As a travel writer and blogger in Barcelona I’m extremely fortunate to spend my “working” life exploring Spain’s best destinations.
From experiencing the explosive Las Fallas celebrations in Valencia to cycling through Barcelona’s Penedés wine country and finding paradise in the Cies Islands, here are a few video highlights from my last year of life and travel around Spain. ¡Vamos!
Words, photos and video by your vino-fuelled guide, Ben Holbrook
Scenes from the Video ~ Make it Happen
1. Barcelona by Bike
Barcelona is perfect for exploring by bike. Check out the post about my day with “Tang”, my orange rental bike from Donkey Republic, and make it happen.
2. Las Fallas Festival, Valencia ~ Every March
Spain’s festivals are legendary but I think Valencia’s Las Fallas celebrations have been the mot spectacular I’ve experienced so far. Giant “ninots” (pictured) tower over the city in colourful spectacles of satirical humour, only to be set on fire during the explosive finale.
Valencia is packed with culture, is the birthplace of paella and has miles upon miles of beautiful city beaches. Check out my posts on Valencia for more.
3. La Mercé Celebrations in Barcelona ~ Every September
With “Castellers” (human castles), the “Giants’ Parade”, “fire runs” and fireworks galore, La Mercé is the ultimate Catalan street festival and takes over Barcelona for a whole week every September. Check out my dedicated post for more info and make it happen.
4. Pleasure Boat Cruising in Barcelona
Captain Noah moved to Barcelona with a dream of buying his own powerboat and taking people out for glorious boat trips on the water. I’ve been on two boat trips with Noah now and if you want to experience a different side of Barcelona I highly recommend doing the same.
Pack a picnic and a bottle of Catalan Cava (and don’t forget your swimming gear) – this is an experience you won’t be forgetting in a hurry. Check out my dedicated post for more info.
5. Asturias, Northern Spain
My girlfriend Rosana is from Asturias, a region in northern Spain known as “A Natural Paradise”, so I’ve spent a lot of time there over the last couple of years. From exploring the awesome “Picos de Europa” and blissful beaches to indulging in the region’s excellent cheese and seafood, it certainly is worthy of its nickname.
Check out my dedicated posts and be sure to add Asturias to your Spain travel plans.
6. Cycling the Costa Brava
I love exploring by bike and last summer I took off on a couple of gruelling weekend adventures along the Costa Brava. I basically just set off from Barcelona and hugged the coast, stopping off at the little fishing villages along the way to fuel up on tapas and local wine.
I now have a new (and more suitable) touring bike and can’t wait for the spring to come around so I can load up and head off again.
Check out my cycle touring posts for more info on exploring Catalonia by bike.
7. Exploring Gaudi’s Barcelona
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Antoni Gaudi’s bizarre architectural creations. Every time you see one of his buildings you find something new and different.
Of course, no visit to Barcelona would be complete with a visit to his sky-piercing Sagrada Familia church (be sure to skip the line) and his fantastical masterpieces that line the glitzy boulevard of Passeig de Gracia.
8. Vintage Sailing in Barcelona with Classic Sail BCN
I grew up sailing a lot with my dad, so I was extremely excited to hoist the sail along Barcelona’s sun-kissed coast. Built of solid wood in 1947, Gemini is the perfect vessel for a romantic jaunt in the warm Mediterranean Sea. Pop a bottle open and enjoy the breeze in your hair – Skipper Dave will take care of everything else. Find out more here.
9. Cadaqués, Costa Brava ~ The Perfect Day-Trip from Barcelona
Whether by bike or by car, I’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring the Costa Brava. This pine-scented stretch of Mediterranean coast line starts just north of Barcelona and connects Spain with France. I’ll be honest, I’ve been greatly disappointed by some of it. Cadaqués, however, is an absolute dream and if there’s one place you simply must see on the Costa Brava, this is it.
Think whitewashed fishing village vibes, great food and lazy beachfront living. It’s also famous for being the home of vanguard Surrealist Salvador Dalí. His home and studio overlooks the cobalt bay of Portlligat and now houses the Dalí House Museum. But for the ultimate Dalí experience you simply must visit the nearby town of Figueres, which was the artist’s birthplace and where he chose to create his mind-bendingly bizarre museum. Check out my post for more.
Be sure to check out my dedicated guie to “The Best of Cadaqués”.
10. The Cies Islands, Galicia, Northern Spain
Located on the Atlantic Coast of northern Spain and bordering Portugal, Galicia is a fascinating and particularly delicious part of Spain.
For a foodie holiday you’ll never forget, head to Vigo, a thriving port city known for its exceptionally good seafood. From here you can take a boat ride to the pristine Cies Islands, which the Spanish refer to as their “Caribbean islands”.
Seriously, I can’t praise this part of Spain highly enough. Check out my posts for more.
11. Christmas and “Reyes” in Barcelona ~ 6th January
Autumn and winter are excellent times to be in Barcelona. The weather’s still good enough to enjoy the beaches and see the sights, but the streets are quieter and you don’t have to deal with the hordes of summer. Check this post out for more reason to visit Barcelona in autumn/winter.
And the absolute highlight is of course Christmas. Although, interestingly, the Spanish get more excited about “Three Kings’ Day” (6th January), which makes Barcelona a great place to retreat to for a quick post-Christmas escape.