The Costa Brava is a sum of sensations that will surprise you, from Blanes to Portbou. Nature has a prominent role in this territory, which houses the Natural Park of Cap de Creus, the Natural Park of Els Aiguamolls de l'Empordà and the Natural Park of El Montgrí, the Illes Medes and the Baix Ter. Three scenarios of enormous diversity; three places of great biological value.
The coastline will also captivate you with the beauty of its beaches and coves, some of them authentic paradises are hidden between cliffs.
You should also take note of such unique places as the Bay of Roses, Lake Banyoles or the botanical gardens of Santa Clotilde, Pinya de Rosa, Marimurtra and Cap Roig.
The Costa Brava also reserves a large number of cultural proposals: the vast legacy of Salvador Dalí in the Empordà; the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes or the castle of Peratallada; medieval villas such as Tossa de Mar and the old town of Girona, with a historical jewel of the first order: its Jewish quarter.
In this article, we offer you a selection of our favourite villages and practical information about mandatory visits during your holidays on the Costa Brava.
Blanes, this old fishing village is the only town on the Costa Brava that has a train connection and Barcelona in just 90 minutes you reach the entrance of the Costa Brava. Blanes is a place known as an ideal family vacation destination, as it has all kinds of services you may need.
The main beach of the town is not a big what, but leaving the town a bit you will find the Sant Francesc beach that does not have to envy the beaches further north. In Blanes, you will also find the fantastic world-famous Mar i Mutra Botanical Garden and if you want good views, you just need to climb the Sant Joan Hill to enjoy a spectacular view of this stretch of the Costa Brava. It is interesting to know that one of the most important fireworks festivals in Europe is organized every summer in Blanes.
Lloret de Mar
Lloret de Mar is one of the towns of the Costa Brava that many only know as a cheap party place, without considering the beauty of the same place. It is true that in summer many young people enjoy the beaches and leisure here in the discos and at this time it is surely not your place if you are looking for a quiet town. However, Lloret has beautiful things like Lloret Castle, located in the middle of a pine forest, the Church of Sant Romà with its colourful mosaics on its roof or the Santa Clotilde Gardens, another impressive botanical garden.
Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar is a really unique place. It is not only one of the most picturesque villages on the Costa Brava, but it is one of our favourite towns in Catalonia. It is a town where you walk around with views of postcards wherever you go. Its main beach is always full of small coloured boats and the jewel of the town is, of course, its old town (the Vila Villa) with a medieval fortress that dominates the views from the top of a small hill.
If you have a car, we recommend you to travel the road that connects Tossa de Mar and Sant Feliu de Guixols with stunning views of Tossa de Mar from above and in this area you will find some of the most picturesque corners of the entire Costa Brava such as Cala Pola, the Cala Giverola or Platja del Señor Ramón.
Sant Feliu de Guixols and Platja d'Aro
Perhaps Sant Feliu de Guixols and Platja d'Aro are not usually considered among the most charming villages on the Costa Brava since this is the perhaps most urbanized area in the entire region with countless hotels and other tourist and commercial facilities. However, both places house places of interest beyond their coves and beaches generally taken during the summer months. Sant Feliu de Guixols has an impressive Benedictine monastery in Romanesque style. It is worth standing in front of its famous Porta Ferrada of the 10th century to imagine what life was like in ancient times. Although Platja d'Aro is known for its great leisure offer, many do not know its historical legacy, such as the Roman villa of the 1st century BC. located in the enclave of Pla de Palol.
Palamós is one of the mythical towns of the Costa Brava. Thanks to its rich prawns of intense colour, this town is known internationally. Its promenade is the ideal place to delight yourself with this delicious dish enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. Near Palamós is La Fosca beach, one of the beautiful beaches with a family atmosphere on the Costa Brava.
Also nearby is S’Alguer, one of our favourite places in this part of the Costa Brava. A tiny settlement consisting of few fishermen's houses that represent a haven of peace that we loved when we visited it, travelling part of the Camino de Ronda.
Calella de Palafrugell
If you are looking for a town where you can really live the unique sensation of the Costa Brava, this is without a doubt Calella de Palafrugell, an old fishing village with a magical atmosphere. Calella de Palafrugell is a small town full of white houses on the same shore of the sea with wooden boats anchored on the beach where walking you will feel in a fairy tale. In addition, the literal of this area has a lot of beautiful coves with crystal clear waters around it. The Botanical Garden of Cap Roig is also worth a look where you can see more than 1000 different species, organized in a fabulous setting on terraces in front of the sea.
If there is a town on the Costa Brava that is known primarily for its beaches and less for the town itself, this is Begur. In the surroundings of Begur, there are some of the most famous coves on the Costa Brava, such as Aiguablava, but the town itself also deserves to be visited.
Begur also has a small ruined castle on top of its hill and the views are truly spectacular. Normally you can see the Medes Islands very well and on clear days the peaks of the Pyrenees too. The town has many white houses (on Vera Street for example) and some Indian houses called by Begurenses who had emigrated to Cuba in the 19th century. In fact, the most important date in the local calendar is the Fair of the Indians that is celebrated the first weekend of September to remember these historical ties between Begur and the Caribbean island.
L’Escala and the ruins of Empúries
L’Escala is another large town in the Gulf of Roses that offers many activities. However, the main attraction is in the immediate vicinity of the town. A trip to the Costa Brava cannot be complete without visiting the ancient ruins of Empúries, the largest representation of Greek culture in the Iberian Peninsula that was later occupied by the Romans. It is worth spending a few hours on the site to see the memories of the Greek era such as the ruins of the temples of Zeus Serapis and that of Aesculapius or the amphitheatre and many houses with mosaics from the Roman era. In summer watch out for the heat, since you will not find shade anywhere in the enclosure.
In the largest bay of the Costa Brava, in the Gulf of Roses is the town of Roses, another of the main locations of the Ampurdán. It is another town that offers a wide variety of hotels and entertainment venues for all tastes. Roses is well known for its beaches and less for its monuments such as the Citadel that retains remains of the ancient times of the Greeks and Romans, the beautiful Santa Maria church or the Renaissance fort of the Castle of the Trinity of the fifteenth century.
Source of inspiration for writers and artists, Cadaqués is the town that for many is the symbol of the Costa Brava. Its historic centre with its white houses with many blue details and its large fishing port full of small boats stopped in the crystalline waters of its bay is the postcard photo that comes to mind when we think of Cadaqués. Strolling along its promenade, on a summer afternoon, getting lost in its alleyways savouring the bohemian atmosphere of the place is a must to do on a trip to the Costa Brava.
From Cadaqués it is worth taking an excursion to Portlligat to get to know Salvador Dalí's world a little better by visiting his house. We also recommend going to Cap de Creus, a peninsula with beautiful coves and a lighthouse that gives us the feeling of having reached the end of the world. To appreciate Cadaqués from another point of view you can take a catamaran ride to Cadaqués or a catamaran trip to the Cap de Creus coves.
The Port de la Selva and the San Pere de Rodes Monastery
We finish our trip with the small town of El Port de la Selva, located on the north coast of Cap de Creus caught between the mountains of the Sierra de Rodes as the imposing summit of San Salvador and the Mediterranean Sea. The Port de la Selva is another white fishing town like Cadaqués but in a much less touristy version.
In the case of this town too, the main attraction is in the surroundings. On top of a mountain is the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, a spectacular and probably the most sophisticated example of Catalan Gothic architecture. Visiting the monastery, in addition to doing a dive at the time when this was the spiritual centre of the region, you can enjoy unbeatable views.