called Pic Nic. Perfect for a fresh fish lunch and to pick at some tapas specialties. Pulpo Gallega, sepia, patatas bravas and fresh bread with tomàquet are always on the menu and this selection of dishes should cost about €25 per person.
After the sustenance, the energy kicks in! Use your time wisely on this Barcelona day trip and see some of the sights. Follow the path down to the bottom of the church and the old town. Take the steps up to the old quarter and you will find the magnificent church – dedicated to the town’s patron saints, Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla, or drop into the recently refurbished Cau Ferrat Museum.
A suggested route for this day trip is to follow in footsteps of Sitges’ fanciful fore father, Modernist artist and most beloved Santiago Rusiñol. Enjoy a healthy stroll high above Playa Sant Sebastian to marvel at the graveyard and viewpoint that looks down to Port Aiguadolce.
The rest of my day maybe spent sampling the artisanal wares of the many shops that Sitges has hidden down its back streets, with each and every one unashamedly paying homage to Sitges’ mix of maritime and melancholic glamour. Check out the numerous interior design, curiosity and antique shops, carelessly scattered between the village’s many cobbled streets.
Before you end your Barcelona day trip and make your back to the city, stop to ‘whet your whistle’ at the locals favourite watering hole, El Cable, on Carrer Barcelona with Carrer Santiago Rusiñol. The libations here are almost as famous as the town’s fearsome film festival.
Whatever your thoughts are on this historic hideaway during your Barcelona day trip, one thing’s for certain – you’ll be sure to wave it goodbye, many times again. For your stay in Barcelona, please do visit our page to see a great selection of fine apartments.
One day in Montjuïc is time well spent if you have a few days to visit Barcelona. There are many attractions on this historic site, including its castle sitting just over 180m above the city.
The castle served as the main protection for the old city harbour since circa 1640. Apart from the castle, most of the other attractions in this area were created for Barcelona’s International Exposition in 1929 with more buildings added for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, including the main stadium. 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Games.
Joan Miró Foundation (Museu Miró) – One day in Montjuïc
This space was completed in 1975 and was commissioned by Joan Miró i Ferrà, a Surrealist painter, sculptor and ceramicist from Barcelona who won international acclaim for his works. He was originally a student of business, but after a nervous breakdown, he turned to being an artist and was one of the leaders of the Catalan Fauvist Period. He wanted to create a space to encourage younger artists to create modern art – Espai 13. A good way to get to the Miró is by using the Montjuïc Funicular Railway, which leaves from Paral.lel Metro station.
Poble Espanyol – One day in Montjuïc
The complex is an array of 117 buildings themed on the “Spanish Town” and the whole area is classed as a museum that pays homage to the whole country’s architecture. It was due to be demolished after the great 1929 exposition, but after its success, the city decided to preserve it. Poble Espanyol is a magical area of Montjuïc, where you can switch between the different styles of Spain’s rich heritage of construction design. There are also exhibitions of craft, contemporary art and shops with gourmet products, concert venues, theatres and activities for children. It is a maze of small streets and squares, with the grand entrance Porta d’Àvila, located just a short walk above the Montjuïc Fountains
Palau Sant Jordi – One day in Montjuïc
Completed in 1990, this was the indoor arena for Barcelona’s Olympic Games. It is still used today for sports events and concerts, such as basketball, indoor tennis, swimming and indoor athletics. It can comfortably fit 18,000 spectators for most events depending on use of the giant floor space.
Open air Greek Amphitheatre (Teatre Grec) – One day in Montjuïc
This is a stunning recreation of a traditional Greek-style theatre, nestled in the woods on Montjuïc. It opened for performances during the 1929 exposition and hosts performances and shows during the summer months. It is a major component of the city’s annual Greek Festival, but you may visit it outside of these months.
National Art Museum of Catalunya (MNAC) – One day in Montjuïc
This is located in the National Palace, just above the fountains and Plaça Espanya, which was built for the 1929 exposition. It is an Italian-styled design and has some the finest displays of Romanesque and Gothic art collections in the world. Everybody can experience their favorite art here, as the museum exhibits historic pieces of Catalan sculpture, portraits, mural paintings, carvings and metalworks. There is also a modern art collection and a photography display.
Montjuïc really has a lot going on with a wonderful mix of must-see attractions both old and new. To really enjoy your stay more in Barcelona why not rent an apartment? We have an excellent choice of apartments all over the city to suit your needs.
La Mercè 2017 is the main event on Barcelona’s festival agenda, uniting all of its neighbourhoods and serving as the city’s Festa Major. This year it aims to extend further throughout the city by adding even more new venues and activities.
Every year, Barcelona invites a city from around the world to jointly celebrate the festival. This year Icelandic capital Reykjavik has been invited to be this year’s special guest city and will be honoured throughout La Mercè.
Overall, it is a religious festival that has been celebrated since the Middle Ages and observes the holy feast day of Our Lady of Mercy. It is the biggest weeklong festival in the city and an age-old tradition, but there are very up-to-date activity items as well, such as specialty markets, art displays and musical performances for example.
Gegants & Capgrossos – La Mercè 2017
Catalunya has a great tradition for processions of giants or bigheads, which are tall, hollow structures with very large papier-mâché heads, each with a unique identity and character. They are carried on top of people’s shoulders in a parade as they dance and run at the crowds. Also, there are the Bestiari – which are figures of medieval, folkloric creatures. This parade happens on the first day of the La Mercé celebrations.
Gegants Procession, September 22, Palau de la Virreina on La Rambla, 99, at 19:00h
The Correfoc – La Mercè 2017
The famous fire run is always on September 24 – the actual saint’s day for La Mercé. Performers dressed as devils and fiery dragons dance in a long procession through the city. Hordes of “diables” hoist pitchforks, or forquilles, above their heads, with spinning fireworks attached that spray in all directions. If you’re going to get a close-up photograph, then protective clothing is advised. There is also an early fire run for children.
Correfoc (Adults), September 23, Via Laietana at 20:15h
Correfoc (Children) September 23, Via Laietana at 18:30h
Castellers – La Mercè 2017
The Catalans are very good at building human structures. In fact he last few world records – 10 persons high – have been have been set in the region. Participants, or Catsellers, climb on top of each other, interlocked into a delicate balancing act to get people to reach into the sky as far as possible. The human tower is supported by a large number of people at the bottom, and then it’s a race to reach the highest point in strict formation before the structure breaks.
Human Towers, September 23, Plaça de Sant Jaume at 11:30h
Human Towers, September 23, Plaça de Sant Jaume at 12:30h
Barcelona Acció Musical has been running for over 20 years and hosts more contemporary rock and pop music concerts. It runs in parallel to the main festival, and as Reykjavik is the partner city for this year’s La Mercé, then a contingent of its artists will perform, as well as national and internal artists. Concerts usually take place at Plaza Real, Plaza Catalunya and at the MACBA, among many other intimate places and open-air venues around the city.
BAM, September 22-25, various venues http://lameva.barcelona.cat/bam/en
Piromusical – La Mercè 2017
This is a critically acclaimed, professional fireworks display that takes place on the last night of La Mercè 2017 on Avinguda reina Maria Cristina. You need to arrive early for the big finale, as thousands of people gather to watch this spectacular show.
Check the official agenda for more firework displays and digital light mapping events throughout the festival, at http://lameva.barcelona.cat/merce/en.
Piromusical, September 25, Avinguda de Reina Maria Cristina (Plaça Espanya) at 22:00h
The La Mercè Festival is a great way to see Barcelona at its best. Your stay could be much more convenient with your own apartment. Check our website for an excellent selection of short-term holiday rentals so that your stay in the city is as comfortable as possible.