Costa Brava beach towns
During such events you can feel the lively atmosphere among the quaint streets, alluding to Cadaqués’ charming combination of serenity, elegance and a vibrant bohemian feel. This unique combination makes Cadaqués one of the most sought-after places in Costa Brava, Spain.
The Most Beautiful Towns Along the Costa Brava, Spain
Andrea Massot 26 December 2022
La Costa Brava, meaning ‘wild coast’ is located in the top corner of the region of Catalonia. It holds a record number of European Blue Flags beaches along its placid shoreline. Explore these coastal towns that remain largely-undiscovered and pure, away from the masses brought by tourism and urban development.
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Tamariu’s white beach used to be a fishing village and is currently one of Catalonia’s favorite summer places. It is small and intimate, only an hour from Girona and a perfect destination for families. The town’s life revolves around its tiny but alluring beach, set in the middle of an unexploited natural environment away from cars and city noise. The main leisure activities offered are diving, sailing and kayaking. However, travelers with a preference for staying cool and dry need not look beyond Tamariu’s shore. This place is full of nice local restaurants with comfortable beach-side terraces inviting you to enjoy tapas, a fresh fish-of-the-day dish or an evening gin and tonic.
Calella de Palafrugell
Calella | Courtesy Pixabay | © Boris Stroujko / Alamy Stock Photo
Calella is a white town that simply radiates youthful spirit and family fun. During the day, people walk down to one of the eight beaches that surround the village, although most young locals go straight to El Canadell beach. In the evening, as the sun begins to set, the coastline of Calella fills with people walking around and socializing on the terraces or in the little local shops. Everyone seems to know each other in this friendly town.
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Along with Tamariu and Calella, Llafranc is considered as one of the three remaining idyllic coastal towns of the Costa Brava. With barely 300 inhabitants, this old fishing village offers multiple activities for visitors. Besides its charming landscape and marvelous Mediterranean beaches, the perfect setting for relaxing and sunbathing or for just enjoying an ice cream with a next to the stunning views, the town also hosts historical tours of its heritage and a variety of summer sports at the marina.
Cadaqués is probably the most famous and historic fishing village of Costa Brava. Its beauty has attracted several artists in the last century who found inspiration in this enchanting town, including Marcel Duchamp, Federico García Lorca and Pablo Picasso. However, it is best known for being the hometown of Dali‘s family and for featuring the house museum of the surrealist, which is one of Cadaqués’ most important tourist attractions. Cala Bona, a beach, or Cap de Creus, a natural park, are also must-visit sites in the area.
The town of Begur takes pride in being off the beaten track of the main Costa Brava, even though it is still only an hour away by car from Barcelona. Begur is also a main tourist attraction of the Catalan coastline because of its rich history. The town dates back to prehistoric times, and remains from different eras have been found that confirm its longevity as a human settlement. The Castle of Begur, for instance, is the most important testament to the central role the town played during the feudal era.
S’Agaró is a residential town situated between Sant Feliu de Guixols and Platja d’Aro, but far from the hectic life of a urban nucleus. With little more than 1,000 inhabitants, S’Agaró bursts into life in summertime and seems to fall asleep during winter, when the loneliness of its seashore fills the atmosphere with a beautiful nostalgic breeze. With white houses, swimming pools, families on the beach and seafront terraces, this location is typically Mediterranean. The original residential core, built in the early 20th century, is a preserved site of historic and national significance.
S’Agaró | Courtesy Deviant Art
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Ok, we know – it’s not technically a town nor a village, but this blog wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Girona. You may already know a thing or two about this golden city. For starters, it’s one of the main airports for Costa Brava, but more importantly, the picture postcard views of the Casas de l’Onyar (river houses) are even prettier in person. Leisurely spend your days relishing the plethora of museums and galleries at your disposal. But don’t forget the visit the Gothic churches that make the city so so special – in particular, the famous Girona Cathedral, which makes a glorious sight for sore eyes and has a whopping staircase that leads up to it.
Cadaqués is a beautiful white-washed town that inspired the famous artist and the peninsula’s adopted son Salvador Dali. The town today is more upmarket than it once was, but not snooty. In fact, along with its vibrant and uplifting culture and all-year-round festivities, it makes a great base for just about everyone. For holidaymakers, Cadaqués is a quaint seaside town packed with endless hours of exploration. And if there’s one thing you do during your stay, let it be a visit to the Cap de Creus Natural Park. You’ll never forget the views of the wild coastline or the crystalline cove waters.
It may be a former fisherman’s village but fishing remains at the core of Blanes. If you decide to stay here, you can expect to relax in a warm and welcoming atmosphere, where you’ll have your pick of beaches and coves to explore. Having fun in the sun is great and all, but the star of the show is the International Fireworks Competition of the Costa Brava which takes place every July. Residents and visitors will find themselves gawking at the magnificent displays – which put London’s NYE spectacle to shame. But if fireworks just aren’t your thing, don’t worry there’s plenty more to see. For example, you can climb San Juan Hill for spectacular views over Blanes.
If you’re looking to escape the beaten tracks, head down to the town of Begur. Colourful and full of life, Begur has a charm that can’t be contested; dating back to prehistoric times, it’s a joy to see that Begur has long managed to escape mainstream tourism. With a spread of delicious restaurants, boutique hotels and dreamlike streets, it’s no surprise that Begur has become a firm favourite with Barcelonians. And on the flip side, if you fancy a trip to Barcelona whilst you’re there (because, why not?), you’ll be just an hours drive away.
BEGUR & SA TUNA
The authentic village of Begur sits overlooking the coast, but far enough away that it has been spared the tarnish of tourism. Its pretty streets have been trodden since medieval times, and many relics of this era still stand today.
A grand castle sits at the village’s helm and is an excellent place to take in the panoramic views. Below, you’ll find a maze of pedestrian-only lanes that weave past stone houses and bougainvillaea smothered facades.
For a modest-sized town, there is a myriad of restaurants to choose from, should you get peckish after your exploration. Choose Hotel Aigua Blava for the best views, or Casa Juanita for the freshest seafood cooked simply, but authentically.
A short distance from the hilltop town (you can walk it if you’re feeling energetic), lies the tiny village of Sa Tuna. Despite its size, it hosts one of the most beautiful coves in Costa Brava, and a quick stroll through the few narrow streets is a delight for the senses.
After a refreshing dip, pop your walking shoes back on and follow the coastal paths of Camí de Ronda to discover little beaches tucked away out of plain sight.
CALELLA DE PALAFRUGELL
The picturesque old fishing village of Calella de Palafrugal is a cultural and gastronomical delight when it comes to Costa Brava villages. With its narrow streets, slanted rooftops and white porched houses facing the sea, this village offers all the authentic charm of a traditional small village, and the rich gastronomy to go with it.
Calella de Palafrugal is renowned for its excellent seafood restaurants and cosy taverns serving up the fresh catch of the day right on the seafront. The local markets running throughout the week offer local fresh fish and meats, an ode to the town’s pride in its local cuisine.
The town’s beautiful beaches boast crystal clear, shallow waters with pebbles underfoot, making this a popular snorkelling destination and good for families too.
Beyond its rich food and charming bays, Calella de Palafrugell is also famous for its local music festivals, notably the Cap Roig Festival, a popular music and dance festival taking place in the town’s Cap Roig Castle and Gardens in the last week of July.
TOSSA DE MAR
The cosy and quaint medieval coastal town of Tossa de Mar is unique for its magnificent ancient castle, which sits almost directly on its shore. This makes for a unique experience as one of the few beaches in Costa Brava where you can relax by the sea, with spectacular views of the town’s historic centre.
For such a small and charming town, it boasts a breathtakingly wide and pearly white beach, with pure blue waters. Stepping into the old town, you can’t help feeling enchanted by its rich history and architecture which dates back to Roman and Iberian times.
The striking medieval castle overlooking the sea, its winding city walls, inviting cobblestone alleys and the beautiful lighthouse will all leave you in awe of this surprising coastal town.
A little further out of the town you will come across Roman ruins (Els Ametllers), a further glimpse of the town’s deep history. Tossa de Mar sits just north of the bustling Lloret de Mar, which is a popular tourist spot, but I would choose the alternative Tossa de Mar for its untouched historical charm and wonder.
Known as the gateway to the Costa Brava, we arrive at the vibrant coastal town of Blanes. This is a town that embraces old and new in harmony; while it is one of the more popular tourist areas, the centre of Blanes still maintains the feel of an ancient Catalan seaside town.
Here locals and tourists mingle among the lively streets, shop at the local markets, and enjoy tapas and beer at the delicious local restaurants – one of my favourite things to do in Costa Brava.
The truly breathtaking thing about Blanes is its endless array of long, wide and golden sandy beaches, which boast plenty of space for tourists and locals alike. The active fishing harbour works to keep locals employed in the town; a refreshing comparison to some other Costa Brava towns where many locals have moved away.
Beyond this, Blanes marks the spot where the so-named ‘wild coast’ of the Costa Brava really begins. Until this point, beaches are notably flat and smooth, but just north of Blanes the rugged coast becomes much more adventurous. For this reason, Blanes makes an excellent spot from which to begin (or end) your exploration of the adventurous Costa Brava.
The Costa Brava is a coastal region of stunning natural beauty and cultural vibrancy, which is to be explored, savoured and enjoyed. This guide gives you a taste of some of the most beautiful spots along this special coastline, but believe me, there is so much more to discover. I hope I have inspired you to visit some of the best towns in Costa Brava, and to discover this colourful and surprising coastal area for yourself.