Just 70Km (45 mi.) away from Barcelona, the Costa Brava is famous in Catalonia for its rooted mediterranean lifestyle, and for still keeping the small town charm of former times, in spite of having a very dynamic touristic activity.
The small towns of quiet narrow streets and rocky beaches started sparking the interest of many artists and writers who craved for the beauty and charm of the region, and little by little tourists started populating the area as early as the 1930’s.
Town of Cadaqués
Picasso, Joan Miró or Truman Capote who wrote “In cold blood“ in the course of three summers in the town of Palamós were the first attracted to this place, but if there’s one artist that was swept away by the Costa Brava, it’s Salvador Dalí.
In fact, one of the main attractions of the Dalí Circuit in Catalonia is in the Costa Brava, specifically in Portlligat, a village very close to Cadaqués, where the multifaceted artist lived and worked the most throughtout his life. Since 1997, The Portlligat Salvador Dalí House-Museum works as a museum. Don’t forget to visit also Dalí Museum in the town of Figueres.
As you might be guessing, the Costa Brava is all about beaches, but first of all, these aren’t the typical overcrowded beaches you find in most places. Even though touristic activity is plentiful in the area, there are still many places and villages that hold on to their old town charm, and the quality of the waters is excellent.
Cadaqués, the most Eastern city in the Iberian Peninsula, might be one of the most peculiar towns in the Costa Brava, as it was isolated through land for centuries, and lived only facing the sea, having a more direct relationship with overseas territories than Catalonia. This is due to the fact that the Pyrenees end abrubtly in this zone, hence the rugged terrain.
While most of the cities and towns are easily accesible by train or bus, getting to Cadaqués by train is out of the question. Taking a bus or renting a car, specially the latter, is the best option to get the best out of this lovely city.
Calella de Palafrugell
Places of the Costa Brava you shouldn’t miss
- Natural Park Cap de Creus. The most oriental place in the Iberian Peninsula, is just minutes away from Cadaqués and a few miles from the French border. This rocky cape has a very peculiar environment. Once you’re approaching by car you might get the feeling you’re in a different planet, mostly because of the effect of the frequently strong wind that blows over the cape, called “La Tramontana“, that doesn’t allow vegetation to grow, hence there are almost no trees. There is a lighthouse and restaurant on a hill offering spectacular views, and it’s possible to eat outside (if the wind allows it). Kayaking is also very popular in the area.
- Portbou and Llançà. These villages are surrounded by the Cap de Creus and they are popular destinations for its quiet beaches as well as snorkeling and diving. The zone is filled with historical remains of Roman heritage.
- L’Estartit. One of the most popular beach destinations in the Costa Brava, this town has an ideal setting for summer enjoyment, with easy access and parking spaces, sea front apartments, and good quality beaches. There are lots of open-air activities to take place in, such as hiking and biking trails.
- Medes Islands. A group of small islets part of a Natural Reserve Park located 900 meters in front of L’Estartit coast. It’s filled with a notable amount of biodiversity for the delight of scuba divers.
- Calella de Palafrugell. Sporting some of the most beautiful coves, this village has a long gastronomic tradition and one of the most celebrated parties in the whole Costa Brava, the Habaneras. Held every year at the Cap Roig Botanic Gardens, it had a very special guest for its 40th anniversary, when Bob Dylan gave a concert on the Botanic Garden grounds in 2006. It’s also one of the places to start the “Camí de Ronda” (Patrol Road), this old path was used by the Spanish Civil Guard to patrol the coastline in order to avoid smuggling, but today is a lovely pedestrian path that takes you into different beaches and towns of the Costa Brava.
- Towns and villages like Roses, L’Escala, Pals, Begur, Palamós, Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar, make up a complete offer for either kind of escapade you’re planning. Whether is a one day trip or a weekend getaway, it’s a place near Barcelona that can’t be omitted.
How to get to Costa Brava:
Train: Renfe has train stations at the following cities in the Costa Brava: Figueres, Girona, Blanes, Portbou and Llançà.
In order to get to the towns on the coastline it may be required to take a bus, which can be taken at Blanes, Figueres or Girona, depending on the proximity of the town you wish to visit.
Renting a car is a good option as well.
Buses for the Costa Brava Website
Map of the Area
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