Costa Brava is often reduced to its seaside resorts with long sandy beaches. It offers a varied panorama of snow-capped peaks and small coves, fishing villages and high mountain hamlets, Romanesque churches and Greco-Roman ruins, medieval fortresses and Dali's surrealist legacy. An astonishing and explosive region to which one can only succumb.
Along the coast, there are towns and villages with names evocative of vacations, sun and beach. Old fishing ports for some relatively recent seaside resorts for others invite you to take advantage of the mild Mediterranean climate while indulging in sporting or cultural activities, which are very rich in the region—a small anthology of the most beautiful destinations on the Costa Brava.
In the far north of the Costa Brava, in the Alt Emporda comarca and on the border with France, Portbou is one of the main access routes to Spain. This typical fishing port with quiet beaches, secluded creeks and calas offers diving enthusiasts to enjoy an ideal setting and excellent sailing or kayaking infrastructure.
About thirty kilometres further south, there is a charming isolated village that has long lived alone, facing the sea. Cadaquès, in the past, was a den for pirates who were looking for a place to take refuge after the attack of ships at high altitudes. This problematic access and isolation have prevented the development of mass tourism in Cadaquès, which has contributed to its fame and the protective presence of Salvador Dali, who has always ensured that Cadaquès retains its charm.
Considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world by Unesco, the Bay of Rosas stretches from the Cap de Creus natural park to the Montgri massif in addition to 45 km of beaches and 15 km creeks. The central point of the bay, the town of Rosas, naturally gave it its name. This seaside spot attracts many European residents looking for a coastal base.
Further down, about forty kilometres from the French border, Empuriabrava is the seaside resort area dedicated to leisure tourism. Known as one of the largest residential marina globally with 5,000 berths, it is a popular dream destination for water sports and skydiving enthusiasts, as it has an internationally renowned centre.
Another point of interest in the Bay of Rosas: L'Escala, which sees its population multiplied by ten in the summer. Over the years, this small fishing village has grown into a popular seaside resort. It must be said that the town offers an ideal configuration with beautiful and extensive beaches and, on the other, an unspoiled wild coast with coves and its cliffs and marshes.
European divers are attracted to their favourite seaside resort of Torroella de Montgrí, particularly by the seabed of the Medes Islands. Lovers of old stones will probably prefer Pals, a beautiful medieval village located on Mont Aspire and surrounded by swamps. Located 5 km from the seaside resort, the historic centre conceals treasures such as the viewpoint of Pedra, the highest point to enjoy a breathtaking view of the surroundings.
Tossa de Mar has not stolen its nickname of Pearl of the Costa Brava. This characterful seaside resort charms visitors with its long and wide golden sand beach leading to a medieval castle with superbly preserved fortresses. Behind the Castillo, a 300 m long perimeter wall adorned with towers that offer a superb view of the city as well as the sea hides the old town of this famous seaside resort. The medieval houses, the ruins of the Gothic Saint Vincenç church or the cobbled streets demonstrate the richness of the local cultural and architectural heritage.
Lloret de Mar is another seaside resort renowned for both its beaches, coves and its historical heritage located in the southernmost part of the Costa Brava. The town is home to the superb Santa Clotilde gardens characterized by lush vegetation overlooking the sea and pines, lime trees, poplars and cypresses bordering the alleys. Perched on a cliff, between a Boadella beach and playa Fenals watchtower and mirador, these romantic Italian gardens have nothing to envy the famous botanical garden of Blanes.
Several towns inland are worth leaving the beach for a few hours to take advantage of all they offer regarding architectural, cultural and gastronomic heritage. From Figueres to Girona via small medieval villages, the Costa Brava is also a hinterland made up of charming coastal destinations.
Coming to Figueres without visiting the Dali Theater-Museum is an impossible task as the identity of the capital of the Alt Emporda is closely linked to the artistic heritage of the Catalan painter and sculptor. On the other hand, you can continue your discovery of Figueres with the other must-see monument, the Castle of Sant Ferran, recognized as the largest fortress in Europe. The old town is also home to a rich architectural heritage which makes strolling so pleasant in the day. This non-coastal town, located about twenty kilometres from Rosas and Empuriabrava, is worth a detour!
Girona offers its visitors a step back in time. Renowned for its historic city and its fortified walls in the medieval quarter and the Força Vella, the city lends itself to strolling, the time to fully immerse yourself in the history of Spain. People also come there for its cultural program, which makes the heart of the city beat in all seasons.
Not far from Girona and the seaside resorts of Begur and L'estartit lies the superb village of Peratallada and its castle-fortress with a tower, a palace and a rampart. Everyone agrees that Peratallada is the most beautiful medieval village in Catalonia. In addition to benefiting from a vibrant historical and cultural heritage, this village makes the taste buds salivate with its many restaurants and bars scattered around its cobbled streets.
Another town in the hinterland worth a visit: Banyoles. Built around its pond in the Robacorba mountains, this town in the province of Girona offers an unusual configuration that attracts visitors, in particular, looking for a sporting holiday. Lovers of old stones will not be left out. However, because Banyoles is one of those villages which have preserved their architecture of yesteryear and enhanced their heritage, among which are three Catalan gems: the monastery of Sant Esteve, the church of Santa Maria dels Turers and the Gothic Pia Almoina palace.
Don't miss either:
Begur and its famous beaches, dominated by an essential medieval fortress
Palafrugell, an old fishing village full of charm with coves more beautiful than the others
Palamos for its exuberant nature and its splendid hard-to-reach beaches
Platja d'Aro for the multitude of aquatic activities that you can enjoy and for its amusement parks that will delight the little ones
Sant Feliu de Guixols for its beautiful fishing village and the unparalleled hospitality of its inhabitants
Blanes, a natural gateway to the Costa Brava and atypical seaside destination
Pubol and its famous Gala Dali castle
Much of Season 6 of the popular series - the best according to fans - was filmed in Girona. As for the prequel titled House of the Dragon - La Garde de Nuit, currently filming, it is in Lloret de Mar that she has taken up residence.
Girona, the Mecca of gastronomy? Indeed, we can trust the figures since the territory has no less than 16 best restaurants and bars for a total of 21 Michelin stars awarded.
As astonishing as it may sound, Begur presents itself as an Indian city due to the construction of colonial-style houses by "American Indians" who returned from the colonies at the end of the 19th century with their pockets full of riches.
The city's main economic activity since the 18th century, ceramics, is a tradition passed down from generation to generation. From decorative ceramics to construction ceramics, everything is manufactured and marketed there.