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Vacationing along the Costa Brava

Travel in Catalonia


Introduction to Costa Brava

Situated in Catalonia, just a stones through from Barcelona, Costa Brava is widely considered to offer the best beaches in the area. With the development of large resorts with economical rates from the 1950s onwards, Costa Brava has developed a slightly negative reputation abroad. It is often depicted as a ‘package holiday’ destination, fitting the ‘England Abroad’ stereotype afforded to other Spanish Coastal regions such as Costa Del Sol.

Picture a pasty-yet-sunburnt Englishman sporting a straw hat and reclining on a Union Jack flag, whilst gorging on fish and chips. Whilst these resorts do still exist along Costa Brava (if this is what you’re looking for on your vacation you’re in luck!) Costa Brava is really so much more than this. After all, there must be a reason all Barcelonans head to this coast for their short breaks and weekends away. And I can’t imagine it’s a regional penchant for balding, slightly portly Northern Europeans!

Costa Brava is situated on the Mediterranean Sea, in the Province of Girona, and extends right down to the French border. It is also known as the ‘rugged coast’ (the literal translation in Spanish/Catalan of Costa Brava) for its wild appearance and jagged cliffs sheltering small bays. The area enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate, with warm and dry summers and sunshine throughout the year. Costa Brava’s proximity to Barcelona also allows the perfect opportunity to split your vacation into two. You can enjoy a few days of the cultural city, break before heading to the coast for a week or so of total relaxation- sun, sea and cocktails aplenty!

From 5 star resorts to little fishing ports…

And everything in between! Costa Brava really does have it all. As previously mentioned the big and budget-friendly resorts to do still exist. For example, you might have heard of Estartit and Lloret de Mar. If you are into nightlife then head to Lloret. But be prepared for neon-lit discos and to party into the early hours of the morning. The demographics in these zones are largely young groups of friends, couples and families tend to steer clear!

If this sounds like your idea of hell, then please don’t worry. As I said, there is something for everybody and this cliché is really a very small part of Costa Brava.

If you have the cash to splash, then you can find a number of exclusive 5-star resorts. Think gorgeous private beaches, swimming pools straight out of your wildest fantasy and general incomparable luxury. Some of the best are the Alva Park Costa Brava, Salles Hotel & Spa and Vistabella. Even if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, give them a google. After all, we all need to something to dream about!

Fear not there are also many reasonably priced 3 star hotels and bed & breakfasts, that offer an affordable alternative away from the large and garish budget resorts.

Perhaps the most famous of these ‘unspoilt’ towns is Cadaques. It is littered with gorgeous white houses, characteristic of the ‘real’ Costa Brava. Generally, Cadaques is considered a wealthy town with a number of extravagant private residences. The towns elegant facade is perfectly juxtaposed with its charming cobbled back streets, to give a truly magical atmosphere as you wander its streets.

Bizarrely, Cadaques also has surprisingly close links with Cuba! At the beginning of the 20th Century many left Cadaques to find their fortune in Cuba. They returned to Cadaques with their newfound wealth, as well as the architectural and cultural influences of Cuba, making Cadaques today a somewhat microcosm of the Caribbean paradise.

The town of Begur is also very popular with tourists but still has a good mix between tourism and history. If you love Romanesque architecture then this is the place for you, especially in Esclanyà. Medieval history buffs can also get their fix in Begur, with a number of well-preserved remains. The piece de resistance being the towns impressive Medieval Castle.

A favourite amongst Catalans themselves, especially Barcelonans escaping the city for a few days, is the picturesque Calella de Palafrugell. Again it is not full of the large and loud hotels of some of the bigger resorts and is largely full of apartments and second homes. Book your stay there before the secret gets out!

Cultural Importance of Costa Brava

Besides its rich history dating back to the medieval times, Costa Brava has also been the home and inspiration to a number of important historical figures, particularly in the artistic fields.

Perhaps the artist with the closest ties to the Costa Brava area is Salvador Dali, the great master of the Surrealism artistic movement. Dali visited Cadaques during his childhood and today you can visit the Salvador Dali House-Museum in the town. Dali also had a house nearby in the small fishing village of Portligat. Not on the Coast itself but always in this region, you will find the bizarre and wonderful Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres.

Many other artists, such as Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso also spent periods of time on Costa Brava, the coast has long been quite the cultural hub. All things considered, if you are a tortured artist looking to rekindle your passion, a trip to the Costa Brava has got to be worth a try- there must be something in the air!

Hopefully, I’ve been able to balance out some of the preconceptions you may have had about Costa Brava. Who knows, maybe you’re already booking your flights! If you don’t have time for a full-blown vacation along Costa Brava this time, fear not! Why not explore the spectacular region in a day, choosing one of our private day trips from Barcelona. You can customize the itinerary to choose the towns you are most interested in visiting. Luxury vehicles and fully licensed guides are guaranteed, so you are sure to have an amazing day out of the city exploring this magical backdrop of relaxation, culture and history.

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