La Roca Village shopping day trip from Barcelona

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.

La Roca Village

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

option 1

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.

option 2

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!

 

Barcelona Day Trips – a day out in Sitges

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.

What to do in Barcelona in one day

So, you´re stopping off in one of the best cities in the world and have a mere 24 hours to savor the sights, sounds and tastes of Catalonia´s capital. Fear not, we´ve compiled some suggestions for what to do in Barcelona in one day to ensure you don´t miss out on any of the best bits.

Barcelona´s public transport network is efficient and super easy to navigate. If you (and your travelling companion) and planning to take several journeys either by bus or metro throughout your brief stay, we recommend buying a T10 travel card from any metro station. A T10 for zone one comes in at just under 10 Euro and one ticket can be used by multiple people on both the metro and buses for 10 journeys around the city. However, if you´re planning to get around mainly on foot as per our recommended route, a single journey will only set you back €2.15 so this could be your best option.

Our ´What to do in Barcelona in one day´ route starts off at La Sagrada Família where you can marvel Antoni Gaudí’s most impressive piece of work. This spectacular building is easily accessible by metro or bus and is well worth a visit. If you are pressed for time, you could simply admire the cathedral from outside, but for those keen to enter, we strongly recommend buying tickets online in advance to avoid the lengthy queues http://www.sagradafamilia.org/en/tickets/.

Sagrada-Familia_Antoni-Gaudi_dezeen_936_0

After that, hop on the metro (L5) until the stop Diagonal. From here, head down one of the city’s most emblematic streets, Passeig de Gràcia, where you’ll find some of Barcelona’s best examples of modernist buildings. This grand street, akin to an open-air architectural museum, will take you past some of Gaudi´s best known works, including La Pedrera, La Casa Amatller or Casa Batlló until you reach Plaça Catalunya.

Passeig de Gràcia

Plaça Catalunya backs onto Barcelona´s most famous street, La Rambla, famed for its lively atmosphere, street performers, resident artists, cafes, bars and restaurants. A gentle stroll down La Rambla will take you past some of Barcelona´s most iconic buildings and structures, such as the beautiful market La Boqueria and el Gran Teatre del Liceu. La Boqueria is an explosion of colour and smells and is an absolute must for any foodies. Simply peruse the food stalls and soak up the atmosphere or pull up a chair at one of the bars and order yourself a coffee or some Cava and tapas.

Slightly further down La Rambla is the El Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona´s opera house), which was founded in 1847. Once you reach El Teatre del Liceu, turn left down the street Carrer de la Palla until you reach the Cathedral square. Barcelona´s beautiful cathedral is as impressive from the inside as it is the outside so make sure you step in and admire its Gothic and Baroque features from up close! Next, make your way into the adjoining cloister. This secluded area is a peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle of the Gothic quarter´s streets and is dedicated to the city´s co-patron saint, Saint Eulàlia of Barcelona who lost her life during the Roman era after refusing to dismiss Jesus as the son of God. In her honour, the cloister still keeps 13 white geese (Eulàlia´s age at the time of her death).

Gran Teatre del Liceu

Next up on our ´What to do in Barcelona in 1 day´ tour, we suggest you walk down Via Laietana until you reach the street Jaume I. Once on Jaume I, turn left to behold Plaça Sant Jaume and the old Roman walls that once encompassed the city formerly known as Barcino. From here, get back on Via Laietana until you reach the charming Carrer de l’Argentería, which will take you down to the beautiful church of Santa María del Mar (made famous throughout the world thanks to Ildefonso Falcones´ novel Cathedral of the Sea).

Santa Maria del Mar

After a busy morning, you´ll be in need of some lunchtime sustenance and when in Barcelona that can only mean one thing; Paella! Right by Santa Maria del Mal you´ll find Passeig del Born which is home to La Vinya del Senyor which serves up a mouthwateringly delicious paella. Here you´ll also find several delightful tapas spots.

After you´ve filled your boots, walk off the post-lunchtime slump in Barcelona´s old fishing quarter, La Barceloneta. Head to the street Palau de Mar and then make your way down Passeig de Joan Borbó until you reach the city beach of Sant Sebastià. You´ll also notice lots of restaurants along the way. Our particular favourite is La Mar Salada where they serve up on of the best paellas in Barcelona.

La Barceloneta

 

Also if you want to explore Barcelona’s nightlife, save money and drink like a local, try this revolutionary App: TomaBida, the App that allows you to discover Barcelona’s best Bar and get a free drink a day! With the BizFlats code, you have this offers for you:
– 4.99€ for a 3-day visitor pass (which means 3 free drinks worth up to 30€ total)
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Download now TomaBida! Shall we get a drink?

So there you have it – an action-packed itinerary for what to do in Barcelona in 1 day. We hope you enjoy your short stay! And, if you are looking for accommodation, remember that here at Bizflats we have apartments which are guaranteed to make your time in Barcelona unforgettable.

 

Cursa dels Nassos – End the year on a sporting high running in Barcelona

Let’s face it, 2016 has been an interesting year across the globe and one which many will willingly kiss goodbye to. Why not end on a high with Barcelona’s 10K Cursa dels Nassos on December 31st?

On the last day of each year, Barcelona’s streets buzz with anticipation for the eagerly anticipated Cursa dels Nassos which sees the city become awash with shades of fluorescent Lycra as residents and visitors to the city gather together for this spectacular sporty affair. The race (not to be confused with Sant Cugat’s Sant Silvestre Barcelonesa race which operates on a smaller scale outside the city), is a hugely important fixture on the Catalan calendar and is the second largest of its kind in Spain. The unusually named event honors a legendary figure who is said to have as many noses as days of the year. According to folklore, the noses man (home dels nassos) sheds a nose every day, leaving him with only one nose on New Year’s Eve for when he finally leaves his house. The Cursa dels Nassos is a must for anyone interested in running and welcomes an impressive 14,000 runners (maximum) from over 50 countries every year.

Although the Cursa dels Nassos is a pretty speedy affair (11 athletes completed it in under 30 minutes last year), anyone over the age of 16 can take part by simply registering online and turning up on the day. There is also a race category for people with visual impairments, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy and wheelchair users. The route starts on Selva de Mar street in the Sant Marti district of Barcelona and takes runners through some of the most beautiful parts of the city. The Cursa dels Nassos is an undeniably brilliant way to spend the last day of the year and, with a 17:30 start time, it leaves you plenty of time to put your glad rags on for the evening’s celebrations.

The tradition of running on New Year’s Eve began in 1925 when a journalist in São Paulo (Brazil), inspired by a night race he had seen in Paris, decided to hold his own event. The race was named La Corrida de São Silvestre de São Paulo. It started at 23:40 on December 31st and finished in the early hours of January 1st 1926. Over the years the race gained in profile until Spaniard Antonio Sabugueiro decided to replicate it in Madrid, creating what is now known as San Silvestre Valle.  Nowadays, similar events are held across Spain in cities such as Beasain and Vitoria.

So, if the Cursa dels Nassos whets your appetite for running and all things Lycra, you’ll be pleased to know that there are loads of organised races taking place in Barcelona during 2017.

Barcelona running events during 2017

  •  February 12th 2017 – eDreams Mitja Marató de Barcelona

This is Barcelona’s second largest running event which saw 12,493 participants last year and is also open to wheelchair users. Water stations are placed approximately every 5 kilometers and there are bag storage facilities available. Note, there is a maximum completion time of 2 hours 45 minutes, so if your approach to running is slow and steady or you are new to the sport, this might not be the one for you!

edreams-mitja-marato

  •  March 12th 2017 – Zurich Marató de Barcelona

This marathon started in 1977 and is fast becoming an important fixture on the international running calendar for its flat and scenic route around the beautiful city of Barcelona. There are water points, massage services and showers available to runners and refreshment stations available around the course.

Zurich Maraton de Barcelona

  • May 7th – Cursa de Bombers

This 10 kilometer race is a hugely popular event organised by Nike Running and the city of Barcelona which accepts up to 20,000 runners – of which there are usually around 400 firefighters. Traditionally the race involved relay teams of four firemen where each member ran a 2.5 kilometer leg of the route in full firefighting gear weighing up to 20 kg to compete against other teams of firefighters. The Cursa de Bombers is an unmissable event for runners on the international athletics calendar and has been awarded the Bronze Label from the IAAF International Athletics Association.

cursa-de-bombers-barcelona

So, with the Cursa dels Nassos and so many running events on offer in the city, make this New Year’s Eve and 2017 your year to get running!

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 2017 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

Christmas Catalan Dishes

Barcelona does Christmas undeniably well. Whereas in many European cities, you are likely to have Christmas tat and poor Santa-imitations thrust upon you, the Catalans celebrate in style and yuletide joy is often accompanied by a range of delicious Catalan dishes and sweet treats. In Catalonia Christmas begins on 24th December and continues until Epiphany (Dia dels Tres Reis d’Orient) on 6th January when the presents arrive, providing ample time to fill your boots with some local culinary delights.

On Christmas Eve, We celebrate El Tío de Nadal (a Christmas log which poos presents) and whilst there are no traditional Catalan dishes to mark the occasion, no self-respecting Catalan would celebrate without having stocked up on Neulas (Catalan biscuits usually eaten with Cava) and Turró (a sweet food found in a variety of guises but its most original form is similar to that of nougat). Be sure to pick up your own share of these tantalising treats in any of the Christmas markets dotted around Barcelona.neules

December 25th in Barcelona is one big gastronomic treat. Catalan dishes served on Christmas day include escudella i carn d’olla (a sensational soup comprised of lamb, pig´s ear or cheek, potatoes, chicken, butifarra or Catalan sausage and Galets, a kind of pasta with a shape of a shell) , followed by pollastre farcit (oven roasted chicken stuffed with seasonal chestnuts and sausage meat). These Catalan dishes are washed down with Cava and sweet treats such as dried fruits and nuts, “Turrons” and “Neules”. You´ll also find giant Galets (pasta shells) along the streets of Barcelona in December which make great photo opportunities!

Escudella i Carn D'olla

Celebrations continue on St Steven´s Day (26th December) with family gatherings and once again, the opportunity to extend the Christmas waistlines with leftovers from the day before used to make “canelons”.canelons

Celebrate New Years Eve like a true Catalan with the surprisingly-tricky-to-master grape countdown in which you pop one grape in your mouth for every clock chime. Considered to ensure good luck for the year ahead, make sure you you don´t miss out – you can even buy packs of 12 deseeded grapes for the occasion! There are many theories attached to this tradition, but the most common explanation arises from the over-production of grapes around 1900. New Years Day hangovers aren´t usually soothed by a particular Catalan dish but stuffed chicken often crops up on the menu.uvas de Fin de año

Finally, the 6th January (Dia de Reis) provides yet another perfect excuse to indulge with El Tortell de Reis. This colourful, O-shaped cake is usually stuffed with marzipan or cream and glazed with fruit and contains two hidden surprises: a figurine of one of the threee kings and a fava, or dried field bean (yes, you read correctly, a bean!). Whoever is lucky enough to find the king gets to wear a paper crown whereas the less fortunate finder of the bean has to pay for the cake!

tortell-de-reis

So, loosen the belt and prepare to indulge. Catalan Christmas cuisine won’t fail to disappoint!

 

Most Famous Ski Resorts near Barcelona

Winter in Barcelona can be the perfect plan: Architecture, gastronomy, culture, beach and moreover, a day trip or a weekend to Ski!  We´ve put together a list of Ski Resorts near Barcelona within a drive or train. Keep reading to know which are the most famos catalan ski resorts. Time to hit the slopes!

Ski Resorts near Barcelona

  • Baqueira-Beret Ski resort

Baqueira-Beret ski resort is the biggest ski resort in Spain and boasts a wealth of trendy clientele. Set in Vall d’Aran in the Pyrenees and with a whopping altitude of over 120km and 33 ski lifts, it´s well worth the four hour drive from Barcelona. Snowfall here is pretty heavy and consistent throughout the winter months and there is great skiing on offer for all levels, including some eye-popping black runs off the top of the 2516m peak of Tuc Deth Dossau.

Baqueira-Beret has a wide variety of activities to suit your skitour Barcelona needs, such as ski classes or Heli-skiing, alpine skiing, snowboard, telemark, and Nordic. The apre-ski scene here is fab so after an energetic day on the slopes, you can reward yourself with a tipple or two! With an adult day ski pass costing 49 Euro it´s slightly pricier than some of the other resorts in the neighbouring areas but we think it´s well worth splashing out.

baqueira-beret-ski-resort

  • La Molina Ski Resort

Talking about Ski Resorts near Barcelona, If you are looking for something a little closer to Barcelona than a 4 hours ride, we highly recommend the resorts of La Molina (also accessible by train) and Masella. Both resorts are approximately a two hour drive from Barcelona. Spain´s oldest ski destination, La Molina, is the perfect spot for short ski breaks or even a day trip. It has around 67 kilometrers of ski-worthy slopes and also boasts additional activities such as ski Segway. However, if Apre-Ski is your thing, then perhaps this resort isn´t for you. It´s small and offers very few hotels (our favourite is Guitart Hotel La Molina Resort and Spa) but with a ski lift pass at around 40 Euro per day it won´t break the bank.

la-molina-ski-resort-near-barcelona

  • La Masella Ski Resort

A Ski trip from Barcelona could also take you to the giddy heights of La Masella. Much like its neighbour, La Masella isn´t for those wishing to paint the town red after a day on the slopes. So whilst Masella is unlikely to satisfy the needs of party animals, it is easy to get to and offers over 70 kilometres of brilliant slopes. An adult day lift pass in peak season will only set you back 43 Euro, so we think it’s well worth a visit.

la_masella_estacio_esqui

  • Grandvalira Ski Resort

If you are a pro, this is your ski resort: Grandvalira. This resort, which is the biggest Ski area in Andorra, has 110 pistes and an enormous skiable area of 205 kilometres! With peaks in this areas averaging out at 2500, the views won´t fail to disappoint. You can get here by train or car and for the coolest accommodation, head to the nearby villages of Soldeu and El Tarter. An adult day lift pass here costs around 47 Euro.

Grandvalira ski resort

  • Espot Ski Resort

This small ski station in the Lleida Pyrenees mountains is part of SkiPallars (a ski pass for two separate stations). It features 22 ski runs spread across 22.5 Km, 6 lifts, a children’s park and facilities such as snow cannons and is only a 3 1/2 hour drive from Barcelona. There are several packages available, but an adult (beginner) pass starts from 18 Euro.

espot-ski-resort

  • Vall de Núria Ski Resort

Vall de Núria is a charming resort accessible only by a train which departs from Ribes de Freser. The journey itself makes Vall de Núria worth the visit as it covers 12.5Km and climbs a staggering 1,000 meters in around 40 minutes. With 11 pistes catering for a variety of levels as well as a Children´s snow park, and amenities within the surrounding areas, Vall de Núria makes for an ideal ski getaway. There are various price packages available but a railway pass plus ski pass costs upwards of 27 Euro.

vall-de-nuria-ski-resort

So, ski fans, what are you waiting for? Hit the slopes and let’s Ski!