Costa Brava towns

Between land and sea

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.

All the richeness of Spain concentrated in one exceptional destination

Epic view of Costa Brava

Girona through the Eiffel Bridge, Catalonia, Spain

The Costa Brava, seaside.

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, all 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 Empordà 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. Cadaques, 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. The problematic access and isolation have prevented the development of mass tourism in Cadaques, which has contributed to its fame. Also, the protective presence of Salvador Dali has always ensured that Cadaques 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 of 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 marinas in the world. 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.

L’Estartit, in the municipality of Torroella de Montgri, is the favourite spot for European divers, who are particularly attracted by the ocean floors 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 of 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.

And on the land side.

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 Empordà 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 old town 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

Game of Thrones on the Costa Brava

Much of Season 6 of this popular series - the best one according to fans - was filmed in Girona. As for the prequel titled House of the Dragon is in Lloret de Mar.

Girona, stars in your eyes

Girona, the Mecca of gastronomy? Indeed, we can trust the figures since the territory has no less than 16 restaurants and bars with Michelin stars, out of 21 stars awarded.

Begur, the Indian city

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 wealth.

Ceramics, pride of Bisbal

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.

The Costa Brava nature side

A third of the Catalan coast is made up of protected natural areas. Those who want to become one with nature, get close to wildlife and practice outdoor activities, far from the hustle and bustle of seaside resorts, will find what they are looking for in the natural parks of the Costa Brava.

The Cap de Creus Natural Park: a natural and architectural gem

Both a maritime and terrestrial natural park, Cap de Creus extends over one of the wildest areas in Spain. Flora and fauna are rich and varied, with endemic species that delight hikers and divers. Land and maritime archaeological remains and the famous Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes add a cultural appeal to this site, already very well endowed with natural wonders.

The Aiguamolls de l'Empordà Natural Park: a bird watcher's paradise

Located south of Empuriabrava, this marshy area bordered by paths allows you to meet a wide variety of birds such as flamingos, storks, mallards, grey herons and coots. To date, 329 species of birds have been recorded there. From March to May and then from August to October, bird watchers flock there to observe these migratory birds that have come to take up temporary residence in this protected natural area.

The Montgri Natural Park, the Medes Islands and the Baix Ter: the spot for diving enthusiasts

This mountainous massif extended by an archipelago made up of 7 islets is one of the symbolic landscapes of the Costa Brava and one of the most important reserves of flora and fauna in the Mediterranean. The incredible richness of the archipelago's seabed attracts divers from all over the world, eager to encounter schools of groupers or bass or even a few dolphins.

La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Park: the lunar landscape of the Costa Brava

With its 40 volcanic cones, including the Croscat volcano and Santa Magrita, its ten craters and its twenty lava flows spread over 15,000 ha, this Natural Park is unique. The vegetation is varied and lush, and the sand takes on ocher and black colours, sometimes drawing on blue and purple. More than thirty itineraries are offered to explore the park and its wonders.

Don't miss either:

  • the Cadi-Moixero Natural Park located on the mountain of the same name

  • the Capçalera del Ter i del Freser Natural Park and its ravines, including the famous wall of Roques Tot-lo-Mon

  • the Montseny Natural Park, located about fifty kilometres from Barcelona which hosts the ruins of the Montgros wall and the Sant Salvador de Breda monastery

The Costa Brava, land of witness

The Costa Brava is home to many sites that bear witness to its past, from Greco-Roman times to the surrealist legacy left by Dali. Culture and history buffs will find plenty to quench their thirst for knowledge in this coastal region.

The archaeological site of Empuries is the only site on the Iberian Peninsula to bring together both the remains of a Greek city, Emporion, and a Roman City, Emporia, erected at the beginning of the 1st century BC. The site of the ruins of Empuries is divided into three areas: Paleopolis, the original Phocaean city, now occupied by the charming village of Sant Marti d'Empuries; Neapolis, the new Greek city, the Roman city overlooking the whole. A visit to this open-air archaeological site can be supplemented by visiting the Archaeological Museum of Catalonia-Empuries to take stock of the discoveries made over time.

The Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, built on the mountainside on the Verdera, is undoubtedly the jewel of the Cap de Creus natural park. In addition to providing one of the most remarkable testimonies of Romanesque architecture in Catalonia, this listed site offers an exceptional view of the Llançà and El Port de la Selva bays.

The Cami de Ronda is a coastal path created in the 19th century by the riflemen who crisscrossed the Costa Brava coast to protect it from smugglers and the maritime black market. This walkway now allows you to walk to the creeks and coastal villages on several routes ranging from a few hours to several days of walking. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful way to soak up the landscapes and the atmosphere of Costa Brava.

The Dalinian Triangle is the nickname given to the three places that most marked the life of the Catalan artist. Three sites allow you to immerse yourself in his artistic vision and measure his exceptional contribution to Catalan culture. It all starts in the house-museum of Portlligat, a small fishing village located 1 km from Cadaques. In 1930, Salvador Dali bought this small white house, which he continued to expand by adding fishermen's huts acquired over time. It is in this place preserved from the hustle and bustle that the artist had set up his studio. He will spend the most significant part of his life. A second-place dear to Dali's heart: Púbol Castle, which he gave to his wife, Gala, in 1969. This 11th-century castle located near Girona testifies to the artist's love for his wife and muse. Finally, at the Dali Theater-Museum in Figueres, you can admire the artist's final work. He devoted ten years of his life to transforming the old theatre in Figueres into a museum theatre that traces his entire artistic career.

Don't miss either:

  • the Castillo de Tossa de Mar and its 300 meters of surrounding walls erected in the 12th century and which surround the city

  • The Ciutadella de Roses contains remains that span thirteen centuries of history, from the ruins of a Greek quarter dating from the 4th century BC. J-C to the remains of military buildings from the 16th century.

  • the Hermitage of Santa Christina in Lloret de Mar and its neoclassical temple dating from the 18th century

  • the castles of Lloret de Mar: the Castell San Juan and the Castell d'en Plaja to reconnect with the medieval history of this fishing village

  • the Castle of San Fernando in Figueres, the most significant historical monument in Catalonia

Where to stay on the Costa Brava?

The Costa Brava can be enjoyed from a villa overlooking the Mediterranean as from an authentic farmhouse lost in the hinterland. Whether you are looking for the festive atmosphere of the seaside resorts, the wildness of the hidden coves or the authenticity of the medieval villages hidden inland, you will be charmed by this destination of unparalleled beauty and wealth. And it is because we, too, have been intrigued by the Costa Brava that we have selected prestigious properties for your next holiday.

Do you own property on the Costa Brava? Let's work together!

At Emerald Stay, we regularly look for exceptional Costa Brava properties. If you own a luxury property in the area, contact us! We will introduce you to our innovative seasonal rental management solution that will allow you to improve the profitability of your rental investment while taking the hassle out of your daily life.