Torn between a city break and a beach holiday this year? The truth is, if you look carefully you can find special places around the world where you can have the best of both. Take Barcelona, for example. It’s a vibrant city filled with lively central streets, trendy bars and elegant restaurants, yet a short walk from the centre brings you to the soft golden sands of its award winning beaches. How’s that for the perfect combination?
There’s always one problem when you book a trip like this – you never know how to pack. Do you bring enough smart casual clothing for strolling through the outdoor markets of the Ramblas, or do you ditch them all in favour of your best beach attire? Our solution is to avoid hotels completely – it’s hard to do your laundry in the bathroom sink – and book a hassle-free self-catering apartment from a company like Owners Direct instead. Your own space means you can take half your wardrobe if you like, and you’ll never head into town looking creased and dishevelled.
Barcelona is one of those places you absolutely have to visit. Take in your surroundings on a walk through the city, where the unusual modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudi is on display for all to see. The Sagrada Familia is undoubtedly his most famous work, and Gaudi spent so many years labouring on this project – 40 in total, to be exact – that he was rewarded with his own resting place in the nave of the church. When it’s time to dine, treat yourself to a visit at La Pepita, one of the city’s iconic bars. It’s famous for its gin cocktails, and their house Vermouth is particularly inspired (and heady), but their Tapas menu is equally as good, with fabulous spicy potato chunks and fried squid on the menu, next to devil eggs with shrimp, crunchy croquettes and fluffy Spanish Omelettes.
To take a break from the big city, head to one of the four main beach areas that run along the coast. Barceloneta Beach is usually heaving with sun worshipers, kite surfers and swimmers. Along one side you’ll find little hut bars dotted here and there, serving ice cold drinks and snacks – just enough to keep hunger at bay mid-afternoon. There’s plenty of accommodation along the promenade, but these ocean-front hotels usually command high prices for their guest rooms – yet another reason why self-catering holiday rental apartments in Barcelona are a welcome choice. Choose carefully and you’re bound to find some within walking distance of the beach.
Wondering when to visit? We reckon September is a good time to go. You can catch the end of the school holidays if you have kids to worry about, or miss them completely if you don’t, and the temperatures are still hot without being stifling. Not only that, but the Festes de la Merce comes to town, a week-long extravaganza celebrating the life of the city’s patron saint. You’ll be thrilled by fireworks displays, entertained with concerts and amused by street shows. Not to mention stuffed with all the food and drink events that seem to pop up all over the place.
Even if you aren’t convinced, we certainly are. It looks like a short self-catering break in Barcelona has just sailed onto our horizon. Hola!