travel

Barcelona

Barcelona is the perfect city to visit if you’re after a mix of architecture, great food and a long sandy beach. Although fairly spread out, if you stay in the Eixample area most on the central part of the city can be explored on foot – Make sure not to miss the winding streets of the Gothic Quarter.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Catalan, Spanish

Stay: Roommate Gerard

This was my first time staying in a Roommate hotel, but it certainly won’t be my last! Roommate Gerard was perfectly located in central Barcelona in the Eixample  district. It is a short 10 minute walk to the El Born area with its trendy bars and cafes, 20 minutes to the Gothic Quarter and around 30 minutes walk from the beach, meaning pretty much everywhere in central Barcelona is easily accessible on foot.

The rooms were minimalist in design and equipped with everything you need for a city stay, plus a few little extras to help you settle in. The beds were huge and amazingly comfy, and the bathroom followed suit in spaciousness, and had great products that were restocked daily. The surround sound system that you could link your phone to via Bluetooth was also a fun addition to the room.

There is also a rooftop complete with pool and loungers exclusively for guests use, which is great if you want to soak up some sun away from the crowds on the beach. There’s even a bar with drinks that can be charged to the room, so it’s easy to spend an afternoon relaxing up there!


Do: Sagrada Familia, Barceloneta Beach, Las Ramblas, La Boqueria Market

No trip to Barcelona is complete without a trip to the Sagrada Familia. Although the basilica – designed by Gaudi – is unfinished, it’s a hugely impressive building, and even more so from inside. If you want a tour of the building it’s worth booking tickets in advance as the queues on the day can get very long.

One of the major benefits of Barcelona is that there is a beach within walking distance of the city centre, and it’s a nice beach too! There’s a wide stretch of golden sand, and although there aren’t many lounger to sit on, many people stretch out on blankets or take a stroll along the surf. The edge of the beach is also lined with plenty of bars and restaurants for when you start to feel peckish.

If you’ve had your fill of sunbathing on the beach, head back into the city along Las Ramblas, one of the most famous streets in Barcelona. Always packed with tourists, the bars and restaurants that line the street are fairly pricey here and definitely aren’t catered towards the locals, but it’s a great place to stop and people watch.

Located just off of Las Ramblas is the Boqueria Market, which is a great place to stop and sample some fresh produce, including cured meats, cheeses and freshly squeezed juices. Watch your bags in this afea though as it’s a hot spot for pick pockets!


Eat: Tantarantana, El Rall, Pizza paco, Chocolat-Box, Chichi Limona, Bacoa Burger

The food scene in Barcelona is excellent – I can almost guarantee that you will be able to find whatever you are craving! We ate a mixture of local food (tapas, paella, churros…) along with great pizza, burgers and pastries. A few of my top places to eat are listed below:

  • Tantarantana – Located in the El Born district in a tucked away square, this place serves authentic tapas in a cozy setting. They have lots of tables outdoors, bu these will need reserving unless you want to sit down past 10pm.
  • El Rall – The paella here was great, and very reasonable! There were several different varieties (we went for Valencian with chicken and rabbit) and the local house wine was €5 per half litre!
  • Pizza Paco – Just down the road from Tantarantana, this pizza place is always packed and for good reason. Cheap, tasty pizza with an extensive toppings menu.
  • Chichi Limona – A great place to stop for breakfast or brunch in the Eixample area. The pastries here were so fresh they were still warm from the oven!
  • Bacoa Burger – If you’re craving a burger after a morning of soaking up the sun on the beach, head to Bacoa Burger for good quality meat and a selection of sides to accompany.
  • Chocolat-Box – Perfect for a pit stop if you fancy indulging in some typical Spanish churros with rich chocolate to dip them in.

Drink: Story, Mescladis, El Born district, Roommate Gerard rooftop

There are so many tucked away bars in Barcelona that it would be impossible to visit them all, but whether you’re looking for a pavement side cafe, a wine bar or a lively late night music venue, you’re guaranteed to find it somewhere in the city!

The El Born district is an excellent area to find a spot for a pre-dinner drink. My favourite was Mescladis, a little outdoor garden style bar serving drinks to locals and tourists alike. They don’t stay open late, so make this a pit stop for a drink before dinner.

Story, not far from Mescladis, was another favourite. They often have live music in the evenings and has an excellent wine list. It’s cozy and the perfect place to relax after an evening meal.

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Valencia

Located on the East coast of Spain, Valencia has a lot to offer for those looking for a long weekend away. With a charming Old Town, excellent food, buzzing nightlife and a beach just a short metro ride away, there is something for everyone in this city!


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Spanish

Stay: Expo Hotel

The Expo Hotel in Valencia is in a great location for exploring the city; within walking distance of Old Town and also with easy access to the Metro for trips to the beach or the hip Russufa district.

The rooftop here steals the show, with a large swimming pool, plenty of sun loungers and a bar selling local drinks and excellent burgers. It’s the perfect place to spend some time relaxing after strolling the streets of the city.


Do: Botanical Gardens, City of Arts and Sciences, Eat Tapas, Explore El Carmen, Turia Park

Although it would be easy to spend the entire time just eating and drinking your way around the city, Valencia has lots to see and do, so put on some comfy shoes and get exploring!

On the edge of the city – just a short walk from the Expo Hotel – there are lovely Botanical Gardens that are definitely worth a visit. Home to many of Valencia’s stray cats, along with (of course) a fascinating array of plants and flowers, it’s a great place to wander around and take a pause from the busy city streets. If green spaces are your thing, also set aside some time to stroll the Turia Park, which runs around the city centre and is build in an old river bed.

The City of Arts and Sciences is a huge complex that is home to the Valencia Opera House, the Museum of Science, an Oceanographic and a Hemispheric, plus lots of events taking place throughout the year. Tickets can be purchased in advance for individual attractions or in bundles if you want to visit more than one and save money. Hop on the Metro and you can reach this area within 10 minutes from the central city.

Technically, ‘sample the tapas’ should be under the eat heading, but it really is a way of life here and so it’s made it to the list of things to do! Many places, for small side street cafes to large restaurants serve tapas all day, and you will rarely see empty seats outside the cafes in the summer. Add a jug of Agua De Valencia (cava, orange juice, vodka and gin) to your order and watch the world go by while picking at some lovely fresh nibbles.

The neighbourhood of El Carmen should definitely be on your list to explore. A maze of small winding streets that are covered in amazing street art and murals and are home to some of the best backstreet bars and cafes that we found on our trip. The more lost you get, the better!


Eat: Bar Cordellats, El Rall, Restaurante San Miguel, La Chipirona

There are SO many amazing places to eat in the city that these really are just a selection of restaurants for inspiration more than anything.

One this that we did notice was that a lot of restaurants offer a ‘menu of the day’ – some for lunch and some for dinner – but they were always excellent value and really tasty food. One of the best upmarket menus of the day we did was a lunchtime menu at La Chipirona. Fresh fish is huge here, and while the starters come in meze form to share, for main there were three dishes to choose between. We went for the local fish/rice dish and were definitely not disappointed!

For a quick lunch stop thats guaranteed to fill you up, grab a Bocadillo (a Spanish type of sandwich) at Bar Cordellats. Located near the central market, this is a great place to stop if you are exploring the city centre in the day time.

One of the best paellas of the whole trip was had at El Rall, a permanently busy restaurant located in a small but charming square in El Carmen. We ordered the traditional Valencia paella along with two glasses of Agua de Valencia, and it was the best version of the drink we had too!


Drink: La Bella De Cadiz, Che Vins, El Carmen

Located in the trendy Russafa district is La Bella De Cadiz – a quirky cocktail bar with a huge variety of drinks. It’s a great place to go for some late drinks after dinner, as it stays open until 1.30am and 2pm on weekends!

Che Vins is the perfect place to stop for a glass of wine, and the owner was super knowledgable, talking through the various wines he had in stock and making recommendations based on what we usually liked drinking. We went for the wine of the day, which was served with some tapas on the side and was such a reasonable price.

There are lots of lovely local side street bars that can only be discovered by strolling the streets after dark. El Carmen is the perfect district for this, as it’s full of winding streets and neighbourhood locals.

travel

Tenerife

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, and features a warm climate year round. Despite it’s reputation as a party island (mainly because of the Playa de las Americas resort) there are plenty of tranquil spots on this island for a relaxing winter sun break.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT
  • Language: Spanish

Resort: Los Cristianos

Located in the South of the island (typically the part that gets the sunnier weather) Los Cristianos is the perfect location for a beach break with friends or family. With several beaches to choose from – including the long and sandy Las Vistas – plus plenty of bars and restaurants, you will never run out of things to do. And if you do fancy an evening of dancing? Las Americas as mentioned about is only 10 minutes away in a taxi!


Hotel: Aguamar Apartments

A collection of spacious and always spotlessly clean apartments gathered around a large deep blue swimming pool. The staff are friendly, there are always plenty of sun loungers and its very conveniently located for access to the beach and the various bars and restaurants that Los Cristianos has to offer.


Eat: Pizzeria da Capo, Piccolo, Chill Out

Piccolo restaurant, situated on the Vistas beach with amazing views out to sea, offers good value and authentic Italian food. The truffle pasta with steak was a particular favourite, and they house wine is also very good.

Located on a corned one street back from the harbour is Pizzeria da Capo – an amazing family run restaurant serving huge portions of incredible Italian food. The menu of the day is exceptional in value, and changes daily. Booking is always recommended, as this place is always full!

Chill out is the place to go if you have a celebration during your time in Los Cristianos. A diverse menu with great quality meat and fish, and a very goo dessert trolly that comes around to your table if you still have room after the main course. Slightly more expensive than other nearby restaurants but worth the extra cash if you’re celebrating a birthday/anniversary.


Drink: Planeta Goloso, Marina Bay sunset bar, Players Lounge

Whether it’s an afternoon sangria in the sunshine or a gin and tonic at sunset that you’re after, Los Cristianos has a bar for every occasion. For a relaxing mid-afternoon drink, head to Planeta Goloso. With lots of parasol covered tables overlooking the beach, this is a place to relax, have a drink and take some shade from the heat of the day. They also have an axcellent selection of ice cream here!

Marina Bay sunset bar has, unsurprisingly, one of the best views of the sunset on the South coast. They offer a happy hour early evening, with discounts on sangria and local beers, and the view really is worht the few extra minutes walk from the centre of town.

If you’re wanting to watch some sport while you’re away, make your way to Players Lounge, where they have several screens showing most games live. Cheap beer, an extensive cocktail menu and a great view of the beach if you’re less bothered about watching the football!

travel

Majorca

Majorca enjoys a Mediterranean climate, meaning whichever month you visit, it will never be cold! The warmest months to visit are May-September, when the days are long and you’re all but guaranteed sunshine.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Spanish

Resort: Port de Pollença

Situated in the Northern part of the island, Port de Pollença is on the coast with a long sandy beach. It’s a lively resort, with plenty of sunbeds on the beach and extensive watersports options. There are also plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs to keep you entertained in the evening, and all are within walking distance of the beach, so you won’t have far to travel!

Pollença Old Town is situated a few miles inland, and is a great area to visit in the evenings for small trattorias dotted along cobbled streets. With a more relaxed vibe to Port de Pollença, come here for a candlelit dinner or a chilled glass of white wine in a quaint square.


Stay: Villa Can Serra

We booked a 4 bedroom villa with a private pool – Villa Can Serra – through airbnb, and it was excellent. The pool was large and clean, and the villa had a rooftop ‘chill out’ area above the pool house which was lovely for evening drinks.

Located just a short drive from both the beach and Pollença Old Town, it was a great location as we could get taxis into town easily for a night out if we wished. There was also a large supermarket a short drive away and the villa had all the utensils needed for a self catering trip, including a BBQ outdoors.


Do: Mountain trip, Sóller, Fornalutx

One of the best ways to see the island is to hire a car. Jump in and drive up into the mountains for breathtaking views into the valleys below. There are plenty of view points to stop at along the many mountain paths, so don’t forget to take your camera!

If you’re driving from Pollença like we were, head through the mountains to Fornalutx, a quaint village set in the mountains and high above the town of Sóller. A picturesque and charming village that offers a look into everyday life for locals who live on the island. Stop and have a wander around the small streets and soak up the atmosphere, before driving down into the Sóller valley. Here, you’ll find a marina lined with plenty of bars and restaurants to stop off at for lunch, and a lovely beach. There are also trams that run through the town and are a great chance to take in the views from a different perspective.