5 things to do in the Costa Brava, Spain
The Costa Brava is a coastal region of Spain about 60 km from Barcelona. Thanks to its particularly mild climate, you can visit it at any time of the year, but it is at its best in the summer, when numerous seaside resorts in the area host festivals and music shows.
If you want to add a touch of culture to your vacation, visit Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dali, and walk through the places that inspired the famous surrealist painter, from the picturesque coves to the city palaces. Although there are some places that deserve an in-depth visit , the best way to explore the Costa Brava is by road trip that suits your pace and interests. To help you discover this area of Spain, we’ve selected a list of things to do on the Costa Brava.
1. Girona .
A little over 100 km north of Barcelona, Girona is an ancient city that looks like something out of a fairy tale… or rather a fantasy series, because the cathedral is none other than the Great Temple of Baylor that appears in season 6 of Game of Thrones. The historic center is very well preserved and retains all its medieval charm. Don’t miss the opportunity to stroll along the Paseo de la Muralla, the ancient city walls, which offer a magnificent panorama. On days of good weather, the view can reach the Pyrenees.
If you want a drink or a bite to eat, Plaa de la Independncia is a delightful little square full of bars and restaurants with outdoor seating.
2. Dali Museum
SONY DSC 2. Dali Museum
The Dali Museum stands on the ruins of the former municipal theater of Figueres, where Salvador Dali was born. Considered to be the greatest surrealist work in the world, it was designed by the artist himself and is a completely original space, offering a complete overview of the life and creative path of the Catalan master through exhibitions and workshops.
In summer you can also join a special night tour of the museum. Be sure to book, as each tour is limited to a maximum of 25 people.
3. Tossa de Mar.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the area is the historic center of Tossa de Mar, located inside the medieval walls and a graceful labyrinth of alleys and streets from which you can enjoy truly spectacular views, especially from the still-active lighthouse. Outside the walls you will find La Roqueta, an old fishermen’s quarter built in the 16th century during the first wave of the city’s expansion.
3. Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar is also famous for its beautiful beaches and crystal clear water, so take the opportunity to end your visit with a nice refreshing bath. The city hosts the Festa Major d’Estiu in June, a festival with folk dances, music, games for children and fireworks.
4. The wine region of Emporda
Emporda is a wine appellation covering more than 2,000 hectares of land in the province of Girona, from Figueres to the border with France. The area boasts a very old wine culture (which dates back to the 5th century BC) and throughout the year it hosts various wine-related events, including fairs, festivals and seminars.
4. Emporda wine region.
Both north and south, you’ll find dozens of wineries offering vineyard tours and events like wine tastings and dinners; but be sure to book in advance. For enthusiasts, there are also real wine routes that will allow you to discover all the secrets of the white, red and rosé wines produced in the region.
5. Golf at the PGA Catalunya
The PGA Catalunya Resort is one of the most famous golf courses in the whole country and over the years has hosted several prestigious tournaments, including the Open de Espaa, the national golf championship. If you’re a beginner, the camp has an academy with classes for adults and children.
5. Golf at PGA Catalunya.
Professionals can play until dark at discounted rates. The PGA Catalunya Resort also has an elegant bar, a pro store and a lounge designed for members, with magnificent views of the course.
14 attractions on the Costa Brava – what to see and where to vacation on Spain’s Costa Brava
The Costa Brava is a long, rocky coastline north of Barcelona whose name literally means “Wild Coast.”
It is said to be associated with the fall and winter weather, when the sea in these areas, driven by cold winds, becomes wild and dangerous.
In the 1950s, the Spanish government felt that this little-developed part of the coast could become a great tourist area. And officials have not gone wrong: in 60-ies the Costa Brava experienced a real tourist boom: the coast flooded with Western tourists, built new hotels, beaches were cleared, and on the medieval ruins of popular Hollywood movies.
Among the first centers of tourism noted one of the largest cities in the Costa Brava – Lloret de Mar, whose name comes from the laurel tree.
To the north of it is another stunning summer resort of Tossa de Mar, to the south – Blanes.
Due to the mild Mediterranean climate the tourist season on the Costa Brava begins at Easter and ends in late September. At this time, seaside towns and villages are full of holidaymakers, and prices for accommodation increase to astronomical figures.
Around the resort towns you can find a lot of small secluded beaches, surrounded by rocks and pines. Natural beaches on the Costa Brava are predominantly pebbly, and the golden sandy beaches have been created specifically for tourists from imported sand.
It is worth noting that near the Costa Brava there are sharp differences in depths. When you go into the water, then at a certain point the hardness disappears sharply, and you find yourself at a decent depth – it may be an unpleasant surprise for beginners and those who do not know how to swim.
The coastal cliffs and hills of the Costa Brava are beautiful – they look majestic, covered in Mediterranean pines, firs, elms and other southern tree species.
The history of this region has been rich and tragic, so on many hills you can see preserved or half-destroyed monasteries, castles, fortresses – echoes of different eras.
Along the roads of the Costa Brava there are well-kept vineyards and olive groves. Much of the province is covered with dense forests, an ideal place for hiking and biking.
So let’s talk about the most picturesque places of the Costa Brava worth seeing:
Lloret de Mar.
The largest resort on the coast, Lloret de Mar in the off-season has a population of about 29,000 people, but in summer it attracts more than 200,000 tourists annually from all over the world.
Apartments and houses in Lloret de Mar are expensive, so working here usually buy or rent a house in Blanes.
A large part of the real estate of Lloret de Mar is owned by Barcelonians and prosperous foreigners who rent it to tourists and come here themselves for summer holidays. By the way, from Lloret de Mar to Barcelona is about 75 kilometers.
The main attraction of Lloret de Mar is a spacious 2-kilometer beach with charming paved promenade, where tourists can enjoy the sea and the Catalan cuisine.
At one end of the beach there are rocks that you can walk around on a stone path. There is a small vantage point where there is a statue of a fisherman’s wife gazing into the rushing sea. This is Doña Marinera, created by the sculptor Ernest Maragall in 1966.
At the other end of the beach there is a small castle that, unfortunately, has no historical value. It is the private residence of Castell de Sa Caleta, which nevertheless has a very elegant outline and gives the whole coast a romantic and mysterious look.
2. Saint Clotilde Gardens
This famous complex is also located in Lloret de Mar, near Playa de Fenals beach.
The gardens were built on top of a hill: a stunningly beautiful green Italian Renaissance architectural ensemble gradually descends down to the sea itself.
The gardens of Saint Clotilde were built in 1919 by a pupil of Nicolas Forestier, the creator of the Bois de Boulogne in France. Their total area reaches 24,000 square meters.
The client and first owner of the gardens was a certain Marques de Roviralta, a wealthy doctor who lived there from 1891 to 1979. His mansion, where today the descendants of the aristocrat live, still stands at the top of the hill.
In 1995, the government of Catalonia declared these gardens a zone of national interest, after which the architect Arthur Bossi redesigned them somewhat, giving them a more original form.
At the moment, the Gardens of Sant Clotilde are the most beautiful on the Costa Brava.
It is recommended to visit every tourist, especially since the entrance fee is purely symbolic.
3. Church of San Roma in Lloret de Mar
Let’s not rush to leave Lloret de Mar before we see another historical landmark, the Church of San Roma.
This church was originally built in 1522 in the Gothic style. In 1914 it was restored by the architect Bonaventura Conill i Montobbio, this time in the modernist style of the period, with touches of Byzantine, Renaissance and even Muslim.
In 1936 the church was damaged in the fierce fighting.
4. Girona Cathedral
This magnificent structure with its Baroque façade, to which a very long white staircase leads, is probably familiar to you from tourist digests and postcards.
In 1312 the cathedral was built in Romanesque style, later it was reconstructed in Gothic style and closer to our era it received smoothly rounded Baroque lines.
The museum at the cathedral attracts special attention.
It is a perfectly organized exhibition of masterpieces of art and historical treasures. Be sure to check out the very rare 11th century tapestry called The Creation of the World, which features many biblical characters.
The inside of the cathedral is quite dark, and in the back of its halls stands a rare ancient organ.
5. Girona’s Jewish Quarter
In addition to the cathedral, Girona is worth a walk through the narrow streets of the medieval Jewish quarter.
Its sidewalks are still lined with cobblestones and the adjoining blocks of flats look as they did centuries ago. In the Jewish Quarter, you’ll find quite a few interesting stores that fit right in.
6. Torras Chocolate Factory
The Torras Chocolate Factory is also located in Girona.
Here tourists can learn the history of local chocolate making, and even go up to the working shop where chocolate bars are already being made with modern technology.
You will be offered a free sample for tasting, and after the tour you can buy something as a gift for big and small sweet-tooths. There is a small private zoo outside, so children will be doubly interested in the factory.
7. Lake Banyoles on the Costa Brava
Lake Banyoles is only 2 kilometers long, but it is considered the second largest lake in Spain.
The lake is for the most part surrounded by forest and is not suitable for residential construction, making it a clean and secluded place to relax.
We advise you to take a train ticket to the town of Bañoles of the same name, swim and relax in the lap of nature. Be sure to have lunch at La Carpa, a local restaurant near the lake!
8. The castle town Besalu
Besalu is probably the most original and beautiful town in all of Spain.
In the center of Besalu stands a small church of St. Vincent, very old and very dark.
Many medieval buildings and a long stone bridge with gates and a lowered lattice to protect the settlement, all this immerses guests in the atmosphere of European fairy tales and legends.
9. Tossa de Mar in Catalonia
Tossa de Mar is a lovely resort town with a small beach called by a completely inappropriate name, Playa Grande (“Big Beach”).
On top of the hill to the west rise the ruins of a medieval fortress.
The parish church is named after St. Vincent, as is customary in these parts.
Tossa de Mar is one of the most attractive resorts of the Costa Brava, but only in the height of summer. In the off-season, most of the stores and establishments are closed and there is not much to do here.
10. Town of Rosas on the Costa Brava
Roses is a small municipality near the French border.
It is famous for its fishing port and sporting harbor.
Roses has for many years remained a favorite vacation spot of the French, some of whom have apartments and villas in this town.
Near Rosas you can visit the legendary restaurant El Bulli with three Michelin stars, the best restaurant on the planet. The chef of the restaurant – the magnificent Ferran Adria, the best chef in the world.
For so many flattering epithets, prestigious stars and world awards the customers have to pay about 300 euros – such is the average order price at El Bulli. As the connoisseurs say, it is worth it.
After a fantastic dinner you probably want to spend the night in Rosas.
11. The resort of Empuriabrava or Spanish Venice
Empuriabrava, known as the Spanish Venice, is a resort town, actually a large residential area, each street of which is divided by water channels.
In this unique place, residents are used to parking yachts and boats next to their homes instead of cars and bicycles.
With a population in the off-season of about 8,000 people, Empuriabrava swells to an incredible 80,000 at the height of the holiday season.
Homes here are very expensive, but are in high demand from foreign investors.
About half of the homeowners are Germans; many are British.
Near Spanish Venice is Ampurias – an archaeological park, where in ancient times was the first Roman settlement in Iberia. This is where the Romans began to colonize the peninsula, which ended only with the collapse of the empire.
12. Salvador Dali Museum
The museum of the famous artist was opened in Figueres (Figueres), the capital of the comarca of the Alt Emporda.
Salvador Dali Museum is called the second most visited museum in Spain after the Prado – the Europeans have not yet faded love for high art!
But this museum is different from our usual idea of such institutions, and not everyone is ready to see it.
Dali himself designed the museum in the last years of his life, including the smallest details. So perceiving it, from the gold mannequins and giant eggs in the exterior to the vibrant interior decoration, requires some preparation and knowledge of the master’s work.
13. Cozy resort town Cadaques
Cadaques is another noteworthy town in the comarca of the Alt Emporda, on the Cape of the Cross (Cap de Creus).
The scenery around Cadaques is quite appropriate to the name of the coast – it’s a real Wild Coast, with quiet secluded bays and rugged cliffs.
By the way, in Cadaques has its own Salvador Dali Museum, and in addition a whole list of interesting museums and galleries. From here it’s a short drive to the Creuse National Park.
In short, one of the best places for beach and cultural activities.
14. Pubol and the ancient castle-museum
Pubol is a medieval village in the comarca of Baix Emporda on the Costa Brava.
Tourists know it because of the Church of St. Peter (Sant Pere), dating back to the XIV century.
You can also visit a very old castle dating back to 1017 which was bought by Salvador Dali himself in 1968 as a gift for his wife Gala (Elena Diakonova). The castle houses many valuable paintings and drawings that Dali presented to his beloved.
Dali completely renovated the castle and gardens, introduced amazing decorative elements (including huge elephants in the garden) and built a swimming pool in the courtyard with busts of his favorite composer, Wagner.
Gala died in 1982, and was buried right in her castle.
Today it is a museum that is open to anyone who appreciates the spirit of the early Middle Ages and the work of the great twentieth-century artist.