9 charming seaside villages to explore on the Costa Brava


Costa Brava, which translates to “Wild Coast”, is the region of northeastern Catalonia that stretches from the French border to Blanes, not far from Girona and Barcelona. The coast is distinguished by a rugged landscape, deep coves, crystal clear seas and long white sand beaches. since the 1960s, has been a very popular holiday destination for locals and foreign tourists.

It is a favorite destination and weekend getaway for citizens of Barcelona and Girona. Artists have also been drawn and inspired here, the most famous of them Salvador Dali. There is even a designated Dali Triangle, made up of the villages of Cadaques, Figueres and Pubol, all with houses, museums and workshops used by the master.

To discover all the charming villages and the small and not so small treasures that these villages have to offer, you can go on a road trip, either from north to south or vice versa, and spend nights in some of the cozy hostels or hotels. that dot the countryside. The roads are good and you can easily find your way around.

1. Cadaques

Cadaqués is one of the closest villages to France. Located on the Cap de Creus peninsula, here you have the chance to enjoy the beautiful Cap de Creus National Park with cliffs falling steeply to the sea, but also quiet coves and sandy beaches.

At the bottom of the bay is the historic district where you can really feel the cultural and artistic atmosphere that characterizes the charming village. For decades artists and painters have been inspired here and as a result there are many museums and art galleries to admire. You can appreciate not only Dali’s house-museum which is close to Portlligat bay, where he lived and worked for many years, but also the works of famous artists like Picasso and Chagall who let their artistic juice here.

Cadaqués is also an excellent starting point for visiting the Alt Empordaregio. Due to its proximity to France, it is very popular with French visitors and many locals speak French as well as Spanish and Catalan.

Pro tip: If you visit in winter, be prepared for very cold weather, brought on by strong winds from the Tramuntana of the Pyrenees.

During your stay in the region, take the opportunity to taste local specialties such as suquet, a fish stew. and rice dishes. A special delight awaits you in Emporda, whose national park is partly marshy and home to colonies of storks and their huge nests.

Sun shining in the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain

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2. Figueres

Located a few kilometers inland on the Empordà plain with the Pyrenees in the background, Figueres is the largest city in northern Catalonia and the capital of Alt Empora. The city is best known for its association with Salvador Dalí, who was born there in 1904, and its distinctive Red Museum. It is a symbol of surrealism with the white egg-shaped balls on the roof and the tower that is part of an old theater that burned down, although the tower remains part of the museum.

This is perhaps the most distinctive landmark, but there are other things to see too; including the Castle of Sant Ferran and the Catalan Toy Museum.

Figueres is very well connected by rail and highways to the rest of Catalonia and even to southern Spain.

Aerial view of Púbol, Spain.

The small Spanish town of Púbol

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3. Pubol

If you are a Dalí fan, you cannot miss a visit to the Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol. It is a small medieval village in Baix Emporda, part of La Perla/Girona, which already had a castle in very poor condition which Dali bought in 1996.

Gala was his wife and muse to whom he was devoted, and he had promised to make her the queen of a castle. So he did. The interior is exquisitely decorated, of very personal importance to the artist, and with one visit you have completed the Dali Triangle.

Footpath along Platja de Canyelles Petites in Roses, Spain, with hillside houses in the background.

Footpath along Platja de Canyelles Petites in Roses, Spain

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4. Roses

Roses is a charming seaside town located at the entrance to the Bay of Roses on the northeast coast of Spain, a short drive from France. The town is best known for its fabulous beaches and watersports activities, from the long stretch of sand towards Empuriabrava to the small coves and beaches.

But, Roses, sometimes also called Rosas, is also a historic city. It flourished in the Middle Ages, when pirate attacks were frequent (even Barbarossa took a chance) and strong fortifications had to be built. Witness to this is the 17e century Ciutadella de Roses, the castle of La Trinitat, and the castle of Guardiola.

Pro tips: If you are interested in history, you can take a route through the castles of Roses. There is also a lighthouse and, as special entertainment, a bustling Sunday market.

Colorful houses framing the Onyar River in Girona, Spain.

Colorful houses along the Onyar river in Girona, Spain

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5. Girona

So far we have told you about charming seaside villages on the Costa Brava, but a visit to Girona cannot be omitted. Located inland, halfway between Barcelona and the coast, Girona is a large city that also has an airport.

game of thrones fans will be delighted to discover many locations where scenes were filmed, including the cathedral steps. The Onyar River runs through the city. Don’t miss the opportunity to cross the distinctive red bridge that was built by none other than Mr. Eiffel.

Other highlights are a walk along the massive medieval walls or a walk through one of the best preserved Jewish quarters in Europe.

If you happen to visit the second week of May, you are in for a treat. It’s the time of the famous Girona Flower Festivalwhen all the streets and all the sidewalks are covered with a carpet of thousands of fresh flowers, an absolute delight for the senses.

The remains of the castle of Begur, Spain, on top of a hill and surrounded by the town and the sea.

The remains of the castle in Begur, Spain, overlooking the picturesque town

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6. Begur

Begur is located in the heart of Empordà and is made up of several hills. Defense towers and colonial houses provide an interesting cultural experience. But, the biggest attraction of one of the most beautiful resorts on the Costa Brava are the coves, flooded with crystal clear water and a privileged destination for snorkelers and snorkelers.

There are no less than eight beaches here. If you want a secluded beach without luxury, Platja d’EnMalaret is for you. Platja Fornells has a marina and a path that gives access to many coves. For a beautiful view of the countryside, climb up to the castle or the belvedere called Mirador de la Creu.

Murals of Tossa de Mar, Spain, the town's fortress, overlooking a busy cove at dusk.

Murals of Tossa de Mar, the town’s fortress, overlooks a bustling cove

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7. Tossa De Mar

Tossa de Mar is located in the southernmost part of the Costa Brava and, due to its proximity to Barcelona, ​​is a favorite day trip or weekend destination for locals. It is a charming little village with winding cobbled streets, quirky shops and arts and crafts shops, which are well stocked as the attractive landscape has inspired many artists. Surrounded by lush green vegetation, any walk or hike in Tossa de Mar is a joy.

The Costa Brava truly justifies its name in Tossa de Mar due to the dazzling Cala Levado Trail. The path closely follows the coastal cliffs with many ups and downs and ends at the old medieval castle, a fairly large complex with many cafes and restaurants inside. Platja Gran (large beach) is the largest of the many beaches that line the coastline, all of fine white sand. Tossa de Mar is a good opportunity to try the excellent local seafood, preferably paella, the Spanish rice and seafood dish. One of the best restaurants is Can Pini with excellent paella, friendly service and a nice rustic atmosphere.

Pro tip: Paella is a dish that is shared between at least two people. No individual portions are served. The best part is the crust which is scraped from the bottom of the pan.

Aerial view of the beach in Blanes, Spain, with the famous geological formation in the water.

A day at the beach in Blanes, Spain

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8. Blanes

Depending on where you are, Blanes is the beginning or the end of the Costa Brava. It is often considered the ultimate destination on the Costa Brava and has all the characteristics of other charming villages, such as coves, rugged coastlines, endless beaches and water sports. But Blanes has one or two extras: it’s a flowery garden city with not one but two botanical gardens: a botanical garden, called Marimurta, and a tropical garden. And then there’s a combined zoo and water park, Marineland. Divers can dive to their heart’s content off the rocks at Platja de Santa Anna and everyone else can sunbathe and swim at the long beach at S’Abanell.

Lloret de Mar beach, Spain.

A moment at dusk in Lloret de Mar, Spain

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9. Lloret De Mar

Also at the southern end of the Costa Brava is the famous resort town of Lloret de Mar. As in Blanes, there is an abundance of flowers growing in Lloret de Mar to admire in the gardens of Santa Clotilde.

Another big attraction is the Santa Roma Church, the Modernist Cemetery and the Maritime Museum. For history buffs, there’s the Castel de San Joan to explore, and for beach lovers, Playa de Fenals to laze around.

Finally, there are super interesting Roman ruins to visit: the 2,300 year old ruins of Puig de Castellet, built by the first inhabitants of Lloret de Mar and unknown until 1943.

If you love eye-catching architecture and stunning photo opportunities, head to historic Villa Xardo and fuel your Instagram account.

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