Here in the UK, we’re so lucky to enjoy such great connections to one of the most unique and beautiful cities in the world! Barcelona and the Costa Brava offer an exciting itinerary for almost every subject – from Spanish to music, sport or business studies.
Kristie, Simone, Emma and Chris have recently returned from visiting the area. Here’s what they got up to:
We were up bright and early for our flight. The four of us met in the departure lounge of our local airport, East Midlands, and, as we had no hold luggage to check in, breezed straight through security. We even had time for a quick breakfast before boarding our flight!
Before we knew it, we were landing in Barcelona. We followed the signs to the coach parking, as our groups do, where our shuttle was waiting to take us to our rental car. Our National Sales Manager, Chris Stacey, and Music Tours Itinerary Coordinator, Simone, were our designated drivers for the trip.
Our first stop was lunch in the city at a restaurant we use for our groups – perfectly located next to the Sagrada Familia! The restaurant offers either a buffet or a three course lunch meal, and is ideal for groups.
After lunch, it was time to complete our inspection visits of the city’s hostels. BCN Sports Hostel was spacious and welcoming, with plenty of rooms for down time in the evenings – including a cinema room! The hostel is also attached to a gym and, for a small fee, students can use the facilities, which include a large pool.
Our first experience of the Barcelona metro ran smoothly and it was only a few short stops to our next inspection visit at the Hostel Urbany. This hostel is within easy reach of the tram to the beach and other local amenities. The Urbany is a modern, purpose-built hostel with a lunch terrace leading off from the canteen, and a rooftop terrace overlooking the city.
After a long day of visits and inspections, it was time to drive to our base for the trip. The 2* Hotel Internacional is located on the spectacular Costa Brava, in the seaside resort of Calella, which sits around an hour’s drive north of the city of Barcelona. After checking in we went straight to the restaurant for a buffet-style dinner – which we generally find is ideal for groups and especially those with various dietary requirements.
The hotel boasts a pool and leisure room, with a bar and pool tables, as well as a terrace. There is also a room downstairs, which can be used by groups – one morning we awoke to the beautiful sound of a choir practising!
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up to this beautiful view from our sea-facing balcony:
Today we would be checking out the hotels along the Costa Brava! We would audit ten hotels across three resorts – it was going to be a long day!
Opting to stay on the Costa Brava works fantastically for groups that want to visit Barcelona but prefer more spacious accommodation and the opportunity to visit the beach in the evenings.
Our first stop was Calella, to inspect the hotels we offer here. Fun fact: Calella lies just an hour away from Figueres, where Salvador Dalí was born.
As you can see from the photo, Calella’s beaches are beautiful and provide plenty of opportunity for your group to enjoy beach football or volleyball – always a great morning activity to wake your group up with! Evenings can be spent either at the hotel enjoying the facilities, or locally with activities such as bowling, or mini-golf.
Our next stop was Lloret de Mar. During the quiet season, Lloret de Mar offers beautiful hotels, a charming beach and some great shopping! Take your students for a walk down the promenade and you’ll stumble upon the brightly coloured Church of Santa Roma, as well as the ruins of the ancient Castel de Sant Joan, which offers a great view over the beach and town!
While we were in Lloret, we were fortunate enough to come across a musical ensemble performing at one of our recommended venues – the Plaza del Ayuntament. The performance drew quite a crowd!
Our final visit of the day took us to the traditional Catalan town of Tossa de Mar. The old part of the town is like taking a trip back in time with its narrow, cobbled streets, traditional houses and an impressive castle.
The horseshoe-shaped beach is quaint and the atmosphere created by the restaurants along the seafront makes a great combination for school groups who want to experience the excitement of Barcelona along with the more traditional Catalan atmosphere and culture.
After a delicious breakfast at the hotel buffet, we headed into the city of Barcelona. Our first stop was the Spanish language school where our groups can enjoy language lessons with qualified native Spanish-speaking teachers. Including lessons on your tour can be really beneficial for students that might need a confidence boost in spoken Spanish and is a fantastic way to prepare them for their oral exams.
At Halsbury, we only work with a handful of language schools across Europe that we feel offer the high quality tuition that our groups require. I am one of Halsbury’s Language Tour Specialists, which is why it was fantastic to meet the team personally and see the school for myself. It has a lovely, welcoming and open atmosphere, and great facilities, including some lovely terraces where you can enjoy a barbecue. It’s also really well connected to all the cultural activities available in Barcelona too.
After another hotel audit, this time at the BCN Urbany Go, which features great facilities and is perfectly located for the language school, our next stop was the magnificent Catedral de Barcelona.
One of our most impressive music venues in Barcelona city centre, the cathedral is hauntingly beautiful and well worth a visit for non-music groups too. The area in which our music groups can perform can be seen in the picture below:
Alongside auditing hotels, we were also fortunate enough to sample some of the restaurants that we work with. On leaving the cathedral, en-route to La Rambla, we strolled through the narrow, historic streets of the famous Gothic Quarter, where we simply couldn’t resist the urge to stop in a few of the boutiques and sample some traditional Spanish turron.
As we walked down the mile-long, tree-lined shopping paradise, the buzz on La Rambla was everything and more than we imagined/remembered. We made a quick stop at La Boqueria food market, which is the perfect place for encouraging your students to speak Spanish in a natural environment with native speakers. Why not try splitting your students into small groups and tasking them with buying certain items. Choose items that will require them to speak with the stallholders (such as X amount of a certain fruit) and give them a time limit.
After a busy morning, we really were ready for some lunch and had reservations at a restaurant in the city where many of our groups choose to stop for lunch or dinner. The restaurant offers hot buffet-style tapas, served to the table, and also offers a self-service salad bar and dessert buffet. As a vegan, I was delighted to see the wide selection available on the buffet, particularly the delicious, hot stir-fry! After a few rounds of the lunch buffet and some dessert, it was definitely time to walk it off.
The next visit was to an even more incredible music venue – the Sagrada Familia (I KNOW, an unbelievable venue, right?!). Inspired by both nature and faith, the Sagrada Familia is Gaudí’s masterpiece, and yet is still a work in progress. The first stone was laid in 1882 and the cathedral isn’t expected to be completed until 2026! Whatever your subject, the Sagrada Familia really is an iconic visit that you cannot miss on your school trip to Barcelona.
Continuing our Gaudí-themed afternoon, our last stop in the city would be Park Güell. The park’s colourful mosaics, huge columns and curved archways are truly impressive, and the park also makes for a nice break from the city centre bustle. Music groups can even play on the top platform and, with phenomenal views over the city, you’ll be sure to draw a crowd.
Making our way back to Calella, we spent our final evening meeting with one of Halsbury’s most trusted suppliers to enjoy traditional Catalan cuisine.
After a fantastically informative and enjoyable trip, it was unfortunately time for us to leave the Costa Brava, and the stunning city of Barcelona. But not before an early morning stroll along the beach!
I think it’s certainly safe to say that, no matter what your tour requirements are, this is one destination that really can cater to everyone!