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

9 Sports Bars in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city that has it all: history, culture, beach, nature and not to forget, a healthy love for all types of sport. Tourists visit this cosmopolitan hub from all around the world, and many share Barcelona’s passion for its local team. Whether it is football, basketball, athletics or something else you’re after, you’ll find a multitude of sports bars in the city showing both local and international matches, cups and tournaments.

La Pròrroga

So, just because you’re on holiday it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your favourite teams’ matches. Say goodbye to searching for Wi-Fi to check the latest scores and head to one of these lively sports bars in the centre of Barcelona. We’ve selected our best spots for you to stay up to date with the action among a lively crowd!

Also referred to as the sports “bodega”, La Pròrroga bar in Gràcia is a comfortable environment where you can enjoy good food and good sports. Catch the latest football, rugby or basketball game on its 125-inch screen.

C/ de les Guilleries 10

Sports Bar Italian Food

The name says it all. Look no further for some of the best homemade pizza and pasta in Barcelona, with great service and at affordable prices. Enjoy the latest matches surrounded by several screens and locals and tourists alike. 

c/ Ample 51

L’Ovella Negra Marina

If you’re looking for an animated crowd to cheer along with, L’Ovella Negra is the place to be. Enjoy its several screens, very lively atmosphere and huge barrels of beer to share! Get there early to secure a seat in the front row or to play a game of pool while you wait for the game to start.

C/ Zamora 78

Michael Collins

Like all big cities, Barcelona has its fair share of Irish pubs showing everything from Champions League finals to Wimbledon. Our favourite is Michael Collins located right by the Sagrada Familia. After a tour of this Gaudí icon, slip into its warm, cosy interior and pull up a chair by the big screen.

C/ Plaça de la Sagrada Família, 4

CocoVail

This American-style sports bar with long wooden tables, several screens and a fantastic range of craft beer on tap is located just off Passeig de Gràcia. Its tasty snack menu and selection of board games mean there’s something for everyone!

C/ d’Aragó 284

Xaica Bar

If you’re really looking for the local experience, head down to Xaica Bar on Carrer de Jovellanos. With an exquisite menu of Catalan dishes and a boisterous crowd of Barça supporters, what’s not to love!

C/ Jovellanos 7

Pasa Tapas

With a pool table, screens and a tasty selection of tapas in La Barceloneta, Pasa Tapas is a popular option to catch the latest games. What’s more, if you want to see a match that you can’t find elsewhere, just let the friendly staff know!

C/ del Dr. Aiguader, 8

Belushi’s Bar

Located a few metres off Plaça Catalunya, Belushi’s Bar with 10 plasma screens shows sport from all around the world. As the bar is part of a hostel, you’ll get the action with English commentary and in a lively, international atmosphere!

C/ de Bergara, 3

Sonora Sport Tavern

The Sonora Sport Tavern is decked out in American style décor, with a wooden bar, vintage signs and sports memorabilia. Located in Poble Nou, it’s a nice alternative outside of the city centre. We recommend its great burgers and nachos washed down with a litre of beer.

C/ de Pamplona, 96

So, pull up a stool and join in the chants among the sea of scarves and football shirts. With such a large variety of bars to choose from you can cheer on your team while you soak up the local atmosphere.  

One day in Montjuïc – Barcelona Travel Guide

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.

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!

See Barcelona by Bike

Gain a Unique Perspective When You Explore Barcelona by Bike

If you’ve decided on a dream getaway to Barcelona, you’ll want to see as much of the city as possible while you’re there!  Barcelona, Spain, is practically bursting at the seams with historical monuments, stunning scenery, amazing architecture, and delicious dining.  One of the best ways to visit all of these numerous and marvelous attractions is with the help of two wheels.  Witness the beauty of Barcelona by bike when you sign up for one of these entertaining Barcelona bike tours!

6 of the Best Tours to Help You See Barcelona by Bike

  1. Bike Tours Barcelona

Bike Tours Barcelona is ready every day of the week to take you on a journey through this city!  With all kinds of scenic routes available, you can choose to have an experienced guide lead you through the city and teach you facts along the way, or rent a bike for yourself so you can enjoy Barcelona at your own pace.  

  1. Fat Tire Bike Tours

Ditch the crowds so you can see even more of the city!  Fat Tire Bike Tours will guide you along flat, easy paths and less busy boardwalks to some of the city’s most renowned landmarks, like La Catedral and Parc de la Ciutadella.  

  1. Terra Diversions

Choose from family tours, guided tours, or self-guided tours through Terra Diversions!  These unique Barcelona bike tours include mountain bike adventures through the elevated terrain of the surrounding mountains and parks and a wine and cava tour, during which you can taste some of the finest beverages of Barcelona.  

  1. Born Bike Barcelona

Just five minutes away from the Barcelona beaches, Born Bike tours will take you off the beaten path to see the many hidden treasures of this incredible city.  They have many different variations you can enjoy, including a beach bike tour to admire the gorgeous sand and surf, and a tapas tour so you can taste your way through Barcelona!

  1. Green Bikes Barcelona

See some of Barcelona’s most famed attractions or focus on the Modernism style featured throughout the city on a Green Bikes Barcelona tour!  You can also choose to rent a bike and see the city for yourself without a guide; this company has several different types available, including the Barcelona folding bike.  

  1. Ajo Bike

You can easily find the Ajo Bike shop just one minute away from the popular Rambla del Raval.  This one of the best places to get a Barcelona bike rental; they possess a huge variety of both new and used bikes for reasonable rates.  They also offer exclusive private tours for those desiring an local’s view of the city.  

Come Stay with Us at bizFlats!

Complete your vacation of a lifetime by staying in the best accommodations while you’re exploring Barcelona!  bizFlats Vacation Rentals provides some of the most luxurious apartments, villas, and lofts, all located throughout the most picturesque parts of the city.  Each property is equipped with the finest furnishings and amenities so you’re bound to feel right at home.  Check our availability today to find the most incredible place to stay during your visit!

Photo by aitcheyedigital / Thinkstock

F1 Spanish Grand Prix

The F1 Spanish Grand Prix Will be Here Soon

The F1 Spanish Grand Prix is just one circuit of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the highest class of single-seat auto racing that exists under the sanction of the Fédération Internationale do l’Automobile. The Barcelona circuit takes place in Montmeló, Barcelona just 30 minutes northeast of the city’s center.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is one of the best places to catch what can be a life-changing event for any auto racing enthusiasts. Located amidst the Catalonian mountains, the changes in elevation not only make for an exciting race, but also for great spectating, with many great vantage points. Race weekend is coming up on May 8th through the 10th, which is also one of the best times of the year to visit Barcelona, as the weather will be perfect for exploring the city and its surrounding countryside.

With two national competitors in the 2015 F1 Spanish Grand Prix, there are sure to be many people from around Spain coming out to support their contingent among the 18 racers. Fernando Alonso, born in Oviedo, Spain got his Grand Prix debut in Australia in 2001. Now a member of the McLaren-Honda Team, he has been in the World Championships in both 2005 and 2006. He is known for his all around talent, but also for lacking patience in the race. Carlos Sainz Jr is from Madrid, Spain and is one of the F1’s youngest drivers this year at just 20-years-old. This is his debut year on the Grand Prix circuit and has only 2 races under his belt. Sainz will be one of the most exciting new talents to watch this season, and has been overlooked in years past.

The British racer, Lewis Hamilton is the defending champion and this year’s favorite. Probably the fastest guy you’ll see at the F1 Spanish Grand Prix, you can expect his biggest challenge to be the German force, Nico Rosberg, who lost to Hamilton in 2014 in Abu Dhabi. If Hamilton does take the win yet again this year, he will be the first Briton to retain the world title, making Grand Prix history.

Whether you’re into watching the whole weekend long or just for the final race on Sunday, you can buy your tickets online and start planning your trip to the beautiful Barcelona, Spain, one of the world’s favorite beach cities. On Friday, May 8th the practice runs will happen, followed by the qualifying round on Saturday, and finally the race on Sunday. With two nationals in the race you can expect a carnival atmosphere in the grandstands with many Spanish enthusiasts out to cheer the competitors on their home turf. You can also look forward to perfect weather and plenty of sunshine for this great event.

Being that spring is such a perfect time of year here, plan to explore the city. Staying in Barcelona will give you a great opportunity to experience both the race and the Catalonian city culture. Hit the beaches, the restaurants for tapas and wine, and maybe even take a walking or biking tour of this coveted destination.

serra de collserola

Enjoy a Day Cycling the Serra de Collserola

Nearly bordering the city, Serra de Collserola natural park is a wonderful place to enjoy the wild beauty that surrounds Barcelona. From the sea to the mountains, this Catalonian city is not just a dream destination for urban junkies, but outdoorsy types as well, with everything from boating, mountain climbing, and cycling to participate in. Tours leave from downtown Barcelona daily to take groups exploring the area’s natural heritage. Whether you’re a road cyclist or a mountain biker, you’ll find the perfect routes at Serra de Collserola to explore. The views are spectacular and the terrain can be as challenging or laid-back as you’re looking for, with plenty of places to stop for bathrooms, food and drink along the way.

Mountain Biking Routes at Serra de Collserola

serra de collserola

There are numerous options throughout the mountainous regions to hop on your bike and tear through the dirt tracks. Here are two of the most famous rides in the region:

  1. Green Collserola I is a 24 km ride that takes about two hours to complete. Starting at the Plaça Karl Marx, you will head up to Cami Antic de Sant Llàtzer. Take the next right turn up the dirt road to Can Masdeu past the city’s old leper hospital. The path will then cross the Carretera del Cementiri de Collserola where you will veer left towards another junction beneath a power line pole. Turn right and head back down to Carretera del Cementiri and towards the path for Can Catà. Head back the way you came or ride the train back down.
  2. Green Collserola II starts at the Sant Cugat del Vallès station and heads towards the monastery of Sant Cugat. Follow the cycling lanes on Francesc Macià, and take a right on Av. de les Corts Catalans. From this track, you can catch a glimpse of Montserrat if it’s a clear day. You can follow this all the way to the Reserva Natural de la Font Groga from which it will be all downhill.

Road Cycling at Serra de Collserola Natural Park

There are similarly many great routes to explore through the natural park sticking to the roads, either on your own or with a group. Here are two great road biking options:

  1. Tibidabo is a nearly 7 km ride starting at the Tibidabo Fairground, from which you can get all the way to Vallviderera and then descend to Molins de Rei. This is a scarcely traveled part of the mountain, making it an ideal bike path and a ride you don’t want to miss.
  2. Half-Day Bike Tours from Barcelona are a great way to explore the Sierra de Collserola. Being so close to the city you can literally ride all the way to the mountains and back in less than a day. With the knowledge of the guide, you won’t have to worry about getting lost or taking yourself on a ride that is beyond your fitness level.

When staying at a beautiful Barcelona short term rental you can bring your bike along if you’re planning on multiple rides. These spacious flats make for easy storage and will save you the expense of having to rent while here, as well as giving you a great mode of transportation around Barcelona.

hiking in barcelona

Where to Enjoy the Views While Hiking in Barcelona

You won’t run out of great things to do and places to see in Barcelona though you may find yourself seeking some outdoor adventure to break up your urban exploring. While Barcelona is at the heart of Catalonia, the majority of this unique Spanish region is surrounded by beautiful mountainous country for hikes, backpacking, or rock climbing. If you’re interested in doing some hiking in Barcelona while visiting, there are plenty of options. Whether you’re inclined to grabbing a map and exploring the country on your own or would prefer to take a group tour, the experience will be breathtaking as well as enlightening as you begin to understand the Catalonian culture from a larger vantage. It’s one of the best things to do in Barcelona!

Montserrat

hiking in barcelona

An easy day trip from Barcelona, Montserrat offers many attractions to keep you busy, including some great hiking trails. A short journey away on public transportation, when you arrive you can explore the monastery or museum, or just head straight out exploring the Sawn Mountain. Many visitors follow in the footsteps of the old tradition, walking to the mountain’s highest peak from the base. While most people drive or taking the tram, walking will give you an extra challenge and spectacular views of the city below.

Montseny

Montseny

This verdant region of national park land is a scenic area perfect for doing some hiking in Barcelona. Similarly an easy trip on public transportation from the city, prepare yourself for lovely trails through the woods. Ranging from 8 to 25 miles in length, this will be an epic outdoors experience giving you a real sense for the Catalonia backcountry, as well as some of its villages.

Parc de Collserola

Rising up over the city of Barcelona is this beautiful park that is nearly touching the city. This immense natural area is a preserved 8,000-hectare area which is predominantly forested, with lakes scattered about, making it among the best hiking near Barcelona.  There are numerous hiking trails throughout the park, but it is also a great place for leisure and education. The Serra de Collserola is a wonderful option for hiking in Barcelona, also accessible by public transportation.

Hi. This is Barcelona…

If you would prefer that someone show you around an unfamiliar countryside, there are plenty of tour options for hiking in Barcelona. Similar to guided walking tours throughout the city, knowledgeable guides at this great tour company will lead you through some of Catalonia’s most remarkable settings, all the while explaining their natural and historical significance.

Pyrenees Mountain Tour

hiking in barcelona

This is noted the only tour that leaves the city and heads for the famous Pyrenees Mountains, leading guests through this awe-inspiring landscape that many visitors travel to Spain exclusively to see. Hikers will not only get to explore some of the many trails throughout the region, but will also ride the mountain train up to 6,000 feet, getting one of the most spectacular views in Catalonia.

 

Hiking in Barcelona is an opportunity you don’t want to miss while visiting. While the city itself is enough to keep you busy and excited, the surrounding countryside is unforgettable. The juxtaposition of the rich city life to the simple countryside will be an enlightening cultural Catalonian experience.