Tourist flats not just for big cities as tourists flock to tiny Guardiola de Berguedà

The northern Catalan town of fewer than 900 inhabitants is seeing similar issues as Barcelona and Girona

View from the balcony of one of the tourist apartments in Guardiola de Berguedà (by Estefania Escolà)
View from the balcony of one of the tourist apartments in Guardiola de Berguedà (by Estefania Escolà) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 17, 2020 08:41 PM

The phenomenon of tourist flats is not only an issue for Barcelona and Girona, as it has even reached small villages in the county of Berguedà. 

Guardiola de Berguedà provides a perfect example, with fewer than 900 inhabitants in the town, 25 tourist flats have already popped up in the last five years, with the number rising. 

The reasons, as they have explained from the local council, are, on the one hand, the overcrowding and high prices of Cerdanya, which is pushing tourism to villages in the upper areas of the county, and also the fact that this area is not particularly touristy, and people seeking to make holidays in the town are looking for a quieter break, surrounded by natural beauty. 

“[Berguedà is] quite a paradise, has a lot of nature, very little human intervention and green spaces, and I think people look for that,” the mayor of Guardiola de Berguedà, Josep Lara, said to Catalan News. 

According to the mayor, this has begun to have consequences, such as the fact that young people in the area have more difficulty moving out and finding apartments to rent.

David Vallès lives in Barcelona, ​​where he works as a property manager. Five years ago, he decided to buy an apartment in Guardiola de Berguedà and rented it, but he soon saw a business opportunity and decided to turn it into a tourist apartment. 

The success was so great that he has since bought four more and also a house in Gironella. "I would buy more if I had the money," he said.

Examples such as that of David Vallès are an economic injection for an area bereft of opportunities, but at the same time there is a situation that, although the mayor acknowledges that, for the moment is not too significant a problem, it could be in the not too distant future. 

As he admits, it is increasingly difficult to find a flat to rent in these areas, as the owners would rather rent a flat for 150 euros a weekend than for 300 euros per month.

"We like Berguedà and it is cheaper"

Rosa and Antonio are from Olesa de Montserrat, but they have decided to rent an apartment in Guardiola de Berguedà, attracted by the nature of the region and also because, in Cerdanya, the apartments are much more expensive and inaccessible.

"We like to go skiing, and we have Cerdanya here very close, we just have to cross the Cadi tunnel," they explain.