Barcelona in January: Why it’s the Best Month to Visit

Although Barcelona in January may not be as much of a hot-weather destination, it still provides blue skies and is one of the lushest seasons to visit. In January, you will find that the city is a lot quieter, meaning you get to enjoy the tourist retreats in their quiet season and experience Barcelona like a local rather than a tourist.

You will find that everything is a bit cheaper too, from your flights to general travel around the city, to your accommodation, shopping sales, and even deals across restaurants. 

If you’d prefer to visit in December, check out our guide on celebrating Christmas in Barcelona like a local.

January weather in Barcelona

The January weather in Barcelona is always going to be better than that of the UK. The temperature in January averages at about 16ºC during the day, usually with the sun shining bright. The temp usually only drops to around 10ºC at night, meaning you will be sorted with one warm jacket and a few jumpers! Rain is unlikely however, with an average of only five days of rain during January. 

January weather in Barcelona
January weather in Barcelona

Things to do in Barcelona in January

Sightseeing 

Check out the main tourist attractions in Barcelona that you may be too busy to view in the coming months. Barcelona hosts some of the most incredible architectural structures, designed by some of the most famous architects in the world, such as Gaudí. 

The Sagrada Familia 

This is a must, one of the most famous tourist attractions in Barcelona and the world. Incredible on the inside as it is the outside, with over four million tourists coming to see this annually you have to see this place for yourself. 

Book your skip-the-line ticket online before you go!

The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Park Güell 

Another of Gaudí’s works, this vibrant mosaic park is another must- see. It is surrounded by a beautiful lush green environment making it the perfect place for a day visit or to roam around for a few hours. 

Book your entrance ticket online before you go!

 Park Güell in Barcelona
Park Güell in Barcelona

Casa Batlló

This is another beautiful piece of Gaudí, found down the passeig de Gracia, with a bone like facade. Book this immersive 10D experience of Casa Batllo.

Visiting Casa Batlló in Barcelona in January
Casa Batlló

Casa Vicens

Casa Vicens is an important piece of Gaudí, being his first big architectural work after graduation, initially built as a residential house of Manuel Vicens. It is now a museum used to showcase Gaudí’s work. 

Book your skip-the-line ticket online before you go!

Casa Vicens
Casa Vicens

Palau Guell

Palau Guell is a beautiful mansion designed by Gaudí for Eusebi Guell. Another place which showcases Gaudí’s architectural genius and innovations through creating space with only a small land plot. 

See also: Hidden Gems in Barcelona

Palau Guell
Palau Guell

Museu Picasso de Barcelona 

The Museu Picasso de Barcelona is a must visit whilst it’s quiet. This museum opened in 1963 and showcased the 4,251 works of Picasso’s formative years whilst he resided in Barcelona. This is the perfect place to really learn more about Picasso during his stay in Barcelona. 

Book your skip-the-line ticket online before you go!

Museu Picasso de Barcelona 
Museu Picasso de Barcelona 

Fundació Joan Miró 

This museum is based in Montjuïc and was built by Joan Miró himself. He had a goal of creating a place for contemporary art research. He took a lot of his inspiration from nature, this museum is a great reflection of this. 

See also: The Most Unusual Museums in Barcelona

Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona in January
Fundació Joan Miró 

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

This museum is the national museum of visual arts in Catalonia. The museum is filled with an incredible collection of art from different periods, it was first opened as an exposition to display mediaeval arts and has continued to inspire and teach society about art. 

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Museum National Catalunya – Barcelona, Spain

Attend the Festa Dels Tres Tombs on January 17th

The Tres Tombs Parade is an amazing celebration of the feast of St Anthony Abbot. Saint Anthony Abbot was a Roman Catholic monk and patron Saint of domestic animals, basket weavers, farmers, grave diggers and the sick. The Tres Tombs Parade is a procession which takes three laps of the city and is celebrated to bless those animals of locals. This parade dates back to the 15th century when farmers would take their animals to town to be blessed. 

Attend the Festa Dels Tres Tombs on January 17th
Attend the Festa Dels Tres Tombs on January 17th

Make the most out of the great Barcelona January sales

Whether you’re walking down Portal de l’Angel, Passeig de Gracia, La Diagonal, Carrer de Pelai or Las Rambla, you’ll find yourself coming across hundreds of fantastic bargains. From your high- end branded shops, like DIOR, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, to your more affordable Stradivarius, Zara and Pull & Bear, you’ll find sales everywhere. Even at your local boutiques. 

See also: Where to Find the Best Vintage Shops in Barcelona

January sales in Barcelona
January sales in Barcelona

Visit the Poble Espanyol 

This is an incredible open- air museum which was first designed for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. It is a model for the different Spanish architectural styles such as Gothic, Mudéjar, Renaissance and Baroque. 

Visit the Poble Espanyol 
Visit the Poble Espanyol 

Do a food tour through Barcelona 

Barcelona hosts some of the most incredible, mouth watering cuisine. There are countless food markets such as the Mercado de La Boqueria, Mercat de la Terra, and Mercat de la Llibertat which are definitely worth visiting. 

Check out the below foodie tours in Barcelona:

Barcelona also provides you with some of the best restaurants in the world. From traditional Spanish, to Mexican, to Italian, to Japanese and everything in between you will not find yourself hungry during your stay. And why not make the most of things being a bit quieter and getting into some of the most popular restaurants in the city. 

See also: Top Coolest Bars in Barcelona and Cheap Tapas Bars in Barcelona

Food tours in Barcelona in January
Food tours in Barcelona in January

Take a trip to Andorra – Just a few hours north from Barcelona 

Andorra hosts the most beautiful slopes in the Pyrenees, and a perfect relaxing location to escape. Being only a few hours north of Barcelona there are hundreds of companies hosting cheap all- inclusive trips from Barcelona to Andorra, including meals, ski passes, transport and even your equipment. What a fantastic way to end your trip, or extend it? 

See also: The Best Ski Resorts Near Barcelona


The Best Locations in the World for a Casino Tourist

Casinos are popular entertainment hubs for people around the world. Whether you want to win big, socialise or casually pass the time, casinos can be your best friends!

Despite online casinos marking their strong presence in the market, the fascination for a physical casino has not died down. The allure about setting foot in a place buzzing with different games and people is hard to dismiss.

This boundless love for physical casinos has been driving the idea of casino tourism very famous in recent days. After all, visiting the best casinos is a mission the true gambling fans will not want to miss out on.

So, let’s quickly jump-start into the world of casinos right away.

What Is Casino Tourism?

Say you have bookmarked Vegas activity, Macau or any other casino city in your bucket list of must-visits. There is no doubt about it – you are an ardent casino tourist.

Casino tourism is a big thing for lovers of gambling and travel. Those who love betting and wish to explore new casino resorts choose to travel as their means to find the best casinos.

Travelling across different countries to gamble and enjoy one’s holidays is the primary goal of gambling tourism. While winning the jackpot is the central pull of these travels, it is not the only exciting part of these trips.

The best casinos worldwide extend a warm welcome to players and non-players. So, you can expect excellent restaurants, shopping centres and spas waiting for you during your gambling tourism.

Top Countries to Visit as a Casino Tourist

Now that you have decided to live your casino dream, you would want to know the best countries for casinos.

Here is a list of countries that guarantee all-around entertainment for you – the casino tourist – and your family.

The United States

You don’t have to second guess yourself about this. The USA is one of the best tourist destinations for all casino lovers. Be it Las Vegas, Atlantic City or Reno — there is an endless list of choices the USA offers for the gambler in you.

Once you enter a glamorous casino, you can find yourself surrounded by slot machines, blackjack, baccarat, and roulette. While these games are designed to thrill the gamers, the bright lights and music will fascinate anyone.

This country is also famous for having the best pool party scenes for tourists. So, if you happen to visit the US for casinos, do not forget to check out the outdoor fun spots.

New Zealand

If you are searching for an exciting country that is fair and square about its casino policies, then look no further. New Zealand casinos are your right choice.

From trying your luck at rolling the dice to sipping on wine and mastering your gambling game, NZ is a perfect casino destination. Choose between Auckland, Dunedin, Hamilton and other famous casino cities to find your true love for pokies.

The best thing about NZ casinos is that they have ‘Learn to Play’ packages for beginners. So, if you are new to the games and want to learn from the best, you can always pay a visit to Auckland skycity casino and have a great time.

China

While mainland China is not very supportive of gambling, the country’s special administrative region – Macau, is an exception. Fondly known as the ‘Vegas of Asia’, Macau is one of the famous locations for casino tourists.

With bright lights and fancy games, Macau will mesmerise you with the sheer opportunity to make it big through gambling. Is it the gaming table, slot machine or something new you want to try? Macau has it all!

The Bahamas

Beaches and casinos come together in The Bahamas. A true casino lover will always be on the lookout for where to play at casinos. If this is you, this island’s casino complexes with free plays and slots will charm you.

While you are at it, you can also walk through the great shopping centres and enjoy the sparkling beauty of the sea.

Monaco

You have probably already planned a trip to Monaco for a classy casino experience. But if you haven’t, you are missing out on meeting up with the rich and famous gamblers in the world.

Monaco offers both high-stakes games and one cent bets. So, you don’t have to shy away from these majestic casino resorts. For craps and international card games, Monaco is undoubtedly your go-to casino location.

The United Kingdom

If you venture into the United Kingdom for gambling tourism, you will be surprised to find many casino cities. While London is the primary top-class casino city, Glasgow, Bournemouth and Cardiff are pretty famous.

You can play blackjack and roulette in the poshest casinos while also trying out mobile casinos in the UK. Believe it or not, there is a wide variety of fortune games waiting to be discovered by you in this country.

Online Casinos – A Better Alternative?

As much fun as gambling tourism is, an all-year roundabout trip is not very appealing. Here comes the role of online casinos.

You can play your game from the comfort of your home through your mobile phone. Thus, you can effectively wave goodbye to exorbitant travelling fees that have you worried about casinos.

Plus, you don’t have to stress about wintertime and climate changes when you play through the online mode. So, you can concentrate fully on the game and put your best foot forward without losing focus.

Unlike local casinos, the online ones also keep you engaged with a wide variety of games. If you feel the slightest bit bored, you can quickly switch between games and move on. So, if you think you are not in the right spirit to travel, online casinos are here for you!

Wrapping Up

Casino tourism is a beautiful holiday idea for all wanderlusts who love the business of betting. You can visit famous casinos, play your game, and enjoy walking through other renowned tourist attractions around the world.

When it comes to finding the best country to visit, look at gaming options, available packages and other fun places to hang out.

There is no looking back once you have figured out which country you want to drop by for your gambling tourism. Pack your bags and get started travelling through the best casinos across the world!


Walking Tracks of Ireland’s Mid West

When you think of visiting Ireland, going for walks might not be at the top of your list. But there are many beautiful and scenic walks in Ireland that allow you to truly appreciate the landscape.

Here are some of my favorite walking tracks in Ireland’s Mid West.

See also: Things to do with Kids in Ireland in the West

The best walks in Ireland’s Mid West

With its beautiful landscapes, taking walks in Ireland is enjoyable and as fun way a way to spend a day as you can get. Since moving to Ireland, we have tried to dig out a few of the best walks in our local area in the mid to west of the country and especially the Roscommon area.

Below are some of the best walking tracks from these areas that are certainly worth getting stuck into.

Suck Valley Way

Situated and running through the whole of County Roscommon lies the Suck Valley way, a walk that goes for a mammoth 105 km loop and also joins and forms part of the famous Breifne Beara Way.

The walk takes in all sorts of changing terrains, through rugged woodlands, riverbanks and wild large farmland.

Along the way there is so much to see, a favourite spot of ours is winding through the Demense at Castlerea which runs along the river bank through woodlands, and then leading out to the dense forest which brings you to the grounds of the amazing Clonalis House.

Walks in Ireland past Clonalis House
Clonalis House

Miners Way Walk

The Miners Way walk has its own history as it is part of the once operational coal mine of Arigna. The walk is a network of walking paths which meander through the counties of Leitrim, Roscommon & Sligo. The route follows many of the paths that would have been used by the Miners going to work in the Arigna Coal Mines back many years ago.

The walk in total is 118 km of pathways, with a rating of easy to moderate with well maintained tracks.

Mote Park

Mote Park, situated 5 minute drive outside the town of Roscommon. A stunning spot for the family to come with many a walking track, forest, fairy garden track and the perfect picnic spot. It offers easy walking conditions as its all pathed.

All in all the walking tracks loop makes up an 11km track, all very similar terrain with good and easy walking conditions.

The fairy garden is great for the kids, with a wide selection of little houses and hanging surprises, enough to keep them entertained for the whole walk.

In late summer, the bluebell walkway is so beautiful with the blossoming bluebells giving off such a vibrant colour.

Mote Park, Ireland
Avenue of trees in Mote Park in Autumn, with fallen leaves on ground – depositphotos.com

The Famine Walk

The famine way walk, starting at Strokestown House and continuing a mammoth 165 km to the Dublin Quay.

The walk is a tribute to those 1490 men, women and children who made the walk during the Irish famine in 1847, walking all that way with the target of reaching Liverpool in England with a final destination of New York the main aim.

The walk is mainly flat and well pathed and is best taken in sections due to the length of it. The first stage keeps you in the county of Roscommon Strokestown to Tarmonbarry.

Pro Tip: stop off here for some lunch at the Purple Onion, highly recommended.

Be prepared when going for walks in Ireland

The weather in the west of Ireland is fairly unforgiving, so being prepared is key. Waterproofs and good footwear is important as Ireland can often see four seasons in one day. Also planning ahead for weather is very important as low lying fog is often common, especially in higher areas and the chances of getting disorientated is very possible.

With some of the longer walks, bring foods and liquids. Remember that you’re out in the countryside and there can be stretches of just seeing land and more land, so being ready when you need an energy boost is important.

For more things to do in Ireland, check out these posts:


20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Savannah

20 Photos Savannah revised

Savannah is one of the greatest gems of the southern United States. It’s an enchantingly beautiful city with warm and welcoming locals — and an ideal stop on a Southern USA road trip!

In fact, I spent 3-days in Savannah to create this ultimate guide. Soak in the rich history and admire all the Spanish moss…beware, this Georgian peach is going to steal your heart.

Being the first planned city in the US, the streets are laid out on a perfect grid, making it an easy city to walk around. As you stroll from the waterfront all the way to Forsyth Park, you’ll see little “town squares” every block or so, and each one is as charming as the last.

The whimsical natural beauty combined with that good old-fashioned Southern hospitality makes this a prime city for solo travel.

Like much of the southern United States, this city is at its prime during the shoulder seasons. You’ll find gorgeous weather, reasonable pricing, and fewer crowds from April to May then again from September to October.

This coastal city with its cobblestoned streets, horse-drawn carriages, period architecture, trendy boutiques, and otherworldly beauty is like nowhere else — and, ohhh, that food!

You’ll definitely want to make reservations at a few of the iconic restaurants in the area — check out my Savannah foodie guide to plan out your meals!

Whether you are planning a girlfriend getaway, a holiday with your mom, a romantic escape, or a solo adventure, Savannah is a dream destination for a long weekend.

Are you planning a trip to Savannah? Let me know in the comments below!

 

The post 20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Savannah appeared first on The Blonde Abroad.

Scuba Diving in Thailand: An Epic Solo Adventure

Up at sunrise and en route to the harbor, my stomach fluttered with both nerves and excitement.

I had booked an all-day boat dive through my hostel in Phuket, though I hadn’t been scuba diving in years.

Despite the quick refresher course I’d completed in preparation for the trip, I still felt unsure. I hoped I wouldn’t be a nuisance to my dive master or the other divers in my group.

You see, this was also my first solo trip and I was alone – no dive buddy to lean back on this time. Still, my worries weren’t enough to sway me. Nothing beats the feeling of breathing underwater… especially when the water happens to be crystal clear and a balmy 89° Fahrenheit. While the Thai island of Koh Tao is well known for its world class diving, I had no idea what to expect in Phuket. I simply wanted to revive my scuba skills and have a fun day out on the water, even if we didn’t see much sea life.

See also: Top Koh Tao Diving Sites

Arriving at the harbor, I was introduced to my dive master Praew (a local to the island), and another diver from Germany who would join us for the day. Praew briefed us on the dive sites we’d be visiting and patiently answered all of our questions. Approaching the first dive site and feeling just a tad queasy from the boat ride out, we slipped into our gear and (after a quick safety check), slid into the water.

Here goes nothing!

As we slowly and quietly descended, my pre-dive jitters melted away and my breathing relaxed. A whole world opened up before me. Schools of fish darted before my eyes, a turtle swam in the distance, a sea snake slithered above the sand and huge boulders formed mini underwater canyons to swim through. In the distance, my dive master pointed out a reef shark darting in and out of view. This dive was proving to be one of the best of my life. We caught up with a sea turtle and swam alongside it (at a respectful distance), and I soon lost track of time.

Before I knew it, our tanks were running low and we had to ascend. Back on the boat, we enjoyed fresh watermelon and fruit juice as we recounted all that we had seen while moving towards the next dive site.

Over the next two days, we encountered countless more turtles, reef sharks and fish, including my favorite – the batfish. I even swam through my first shipwreck and schools of sea life inched out of my way while I explored the various corridors.

It was, to put it lightly, the experience of a lifetime and one I’ll never forget.

After our final dive, Praew was kind enough to share his GoPro footage with us (free of charge!), and I now have hundreds of beautiful photos to remember the trip.

Back in my room that evening, I drifted to sleep exhausted, but ever so content and happy. I vowed to return to Thailand the following year for another solo dive adventure – and I did – this time in Koh Tao. I now plan to continue to return for years to come.

Scuba diving in Thailand offers everything one could hope for in terms of service, climate, sea life and diversity, and truly caters to all skill levels. In fact, there’s no better place to get certified if you’re interested in becoming an open water diver.

To book your own scuba diving adventure in Phuket, keep your eyes peeled for dive trips departing to Racha Noi and Racha Yai. Trips are typically all-day excursions and your chosen provider will pick you up directly from your hotel. In 2017, my trip cost $105 USD (3,700 Bhat) and included breakfast, lunch and gear.


Traditional Beer and Food in Cologne

Thinking about what food you’re going to eat in Cologne, Germany? You’re in luck, there are some pretty delicious dishes to try out!

One can eat pretty well in most traditional-style Kölsch restaurants, and as a visitor, you should try some of the local food in Cologne, which is quite rustic, but tasty, hearty fare.

The brewery taps (Früh, Sion, Pfaffen, Malzmühle etc. in the old town south of the Dom) are worth taking note of to that respect, although they tend to be expensive for what you get (but still worth the experience).

See also: Off The Beaten Track Tip: Belgian Quarter Cologne

Restaurants in Cologne

When looking for restaurants in Cologne, places out of the way such as Schreckenskammer and Max Stark (north of the train station, the former being within crawling distance of the Station Backpackers Hostel), Päffgen (Friesenstrasse) and both of Cologne’s independent brewpubs (Hellers Brauhaus on Roonstrasse and Braustelle in Ehrenfeld) offer cheaper and better food than the old town tourist traps. Besides, most of these places have tons of atmosphere, which doesn’t hurt!

You may also experience the deadly dry wit of the Köbes (traditional name of the blue-clad waiters) in most of those places. If it happens to you, don’t get upset, just enter the game, send the Köbes packing with a dig and a smile and you’ll be all right. You’ll mostly find typical Rheinland dishes in those traditional Kneipen.

Local food in Cologne, Germany
Where to get local food in Cologne, Germany – depositphotos.com

Traditional food in Cologne that you have to try

Here are a few local foods in Cologne to try out:

  • Halver Hahn: a nice big slab of dutch gouda with a rye roll (Röggelchen)
  • Himmel und Äd mit Flönz: fried black pudding with mashed potatoes (“earth”), apple sauce (“heaven”) and fried onions. 
  • Soorbrode /Sauerbraten: a joint marinated in vinegar with raisins, usually served with red cabbage and a kloss (potato dumpling). The joint may be beef or horsemeat, so you may want to ask first…
  • Dicke Bunne mit Speck: boiled white beans with hefty boiled bacon slices on top. 

& my favorites

  • Schweinshaxe aka Hämchen: pig’s leg, usually a bit of a monster (ranges from 600 to 1400 grms, including the bone)
  • Rievekoochen / Reibekuchen: flat fried potato cakes usually on offer once a week, and served with a variety of sweet or savoury toppings, which may include apple sauce, Rübenkraut (the beet-sourced equivalent to black treacle) or smoked salmon with horseradish cream.

Cologne is famous for its Kölsch (beer)

When in Cologne, you have to try the beer!

Typical Cologne beer is called “Kölsch” and served in bars around town in small glasses, called “Stangen”, of 0.2l. That way the beer is always fresh and cold.

Don’t worry, waiters will quickly bring you a new one once your old one is (almost) finished. In more traditional bars and especially the breweries, the waiter (called “Köbes” in local language) will even hand you a fresh Kölsch without being asked, so it is easy to lose track of how much you drank. He will put a pencil line on your coaster for each beer that you drink, this will be the basis for your bill, so do not lose it!

To stop the beer from coming, put the coaster on top of your empty glass. You may also experience the deadly dry wit of the Köbes (traditional name of the blue-clad waiters) in most of those places.

If you buy bottled Kölsch, take either “Reissdorf”, “Früh”, “Gaffel” or “Mühlen”, which are rated highest by Cologne citizens (there are about 30 more brands). There are so many bars and pubs to choose from that you could spend most of the night going from one bar to the next.

Beer in Cologne, Germany
Beer in Cologne, Germany – depositphotos.com

Where to get beer in Cologne

For traditional breweries, head to the Altstadt around the Dom, where the “Früh Kölsch” brewery is the most authentic place, famous both with visitors and locals.

A few of the restaurants that we mentioned above are also great for beer.

You will find a younger crowd at “Hellers Brauhaus” on Roonstraße, near metro station Zülpicher Platz or “Brauhaus Pütz” on Engelbertstraße close to Rudolfplatz.

Furthermore the “Päffgen“, on the all-bar street Friesenstraße close to the Friesenplatz, and the “Mühlen” near Heumarkt are traditional brewery pubs but less touristy than the “Früh“.

Früh brewery in cologne
Früh – Famous Brewery and pub in Cologne. Depositphotos.com

Also recommended is Sion, which is a lesser known brand, but hailed to be very good, although some beer enthusiasts have found it lacking character from 2007 onwards.

Most Altstadt pubs are somewhat scorned as “tourist traps” by locals, however: prices here are usually higher on Zülpicher Straße. The breweries also serve you great meals from the typical local cuisine, and they are famous for its large portions.

DO NOT order another beer than Kölsch in a brewery (especially not Alt beer from Düsseldorf)! It’s very unfriendly and it might happen that you get kicked out in a brewery! Ok, if you don’t speak German, I guess you might be lucky…but if you are German…you will be kicked out! It’s because of the rivalry between both cities.

Also, if you order a glass of milk, it might take more than 30 minutes till you get it. Your friends will have a few glasses of Kölsch in that time already.

There are a lot of modern bars and lounges all around town. More mainstream ones are on Zülpicher Straße. For something more independent and funky on this street, try Umbruch (funky) or Stiefel (punky). The Low Budget on Aachener Straße next to Moltkestraße metro is a nice, unassuming, punky bar which features a fine selection of drinks and often hosts concerts, poetry or cabaret sessions.

A lot of stylish places are in the so-called Belgian quarter between Aachener Straße and the Ring, e.g. famous M20 or the Hallmackenreuther.


Where to Stay in Dubai

Dubai is one of the top destinations in the Middle East, with a massive landmass and population of around 4 million. It’s more well known for its exuberant buildings and hot climate, which averages approximately 15 million visitors per year in non-pandemic times.

One of the defining features of Dubai is space and you’ll need a vehicle to traverse the cities, neighbourhoods and top destinations. Because of this, figuring out where to stay in Dubai is an important part of your planning! You’ll find vastly different areas when travelling to the different regions of Dubai, including many landmarks, activities and price points for accommodation.

Below, we talk about where to stay in Dubai, including the best areas to stay in Dubai and the top accommodation you could imagine! 

See also: All You Need to Know about Dune Bashing in Dubai

The best areas to stay in Dubai

As we mentioned before, Dubai is quite a diverse city, and each district feels a bit like a different place! Luckily, Dubai’s skyline helps keep one grounded, no matter which area you choose to visit. Here are best areas to stay in Dubai with accommodation options in each.

Old Dubai

Areas like Al Seef and Al Fahidi represent traditional Dubai, with great museums, wind towers, colourful souks (markets) and the majestic Dubai creek.

Old Dubai is one of the best places to stay in Dubai for a glimpse into the tradition and culture of Dubai, which is sure to be one of the most exciting and unique parts of your trip.

See also: Explore the Culture and Traditions in Dubai

Al Seef Heritage Hotel 

Are you wondering where to stay in Dubai in the ‘old’ part of the city? Al Seef Heritage Hotel by Hilton is a great choice. Set overlooking the Dubai Creek (where you can join a Dubai dhow cruise) and located next to the Museum of Illusions, this four-star hotel offers a luxury visit. The Burj Khalifa is relatively close, with many malls, the Dubai International Airport, and the Dubai World Trade Centre not far behind.

Book your stay at Al Seef Heritage Hotel

Where to stay in Dubai - Heritage Hotel by Hilton
Heritage Hotel by Hilton

Jumeirah Beach Residence 

Many resorts around the Jumeirah Beach Residence area offer a fantastic array of watersport activities, including jet skis, parasailing, paddle boating, and kayaking (check out these crazy things to do in Dubai). 

Other resort activities in the area include hot air balloons, quad biking and camel rides, which you can arrange before arriving in Dubai. This area is one of the best places to stay in Dubai if you are looking for family fun and water sports or other physical activities.

Additionally, you can find Jumeirah Beach (also known as JBR) in this region, making it a delightful holiday destination. 

See also: Fun Things to Do in Dubai With Kids

Beach Walk Hotel 

Need to find where to stay in Dubai in the Jumeirah Beach area? Beach Walk Hotel is a great choice! This four-star hotel offers an outdoor pool, modern design and clean furnishings and finishes. You’ll also get access to the fitness centre located within the hotel.

The Miraj Islamic Art Centre and Kite Beach are in the immediate area, a kitesurfer’s paradise.

Book your stay at Beach Walk Hotel

Beach Walk Hotel in Dubai
Beach Walk Hotel 

Park Regis Boutique Hotel 

Were you looking for something a bit different than your average hotel for your next trip to Dubai? You’ll enjoy the Park Regis Boutique Hotel in JBR, Dubai. This unique hotel is near Umm Suqeim beach, Suqeim park and the Wild Wadi Waterpark. 

We think active families would love this location for its hot tubs, water sports, babysitting services and dedicated family room. 

Book your stay at Park Regis Boutique Hotel

Park Regis Boutique Hotel
Park Regis Boutique Hotel

Dubai Marina

The Dubai Marina is one of the best places to stay in Dubai for nightlife. Surprisingly, Dubai is one of the more relaxed Arab nations regarding drinking and alcohol. Still, you’ll find a strict zero-tolerance policy for public drunkenness, and alcohol is heavily taxed in the city.

Despite this, Dubai Marina is the best of all answers to the question ‘Where to stay in Dubai for the best nightlife?’ You will find alcohol in licensed restaurants, bars, hotels and nightclubs. In this area, you’ll find trendy nightclubs on the rooftops of high-rises in the city.

Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa 

Want one of the best places to stay in Dubai’s marina area? Look no further than Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa. This luxury resort includes spa access, three outdoor pools for guests, as well as a private beach complete with sun loungers and umbrellas. There’s even a children’s play area for families, as well as breathtaking decor throughout. 

The hotel also offers 4 bars and seven restaurants for the most discerning guests. 

Book your stay at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa

Places to stay in Dubai - Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa
Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa

Sparkle 405 – Merida

If you are a single traveller or perhaps a couple, you may enjoy Sparkle 405 – Merida, a studio apartment in the Dubai Marina district. You’ll indeed have a more cosy experience when staying at your apartment instead of a hotel! 

Featuring an open-plan kitchen, this fully-equipped studio offers quick access to the Beach Mall, Bluewaters Island, Skydive Dubai and more. 

Book your stay at Sparkle 405 – Merida

Bur Dubai

Bur Dubai is arguably one of the best areas to stay in Dubai for sightseeing and shorter stays, as it offers a lot to see and do without travelling too far! 

This area is one of the most central in all of Dubai, meaning that you won’t spend hours travelling to and from your chosen destinations every day. Bur Dubai offers ample public transport and metro stations for more distant locations. You’ll also find many taxis in the streets and in proximity to authentic bazaars, traditional boats, floating restaurants, and historic neighbourhoods. 

Green House Hotel Apartments 

Are you wondering where to stay in Dubai that offers central access to the city, as well as a modern experience? Green House Hotel and Apartments might be the perfect choice for you! 

The best part about this hotel is that it offers a choice between standard hotel rooms and apartments, with over 98 rooms. Secondly, a rooftop pool, gym, and breakfast buffet are included for every guest. 

Additionally, features include a dedicated children’s pool and proximity to BurJuman Mall, Dubai Museum and Grand Mosque. 

Book your stay at Green House Hotel and Apartments

Where to stay in Dubai
Green House Hotel Apartments

Downtown Dubai 

Downtown Dubai is one of the best places to stay in Dubai for those visiting Dubai on a work trip. Downtown Dubai and Business Bay contain many office blocks, apartments and luxury hotels. It’s located about halfway between old and new Dubai, and the area is most well known for the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world. 

It’s also home to Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping centres in the world. It’s also reasonably convenient to reach via metro or taxi services that connect to Dubai international airport. 

See also: A Guide to Shopping in Dubai

Vida Downtown 

Do you want to discover where to stay in Dubai in the middle of the central district? We think you’ll love Vida Downtown, a 4-star hotel in Dubai’s Downtown district. 

This hotel features over 150 guestrooms, an outdoor pool and lounge area, a business centre, modern lounges and gym and bicycle services for guests.

This beautiful hotel is close to the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Fountain, Dubai Ice Rink and Burj Park.

Book your stay at Vida Downtown

Vida Downtown hotel
Vida Downtown

Dream Inn Apartments – Claren Downtown 

Want to discover where to stay in Dubai where you can have your apartment yet feel like you’re living in a hotel? Dream Inn Apartments is located in the heart of Dubai and offers bright, comfortable apartment stays for families of different sizes.

Here, you’ll find everything you could expect in your apartment – including a lounge, dining area, patio, modern kitchens, large bedrooms and sweeping views of Dubai.

Book your stay at Dream Inn Apartments

Dream Inn Apartments
Dream Inn Apartments

These are the best places to stay in Dubai

Regardless of your personal favourite best areas to stay in Dubai, we know that you’ll find something you love in Dubai when it comes to your next trip. Whether travelling for work, family time or leisure, we think you’ll find your own best places to stay in Dubai when you visit next.

Choose from some of the most popular places in Dubai, such as Downtown Dubai, Bur Dubai, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach and Old Dubai. Of course, there are plenty of other places to find in Dubai which we haven’t mentioned!

We hope you have a better idea of where to stay in Dubai when you are due for your next trip. 


Celebrating Christmas in Barcelona Like a Local

Thinking about spending Christmas in Barcelona? Keep reading for more on what to expect.

Winter in Barcelona descends from late November to early March, and it is considerably mild compared to other places, reaching lows of around 5℃. Basically, if you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate a white Christmas in Spain, Barcelona probably isn’t the place for you. 

However, if you want to celebrate Christmas with blue skies, surrounded by carollers, inspiring religious buildings, and incredible Christmas markets, without feeling the need to shiver your way through it all, Barcelona is the place for you. 

Celebrating Christmas in Barcelona like a local makes it all that much more exciting, so let’s talk you through everything you need to know how to celebrate Christmas like a local here in Barcelona. 

See also: Guide to Experiencing the Best of Christmas Around the World

Local Christmas markets in Barcelona

A large part of spending Christmas in Barcelona is visiting the many Christmas markets.

See also: New Year in Barcelona

La Fira de Santa Llúcia

This is one of the largest, most well- known and oldest markets in the city, this year will be its 235th edition, filling the area outside of the famous Gothic Cathedral with over 283 stalls selling everything from figurines to plants, to crafts and even Simbombes. 

At this incredible market you must be sure to keep a look out for the cheeky ‘caganer’ figure, which is a traditional catalan figurine with his trousers down, he is said to bring luck by fertilising the earth. 

This place dates all the way back to 1786, taking place on the day of Santa Llúcia, December 13th, this is a historic and exciting place for you to check out this winter! 

Opening dates: November 30th until December 23rd 10:00-21:00

Christmas market in Barcelona - La Fira de Santa Llúcia
La Fira de Santa Llúcia

La Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Familia

These Christmas markets are slightly smaller than the Santa Llúcia markets, but they are positioned right outside the incredible Sagrada Familia, which you must visit if you haven’t before (it’s one of the top Barcelona attractions). 

They have a little of everything here, but most importantly they serve incredible tasty christmas treats, such as roasted chestnuts, baked sweet potatoes and churros with thick hot chocolate! 

Opening times: November 24th to December 22nd 10:00- 21:00

La Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
La Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Familia La Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Familia

La Fira de Reis

This Christmas market in Barcelona surrounds the idea of the celebration of the three kings in Spain (don’t worry, this will be further explained shortly), the day in which the Spanish give out their main presents. 

Stalls at the Fira de Reis sell mainly kid’s toys and presents, making it a pretty ideal place to go find a Reyes gift for everyone who you need to buy for. 

Opening times: 21st December- 6th January 10:00- 21:00 

La Fira de Reis - Christmas market in Barcelona
La Fira de Reis

Traditional Spanish Christmas Meals

Escudella

Escudella is a traditional christmas warmer, a kind of stew which contains everything. It has chicken, beef, pork backbone, ham bone’s bouillon, veggies; carrots, potatoes, cabbage. It’s a pretty hypercaloric dish, but there’s nothing wrong with that when it’s cold outside!  

The perfect dish to warm you up this winter. 

Sopa de galets

Sopa de galets include huge pieces of pasta, with which one will fill your spoon. The galets are the large pieces of pasta which are filled with veggies or meats. The soup itself is a traditional soup made with bouillon, making it a very comforting cold winter dish. 

This is usually eaten as a first course as part of Christmas day lunch, on the 25th of December. 

Canelons

Canelons, or Cannelloni, is one of Catalonia’s favourites, usually eaten on the day of Sant Esteve, celebrated on December 26th. This dish includes Cannelloni stuffed with either chicken or meat and bechamel sauce, the difference between this and your traditional Italian Cannelloni is that this dish does not use tomato sauce. 

Traditional Spanish Christmas Treats

Turrón

Turrón is one of the most well known Spanish Christmas foods that you will find in Barcelona, as well as being found in Italy and parts of South America. It dates back to the 16th century, and is enjoyed all over the Catalan capital during the holiday season. Turrón tastes almost similar to malteser chocolate, it is made with honey, sugar, egg white and toasted almonds or other nuts. 

This chocolate is extremely tasty and can be found in just your average supermarket at any time during Christmas. 

Mantecados and Polvorones

Mantecados and polvorones can be found all over supermarkets and department stores in the months leading up to Christmas. They are little baked and crumbly Christmas cookies served with “Moscatel”. The difference between mantecados and polvorones is the shape, polvorones are oval and mantecados are round. They are both similar to shortbread, but just tend to crumble much more easily. 

These sweet treats are super popular throughout Catalonia, you’ll find them everywhere! 

Crema Catalana

Crema Catalana is pretty much the Catalan recipe for a Crème brûlée, first found in Catalan books in the 14th century. The recipe includes the use of custard cream, over which sugar is poured and burnt with a hot iron rod to create the trademark burnt crust. 

This differs from your average Crème brûlée through both its cooking method & consistency, as well as its cinnamon and lemon zest flavour as opposed to your usual French vanilla. 

Spainish Christmas dessert - Crema Catalana
Crema Catalana

Getting Your Christmas Shopping Done Right

Barcelona is home to some of the biggest shopping centres in Spain, and during Christmas there are a load of great sales and deals to get you in the Christmas mood. These places are also perfectly happy to wrap your gifts for you. 

See also: Where to Find the Best Vintage Shops in Barcelona

The Diagonal Mar

A shopping centre split into three floors, to accommodate their 200 stores and 17 cinema screens, and even a bowling alley. This is one of the biggest in Barcelona, and is recognised as an environmental model due to their promoted values of environmental sustainability. 

This is the perfect place for your Christmas shopping as everything is in one place, as well as this the shopping centre is just beside the Parc Diagonal Mar and Museu Blau, two very ideal locations for spending the day as a family. 

The Diagonal Mar
The Diagonal Mar

Glòries Shopping Mall

The Glòries shopping mall is located in the Plaza de las Glorias Catalanes, surrounded by the incredible Torre Glòries (a huge skyscraper which changes colour day and night, it’s incredible!). 

This place has 75 major stores, restaurants and cinemas, with plenty free parking, charging points, and they even have a kids club play area! 

Glòries Shopping Mall
Glòries Shopping Mall

Las Arenas Shopping Centre

For shopping like a real local, why not go to a shopping centre that used to be a bullring! They have over six floors, 115 shops, a fitness centre, 12- screen cinema, events hall and several bars and restaurants. They even have a huge terrace in which you can get a 360° view over Montjuïc. 

Las Arenas Shopping Centre
Las Arenas Shopping Centre

Celebrating the Three Kings like a Local in Barcelona

Towards the end of December most people around the world begin to relax and finalise their Christmas celebrations, however here in Spain, that is not the case. The first week of January is one of the most exciting times to visit Barcelona. People in Catalonia, in fact, will still be buying gifts and preparing their Christmas dinners, whilst you can still admire the beautiful Christmas lights across the city and prepare yourself for the arrival of The Three Kings or Los Reyes Magos. 

Christmas in Barcelona, Spain
Christmas in Barcelona, Spain

These biblical characters come to Spain on the 5th and 6th of January to give gifts of presents and sweet treats to the children. On January 5th there is a parade dedicated to the three kings in which the Kings themselves arrive at the Av. Del Marquès de l’Argentera and travel 5km around the city, ending at the Montjuïc Magic Fountains. 

Traditionally, locals in Barcelona will leave food out for the three kings and water for their camels, and a pair of shoes outside their doors or windows for the three kings to fill with gifts after the three kings parade. The morning of the 6th will provide for the children an array of gifts, as long as they’ve been well behaved! 

For more tips on Barcelona, check out the below posts: