Spain’s Costa Brava coastline was one of the first (and I think it’s still one of the best) holiday destinations in Europe.
The Costa Brava has a picturesque and rugged coastline which stretches north from Barcelona to the border with France. Along the way you will come across some idyllic seaside resorts, hidden coves and pretty fishing villages. The fact that the area has always attracted artists is testament to the fabulous views, landscapes and intense light that filters through the pine trees onto the clear waters of the Mediterranean.
My personal little slice of heaven is the area from Cap Roig through to Tamariu, encompassing the exquisite resorts of Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc.
Here, I’ll take you on a quick tour of must visit places in Costa Brava.
Perched on a headland, Cap Roig is the location of a stunning castle and beautiful gardens, open to the public year round.
The immaculately kept grounds compete with breath-taking views over the sea and along the coast. In the summer you can enjoy open-air concerts each night at the annual Cap Roig Festival.
Calella de Palafrugell
Calella de Palafrugell is just a few kilometres along the coast and if you walk along the coastal path you will pass tiny secluded coves, they’re very inviting but aren’t easily accessible.
In Calella, you will find some lovely fish restaurants overlooking the sea, a few shops, tapas bars and ice cream. The beaches are small, and the sparkling clear waters are ideal for all ages. The village square is where locals congregate as the sun goes down and you can often watch the local dancing known as ‘sardanas.’
Around another headland is the chic and sophisticated village of Llafranc. With a sheltered harbour, Llafranc attracts boats of all shapes and sizes including plenty of luxurious ‘gin palaces’. It’s enjoyable to sit by the marina and watch the comings and goings of boats and people. Like Calella, Llafranc also has a pretty sheltered beach and crystal clear waters and so diving is a popular pastime.
Tamariu is the next bay along the coast and smaller than Calella and Llafranc. The tiny beach is at the bottom of a steep hill dotted with spacious villas, many with marvellous views. Visitors to Tamariu have been returning year after year, first with children, and now grandchildren, which says a lot about the resort.
Inland, you will find beautiful medieval towns and villages such as Begur, Pals and La Bisbal, all steeped in history and offering an alternative to a day on the beach. The vibrant city of Figueres is famous as the birthplace of Salvador Dali and home to the Dali Museum designed by the great man himself. Save time and skip long queues by buying entrance tickets online.
Where to stay
The Hotel Casamar, perched on a hillside overlooking Llafranc, is especially lovely, with a breath-taking view over the bay.
The Casamar Restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star, and rightly so. Prepare to enjoy delicious and incredibly imaginative food.
At the far end of the bay the coastal path winds high up onto a headland where there is a working lighthouse and another lovely hotel ‘El Far’.
Budget travellers will find a number of camp sites at the back of the town, Kim’s Camping is very popular and offers a range of activities.
When to travel
The season is shorter than Spain’s southern resorts, so my advice is to visit in June or September when the weather is usually settled, the sea is warm, and the resorts are still relatively quiet.
There are frequent flights from most UK airports to Barcelona, a 90 minute drive away. During the summer months, TUI operate a charter service to Gerona which is about 40 minutes from the coast.
Sally Dowling, guest blogger
Sally has had a long and exciting career in the travel industry and now enjoys freelance travel writing and guest blogging. She is a regular contributor to www.silvertraveladvisor.com, a popular travel and review website for the over 50’s. Sally likes to seek out lesser known areas of popular destinations and to stay in small family run hotels. It gives her great pleasure to recommend somewhere that she has enjoyed so that others can share the experience. You can follow her travels on her blog www.sallydowling.co.uk.