Enjoy a getaway on the Costa Brava
Article updated 16 January, 2019.
The Costa Brava suffers somewhat from its reputation as a package holiday destination, but in reality, it's an area with superb scenery and a whole host of charming villages.
The Costa Brava is the stretch of coastline which runs from the town of Blanes (1 hour to the north of Barcelona) up to the French border. It’s lined with beaches, coves, countryside and pretty villages. A mere hour or two’s drive from Barcelona, it’s a great place to get away from it all and enjoy a change of scenery.
Beaches on the Costa Brava
Say “Costa Brava”, and you’re bound to think of beaches. There’s something for everyone, with small beaches, big beaches, lively beaches and tranquil, hidden beaches… take your pick!
Big beaches on the Costa Brava
Contrary to popular belief, the Costa Brava is not completely lined with sand. At Cadaquès, for example, you’ll find nothing but rocks. If you’re looking for sand as far as the eye can see, head to the bay at Roses, Pals or Lloret de Mar. These beaches are easily accessible by car, bus or train, and are very lively. There are many, many shops selling everything you’ll need for a day at the beach, ice creams and cold drinks. However, they get very busy and can be noisy.
Lloret de Mar is also a popular destination with young partygoers seeking sun, sea and serious nights out (and, in some cases, copious amounts of alcohol).
Coves along the Costa Brava
If you prefer your beaches to be quieter and more “wild”, visit one of the Costa Brava’s pretty coves. They’ve been spared from excessive urban development, which is a significant advantage. However, they get very busy, very quickly in the high season.
Some of the coves along the Costa Brava are easily accessible by car, with parking facilities nearby. Others can only be reached on foot, and these coves tend to be quieter.
A great way of discovering the coves is to walk along the coast via the cliff path, created in days of yore for police and customs officers who patrolled the coast, monitoring Spain’s maritime frontier and keeping a lookout for smugglers. It’s now a popular destination with walkers, out to discover the spectacular views which the coast has to offer.
The prettiest villages along the Costa Brava
The Costa Brava is best-known for its beaches, but it also has a rich and varied history. Medieval villages such as Pals, Tossa de Mar and Peratallada reflect this, with their narrow, charming streets and little squares.
The Costa Brava is also home to more ancient remains, including a greco-roman site at Empùries which is open to visitors.
Whilst the medieval villages of the Costa Brava are mostly in tones of ochre or grey stone, the fishing villages along the coast are bright white. The most picturesque is, without a doubt, Cadaquès, known as one of Spain’s prettiest villages. A stroll through its white streets, walls draped in bougainvilleas, is a truly magical experience! The village is popular with tourists, and there are several hotels and a number of little restaurants serving fresh fish and other seafood.
Cadaquès is popular with all nationalities. Calella de Palafrugell has a very similar character.
Salvador Dalí and the Costa Brava
For art fans, the Costa Brava means Salvador Dalí. The artist had very strong ties to the region, and there’s an impressive Dalí museum at Figueras, where he grew up. If you’re nearby, you really shouldn’t miss it! The works on display are vary varied, and representative of the whole of Dalí’s universe.
The artist’s house at Port Lligat is also open to visitors (by reservation only). Visits are conducted in groups of 8, every 10 minutes. This charming little white house is well worth a visit, offering a very clear view of Dalí’s surrealist vision.
Nature on the Costa Brava
The Costa Brava is also home to a number of nature reserves, including the Cap de Creus and the Medes islands. The Cap de Creus is mostly scrubland, criss-crossed with hiking trails.
The Medes Islands are completely deserted, with no beaches or ports. There is a blanket ban on fishing in the reserve. It’s a popular place to see dolphins and a number of other marine species.
Blanes and Lloret de Mar both have their own spectacular botanical gardens, at Marimurtra and Santa Clotilde. They have many things in common, notably the fact that they both overlook the sea and offer spectacular views. Great places to visit if you’re a nature-lover, or if you want to spend a quiet moment with someone special! The gardens of Pinya de Rosa and Cap Roig are also worth the trip.
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